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Container falls from truck, kills bicyclist

One of the most common sights on Los Angeles freeways is container trucks, that is, trucks hauling large containers that are used to ship goods very long distances. The large number of container trucks can be explained by the efficiency of shipping containers: once a container is packed, it can be shipped by rail, ship or truck without re-packing. Containers can be hauled by trucks specially designed for the purpose or on flat bed trailers. In either case, the principal safety concern is securely fastening the container to the truck. That concern appears to be the center of an investigation of a truck accident that killed a bicyclist near the boundary between Carson and Long Beach.

According to police investigators, a flatbed truck was being used to haul a shipping container when the driver drove under a railroad bridge. For reasons that have not been verified or disclosed, the container fell from the truck bed and crushed a bicyclist who just happened to be passing close to the truck. Investigators examined the bridge and found evidence of a collision, but the truck was able to pass completely under the bridge. The truck used straps to secure the container, and the truck's impact with the bridge apparently generated enough force to break the straps and cause the container to fall on the cyclist.

A spokesman for the Teamsters' Union said that a truck that attaches the container directly to the chassis is the safest method of transporting a heavy container. On the other hand, a spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said that both chassis trucks and flatbed trucks comply with federal trucking regulations if the load is securely fastened to the truck.

The details of this accident may not be known for several weeks, but one thing is clear: the cyclist's survivors have a cause of action for his death against the owner of the truck, the driver, and any firm that was leasing the truck. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a collision with a large truck may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in handing such accidents. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for the loss of a family member.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Authorities offer clues in the case of bicyclist crushed by shipping container," Sarah Parvini and Joseph Serna, Oct. 28, 2015

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