The Reasons Why Cargo Loading Errors Often Result in Catastrophic 18-Wheeler Accidents

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The commercial trucking industry performs an essential role in our nation’s economy. For the past several decades, the number of tractor-trailer trucks on roadways have been steadily increasing. High energy costs and increased competition have pushed many owner-operators and trucking companies to seek out cost-cutting strategies to remain both competitive and profitable.

Our law firm recognizes that most truckers and trucking companies operate responsibly and work hard to operate safely and responsibly. However, some truck drivers and transportation companies do not play by the rules and risk public safety to generate maximum profitability. One of the ways an unethical trucking company will attempt to increase profitability is by hiring inexperienced truck drivers and cargo loaders. One of the primary advantages of hiring lesser experienced workers and/or truck drivers is the cost savings associated with paying entry-level salaries. Also, unscrupulous trucking companies might take advantage of their new recruits’ lack of knowledge and experience to “bend to rules” and overload their fleet of trucks to boost profits.

In an effort to reduce commercial truck accidents, federal and state transportation safety administrations enacted rules and regulations that improve public transportation safety. These regulations are designed to ensure truckers and trucking companies meet all safety, insurance, vehicle maintenance, and licensing requirements.

When truck drivers or trucking companies make errors, the outcomes of those mistakes could be disastrous. When someone is injured or tragically killed, the victims or the victim’s family deserve legal justice.


Unfortunately, cargo loading mistakes occur more frequently than they should. Whether a cargo loader is in a rush to meet delivery timeframes or the cargo loader does not follow the principles of safe freight loading, improperly loaded freight can result in numerous types of accidents.

A few of the more common kinds of 18-wheeler freight loading mistakes include:

  • Permitting freight to move freely while in transport.
  • The truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVRW) exceeds the permissible weight standard.
  • Failing to equally distribute the weight of the cargo from front-to-back or side-to-side.
  • Neglecting to properly pressurize gaseous cargo.
  • Neglecting to properly pressurize liquid cargo.
  • Using unsafe, defective, or damaged cargo straps.
  • Failing to secure tie-downs improperly.


When an 18-wheeler truck has been improperly loaded, the truck is at an increased risk of causing a fatal accident due to the higher speed limit. Should a truck driver need to make a sudden lane change, swerve, or brake hard to avoid a crash, the improperly loaded cargo could become lose or shift, resulting in a catastrophic accident. The following list of accidents are more likely to occur when a truck’s freight has been improperly loaded:

  • Cargo Spill Accidents (and cargo collisions with other vehicles) – When a tractor-trailer truck loses its freight while moving, the cargo could fall off of the truck and strike the vehicle behind the truck. Also, the lost cargo could break into pieces resulting in several dangerous pieces of debris. These road hazards could cause accidents or result in serious and life-threatening injuries. If the cargo is a liquid and spills onto the roadway behind the tractor-trailer truck, other motorists are at an increased risk for accidents or toxic exposure.
  • Jackknife Accidents – When an 18-wheeler’s trailer begins to travel faster than the truck’s cab, the truck will begin to jackknife. Jackknifing usually occurs with the truck driver brakes hard, or when the truck’s trailer is overloaded, the freight was not secured or balanced properly.
  • Rear-End Collisions – A rear-end accident occurs when a truck driver is not able to stop a truck and then strikes a pedestrian, motorcycle, truck or car that is in front of the truck driver. These are very common accidents and are often blamed on a combination of driver errors or distracted driving and improper cargo loading.
  • Rollover Accidents – The two primary reasons why rollover accidents occur with large tractor-trailer trucks are cargo loading errors and driver error.
  • Tire (Retread) Blowout Accidents – All tires have a weight rating. If the truck has not been properly maintained, or if the freight on the truck is not correctly loaded, or if the truck exceeds recommended weight limits, there is an increased chance of tire failure. In some cases, a truck tire failure can cause the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle and crash.


If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a commercial truck accident, the best strategy is to speak with an experienced Washington D.C. truck accident lawyer. An attorney can review your claim, ensure important deadlines are met, document your injuries, and work hard to obtain a just financial recovery to compensate you for your injuries and losses. It is important to note that being involved in an 18-wheeler truck accident is not as simple as collecting a settlement check from the at-fault party’s insurance company. An experienced lawyer can assist you in evaluating your claim and help you take the essential steps to build your case against the responsible party.


After an injury or the painful loss of a loved one caused by a negligent trucker, dealing with the legal system, insurance company claims process, and dealing with the other party’s legal team can make a difficult situation even more stressful and painful for you. That is why it is essential that you speak with a qualified legal advocate who has the knowledge and experience necessary to protect your legal rights and offer you the assistance you deserve when an accident has taken a toll on your life.

If you were injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, Fay Law Group is here for you. Call our Washington DC truck accident attorneys at (202) 804-9898 or contact us online for your free consultation.

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