Overweight and Overloaded Trucks are a Danger on the Road
Large trucks, like big rigs and tractor-trailers need to follow the speed limit – but they also have to follow weight limits. Many people may have seen truck “weigh stations” on the sides of highways, but do not understand how overweight trucks cause accidents. Under federal regulations, a truck can never weigh more than 80,000 lbs. on interstate highways.
Far too often, trucking companies overload or improperly load their trucks to ship more freight and make more money. The only thing this does is put other people – and the roads themselves – at risk. If you have been in an accident with an overweight truck, contact the experienced truck accident lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team today.
Truck Weight Limits
Weight limits for trucks come from many different sources, and require a lot of weigh-ins and permits for truck drivers to use certain roads, bridges, and tunnels all across the country. For interstate highways, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is responsible for the rules.
On every interstate highway in the United States, like Interstate Route 95, the weight limit for a truck is 80,000 lbs. For comparison, this is the equivalent weight of about 27.5 Honda Civics combined into one vehicle. This is a huge amount of weight condensed into one place, so it’s no wonder the government takes weight limits seriously.
State governments, and even local governments, also set their own weight limits. Especially for historical bridges and roads, overweight trucks could endanger the safety of our infrastructure. In Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, a heavily historic town outside Philadelphia, officials found an overwhelming number of truck weight violations. On the first day of enforcement, in April of 2016, the first three trucks inspected for weight violations were all overweight.
Some states do allow trucks to be a few tons heavier on non-interstate highways. This is usually because of big shipping needs within states, such as transporting for farming or coal mining. This means that weight violations are even more serious in some of these states where vehicles (under certain conditions) are allowed to weigh up to 100,000 lbs. or 120,000 lbs.
Regardless, just because a truck is allowed to be heavy, does not mean it is safe to drive a heavy truck.
Holding Trucking Companies Responsible for Accidents Caused by Overloaded Trucks
Trucking companies may be bold enough to ignore weight regulations altogether. In many cases, these weight violations can result in tickets or jail time for their drivers, as well as huge fines for the trucking company. When you are in an accident with an overweight truck, this weight violation could help you recover compensation in a lawsuit for your injuries.
When you suffer injury in a truck accident, there are a few things you need to prove to get compensation. The four elements for proving a truck accident case are:
- The truck driver owed you a duty,
- The truck driver breached that duty,
- The breach caused your injury, and
- You suffered an injury that has “damages” a court can compensate.
Laws regarding truck safety and weight limits are there to help protect other drivers. Violations of these weight limits could be considered a breach of a duty when other drivers are hurt because of the weight violation.
If a truck’s weight violation contributed to your accident with a truck, you may be entitled to compensation. There are many ways a truck’s extreme weight could contribute to its crash, including:
- The extra weight made the truck too heavy to stop quickly.
- The truck’s wheels, axle, or suspension failed because of the weight.
- The extra weight made the truck unstable and/or harder to maneuver.
- The extra weight made the truck’s crash more forceful.
- The driver did not know the truck was overweight and was not prepared to control a heavier truck.
- The heavy truck caused damage to the road or bridge where your accident happened.
When trucks violate rules, and you get hurt because of those violations, courts may be willing to award you extra damages. In some states, “punitive damages” or “exemplary damages” are available to injured parties. Courts award these damages either to punish the defendant, or to “make an example” out of them. Courts show that companies who violate rules, and hurt people along the way, will pay for their bad actions. When trucking companies cause accidents because of their weight limits violations, you might be entitled to these extra damages.
Truck Accident Lawyers Available Nationwide
If you have been injured in an accident with a truck, or you have lost a loved one to a truck accident, call us today. The truck accident attorneys of the Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team are available to talk to you about your truck accident, and may be able to get you compensation for your injuries. For a free consultation with our lawyers, call us at (215) 709-6940.