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Truck Accidents

Unsecured Loads in Washington: Everything You Need to Know

By January 24, 2023April 4th, 2024No Comments

Plenty of people have used their vehicle to transport bulky objects from one place to another. Most people take precautions to assure loads are properly secure so that object in your trunk or truck bed cannot come out and injure someone – because if it fell off and hit another vehicle, you could be liable for damages or even criminal charges.

In 2019, the Washington State Patrol reported that there were 154 accidents caused by unsecured loads; that same year, 7,386 motorists were cited or warned about failing to secure a vehicle load. 

If you are in an accident caused by material falling off of a truck or commercial vehicle, then you deserve to be compensated for your property loss and personal injury. The Gilbert Law Firm will work tirelessly to get you the compensation that you deserve. 

Washington Laws Regarding Unsecured Loads

Although the laws of Washington regarding unsecured loads are still evolving, they are becoming more restrictive. 

In other words, if you have any doubts about whether  or not you should tie down any objects, you probably should to avoid fines or jail time.

Here are some of the laws that discuss unsecured loads and ensuing accidents:

  • Under Washington State law WAC 296-865-30020(1), all trucking operators must properly secure and distribute loads in anticipation of roadway conditions as well as the capacity of bridges, trestles and other transportation structures. 
  • Washington State law RCW 46.61.655 requires any vehicle that is transporting a load must use a tarp, netting, tiedown or chains to properly secure it and prevent it from falling onto the roadway. Failure to properly secure transported materials, thereby causing a safety hazard may result in a penalty commensurate with the cost of clearing the obstruction. 
  • Washington State law RCW 70A.200.120 requires that vehicles transporting materials to a landfill or transfer station must properly secure those materials or pay a fine.
  • Under federal law Section § 393.100, cargo must be secured with a tiedown every 10 linear feet. 
  • HB 1478 was passed in 2005 by the Washington legislature and imposes larger fines and penalties for failing to properly secure loads including loose materials that require a tarp or netting. If an unsecured load produces bodily harm, the driver may be charged with criminal negligence.

Consequences of Transporting an Unsecured Load in a Truck

You should understand the penalties of transporting a load in a vehicle without properly securing it. 

  • If your unsecured load produces property damage, you could pay a fine up to $1,000 and spend up to 90 days in jail. 
  • If your unsecured load causes bodily injury or death, you could be imprisoned for up to 12 months.

These penalties apply even to loose materials like dirt or gravel. 

In addition to fines and jail sentences, you may also face lawsuits for failing to properly secure your truck’s load. Under Washington law, someone may file a lawsuit to recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Vehicle damage

The amount from a settlement or a jury award can be considerably larger than a civil fine.

Contact the Gilbert Law Firm

If you have suffered a personal injury because of an accident caused by an unsecured load, you need to discuss your case with one of the personal injury attorneys at the Gilbert Law Firm in Spokane, Washington. For years, we have been recovering millions of dollars in settlements and judgments for our accident victim clients. To speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact the Gilbert Law Firm today.


Disclaimer: The blog published by the Gilbert Law Firm marketing team for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. Readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.

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