The risk to drivers of passenger vehicles sharing the road with large trucks is obvious, but overload one of those trucks, or load it improperly, and the potential for a catastrophic event increases manifold. An overloaded semi-truck, or 18-wheeler, places an undue burden on its brakes, frame, suspension and tires. An overweight truck has an extended stopping ability, especially while traveling downhill and can easily jackknife on a wet road surface. Overloaded or improperly loaded trailers are prone to rollovers and even splitting open, dumping their contents onto a busy highway. The driver of an overweight truck may not be aware of weight of the load until it becomes time to suddenly stop or take evasive action. He may fail to apply the brakes soon enough or lose control and rollover.
Why Are Overloaded Trucks on the Highway?
The maximum cargo weight of a trailer truck is determined by the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is calculated by the limitations of the brakes, powertrain, frame and suspension. Unfortunately, it is common for semi-trucks on the road to be a combination of a tractor and trailer that have never been hooked together, making it virtually impossible to accurately calculate the GVWR. Very often the driver is an owner/operator who simply signs off on the load, hooks up and drives off. There are weigh stations along most major interstate highways, which are in place to check the vehicles gross weight. These stations are often closed. Should the station be manned and open, and a truck is determined to exceed the GVWR, the driver is ticketed and sent along with his overweight load.
The trailer may also be dropped off by the “over the road” trucker and then picked up by a local trucker with a lesser equipped cab. The local truckers job is to deliver the trailer to its destination, traveling on busy urban highways, creating an even greater threat. The possibility of a crash is ever present with an overweight or off balanced load from to loss of control due to:
· Increased stopping distance, especially on downgrades
· Increased downgrade speed, often used to create inertia for an approaching incline.
· Slow uphill speed. Overloaded trucks may stall on hills, have equipment failures and even roll backwards
· Loss of steering control, especially on slick surfaces
· An elevated center of gravity, leading to a rollover.
The results from a crash involving a trailer truck and smaller vehicles are often tragic, causing devastating injury and loss of life. Determining liability in truck accidents is always difficult. The trucking company, or carrier, who agreed to take the consigned load will not admit knowledge of the truck being overloaded. They will point the finger at the consignor who loaded the trailer or the independent driver who signed off on it. The trucking company will be defended by a corporate law firm, with vast experience in trucking accidents, who will wage a vehement battle for the carrier. The truck driver will also challenge any case to protect his livelihood. For anyone who was injured, or lost a loved one, in an overloaded truck crash, the barriers will seem impenetrable and low settlement offers will be tempting for plaintiffs represented by inexperienced or unqualified attorneys.
Why Hire a Qualified Truck Accident Attorney?
Anyone who was the victim of an apparent overloaded truck crash needs to be represented by an experienced truck accident attorney. The attorney will know true compensatory value of the case and will have the skill and resources to recover what is truly deserved. The attorney’s investigative team will check the records of weigh stations, service records, log books and police reports for any evidence that could be pertinent. If the evidence exists, diligence will produce it.
It you were injured, or you lost a loved one, in a truck accident, you owe it to yourself to retain the best truck accident attorney possible.