Overloading a truck is dangerous because it increases the risk of crashes. According to the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, truck overloading is one of the most common preventable causes of 18-wheeler wrecks.
Despite laws regulating the size and weight of the load a truck can carry, some drivers and trucking companies ignore these laws to increase their profits. They overload their trucks and are then legally responsible for any crash that occurs. If you were injured in a collision involving an overloaded vehicle, you may have grounds for a claim.
Why Overloading a Truck Is Dangerous
An overloaded truck requires a greater braking distance – especially in wet weather. The trucker may not be used to driving so far behind the leading vehicle, and a small error in judgment could cause a severe or fatal accident.
The extra weight may also shift the vehicle’s center of gravity. This shift makes it difficult to control the truck, especially when completing turns and driving on inclines. In addition, an overloaded truck is prone to instability, which can lead to rollovers.
Also, the cargo on an overloaded truck may shift while in transit, causing heavy cargo to fall off the back. Loose cargo can cause serious accidents with vehicles driving in the adjacent lanes or following the truck.
Who Is Liable for Accidents Involving Overloaded Trucks?
Liability for an accident caused by an overloaded truck depends on several factors. The circumstances of the crash will likely point to the legally responsible party or parties, which could include:
- The truck driver
- The truck or trailer owner
- The distribution company
- The owner of the cargo
- Those who loaded the truck and secured the load
- A combination of these parties
When the at-fault party is an individual who was on the job, such as the truck driver, their employer is also liable in many cases. State laws often allow victims to hold the truck driver’s employer vicariously liable for the damages incurred. This means those hurt in truck accidents often file a claim or sue a trucking company or another corporation following these crashes.
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Truck Overloading Laws
There are regulations for the weight a truck is legally allowed to carry. If the truck driver, trucking company, or another party ignores these laws, then they may be liable for damages in the event of a crash.
Truck manufacturers in the United States assign a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) to their vehicles. The truck’s GVWR is the sum of the weight of the axles, suspension, brakes, powertrain, and frame. Trucks cannot carry more than their rating permits.
Most trucks cannot weigh more than 80,000 pounds, with a few exceptions for those with special permits. Weigh stations located along interstates and other popular trucking routes allow drivers and law enforcement to check truck weight and ensure they are within the legal limits.
What Else Contributes to Overloaded Truck Crashes?
Several factors can contribute to truck accidents involving overloaded trailers. Examples include:
- Poor weather
- High speed
- Distractions inside and outside of the vehicle
- Other hazards
These factors can lead to collisions regardless of a load’s weight, but the risk is heightened when a truck is towing more than the regulated capacity.
Proving Liability in an Overloaded Truck Accident Case
If a negligent truck driver injured you or a loved one, then you may have grounds for an injury claim against the driver, trucking organization, or another party. To prove what caused a collision and understand who is responsible, you must investigate the crash. You will want to:
- Gather evidence from the scene
- Request black box data and other documents from the trucking company
- Interview any eyewitnesses
- Collect any videos available of the accident, such as footage from traffic and surveillance cameras
- Compile medical records to prove your or your loved one’s injuries
Only once you have evidence to support your claim can you demand an appropriate payout from the liable parties and negotiate a settlement agreement. In some cases, you may need to take the case to trial. If handling all this alone sounds intimidating, there is no need to worry—a truck accident attorney from our firm can represent you.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for My Truck Accident Case?
While there is no legal requirement to have a lawyer represent you while navigating the claims process, it can help significantly. A personal injury attorney from our firm will handle the investigation, build the case, file the claim, and negotiate for a settlement on your behalf.
Speak to an Attorney from Morris Bart, LLC for Free Today
You can talk with a truck accident lawyer from the Morris Bart law firm today for free. You may be entitled to compensation for lost income, time off work, and other damages. We can help you avoid mistakes such as settling for an amount less than what you deserve.
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