If you were injured in a truck accident in Virginia, the best step to take is calling an experienced attorney who can handle the truck accident. Truck accidents happen for all types of reasons, including overloading. Trucking companies and truck drivers must adhere to federal and state laws regarding truck weight maximums. When they fail to do so, they risk the integrity and safety of their vehicle. Operating an overloaded truck increases the risk of a serious collision or accident.
Following a truck accident that causes you or a relative harm, it is important to have an experienced attorney investigate what happened. Through an in-depth investigation, we may discover the truck?s weight was above the legal maximum, and that this factor led to the accident. We will use the evidence of the overloading to demand you receive full and fair compensation.
FMCSA Weight Limits
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry. The FMCSA sets out size and weight limitations for all commercial trucks. If there is an overloaded semi-truck, it is because that truck has too much cargo and either weighs more or is larger in dimensions than the FMCSA limits.
For semi-trucks, the maximum single axle weight is 20,000 lbs. The maximum tandem axle weight is 34,000 lbs. The maximum gross weight of the truck is 80,000 lbs. These limits include the weight of the tractor, trailer, and cargo.
There are bridge formulas that determine the maximum weight of a truck for specific bridges. The maximum weight for a semi-truck going over certain bridges is typically less than the federal 80,000 lbs. maximum.
Additionally, some states have differing maximums than the FMCSA. Trucks that are navigated solely in Michigan, South Dakota, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York may weigh more than 80,000 lbs., depending on the number of axles.
Overload Permits in Virginia
Truck overloading rules offer some exceptions to these weight maximums. Oversized and overweight loads may be lawful, if the truck driver and trucking company obtain the proper permit for the haul. Individual states, not the FMCSA issue permits.
In Virginia, overload permits allow a trucking company to go beyond the weight limitations by 5%. In no circumstances can the vehicle exceed 84,000 lbs. gross weight.
Virginia overload permits are only effective on Virginia state roads – not interstate highways.
What Happens When a Truck is Overweight?
The FCMSA and states put weight limits on commercial vehicles for a reason – safety. There are many dangers from an overloaded truck, including an increased risk of a preventable collision or accident.
When a truck weighs more than the maximum amount, the cargo is putting a greater strain on the tractor and trailer. If a truck is consistently overloaded, this can significantly add to the wear and tear of the truck?s parts and equipment. Without particularly cautious inspections and proactive maintenance, there is a greater likelihood that a part will malfunction or fail. For example, extra weight on the tires could lead to a blowout and a crash.
Another danger associated with overweight trucks is downhill velocity. The truck?s brakes will experience far greater strain going downhill with a heavier load. This increases the risk of brake failure and runaway truck accidents.
Overloaded trucks may deal with a higher risk of rear-end accidents. The additional weight increases the amount of time the truck driver needs to come to a complete stop. If the truck driver is not prepared for the extra weight or had to stop suddenly, they may collide with the vehicle in front of them.
Truck drivers operating overloaded trucks also must contend with an altered center of gravity. Depending on how the truck is loaded, truckers may have an elevated center of gravity, increasing the possibility of rollover accidents. This is particularly an issue when the cargo is not properly secured. Shifting cargo can lead to a jackknife, rollover, or other truck accident.
Additionally, when a truck is overloaded, the equipment used to secure the cargo may not be enough. If this equipment fails because of the additional weight, the shifting or calling cargo could lead to a collision.
Common Overloaded Truck Accidents
Overweight trucks can lead to all types of collisions, including:
- Brake failure truck accidents
- Increased downhill velocity truck accidents
- Runaway truck accidents
- Tire blowout truck accidents
- Loss of steering truck accidents
- Rear-end truck accidents
- Rollover truck accidents
- Jackknife truck accidents
- Falling cargo truck accidents
- Shifting cargo truck accidents
No matter what type of truck accident you were involved in, contact Lugar Law PC. We will thoroughly investigate to determine if it was an overloaded truck.
Who is Responsible for Overloading a Truck?
Several parties can be liable for your overloaded truck accident, including the:
- Truck driver,
- Trucking company,
- Company responsible for loading the truck, or
- Cargo owner.
Lugar Law PC Will Investigate the Truck Accident
When an overweight truck is on the road, the truck driver is at least partly, if not fully, to blame. Truck drivers are responsible for following all state and federal trucking laws. They should know how much the truck weighs, and they should not take a haul that puts them over federal or state weight limits.
Trucking companies are often to blame because they may pressure their truckers to haul loads that are over the weight maximums. Truckers who fear losing their jobs or other retaliation may do as they are told, despite it being against the law.
Trucking companies also may be liable because they are responsible for their employees? actions. Overloaded trucks may be the truck driver?s fault, but the trucker?s employers may be legally liable for the damage overloaded trucks caused.
Every truck accident case is unique, which is why we recommend contacting Lugar Law PC as soon as possible. We are well-versed in the laws governing overweight trucks and drivers. We know how to investigate the accident and determine if your injuries are due to an unsafe load.
We Handle Overloaded Truck Accidents
If you have any inkling that the truck involved in your collision was overloaded or that the cargo was improperly loaded, call Lugar Law PC immediately. Signs of unsafe and overloaded truck accidents include oversized flags on the truck, when the cargo stuck out from the back of the truck, or when any cargo fell off the truck.
Let experienced Roanoke attorney Cerid Lugar assist with your truck accident by thoroughly investigating the crash, including the weight of the truck at the time of the collision, and to use the evidence to demand fair compensation.
You can reach us at (540) 384-0348 or through our online form. Consultations are free.