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Container freight equipment safety rules go into effect

On Georgia highways you often see trucks carrying intermodal freight containers that were delivered to southeastern ports from places around the world. Attorneys preparing to take to trial cases of catastrophic trucking accidents involving intermodal freight need to understand issues that differ not only from regular highway accidents but also that from other trucking accidents.

When freight containers are shipped by sea, rail and truck, that is called intermodal shipping. Throughout the country you see large intermodal freight facilities that transfer freight containers between ships, trains and trucks. In Georgia, vast amounts of container freight are handled through the port of Savannah.

This week the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Adminstration began enforcing its Intermodal Chassis rule that requires intermodal equipment providers (IEPs), motor carriers and drivers to share responsibility for the safety of intermodal equipment used on U.S. highways.

Intermodal equipment or chassis are the trailers used in the transfer of goods from a ship or rail car to trucks for final delivery. There has been a problem with old, poorly maintained trailer chassis being spray painted and put back into service hauling freight containers, with inadequate regard for safety. Now there are new rules requiring providers of intermodal chassis to implement systematic inspection, repair and maintenance programs, and repair or replace defective equipment. The chassis must now display uniform identifying numbers.

For cases where the insurance coverage of a small motor carrier is inadequate to compensate a catastrophic injury, we also consider the potential to access the insurance coverage of the ocean carrier that is responsible to the shipper for delivery of freight all the way to the inland destination.

Ken Shigley is a trucking safety trial attorney representing seriously injured people in tractor trailer, big rig, intermodal container freight, cement truck, dump truck and bus accidents statewide in Georgia. He served as chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute in 2005, is a national board member of the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice, and is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.

He has extensive experience representing parties in interstate trucking collision cases, and in the past two years has spoken at national interstate trucking litigation seminars in Chicago (trucking insurance), New Orleans (trial tactics and side underride issues), St. Louis (punitive damages), San Francisco (dealing with insolvent trucking companies), Atlanta (trucking insurance, closing argument), Nashville (use of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations), and Amelia Island (overview of trucking litigation).

A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he has been listed as a “Super Lawyer” (Atlanta Magazine), among the “Legal Elite” (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). In addition to trucking litigation, he has broad experience in products liability, catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, spinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases. Currently he is Treasurer and a candidate for President-Elect of the 41,000 member State Bar of Georgia.This post is subject to our ethical disclaimer.