Overloaded Trucking Accidents

Truck Accident Lawyer in San Francisco, CA

According to the NHTSA, 3,900 fatalities and 104,000 injuries resulted from truck crashes in 2012. One common reason for catastrophic injuries from truck crashes is a driver’s loss of control of an overloaded truck. Overloading trucks has become a significant problem in the trucking industry and is extremely dangerous to everyone on the road, including the truck driver.

Drivers may be tempted to overload their trucks in order to:

  • Save on fuel costs
  • Meet delivery deadlines
  • Increase profits

Why Overloaded Trucks Can Be Dangerous

Federal and state laws specifically address weight restrictions for trucks. Generally, it is not allowed for trucks to carry more than 80,000 pounds, which must be evenly distributed across all axles so that the truck remains properly balanced. While loading a few extra things into a trailer may not seem like a big deal, trucking companies and their employees must exercise great care.

If a driver overloads their trailer, they could face the following risks:

  • Increased chance of trailer rollover
  • Loss of steering control
  • Increased chance of brake failure
  • Increase in distance needed to stop
  • Risk of damage to roads and bridge collapse
  • Increased risk of tire blowout or damage to truck axles

For example, heavy trucks may go down inclines much faster than expected by the truck driver, and the driver may not be able to brake in time to avoid a collision. Any shifting of contents in an overweight truck may also cause an imbalance in the trailer which can lead to an increased tipping hazard and an increased chance that the truck’s axles and tires will sustain damage.

Facts & Statistics Regarding Overloaded Truck Accidents

Overloading trucks put additional strain on the vehicle, particularly the brakes and tires. Towing a trailer with a weight heavier than the towing vehicle will lead to loss of control. Loss of control can lead to a fatal accident. The stopping distance drastically increases with additional weight.

  • The chances of a truck crash resulting in death and serious injuries increase with each extra ton of weight over 80,000 lbs. A big truck weighing even a legal 80,000 lbs. GVW is more than twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as a truck weighing about 50,000 lbs. GVW.
  • Pavement damage is caused almost entirely by heavy trucks, not by passenger cars. One legal 80,000 lbs. GVW truck does as much damage to road pavement as 9,600 cars.
  • Studies over the last 20 years, including a recent white paper by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, found that increasing the weights of trucks, especially in the existing configurations, increased their crash rates, including fatal crash rates.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study pointed out that the use of trucks at higher weights could increase fatal crash involvement rates.

Liability in Overweight Truck Accidents

Truck drivers are required to stop at weigh stations on their route to ensure that they are carrying an appropriate weight, but they don’t always lighten their loads when they are supposed to. If they are involved in an accident, the employer may be held liable as well as the driver through indirect liability, or through a direct liability such as negligent hiring, retention, or entrustment.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious trucking accident resulting in a catastrophic injury, we urge you to call a San Francisco personal injury lawyer from Scarlett Law Group as soon as possible. Our founding lawyer, Randall H. Scarlett, has over 20 years of experience advocating on behalf of the injured and protecting their rights to compensation.

For more information and a free case evaluation, please call our office at (415) 688-2176.

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