We share the roadways with semi trailers, often not giving them a second thought. Within the large storage containers, commercial trucks could be carrying anything from paper towels to computers to frozen dinners. Experienced semi truck drivers can navigate their heavy loads safely through traffic. However, some trucking companies overload their trailers in an effort to increase profits despite the safety risks. An overloaded trailer can tip over, causing serious injury accidents with unsuspecting drivers.
When a semi truck is overloaded, or the load is improperly loaded, even the most experienced drivers can experience a dangerous accident. Overloaded trailers are difficult to safely transport and drivers may be unaware that they are carrying a dangerous trailer. When they take a turn on the highway, turn sharply to navigate city streets, or try and safely stop in traffic, the unpredictable trailer load may turn over, cause the vehicle to jackknife, or prevent the driver from safely coming to a stop.
There are regulations in place that are intended to maintain safe semi truck operations on the road. Trucks are limited in how much they are supposed to carry; however, some trucking companies wilfully ignore these limitations. Instead, they will add thousands more pounds than the regulations allow, simply to make a few extra dollars. Trucking companies understand that these safety regulations are there for a reason, yet they still prioritize profit over public safety.
Truck Weight Limits
According to federal regulations, gross vehicle weights are limited to 80,000, unless the Bridge Formula dictates a lower limit. For single-axle vehicles, the total weight on one or more axles spaced less than 40 inches apart is 20,000 pounds. The total weight on two or more consecutive axles with centers more than 40 inches apart but less than 96 inches apart is limited to 34,000 pounds.
Different states may have different weight limits. In the District of Columbia, single axle vehicles are limited to 21,000 pounds. Tandem axle weights are limited to 37,000 pounds. The maximum gross weight of a truck is limited to 79,000 pounds. Any vehicle with a weight in excess of these limits requires a special permit. However, some trucking companies simply ignore these weight limits, hoping that they will not get caught.
Causes of Accidents
Many truck drivers may be unaware that the trucking company or logistics company has overloaded their trailer. The company may obscure the true payload in order to avoid being reported for overloading their trailers. The problem is that an experienced trucker may expect the vehicle to behave a certain way based on the noted payload weight. When the actual weight is different, they may be unable to properly handle the truck, resulting in an accident.
Many large truck rollover accidents are caused by overloaded trailers, unsecured cargo, or uneven loads. This causes the weight to shift dangerously during vehicle operation, forcing the vehicle to turn over on its side. The high center of gravity in tractor-trailers make them particularly vulnerable to accidents, especially while traveling at high speeds, in narrow city streets, or in dangerous weather conditions.
Overloaded Trailer Accident Injuries
Like any other vehicle accident, the injuries depend on a number of factors, including the speed of the vehicle, size of vehicles involved, number of passengers, location of the accident, and whether any pedestrians were involved. Minor accidents can result only in property damage. However, more serious accidents may lead to serious injury or death.
Common motor vehicle and semi truck accidents include head injuries, neck injuries, spinal trauma, facial injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, crushing injuries, or lacerations. Due to the size and weight of tractor trailers, many accident involve the truck landing on or crushing another vehicle. This can cause the driver and passengers to be trapped in the vehicle, unable to escape. The longer it takes the occupants to get out of the vehicle to get emergency help, the worse the injuries can become.
DC Overloaded Trailer Accident Attorneys
If you were involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, you may be unsure if the accident was caused by an overloaded trailer or driver error. Don't expect the trucking company to give you a straight answer or help you get compensation. You need someone on your side who will fight for you and make sure you get the justice you deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured, please contact the team at Gilman & Bedigian. We offer a free consultation and will fight for you, to make sure you are fully compensated for your injuries.