Overloaded And Overweight Truck Accidents
The trucking industry in the United States is regulated at the federal and state levels. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides weight restrictions on how much cargo a truck can carry. The federal agency controls maximum gross vehicle weights and axle loads. Unfortunately, many truck drivers and trucking companies push the limits of the weight restrictions and end up contributing to overloaded and overweight truck accidents. When a truck carries more than it can safely handle or is loaded improperly, the potential for truck accidents substantially increases. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident involving an overloaded or overweight truck, consider speaking with an experienced truck accident attorney at The Mark Casto Law Firm to ensure your legal and financial rights remain protected. Call 706-940-4030 to receive a free case evaluation.
What Are Overloaded and Overweight Trucks?
Overloaded and overweight trucks pose a threat to the safety of drivers around them. Truck drivers are more likely to lose control of the vehicle and crash into other vehicles or fixed objects on the road if they do not have control over their vehicle. In addition, the weight of the cargo can raise the truck's center of gravity, increasing the likelihood of a rollover.
The FMCSA imposes restrictions on the size and weight of cargo on trucks. The agency's website contains a list of size and weight limits for all states. All trucks must meet cargo weight limitations imposed by the federal government. After these requirements are met, vehicles must follow the size and weight laws of each state they travel through. Despite the strict restrictions, overloaded and overweight truck accidents are not an uncommon occurrence on America's roads. Overloaded trucks present a major danger to the safety of truck drivers themselves and other motorists.
Why Do Truckers and Trucking Companies Overload Trucks?
In most cases, trucks get overloaded because truck drivers and their employers are trying to maximize their profits. Trucking companies overload their vehicles to save on the number of trips necessary to move cargo. For many trucking companies, the need to load more cargo than they should is explained by the shortage of truck drivers.
According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), the estimated shortage of truck drivers in 2021 hit over 80,000 drivers. However, the shortage of truckers is never an excuse for disregarding the safety of truck drivers and other people on the road.
Who Is Liable for Overloaded and Overweight Truck Accidents?
When a truck accident involves an overloaded or overweight truck, there may be multiple potentially liable parties. In other words, accident victims could pursue compensation from several parties, including:
- The truck driver
- The driver's employer (the trucking company)
- The loading company
- The cargo owner
Determining liability for truck accidents involving overloaded or overweight trucks depends on the facts of each particular case. An experienced truck accident attorney at The Mark Casto Law Firm can help examine these facts and uncover evidence proving fault for causing the crash.
Why Are Overweight and Overloaded Trucks Dangerous?
There are many dangers associated with operating a truck overloaded with too much cargo. Overweight and overloaded trucks pose significant risks to public safety due to the following factors:
- Because too much cargo places undue strain on the mechanical components of the truck, the vehicle may experience a mechanical failure;
- Overloaded trucks require more distance to stop;
- Carrying more cargo than a truck can safely handle raises the center of gravity of the truck, increasing the risk of a rollover accident;
- Placing too much weight on the tires increases the risk of a tire blowout; and
- Improperly loaded cargo can fall onto the road and become debris for other drivers.
Although there is no data available on the number of overweight and overloaded truck accidents, accidents involving trucks are not an uncommon occurrence on our roads. In 2020, there were more than 146,000 truck accidents, causing nearly 4,600 fatalities across the United States, according to the FMCSA. Of those accidents, over 5,400 occurred in Georgia.
Common Types of Truck Accidents That Involve Overweight and Overloaded Trucks
Some of the most common types of accidents involving overweight and overloaded trucks include:
- Jackknife accidents. This type of accident occurs when the front cab and trailer fold into each other, resembling a V-shape. A truck is more likely to jackknife when it carries more cargo than it is designed to carry, or the weight is not distributed properly.
- Rollovers. Certain maneuvers can cause the cargo to shift to one side, causing the truck to roll over onto its side.
- Tire blowout. When the truck's cargo exceeds maximum limits, it can put more pressure on the tires than they can handle. As a result, one or more tires could end up blowing out.
- Falling cargo accident. Improperly loaded or secured cargo loads can end up falling out of the truck trailer, turning into road debris for other motorists.
Regardless of the type of truck accident, victims are entitled to compensation if they can prove that the truck driver, the trucking company, or another party was liable.
Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys at The Mark Casto Law Firm
The aftermath of a truck accident is always confusing and overwhelming, and many victims may not understand which regulations were not followed by the trucker and their trucking company. Often, an in-depth investigation is necessary to prove that a truck is over a certain weight or is loaded with too much cargo.
The skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at The Mark Casto Law Firm are well-versed in the laws governing truck cargo restrictions. Our team of experienced truck accident attorneys can investigate overloaded and overweight truck accidents and determine if the weight of the truck was above the legal limits. The Columbus-based law firm provides free strategy sessions to victims injured in truck accidents. Call 706-940-4030 to discuss your truck accident case today.