The Law Offices of Chaikin and Sherman, P.C.
Toll Free -
Phone - 202.659.8600
Fax - 202.659.8680
Overloaded and Overweight Truck Accidents
Virginia, Washington, DC, & Maryland Truck Accident Lawyers
Overloaded trucks pose a very serious danger on the road. Obviously, when a truck is too heavy it has more momentum, making it more difficult to stop and more likely to go out of control when swerving to avoid an accident. Overloading can cause other problems with the truck, such as brake failure or inability to steer.
Truck weight and the law
Trucking laws dictate how much weight a commercial truck can carry, how heavy the truck itself can be, the combined weight of a truck and its load, weight on each axle and weight on the tires. The amount of weight is not the only factor. Distribution of the weight also affects the handling of the truck and is governed by these laws.
Roads, bridges and overpasses often have a maximum weight limit for vehicles which travel on them to prevent damage over time or immediate collapse.
Weigh stations are set up along highways, at state lines and other intervals, and at checkpoints where commercial vehicles are weighed and inspected. Weigh stations check for overweight loads, illegal or falsely reported cargo, and compliance with Hours of Service laws. Discovery of an overweight truck does not necessarily mean that it will be prevented from returning to the road. In some cases drivers are merely issued a ticket and sent on their way. Others may be detained until an overweight permit is issued.
Why overloaded trucks can cause accidents
Trucks which are too heavy can cause truck accidents in ways which may not seem obvious.
- Too much weight can cause tires to burst
- Overloaded trucks travel uphill very slowly posing a hazard to approaching vehicles on blind corners
- Going downhill, trucks which are too heavy travel too fast
- Added momentum going downhill can mean too much stress on the brakes causing them to fail
- More weight means more longer stopping distance
- overloading raises the center of gravity making the truck more likely to roll over
- Overloading can shift the weight to the rear of the truck taking weight off of the front tires and making steering very difficult, much like driving on ice
- Trucks which that are above weight ratings for certain roads, bridges, and overpasses can cause roads to collapse
Who is responsible for overloaded trucks?
In most cases truck drivers are responsible for inspecting their loads to make sure that they are evenly distributed, properly secured and not overweight. The exception to this rule is when the load is sealed and the driver is not allowed to look at the load.
Although drivers are ultimately responsible, other parties may share this responsibility.
Responsible parties in truck accidents caused by overloaded and overweight trucks can include:
- Truck drivers
- Trucking companies
- Truck loading companies
- Government entities (such as weigh station officials allowing an overweight truck to continue travel)
Recent Tractor-Trailer and Large Truck Accident Settlements
- $5.4 million expected lifetime payout obtained on behalf of a child severely injured when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the vehicle in which she was a passenger.
- $3 million obtained by a woman who lost her leg from the knee down as a result of a collision with a utility truck that struck her vehicle head on after the truck was rear-ended.
- $2.4 million obtained on behalf of a pedestrian struck by a truck while she was walking in the crosswalk. The client sustained a brain injury.
- $1.75 million obtained on behalf of an 80 year old pastor of a community church who was in a car that was struck head-on by a truck that crossed the center line.
- $750,000.00 on behalf of a 54 year old woman who lost a portion of her arm when a tractor-trailer sideswiped her car, as she was returning from Ocean City, Maryland. She received the maximum compensation allowed, at that time, for pain and suffering in the State of Maryland.
- $600,000.00 on behalf of a woman whose vehicle was struck in the rear by a beverage truck. The client suffered a herniated disk in her neck but she had not had the suggested surgery performed at the time of the trial. This was the largest verdict rendered at the time in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia for an unoperated herniated disc.
- $600,000.00 obtained against the United States Postal Service as a result of the negligence of one of its truck drivers, who pulled out from a stop side in front of our client's motorcycle. Our client suffered multiple fractures and third degree burns to his left lower extremity.
- $450,000.00 verdict by United States District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to a man who suffered back and knee injuries after his van was struck in the rear by a United States Postal Service truck.
- $400,000.00 obtained on behalf of a man involved in a tractor-trailer underride case. The tractor-trailer was blocking the travel portion of the roadway when the client's car went underneath it, removing the entire roof of the car and causing the client to suffer head injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor-trailer truck accident in Virginia, Maryland or Washington DC, please email or call our committed Virginia truck accident attorneys today. We are focused on obtaining justice for you - the victim.