Orange County Cargo Spill Accident Attorneys
Representing Cargo Spill Victims
Big rigs outweigh pretty much every other vehicle on the road. This makes them dangerous, but what really tips the scale to disaster level is the cargo these trucks are carrying. Those unlucky enough to be close to a cargo spill when it happens are often left with chemical burns, shattered bones, and brain damage. In some cases, people can even develop cancer as a result of dangerous chemicals leaking out of a truck.
There is no excuse for cargo spills. These dangerous accidents are almost always the result of someone’s negligence. If you have become the victim of a cargo spill, you should not be left to shoulder the burden of your medical bills alone. Call our firm, Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie, at (949) 752-7474 today for answers to your truck accident case questions and to find out your legal options.
Cargo Spills Caused by Negligence
Semi-trucks have a higher center of gravity. This makes them top heavy, meaning they are more likely to tip or roll over. The weight and distribution of cargo plays a huge roll in this imbalance. That is why commercial trucks have weight limits -- 80,000 pounds in California – and need to be properly balanced, with cargo evenly distributed in the trailer.
Of course, a badly loaded truck isn’t just a rollover hazard; it’s a cargo spill hazard. There is no excuse for cargo to spill. If the trailer does spill or leak, it means that someone was negligent at some point during the loading process. Some common causes of cargo spills include:
- A mechanical malfunction
- Overloaded cargo
- Improperly secured cargo
- Improperly balanced cargo
- A drunk, fatigued, or distracted driver
- Tanker valves left open
Cargo spills are never just an accident. Whether the spill was caused by a truck driver who was drunk or by the loading crew using the wrong tie-downs, there is no doubt that the results of the accident are catastrophic.
The Dangers of Spilled Cargo
Even fruit spilling from a trailer could cause a pile-up on the freeway. That being said, there are some types of cargo that are more dangerous than others:
Concrete: One of the good things about concrete is that due to the fact that concrete will become useless within 90 minutes, these truck drivers are rarely fatigued from long hauls. However, concrete trucks are among the most top-heavy large vehicles on the roadways, and may fall over and spill concrete if not handled properly. Concrete itself is heavy, wet, and toxic, and can easily drown cars or pedestrians.
Fuel: Both gasoline and oil are transported in trucks called tankers. Tankers use large tanks, rather than trailers, to transport liquids and gases. Both oil and gasoline, however, are volatile. If the tanker spills, due to an accident or a valve being left open, the contents could quickly catch fire, leading to serious burn injuries for anyone close by.
Logs: The logging business transports its product all over the country. Wood is needed everywhere, and so you have probably seen a logging truck or two on the freeways. These logs are often balanced and chained. If this balance is off at all, the logs could roll out on the road and cause catastrophic damage.
Hazardous chemicals: A number of chemicals are transported via tanker. Some are explosive, some are corrosive, some are carcinogenic. When these tankers spill, those chemicals are allowed into the local town and environment, leading to people becoming dangerously ill.
Housing units: “Portable homes” have become popular over the decades as a cheap housing option. Essentially, buyers can order a house be delivered to them via truck. These houses are often transported in halves using two trucks, or over the course of two separate trips. While the houses are small by house standards, they take up a great deal of space on a truck bed. If they are not strapped down properly, they could slide off of the truck and crush nearby vehicles.
Responsibility and Liability
The process of shipping goods via a truck involves a lot of moving parts, and thus a lot of people. If even a single person in that process is negligent in their duties, the result could be catastrophic. Typically, the liable parties for cargo spills include:
The driver: Truck accidents like cargo spills often start with a negligent driver. Perhaps the driver was drunk or overly tired or even distracted. Whatever the case may be, if the truck driver was negligent, then he or she may very well be your liable party.
The loading crew: Trucks can carry a large amount of goods. For that reason, many trucking companies will employ loading crews. These crews are responsible for making sure that the truck remains under the weight limit, is balanced properly, and all cargo is strapped down completely. If the loading crew fails to do any of this, it could result in a cargo spill. If it does, then the members of the crew could be considered liable.
The mechanic: Cargo spills can happen when the driver loses control over the truck due to a mechanical malfunction, such as the brakes failing or a tire blowout. In such an instance, the mechanic in charge of truck maintenance may be considered liable if he or she neglected to give the truck a proper inspection.
The trucking company: Trucking companies are often considered responsible for the actions of their employees. This is especially true if they encouraged employees to cut corners or behave in other negligent ways. The truth is that trucking companies are often at fault for cargo spills, but are difficult to file a claim against due to their wealth and power. That is why you may need an attorney in order to recover damages.
How to Recover Damages
Following a catastrophic cargo spill, you have likely been left with serious injuries and deep emotional scarring. Seeking treatment, both for your physical health and mental health, will be costly. Medical bills can quickly run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, especially if your wounds require surgery. That is why seeking compensation from the liable parties is so important. It allows you to recover compensation for your:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy costs
- Lost wages
- Lowered quality of life
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
However, trucking companies are swift to fight personal injury claims. These companies care more about their profits than the financial burden you have been left to carry on your own. It is very unlikely that the company will offer you fair compensation unless you bring everything you can to the table. This includes evidence and witnesses, but most of all, a skilled attorney who will not back down from a fight.
Call Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie to Start Your Free Consultation
We at Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie believe that victims deserve justice. If you were injured by a cargo spill, then you have the legal right to file a claim against the party responsible. To get started and get the settlement you deserve, speak with our OC truck accident attorneys. We have the skill you need. Call our firm at (949) 752-7474 to begin your free consultation.
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