Trucking Companies Are Not Above The Law
The trucking industry is the life-giving force of the U.S. economy, as trucks transport nearly 71% of all the freight tonnage in the country. That is more than 10.5 billion tons of freight each year, though experts forecast that the annual tonnage could increase by over 25% by 2030.
Unfortunately, many trucking companies load their trucks beyond the legally allowable capacity, which increases the risk of truck accidents. Trucks are overloaded and overweight because trucking companies are trying to maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else’s safety.
What Makes Overloaded Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
Here at The Hayes Law Firm, we have seen what kinds of life-altering consequences these devastating crashes can cause to innocent people. We work hard to hold negligent trucking companies and reckless truck drivers accountable for injuries and deaths caused by trucks that carry more freight than they can handle.
Even for a truck driver with decades of experience behind his back, operating an overloaded truck can be tough as it has reduced braking abilities and is harder to maneuver. Overloaded trucks tend to carry cargo that has not been properly loaded and secured, which means it could fall from the truck at any moment or cause cargo shifting inside the truck, contributing to a jackknife or rollover crash.
Determining Liability For Overloaded Trucks
Each truck has weight limits known as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which includes maximum allowances for loading the truck with cargo.
These maximum weight allowances are regulated by federal law because overloading a truck makes the vehicle less stable when making turns and increases the braking distance. These and many other factors increase the likelihood of a truck collision.
More often than not, an injured motorist or pedestrian is able to pursue compensation from the trucking company and the truck driver who operated the truck because they (a) ignored the fact that cargo weight exceeds the legal limit, (b) intentionally overloaded the truck or (c) failed to perform the recording of cargo weight before embarking on a trip.
How To Prove That The Truck Was Overloaded
You, as an injured party, are required to establish the other party’s negligence by proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the truck driver owed you a duty of care, which was breached by a negligent or reckless act, which, in its turn, was responsible for your injury, as well as economic and noneconomic losses.
However, in accidents involving overloaded trucks, negligence per se may apply. What that means is that the standard of proof is lower because the truck driver and/or trucking company violated strict regulations regarding the maximum allowable cargo weight.
In that case, your lawyer will have to find proof that there was a violation of a federal trucking law or regulation and that this particular violation caused the accident and the resulting harm.
How A Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Trucking companies are known for their tendencies to tamper with and mitigate evidence, which is why hiring a skilled lawyer to gather, preserve and document all evidence available is of paramount importance.
Your lawyer will also investigate who exactly was responsible for overloading the trucks. In some cases, transporting more cargo than what the truck can handle is an individual choice made by the driver, while in other cases, there is an unwritten rule by the trucking company to haul as much as possible to reduce fleet costs and maximize overall profits.
There are also cases when a trucking company hires a firm that is responsible for loading and securing the cargo. If the third-party company does a negligent job and the trucking company fails to properly supervise the process, you could potentially hold multiple parties accountable for your injuries.