Every day, thousands of semi-trucks pass through Philadelphia on their way up and down the coast delivering goods to businesses all over the city. Many of these trucks are operated by responsible drivers and trucking companies who follow the law and keep public safety in mind. However, some trucking companies are focused more on profit than safety and may be sending dangerously overloaded trailers through our city streets. This can cause an accident, injuring other drivers, occupants, and pedestrians, resulting in expensive medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
There are two primary safety problems with overloaded trailers. Overloaded trucks can place a strain on our streets and bridges, causing them to weaken over time, or causing damage to the roads. Additionally, an overloaded or improperly loaded truck may be more likely to tip over, leading to car accidents or other damage. To prevent these problems, national, state, and regional roadways have weight limit restrictions.
Weight Limits Restrictions
Under federal regulations, gross vehicle weights are limited to 80,000 pounds. For single vehicles, the total weight limit is only 20,000 pounds. For vehicles with two or more axles with centers 40 to 96 inches apart, the weight limit is 34,000 pounds. For the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the maximum gross weight of two-axle trucks and two-axle trailers is 73,280 pounds.
Trucks traveling on any Philadelphia city street, state route, or interstate highway in the city require special permits if they are over the maximum gross weight, or exceed height, width, or length limits. There are also special restrictions on trucks for traveling over most of the city's bridges, including the Ben Franklin Bridge and Betsy Ross Bridge.
When a trailer is overloaded it may be more prone to tipping over. Trailers with uneven load distribution may also be more likely to tip. Trucks have a much higher center of gravity than other vehicles. When a truck is turning a corner, the high center of gravity may destabilize the truck and trailer, causing it to fall over. Certain road conditions like wet roads or loose gravel can also increase the chances of a truck accident.
Even if drivers are obeying traffic and speed laws, they may find their payload tipping over and be unable to do anything to stop it or warn other drivers. Trailers can be overloaded or improperly loaded without the driver's knowledge. Instead, the trucking company may have falsely reported the trailer load. Without the driver's knowledge of the overloaded trailer, they may be operating under the impression they are carrying a safe and legal load.
Inexperienced or improperly trained drivers may also make an overloaded trailer more likely to tip over. Drivers who are not trained to understand how their payload may tip if they take a corner too fast or make sharp turns on city streets can increase the chances the trailer will tip. Additionally, an overloaded trailer may weigh more than the driver expects. They may not make accommodations for this, and follow too closely to traffic. As a result, they may be unable to stop in time and cause a rear-end collision.
Truck Accident Injuries
Semi-truck accidents can be more dangerous that accidents with other vehicles. Semi-trucks and trailers have a much higher mass, gross weight, and are much larger than other vehicles. This can increase the chances of injury or death for other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. In many cases, a trucking accident will cause severe damage to the vehicle, potentially trapping the occupants inside. This can increase the chances of burn injuries, chemical injury, or blood loss.
Accidents often require emergency medical treatment and could require surgery, hospital stays, extended care, and continuing medical treatment. This can leave victims with expensive medical bills, lost wages, scarring or disfigurement, pain and suffering. If an overloaded trailer was responsible for the accident, the trucking company should pay the damages. Contact an experienced Philadelphia accident attorney to get the compensation you deserve.
Overloaded Trailer Accident Attorneys in Philadelphia
If you were involved in an accident with a semi or tractor-trailer, you may be unsure if the accident was caused by an overloaded trailer or driver error. Unfortunately, the trucking company may not give you a straightforward answer. They may blame the accident on you or the city roads. 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 in an accident in Philadelphia, 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.