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Liability in an Overloaded Truck Accident


Be it out of indifference or ignorance, trucking companies may push beyond the legal limits when loading their trucks, creating the possibility for catastrophe on the highway. The risk to motorists from overloaded trucks exists at anytime and anyplace in the U.S. Overloading a truck increases its stopping distance, adversely effects maneuverability and stability. An overloaded truck can also fail structurally leading to disastrous consequences.

What Makes an Overloaded Truck So Dangerous?

Commercial vehicles are rated according to the maximum weight that can be transported without compromising the safety or structure of the vehicle. Commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailers are often rated to carry tens of thousand of pounds. When a trucking company loads more weight into, or onto the trailer than the vehicle can safely handle, overloading occurs.

State and federal laws specify weight rating by extensive testing and these tests do not only apply to the failure limit of the equipment but also their performance. Overloaded trucks are more prone to rolling over or jackknifing due to sudden motions. Trucks have more difficulty turning, accelerating and braking, especially on a downhill slope.

How Do Overloaded Trucks Stay on the Road?

In the event of an accident the trucking company is exposed to liability if the truck was overloaded. Often there is another party who may, at least, share in the liability. Many tractors and trailers on the road have never been paired together so the actual weight limitations are left to judgment. A trailer may belong to a freight company, left at and loaded by a third party consignor, and picked up by an independent trucker. The independent trucker hooks up, signs for the load and is on his way, oblivious to the fact that his rig is overweight, until he reaches an incline. At that point he does not want to turn back as it would cost him too much in lost time.

Often an overloaded truck will be required to pull into one of the many commercial vehicle weigh stations along state and federal highways. If discovered to be overweight the driver is often issued a citation and sent on his or her way. In addition, these weigh stations are often closed.

If You Are Involved in an Overloaded Truck Accident

If you have been injured in a truck accident, your observations prior to the crash are important. Did the trailer seem to sag or bow? Was there any sudden jerking motions or overcorrection by the driver? If the truck rolled over, jackknifed or lost control on a downhill slope, excessive weight may have been the cause.

If you or someone you care for has been injured in an accident with an overweight truck there are legal remedies available. Operating an overweight truck is an egregious breach of regulations to which the trucking company should be held legally accountable. It is imperative that you have an experienced truck accident attorney on your side to work immediately to secure any evidence of overloading. Documents such as cargo manifests and bills of lading can help to prove that the truck was overloaded. Past citations for violations can show a pattern of overloading by the trucking company, making it easier to support your case for overloading to a jury.

These cases can become complex when there is more than one possible defendant involved. The independent driver should not have accepted an overweight load; or the trucking company may point to the consignor who loaded the truck as the responsible party.

An Experienced Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving an overloaded truck, speak with an experienced truck accident attorney at Vititoe Law Group. We have recovered substantial awards for victims of accidents and will help you receive the full amount that you deserve. Trucking companies will fight with their own formidable law firms to minimize the compensation. With our team on your side you will have all you need to win what you deserve and get your life intact once more.

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