Injured in an accident with an overloaded truck? Let Munley Law help
If you or a loved one experienced an accident due to an overloaded truck, we have plenty of information you may be looking for. The truck accident lawyers at Munley Law understand that you may be experiencing physical and emotional pain, compounded by financial expenses and losses, due to an accident involving an overloaded truck. We encourage you to contact Munley Law for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and to give our skilled attorneys the opportunity to advocate for you.
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The overloaded truck accident lawyers at Munley Law have established a special focus on these unique types of cases. We have decades of experience winning cases against major transportation companies. Our trucking accident attorneys are dedicated experts in aggressively pursuing the justice and compensation that our clients deserve. Further, we do not collect a fee unless we win your case. You will not owe us anything upfront, or out of pocket. Chat live, email us, or call us for a free case evaluation today.
What are the Weight Regulations for a Commercial Truck?
Pursuant to Title 23 § 658.17 of the Code of Federal Regulations, some trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds in comparison to the standard full-size car which weighs an average of 4,000 pounds. The disparity in weight between trucks and cars makes accidents between them especially dangerous and often catastrophic for the drivers and passengers involved.
There is a purpose to the regulation of trucks, and it takes a village to develop the regulations for a good reason. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) incorporates the skills of experts including scientists, data analysts, transportation and safety experts, and legal specialists to develop truck rules and regulations.
Truck drivers are professionally trained drivers who are required to abide by the regulations that were put into place by various experts as mentioned above, to keep everyone on the road safe. If the truck driver or trucking company ignores these rules and regulations, then they may be liable for damages in the event of an accident.
Who Is Liable for an Overloaded Truck Accident?
To prove who is responsible for your overloaded trucking accident, you will need to show that the other party is negligent. According to the Law Dictionary, negligence is defined as: “The omission to do something which a reasonable man, guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs, would do. or doing something which a prudent and reasonable man would not do. It must be determined in all cases by reference to the situation and knowledge of the parties and all the attendant circumstances.”
To have a viable personal injury claim of negligence, it must be proven that there was:
- A duty of care: The truck driver owed a duty to the victim to not drive an overweight or overloaded truck
- A breach of duty: The truck driver breached their duty by operating an overloaded truck
- Direct causation: The truck driver’s breach of duty caused or contributed to the accident
- Damages: The victim suffered injuries or property damages as a result of the accident
Unlike the average car accident, there could be various parties that may be liable for an accident as the result of the negligence of an overloaded truck.
A truck driver is held to particular standards as a professional driver. They are bound by the rules and regulations of the FMCSA and they have a duty to follow protocol to make sure their vehicle is safe to travel. The truck driver is ultimately responsible for monitoring the weight and the securement of their vehicle’s cargo.
As the truck driver’s employer, the trucking company may be held partially liable for an accident stemming from an overloaded truck.
Cargo Loading Company
The company that improperly loaded the cargo into the truck may be partially liable for an accident involving an overloaded truck. An overweight truck negligently loaded by a company may be attributed to careless inattention or intentional overload to expedite the delivery process to increase profits.
Weigh Stations and Weight Station Agents
You’ve most likely seen signs for them throughout highways, and they’re typically operated by an individual state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in tandem with the state police or highway patrol. The weigh stations serve as checkpoints to monitor a truck’s weight and to make they are in compliance with weight regulations. This is to protect all drivers on the road and even the physical road itself.
In August 2022, Pennsylvania became the 48th state to adopt the electronic weigh station bypass system. The bypass service is a system touted to save time for truck drivers by negating the need to spend extra time at weigh stations, and also to improve safety by preventing quick merges to get over to the weigh station exit.
Regardless of mandatory weight check-ins, some truck drivers may attempt to dodge these safety measures by driving on restricted routes or ignoring check-in points. Some reasons they might be avoiding weigh stations are as follows:
- The truck is overloaded and overweight
- The truck has faulty equipment
- The driver didn’t keep a proper logbook
- The driver has gone over their allotted consecutive driving hours
On some occasions, an official at a weigh station might determine that a driver’s truck is overloaded, but they won’t report it and will instead let the truck driver go on their way, putting everyone on the road at risk.
How Can I Prove an Overloaded Truck Caused the Truck Crash?
