Overloaded Truck Accident Lawyer
Overloading is a safety hazard for all vehicles, but it can be especially dangerous for commercial trucks.
Trucks are designed to carry weights up to a specific number only. When a truck exceeds its maximum weight, it is more susceptible to losing control, tipping, or malfunctioning on the road.
Overloaded and overweight trucks endanger the lives of truck drivers and other motorists. A truck’s sheer size and mass can lead to severe injuries and death–overloading just increases its propensity to cause destruction.
Did you suffer injuries or lose a loved one in an accident caused by an overloaded or overweight truck? At Injury Lawyers Team, sponsored by Rosenfeld Law Offices, our truck accident lawyers help victims of negligent drivers and trucking companies seek justice for their losses. We can do the same for you.
Contact our law offices today for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Size and Truck Weight Limit Laws
Federal laws regulate the maximum gross vehicle weight and axle loads on the Interstate System.
Federal limits for semi-trailers are:
- 80,000 pounds gross weight
- 20,000 pounds on a single axle
- 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle group
Some states have laws that allow truck sizes and weights on non-Interstate highways that exceed federal limits.
Moreover, most states require trucks to stop at all open weigh stations to ensure they are not exceeding posted weight limits. However, a weigh station may only give an overloaded truck an overweight permit before allowing it to continue its journey. Hence, weigh stations are not perfect solutions to deter overloaded trucks.
Why Are Overloaded Trucks Dangerous?
An overloaded truck can cause an accident for the following reasons:
- The truck is less stable and prone to losing control
- Tires can overheat due to the excess weight and lead to dangerous tire blowouts
- The extra weight on the axles can lead to their breakage
- The truck driver has less control of the vehicle, making maneuvering difficult
- The truck cannot accelerate normally
- Brakes have to work harder to stop, increasing the risk of brake failure
- Excess cargo weight can increase a truck’s speed when going downhill, making it difficult for the driver to brake
- The suspension system experiences too much stress; the weakest point may malfunction over time
- Improperly loaded cargo can cause an imbalance in the truck’s center of gravity, increasing the risk of a rollover or jackknife accident.
Other Factors That Can Lead to an Overloaded Truck Crash
Excessive cargo weight may not be the only cause of a truck accident. Other contributory factors may include:
- Distracted Driving: Texting, eating, or talking on the phone diminishes a driver’s concentration and awareness, increasing the risk of colliding with another motor vehicle.
- Intoxicated Driving: Drugs and alcohol impair a driver’s coordination, concentration, reaction time, and judgment, which are essential for safe driving.
- Aggressive Driving: Speeding, swerving, tailgating, and other aggressive driving behaviors are significant factors in many truck accidents. Speeding and tailgating can easily lead to a collision since semi-trucks take longer to slow down and stop. Moreover, swerving can shift a truck’s center of gravity, increasing the chances of a rollover.
- Drowsy Driving: A fatigued driver may fall asleep at the wheel and lose control of their vehicle. Many truck crashes occur due to overworked truck drivers that doze off on the job due to lack of sleep.
- Poor Road Conditions: Potholes and rough roads can cause semi-trucks to lose control, especially if they carry improperly loaded cargo.
- Inclement Weather: Brakes work harder to stop large trucks when the roads are slippery with rain or ice. An overweight or improperly loaded truck only increases the risk of an accident by overworking the brake systems.
- Unsecured Cargo: Improperly loaded or unsecured cargo can shift during transit and cause the truck to sway uncontrollably.
- Lack of Maintenance: A truck’s components wear away over time, and overloading speeds up that process. Inadequate maintenance can lead to dangerous malfunctions, such as blowouts, brake failure, and steering difficulties.
Common Injuries in Overloaded Truck Accidents
Truck accidents, in general, can result in devastating and life-altering injuries, such as:
- Head Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and other forms of head trauma (e.g., concussions, brain hemorrhages, penetrating brain injuries, etc.) are common in truck accidents. These injuries usually prevent victims from returning to everyday life and may even cause permanent brain damage.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Severe injuries to the spinal cord can lead to significant complications, such as paralysis, chronic pain, and circulatory issues. Many victims cannot return to work or daily activities for a long time, if at all.
- Fractures: Broken bones are more common in truck accidents than in regular car collisions due to higher impact forces. Fractures can range from mild (e.g., hairline fractures) to severe (e.g., compound fractures).
- Crushing Injuries: Overweight truck accidents may lead to victims getting crushed inside their vehicles, resulting in significant tissue damage. Crushing injuries may lead to organ failure, crush syndrome, or death.
- Internal Injuries: Extreme blunt trauma to the body can cause internal rupture of the organs, such as the spleen, kidneys, and liver. These injuries can lead to internal bleeding, seizures, coma, and death.
- Amputations: A truck accident can lead to instant dismemberment or a serious injury that requires amputation.
