In their never-ending search for efficiency, trucking companies sometimes push or even step over the lines of safety when loading their trucks. Trucking companies may overload their trucks out of ignorance or indifference, but regardless of the motivation, overloaded trucks can pose a serious risk to other motorists. Overloading a truck hampers its maneuverability and stopping distance, and a seriously overloaded truck can even suffer a catastrophic structural failure. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident that you suspect was caused by an overloaded truck, you may have grounds for legal remedies.
What is an Overloaded Truck?
All vehicles are rated according to the maximum amount of weight they can safely carry. Most passenger vehicles are rated for a few thousand pounds, but commercial vehicles are often rated in the tens of thousands of pounds. Overloading occurs when a trucking company loads more weight into the trailer or cargo area than the vehicle can safely support, exceeding the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating.
These weight ratings are set by state and federal laws after extensive testing, and the ratings cover more than the point at which the physical components of the truck will begin to fail. When overloaded, trucks have difficulty turning and accelerating. Braking on a downhill slope becomes more difficult, and sudden movements can cause the truck to jackknife or tip over. Overloading a truck exposes a trucking company to serious legal liability in the event of an accident.
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a truck, try to remember how the truck behaved in the moments leading up to the accident. If the trailer seemed to sag or bow in any way, the truck might have been overloaded. Sudden, jerking movements are another common symptom of an overloaded truck. Finally, if the truck’s physical parts failed in any way, or if the truck tipped over or jackknifed, excessive weight may have contributed to your accident.
Protections Against Overloaded Trucks
Weigh stations are the primary way that governments ensure that trucks aren’t driving overloaded, but the weigh station system isn’t foolproof. These weigh stations are located along freeways; when the weigh station is active, truck drivers are often required to drive through the weigh station so that their load can be accurately measured.
However, if a truck is over its weight limit, it often isn’t removed from the road; the driver can be cited for an overweight truck, but he’ll be allowed back on the road after the citation is issued. Additionally, weigh stations aren’t always open, and they’re frequently spaced out by tens or even hundreds of miles, leaving plenty of room for overweight trucks to drive without regulation.
Legal Remedies Against Overweight Truck Accidents
If you’ve been injured in an accident that may have involved an overweight truck, you may be entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages. Operating an overweight truck is a serious breach of regulations that exposes a trucking company to significant liability, and your legal team should immediately work to secure any evidence of overloading. Bills of lading and other cargo manifests can help prove that a truck was overloaded. Citations for overweight vehicles can also establish the liability of a trucking company, even if there isn’t a citation directly related to your accident. If the company has a history of overloading its vehicles, it may be easier to convince a jury that the vehicle that caused your accident was overloaded.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with an overloaded truck, contact the legal experts at Rizio Liberty Lipinsky. We specialize in personal injury lawsuits and will help you receive the full compensation you deserve. Trucking companies often resist paying a fair and just compensation when their trucks cause injuries, but with us at your side, you won’t be ignored. Call us today at 888-292-8888 or fill out our contact form to find out how we can help you put your life back together after your accident.
- This article should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship with anyone. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney in your community.