To receive compensation after an accident with an overloaded truck, it is necessary to prove that the truck driver or the trucking company did not properly load the cargo in the vehicle. You must show that the cargo was not properly secured or that the weight of the cargo surpassed the maximum allowance.
Black boxes or electronic logging devices (ELD) are information recorders found in most semi trucks manufactured after the year 2000. These fireproof black boxes record and track a truck driver’s activity. In the case of an accident, there are details recorded that can help prove that the truck was negligently overloaded. Some specifics recorded are as follows:
- The speed of the truck at the time of the collision
- Whether the truck driver was using cruise control
- The truck’s mechanical condition
- Tire pressure
- The positions of the tires and steering wheel at the time of the accident
- If the truck driver applied the brakes, hard braking, or abrupt stops
- The truck’s mileage
- The amount of time on the road
Most black boxes only store information for up to 30 days. Older black box models store information for even less than 30 days. Once the storage time period is up, the data will get written over. To prove the truck was overloaded, it’s imperative that the evidence from the black box is collected in order to understand what the truck’s performance was like leading up to the accident. Securing black box data is sometimes difficult, but since it’s integral to your claim, you really do need it. Your experienced truck accident lawyer knows to reach out to the appropriate place to demand that the data be preserved. All this information and vital evidence can help prove whether the truck driver was at fault for the accident.
How to Protect Your Truck Accident Claim After the Accident
If you’re involved in an accident with an overloaded truck, your first step is to call 911 and make sure everyone in your car is okay. If you can, it will help to take photos of the accident scene, collect all contact information from any witnesses, and find out the name of the company the truck driver works for.
When the police arrive at the accident scene, give a brief statement, and don’t admit fault. Then, seek medical treatment as soon as you can. Even if you don’t feel injured at the time, it’s always best to get checked out by a medical professional.
Finally, contact Munley Law as soon as you can. The trucking company will have a response team on the way to the accident scene even before you have a chance to talk to the police, so you need someone to protect your rights, advocate on your behalf, and make sure evidence is secured.
What Compensation is Available After an Overweight Truck Crash?
Once a victim of an overloaded truck accident establishes liability, they may be entitled to compensation for any injuries or property damages that resulted from the accident. A victim may receive compensation for medical expenses, lost wages (current and future), property damage, emotional damages, and any other costs associated with the accident.
If an overloaded truck accident results in the wrongful death of a loved one, your damages can include medical and burial expenses, future loss of income, loss of benefits, and the loss of your loved one’s companionship. If your loved one has died due to an overloaded truck accident, it’s hard to wrap your mind around determining how much money you may be entitled to as a result of their death.
We know that it’s impossible to put a dollar amount on this pain and injustice, but we can do the work and help you hold the appropriate party responsible for their negligence.
What are the Most Common Dangers of Overloaded Trucks?
The most common dangers due to an overloaded truck are as follows:
Trucks with improperly loaded cargo or those that exceed the federally mandated weight regulations will almost certainly affect driving performance. The distribution of the cargo and the weight of the vehicle can make the truck unstable and difficult to manage, making an accident likely to happen.
Excessive cargo or improperly distributed weight can also make the truck more likely to tip over when negotiating a tight turn or curve. An overloaded truck is more likely to have unsecured cargo that may fall, causing a crash. Overweight trucks are more likely overall to suffer problems such as a tire blowout, loss of steering control, and rollovers.
When a truck has extra weight on it, the amount of time needed to bring it to a stop is increased, and the brakes have to work harder. Unbalanced wearing of a truck’s brakes and possible brake failure may occur due to friction caused by truck overloading.
Additionally, an overloaded truck will often descend down an incline much faster than anticipated, requiring extra braking force to bring the truck to a stop. If a truck’s cargo is improperly overloaded, the driver can seriously miscalculate the distance and time it takes to bring the truck to a halt. When the driver does hit the brakes, it may be too late to avoid a collision.
Overloading a truck with extra cargo weight takes a toll on the vehicle’s parts through strain and overexertion. This overworking of the truck’s mechanical system can cause it to prematurely break down before being anticipated by the truck driver and the truck company. Likewise, the truck’s mechanical parts may not be up to par causing inadequate and potentially dangerous performance.
