Overweight or Overloaded Trailers and Truck Accidents

The trucking industry in the United States is built on the premise that a tractor-trailer should haul as much as possible, as quickly as possible, in order to maximize the profit of each trip. Although there are federal and state restrictions on how much cargo can be loaded into a trailer, there always are truckers and trucking companies that will push the limits of these regulations.

Overweight Trucks

Although there are many different weigh stations and truck check-ins throughout truck routes across the country, many times, these stops are closed. Even if the check-in is open and the truck is discovered to be over the weight limit, the trucker merely receives a citation and proceeds on the trip without off-loading any of the cargo. This can lead to catastrophic collisions.

A commercial truck is designed to haul a maximum weight, designated as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This rating is based on the mechanics of the truck, including the axles, brakes, powertrain, frame, and suspension. The federal limit for a tractor-trailer is 80,000 pounds. Maine permits a total weight of up to 100,000 on six axles and 46,000 pounds on tandem axles on many interstate roads. When the trucker or the trucking company negligently exceed the GVWR, they may be liable for any harm caused by a crash.

An overweight tractor-trailer may get into an accident for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Loss of steering control due to the fact that the greater weight of the vehicle is in the rear, resulting in a shifting of traction from the front to the rear tires;
  • Too much stress on the various mechanical components of the truck leading to failure or breakdown of the components;
  • A greater risk of rollover because of a raised center of gravity;
  • Tire blowout due to too much weight;
  • Increased speed when traveling downhill;
  • Decreased speed when traveling uphill, creating a risk of harm for drivers who come upon a slow-moving truck unexpectedly, after rounding a curve or cresting a hill;
  • Potential destruction of roadways and overpasses; and
  • Longer stopping distances lead to rear-end collisions.
Overloaded Tractor-Trailers

A related violation is for an overloaded trailer. Although an overloaded trailer frequently involves excessive weight, it also can create a hazard through the inability to secure the load properly. An overloaded trailer poses the following dangers even if the total weight limits are not exceeded:

  • Shifting cargo may lead to jackknife or rollover accidents;
  • Improperly secured cargo may break free of the restraints and spill onto the road, causes vehicle crashes; and
  • Steering difficulties as the result of an imbalance on the tires of the tractor-trailer.

Although the truck driver has an obligation to perform an inspection of the tractor-trailer before heading out onto the road, the trucking company holds the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the commercial truck has a balanced load that falls within the weight restrictions. When the trucking company fails in this duty, the trucking company may share in the liability for any harm caused by a truck accident.

Peter Thompson & Associates Gets Justice for Maine Truck Accident Victims

The speed and momentum of a truck accident leads to devastating injuries when there is a crash with a significantly lighter vehicle. Increasing the weight and overloading the trailer can make the harm done through an accident even worse. The dedicated and experienced truck accidents attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates know that many in the trucking industry prioritize profit over safety. We will carefully investigate the facts of your case to determine whose negligence led to your serious injuries. To schedule a case evaluation during an initial consultation, please call us at 800.804.2004.

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