How Can I Prove That an Overloaded Truck Caused My Injury?

December 20, 2021

overloaded truck
overloaded truck

Commercial truck drivers must follow strict federal and state regulations when it comes to the amount of cargo that can be safely loaded. In addition, they must ensure that the cargo is evenly distributed inside the trailer and that it is securely fastened so that it does not come loose while the vehicle is in transit.

When a truck is overloaded and exceeds the recommended volume of cargo, there is an increased risk of a devastating truck accident. These catastrophic accidents can cause the occupants of the passenger vehicle to suffer severe injuries. Truck drivers can avoid these accidents by ensuring that their vehicles are not overloaded and that the cargo is safely secured.

There are a number of factors that affect how much cargo can be safely carried by a truck, including the gross weight of the truck, working load limit, the truck’s braking ability, and the number of axles on the truck. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), single-axle vehicles can carry no more than 20,000 pounds worth of cargo, and tandem-axles are limited to 34,000 pounds. The gross weight of a commercial truck cannot exceed 80,000 pounds.

In order to prove that another party was responsible for causing the truck accident, you must be able to show that the other party was negligent. There are a number of ways to prove negligence, including taking pictures of the accident scene, obtaining a copy of the police report, and speaking to witnesses who saw the collision happen.

It is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer who can consult experts, evaluate the truck’s driver’s record, and obtain documents, such as cargo manifests and bills of lading. In some cases, a lawyer may obtain the services of an accident reconstructionist who can thoroughly investigate the details of the collision, recreate the events leading up to the crash, and determine who is responsible.

What Makes Overloaded Trucks so Dangerous?

Large commercial trucks can be dangerous even when they are not fully loaded with cargo. Trucks require significantly more road space to come to a complete stop. They make very wide turns, and they have large blinds spots. When a passenger vehicle is involved in a truck accident, the occupants of the passenger vehicle often suffer serious injuries.

When a large truck is fully loaded with cargo, it can be even more difficult to slow down or to maintain control of the vehicle. If the truck is carrying too much cargo and it exceeds the weight limit, there is an even greater chance of a devastating collision.

The following are examples of how an overloaded truck can cause a serious accident:

  • The weight from the overloaded cargo can put strain on the truck’s axles, making it more difficult for the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.
  • Overloaded trucks are particularly difficult to control during inclement weather.
  • The heavier the truck, the less stopping power.
  • Too much cargo can cause damage to the tires and the brakes.
  • When the cargo is imbalanced, there is an increased risk of a rollover accident.
  • Overloaded trailers are more likely to swing outward, which increases the risk of a dangerous jackknife truck accident.
  • When the cargo is not secured properly, it can come loose and fall out of the back of the truck, hitting other vehicles in the vicinity.
  • Overloaded trucks automatically speed up when going down a hill. Once the truck picks up speed, it is very difficult for the truck driver to slow down.
  • An overloaded truck will make it difficult for the truck to make it up a hill if the truck does not have enough horsepower.
  • When a truck is overloaded, the center of gravity shifts, which increases the risk of a dangerous rollover accident.
  • If a road is already weak, an overloaded truck can cause the road to collapse.

While there are weight stations set up at state lines and other locations, the checks are usually random. That means that the majority of overloaded trucks are on the road when inspections are conducted. In addition, even if an overloaded truck is identified at a weigh station, drivers are often issued a ticket and sent back on the road.

What Are Common Signs of an Overloaded Truck?

If a motorist is driving in the vicinity of a large truck, there are a number of signs that may indicate an overloaded truck, including the following:

  • Suspension springs are compressed. When a commercial truck is carrying cargo that falls within the weight restrictions, it will bounce slightly. If the truck does not bounce at all, it may be due to overloading, which can cause the suspension springs on the wheels to compress.
  • The truck appears to be overloaded. Anytime the cargo is stacked higher than the top of the truck or bulges over the side of the truck, it is probably overloaded.
  • The truck has difficulty slowing down. It is very difficult for a truck driver to slow down if the vehicle is overloaded. The heavier the cargo load, the more difficult it is for the truck driver to control the speed and slow down.
  • The truck driver appears to have difficulty maintaining control of the vehicle. Steering is also more difficult when the truck is overloaded. If it appears that the truck driver is having a difficult time staying in their lane, the truck might be overloaded.

In addition to overloading, unsecured or improperly fastened cargo can also be extremely dangerous. In some cases, cargo that has not been securely fastened can shift or come loose. Bungee cords, fasteners, anchors, and tie down straps that are supposed to keep the cargo secure can become loose or fail to hold the cargo securely in place. This can cause a very serious truck accident, particularly if the cargo falls off the truck and strikes a vehicle that is in the vicinity.

Examples of products or materials that have been known to fall off of commercials trucks include:

  • Automobiles that fall off the tractor or semi-truck during interstate transit.
  • Concrete pipes and cylinders.
  • Metal coils.
  • Large boulders.
  • Lumber and logs.
  • Paper rolls.
  • Intermodal containers.

Who Is Liable for Overloaded Truck Accidents?

There are a number of parties who may be held liable for a truck accident that is caused by overloaded cargo. For example, if the truck driver exceeded the maximum load limit or failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that the cargo was properly secured, they may be held liable for a resulting truck accident. The trucking company may also share liability if it neglected the recommended weight limit, failed to accurately calculate the load’s correct weight, or did not properly train the truck driver on safe loading protocols. If a truck accident was caused by defective tie down straps or other equipment that is meant to keep the cargo safely secured, the manufacturer of the equipment may be held liable.

Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Represent Clients Injured in Overloaded Truck Accidents

Overloaded truck accidents are entirely preventable if trucking companies and truck drivers take necessary steps to ensure their vehicles are safe. If you were injured in an overloaded truck accident, speak to one of our Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we are not afraid to take on powerful trucking companies. Contact us online or call us at 757-352-2237 for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

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Virginia Beach, VA 23462
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