Commercial trucks are dangerous enough when their load weights don’t exceed federal and state regulations. When drivers and trucking companies choose to ignore these rules, they make the situation that much worse. Overloaded and overweight trucks are a strong indication of negligence, and the driver and trucking company may be held liable for causing an accident.
Risk Factors Overloaded and Overweight Trucks
We’re all familiar with the giant tires that 18-wheelers and other large trucks use. But these tires can only do so much. Overloaded trucks put extra stress on tires that are only rated to carry a certain amount of weight. With too much weight, there’s a greater risk of a blowout. In turn, that can cause the driver to lose control and get into a serious accident. Overweight trucks can also lead to rollover accidents, generally take more time to slow down and stop, or may cause the brakes to fail.
Not only do these risk factors make accidents more likely, but they also make them more serious. Getting into an accident with another vehicle is bad enough. But the heavier the vehicle – or truck – the more catastrophic the injuries. Multi-vehicle collisions, deadly pile-ups, and fatalities are not uncommon in these situations.
Another risk from overloaded trucks is that debris will fall off the back and cause an accident. This is especially risky where the truck is hauling something like logs, construction debris, or raw materials such as gravel. Drivers are responsible for securing their loads, but too much of a load can make that virtually impossible.
It’s not difficult to see the problems that falling debris can cause. Heavy materials can smash windshields and cause drivers to crash. Debris can make drivers swerve to avoid a collision, which of course may itself cause a collision. Pedestrians and motorcyclists can be killed if debris falls off the overloaded truck and strikes them.
Regulations such as those put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration control how much weight a truck can haul. Drivers are also required to periodically check their loads during transit and record that they did this. Failure to abide by weight limits and related regulations could make the driver or trucking company liable for an accident.
Who is typically liable in a truck accident?
Understanding how and why these accidents take place is an essential step in establishing that liability. There’s, unfortunately, an incentive to turn a blind eye to overloaded or overweight trucks, because more and heavier loads generally translate into higher profits. When this happens, the driver and trucking company may be liable for a victim’s:
- Medical expenses, including hospitalization, rehabilitation, prescription medication, and more
- Lost wages due to time missed recovering from the trucking accident
- Lost earning capacity in the event the victim can’t work at the previous level of productivity
- Pain and suffering and emotional distress
- In some cases, punitive damages may be available
Hiring a skilled Washington, D.C. truck accident attorney is your first step to recovering the compensation you deserve. Your attorney will help uncover how the accident occurred and identify any negligent behavior on the part of the driver and truck company. Then your lawyer will get to work demanding damages to be paid by the defendant’s insurer.
If you or a loved one were hurt in Washington, D.C. due to an overloaded or overweight truck, don’t delay. Talk to the experienced team at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP today.