There’s no question that any type of truck accident can lead to devastating injuries. Unfortunately, the result can be catastrophic if an overloaded truck with cargo is poorly loaded or imbalanced.
While strict regulations are in place to ensure that commercial truck companies and drivers comply with cargo requirements, this doesn’t always happen. When the rules are overlooked, ignored, or bent, serious truck accidents and injuries may occur.
If you are involved in an accident with an overloaded truck, hiring an attorney who has experience representing people in these situations is recommended. It’s also beneficial to learn more about the cause of these truck accidents and the injuries that may occur.
How Overloaded Trucks Lead to Accidents
There are more than a few ways that a truck accident may occur. One is if too much cargo is loaded. Cases of overloading can trigger all types of crash situations, including the following:
Truck rollover accident
According to the AAAM (Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine), mistakes in loading the cargo are the top cause of a truck rollover accident. Excessive cargo can increase the truck’s center of gravity or cause a top-heavy load. This means that the truck is more likely to roll over if the driver turns or does some other maneuver at higher rates of speed. Anyone who is in the path of the truck may suffer serious harm.
Truck Tire Blowouts
If a truck isn’t loaded properly, it may increase the stress on the tires. It can also negatively impact the way a truck moves along the roads. In both situations, there is an increased risk of a blowout. If a tire blows out, the driver may lose control of their truck. Cars behind, in front of, or to the side of the truck are in danger because a truck tire that blows may result in a rollover.
Spilling or Falling Cargo
If the cargo loaded into a truck is not properly secured, it may fly off the truck or spill from the bed or trailer. Vehicles to the side or behind the truck are at risk of being struck by these items. Motorcyclists are even at a higher risk of injury. The impact related to spilled cargo can cause serious truck accidents and significant injuries.
Potential Injuries from Overloaded Truck Accidents
If a truck isn’t loaded properly, it will create a serious hazard. Everyone on the road, including the truck driver, is at risk for a serious and even fatal injury. Having a personal injury lawyer help with your case and situation will ensure you get the compensation you deserve after an accident with an overloaded truck.
While this is true, the injuries that commonly occur when an overloaded truck is involved in truck accidents include:
- Spine injuries
- Brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Severe burns
- Loss of limb
- Torn muscles
- Broken bones
If someone loses their life or if they sustain a serious personal injury because of a truck accident, it could be possible to file a lawsuit for personal injuries or wrongful death.
How Beneficial Are Weight in Stations in Preventing Overloaded Truck Accidents
In some situations, an overloaded truck accident can occur because of unskilled or inexperienced truck drivers. In the U.S., the turnover rate for truck drivers is very high. Because of this, some trucking companies hire inexperienced drivers to fill these spots.
Weigh stations have been established to weigh and inspect larger trucks at state lines and in other locations. Usually, the checks are random, which means that not all overloaded trucks will be on the road when an inspection is done.
Even if overloaded trucks are found at weight stations, it doesn’t mean the truck will be prevented from returning to the road. Usually, the truck driver will receive a ticket while others must get an overweight permit.
Parties That May Be Liable in an Overloaded Truck Accident
In most truck accident cases, it’s necessary to have a full investigation of the situation. Fully reviewing the evidence will help show who is liable. In some cases, it may be one party, but in others, it could be multiple. The parties who may be liable in an overloaded truck accident situation include:
The Truck Driver
The truck driver may have caused the accident due to negligent behavior, such as distracted drive, fatigue, or speeding. There could also be criminal charges against them and even a conviction down the road. Truck drivers are also responsible for inspecting their truck to ensure it is properly maintained and that the cargo is loaded properly. If a maintenance issue or the cargo shifts and contributes to the accident, the driver may be considered at least partially liable.
In some cases, the trucking company will be responsible for the truck and the truck drivers it employs and puts on the road. This will include accountability for the hiring and training practices that are used. Sometimes, this is problematic if the trucking company has hired drivers who have FMCSA rule infractions in the past or the company records don’t indicate that proper training was provided. In some situations, the records of the carrier or even employee interviews will show that the trucking company is pushing employees to cut corners to help their bottom line. This may include driving beyond the HOS limits or not ensuring proper truck maintenance and inspections.
Cargo Loader or Shipper
In some situations, carriers are working as contractors who have the job of shipping cargo for another trucking company. They can transport the sealed cargo the entire time they are handling it. The parties involved in this arrangement – the originator of the cargo, shipper, person who loads it, and transporter – can each be considered responsible for the applicable state and federal regulations that are not followed. If this is found, they may be at fault for the accident. If the cargo shifts or there are other issues, and a truck accident occurs, the records of each party’s involvement with the cargo, including the carrier, must be considered.
Other Vendors Involved
Based on the size of the operations of the carrier, there could be several vendors that are taking on outsourced work. This often includes administrative work, like recruiting drivers or using background checks and drug and alcohol tests. Other vendors considered partly at fault include those in charge of maintaining or repairing a truck, dispatching work, or other parts of fleet operations. Any party that plays a role in keeping the truck on the road may be considered partly at fault if their negligence causes a truck accident.
Truck Parts Makers and Manufacturers
In some situations, truck accidents are caused by the truck or one of its parts failing. This includes tire blowouts, brake failures, or even issues with the coupling or steering systems. This may be a maintenance issue; however, if the part or system that failed was defective from the beginning, it may be possible to file a product liability claim to hold the distributor or manufacturer accountable.
Government Agencies or Contractors
A roadway hazard, like broken pavement or a soft shoulder, may contribute to a truck accident. In this case, the state or local government responsible for that part of the road may be considered at fault. The government’s negligence maintenance contractors may also be liable if their work creates a hazardous condition and leads to an accident.
What Happens if Multiple Parties Are Responsible for the Truck Accident?
Suppose during the investigation, your attorney discovers that there are a few parties at-fault for the accident. In that case, the victim may be able to increase the compensation they receive by filing multiple claims.
Carriers will work fast with their insurers and the legal team to minimize the cost of these claims after a serious accident. However, accepting a quick settlement will likely be much less than you deserve.
How a Personal Injury Accident Can Help with Overloaded Truck Accidents
If you are involved in a truck accident, you should not attempt to handle the legal process alone. Usually, trucking companies have savvy legal teams on their side to help ensure the impact to the trucking company is minimal.
It’s important to find and hire an attorney who will do the following:
- Investigate the accident scene within a few hours to ensure all evidence is collected and to help determine liability
- Consult with experts who understand truck loading and how to do it properly
- Review the police reports related to the accident
- Evaluate the record of the truck driver
- Interview potential witnesses
Taking time to find the right attorney will pay off and help you recover the maximum compensation possible for your accident and personal injury.
Let Us Help You with Your Overloaded Truck Accident
If you are involved in an accident caused by an overloaded truck, it’s a good idea to seek professional representation immediately. A lawyer will be able to review the facts of the case to help ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for your losses, injuries, and damages.
There are many situations when truck accidents result in fatalities, which means that the family members left behind can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Being informed is one of the best ways to ensure you get the desired outcome for your case and receive fair compensation.
Remember, our truck accident lawyers are here to help. We will fight aggressively for your rights and to ensure that you get the deserved amount of compensation. While these cases can be complex and confusing, we are up to the challenge and have often helped people in similar situations. Contact us today to learn more about our role in your case and why we are the right legal partner for your situation. We are dedicated to helping ensure you make a full recovery after a truck accident.