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Oregon Truck Accidents: The Risks of an Unsecured Cargo

Overly loaded truck with its cargo poorly secured.

When cargo is improperly secured, it can lead to devastating truck accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 730 people are killed and 17,000 are injured each year because of objects in the roadway. 

Semi-trucks carrying unsecured cargo pose a significant hazard to others on the highway. If you or a loved one was harmed in an accident caused by unsecured cargo, you have the right to be compensated for your losses. Contact Johnston Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation. 

The Danger of Unsecured Truck Cargo 

On your daily commute, you likely share the road with numerous tractor-trailers and other large trucks. While these trucks provide a valuable service in transporting goods across the country, they also pose serious risks if the cargo they are hauling is not properly secured. 

Unsecured cargo can cause a truck accident in various ways:

  • Shifting cargo: If cargo is not properly distributed or properly secured, it can shift in transit. This affects the balance of the vehicle and can cause the driver to lose control of the truck. 
  • Spilled cargo: Cargo that is improperly secured can spill onto the roadway, creating a terrifying situation for other drivers. For example, a load of lumber that is not tightly secured could spill off of the trailer right into the pathway of other vehicles. 
  • Obstructive visibility: Unsecured cargo that is stacked too high can obstruct the truck driver’s visibility. This can make it difficult to see passenger vehicles or road hazards. 
  • Overloaded trailer: Overloading a semi can put excessive strain on securing mechanisms, increasing the chance of failure. An overloaded truck can also be more difficult for a driver to control, leading to an accident. 
  • Jackknife incidents: If the load on a semi is improperly balanced, it can cause the trailer to swing out dangerously. The driver may lose control of the truck and crash into oncoming traffic. 

Causes of Oregon Unsecured Cargo Accidents

A fully loaded truck carrying unsecured cargo is an accident waiting to happen. If cargo is not secured tightly to the trailer, all it takes is a bump in the road or a sudden turn for it to become loose and fall onto the highway. 

The following are some common causes of unsecured cargo accidents:

  • Negligence: One of the main causes of unsecured cargo accidents is negligence by truck drivers and cargo loaders. In their rush to meet deadlines, they may overlook the importance of properly securing their cargo. 
  • Inadequate training: It is the responsibility of the trucking company to properly train their employees how to safely load and secure cargo. Without proper training, employees may not fully grasp the importance of securing cargo or how to do so effectively. 
  • Reckless driving: Hauling heavy loads of cargo demands careful driving. Negligent behaviors such as distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving can lead to rollovers and other falling cargo accidents. 
  • Poorly maintained equipment: Semis and trailers that are improperly maintained can contribute to unsecured cargo accidents. Damaged tie-downs, straps, and other securing devices may fail to hold cargo in place, especially if road conditions require the driver to swerve or brake suddenly. 
  • Unrealistic demands on drivers: Unfortunately, it is common for trucking companies to put unrealistic demands on drivers in order to maximize profits. This push to meet deadlines may force drivers to exceed weight limitations or disregard concerns about unstable cargo. 

Federal and State Laws Governing Cargo Securing

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established guidelines that regulate all aspects of the transportation industry, including rules regarding the securing of cargo loads in commercial trucks. 

Additionally, each state has its own laws and rules that apply to local trucking companies and drivers. Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services has set specific rules regarding inspecting cargo, securing cargo, and maintaining cargo weight and balance. 

For example, on flatbed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo must be secured to prevent it from shifting or falling off. The working load of all cargo must be at least one-half times the weight of the cargo tied down. Additionally, there are special requirements for securing logs, concrete pipes, metal coils, heavy machinery, and other large items. 

Trucking companies and truck drivers can avoid many truck accidents by knowing and obeying both federal and state trucking laws. 

Steps to Take Following an Unsecured Cargo Accident

Accidents involving unsecured cargo can be dangerous and frightening, often resulting in property damage and serious injuries. It is important to know how to respond if you are involved in an accident with a large truck. 

Dealing with trucking companies and their insurers can be difficult, but by taking the following steps, you can maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation for your damages:

  • Prioritize safety: If possible, pull over to a safe location. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers of the accident. Assess yourself and others for injuries and call 911. 
  • Document the scene: Try to take photos or videos of the accident scene, capturing the position of the cargo, road conditions, property damage, and any injuries. 
  • Exchange information: Be sure to exchange contact and insurance information with the truck driver and other parties involved in the accident. Try to obtain information about the type of cargo the driver was hauling, its weight, and how it was secured. 
  • Seek medical attention: Even if you do not feel injured, make sure to seek medical attention right away. Some injuries, such as a concussion, may not be immediately apparent and could worsen over time.
  • Consult a personal injury lawyer: Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights, navigate the claims process, and recover maximum compensation for your losses. 

Our Oregon Unsecured Truck Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help

Being involved in an accident involving unsecured cargo can be traumatic. You do not have to go through this difficult time alone. 

The Oregon truck accident lawyers at Johnston Law Firm are here to help. Our legal team has handled a wide range of truck accidents over the years. So let us handle every aspect of your truck accident claim while you focus on your recovery. 

We can investigate your accident, file all necessary paperwork, negotiate with insurance companies, and ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries. Call us, start a live chat, or complete the contact form to schedule a free case review. 


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.