- Lacerations: Truck accident victims may suffer deep cuts due to broken glass and metal. These injuries can lead to lifelong complications, organ damage, and scars.
Determining Liability in an Overloaded Truck Accident
Truck drivers are rarely the sole person to blame if an overloaded truck accident occurs. Liable parties may include:
- Truck Driver: A truck driver may be liable for an overloaded truck accident if their negligence contributed to it (e.g., speeding, driving while intoxicated, etc.). However, truck drivers are rarely held responsible for overloading vehicles since it is not part of their duty.
- Trucking Company: A truck company can contribute to an overloaded truck accident in many ways, including hiring inexperienced drivers, improper loading, and inadequate maintenance in their truck operations.
- Truck Manufacturer: If a truck’s defect contributed to an overloaded truck accident, the manufacturer could be liable.
- Secondary Employees: Foremen, cargo loaders, and other secondary workers may also be responsible for an overloaded truck accident if they fail to follow weight limits, secure cargo, or complete safety inspections.
- Other Vehicles: You may be able to hold other drivers accountable if their negligence contributed to your accident, e.g., if another motor vehicle cuts you off, forcing you out of the lane and causing you to crash into an oncoming truck.
Filing an Overloaded Truck Accident Claim
Most overloaded truck accidents occur due to the negligence of truckers and trucking companies. Drivers are responsible for following traffic laws and ensuring the safety of other motorists. On the other hand, trucking companies are required to follow state and federal safety regulations. These responsibilities, among others, are called “duty of care.”
If you get into a car accident involving an overloaded trailer, you could hold responsible parties accountable for your personal injuries and other damage. First, you must prove that:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you
- The defendant breached their duty of care
- This breach led to your accident
- The accident directly caused your injuries and other losses
Proving liability in an overloaded truck accident can be challenging. The negligent trucking company may attempt to hide or destroy evidence to avoid accountability. Moreover, the driver may try to place the blame on you.
An experienced attorney can help recover critical forms of evidence to support your case. They may:
- Obtain a court order to prevent the truck company from destroying or hiding evidence
- File a subpoena to obtain critical evidence from the truck’s black box. Many trucking companies install recording devices on their trucks to monitor driver behavior.
- Recreate the accident scene to determine what happened
Your attorney may also obtain other relevant documents, such as:
- Photos of injuries
- Medical records
- Surveillance or dash cam footage
- Photos of property damage
- Police reports
With the help of a personal injury attorney, you could recover monetary compensation for the following losses:
- Medical Expenses: Compensation for medical treatment costs, including hospitalization, medication, surgery, treatment, and anticipated future medical bills.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if your accident leads to permanent disability. These damages may include loss of future earning capacity, mobility aid expenses, and rehabilitation costs.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and non-physical injuries, including physical pain, emotional distress, mental trauma, etc.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for wages, income, and benefits lost while recovering from your injuries or caring for an injured loved one.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for quality of life lost following the accident.
- Property Damage: Compensation for personal property lost or damaged in the accident.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for death-related damages if your loved one dies in the accident, including funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical expenses, and grief.
After filing a personal injury case against the negligent trucking company, its insurance company may offer you a settlement. Unfortunately, this initial offer will likely not be enough to cover your losses. To avoid unfair compensation, have an experienced truck accident attorney negotiate with the defendant’s insurer.
Do not accept the settlement offer before consulting an attorney. Once you take the payment, you can no longer sue for additional damages.
Other Legal Options
Your lawyer can help you pursue damages through other means if:
- Negotiations with the defendant or insurer are unsuccessful
- The defendant denies liability for the accident
If either of these scenarios occurs, your lawyer could help you pursue alternative dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration or mediation.
However, if alternative methods are not feasible, your lawyer will help you file a personal injury lawsuit. Your case will then go to civil court, where a judge or jury will hear evidence from all parties and determine a verdict.
The Role of Your Overloaded Truck Accident Attorney
Our skilled overloaded truck accident lawyers can help you:
- Determine how and why the accident happened
- Gather evidence to support your claim
- File your personal injury claim within the statute of limitations
- Negotiate settlement values
- File your case in civil court, if needed
Hire an Experienced Overloaded Truck Accident Lawyer to Resolve Your Case
Large trucks are already inherently dangerous due to their size and weight. When their gross weight exceeds state or federal limits due to excessive cargo, the risk of an accident becomes even more significant.
Did you or a loved one suffer injuries in an accident caused by an overloaded truck or tractor-trailer? If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the driver or trucking company at fault.
The overloaded truck accident attorneys at Injury Lawyers Team can serve as your compassionate legal counsel during this challenging time. Our lawyers help countless victims obtain justice from negligent parties and, in the process, inspire changes to increase safety within the trucking industry.
Contact our overloaded truck accident lawyers today for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our overloaded truck accident attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our legal services unless we win your case.