Jackknife Truck Accidents
A truck can be loaded and balanced really well, but if there is too much cargo inside and it’s overloaded, there is a much more likely chance of cargo shifting. When that cargo shifts and moves about in the trailer, the weight is no longer balanced, and the chance of jackknifing exponentially increases. A semi-truck is made up of the tractor which is the front part where the engine and cab are located, and the trailer which is the back part where the driver’s haul or cargo is. A jackknife accident is when the front cab and rear trailer of the truck move out of sync with each other. As a result, the trailer creates a 90-degree angle from the cab. When a truck jackknifes, it can easily roll over, or the trailer can swing out across lanes of traffic, colliding with other vehicles.
Operating in Inclement Weather
Rain, snow, ice, sleet, hail, fog, and high wind speeds create dangerous driving conditions for all motor vehicle operators. Semi trucks are especially vulnerable in inclement weather because of their size. Because trucks are more difficult to turn, slow down, speed up, and stop than the average sized car, overloading cargo only amplifies the difficulty of these maneuvers.
Risk of Tire Blowouts
When a truck’s unsecured and overburdened cargo moves around, its weight shifts and becomes unstable. This instability can put pressure on a truck’s tires at levels that they were not designed or approved to bear and subsequently as a result, those tires can blow out.
Why Should I Contact Munley Law?
If you have been in a car accident with a truck, an experienced overloaded truck accident lawyer can determine if a serious violation like improperly loaded cargo contributed to the crash. If an overloaded truck caused your accident, you may be able to sue the truck driver, owner of the vehicle, or the company that loaded the truck for damages.
Our truck accident lawyers have decades of experience investigating truck accidents and obtaining millions of dollars in compensation for injured victims. Since 1959, our truck accident team at Munley Law has helped victims and their families after serious truck accidents. Our record of success speaks for itself.
If you or someone you love suffered a serious injury in a truck accident, you may need help getting the compensation you need. As the victim of a negligent act, you may recover damages for medical bills, therapy, time missed from work, future expenses, and pain and suffering. In order to prove that negligence contributed to your accident, you’ll need a lawyer familiar with trucking laws and regulations.
If you were hurt or lost a loved one in an accident with an overloaded truck, don’t wait much longer. Contact an overloaded truck accident lawyer at Munley Law now for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Overloaded Truck Accidents
What Possible Injuries Can I Receive From an Overloaded Truck Accident?
An improperly overloaded truck is a significant hazard. The injuries people involved in accidents due to an overloaded are often devastating and life-altering, both physically and emotionally. Common injuries from crashes resulting from overloaded trucks are as follows:
- Broken and fractured bones
- Torn muscles
- Internal organ damage
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Severe burns
- Loss of limb
- Whiplash and other neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
How Can Truck Drivers Avoid the Risks Associated with Improper Cargo Loading?
In order to avoid the catastrophic and sometimes fatal consequences of accidents caused by improper cargo loading, truckers should take the following precautions:
- Comply with all FMCSA regulations regarding the inspection of cargo
- Adhere to All FMCSA regulations regarding cargo-securing devices
- Never exceed the maximum cargo weight limits
- Use truck weighing stations in order to maintain an up-to-date understanding of a truck’s load weight
- Take extra precautions when driving on inclines, declines, and during inclement weather
- Regularly perform all required inspections and maintenance of brakes, engines, tires, and other systems as required by the FMCSA and state law
What is the Time Limit on Truck Accident Claims?
Every state has a different statute of limitations on personal injury claims. In Pennsylvania, you have two years to file a claim, starting from the time the accident occurred. This may seem like a long time but if you are seriously injured, it can go by very quickly.
What Should I Do If Someone From the Trucking Company Calls Me?
If someone from the trucking company calls, you do not have to speak with them. If you do speak with them, remember not to have your conversation recorded. Anything you say could be used against you later on. And most importantly, don’t sign any documents without your attorney looking at them first!
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer at Munley Law?
We work on a contingency basis. What this means is we do not collect a fee for our services until the end of your case. If we are successful in getting you the compensation you deserve, we will take a small portion of your settlement or verdict. If we are not successful, you do not owe us anything. And as always, the first consultation is always free.
If you were injured in an overloaded truck accident, we’re here to help. Contact Munley Law today for a free consultation.