Many of us experience some sort of anxiety when driving behind or alongside large trucks. You might find yourself attempting to pass them as quickly as possible to stay out of their way. You never know what kind of cargo might be in their trailer, and being involved in an accident is not a good way to find out. Or, you might find yourself trying to avoid an open and overloaded trailer, wondering how the truck was even able to get on the road in the first place.
Any traffic accident can cause harm, but an accident with a truck can cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries. Truck drivers and trucking companies must be held responsible when an overloaded commercial truck causes a serious accident.
What are the weight requirements for commercial vehicles?
Commercial trucks and tractor-trailers must meet certain requirements before they can ever put their vehicles on roads and highways. Here in Tennessee, large trucks follow the following guidelines regarding weight and cargo:
- Single axle – 20,000 pounds
- Tandem axle – 34,000 pounds
- Tridem axle – 54,000 pounds
- Gross weight – 80,000 pounds
There may be certain exceptions for some trucks, like farm vehicles, logging trucks, and others.
What happens if a truck exceeds its weight limit?
Capping a commercial truck’s weight at 80,000 pounds is for safety reasons. This weight limit is important enough that truckers must stop at weigh stations periodically to enforce the regulation. If a truck is found to be overweight, not all trucks are taken off the road. Some may be prevented from completing their journeys; however, often, many truckers are simply given a citation and sent on their way with their trucks still overweight.
Overloaded trucks are prone to a variety of hazards and risks, including:
- Tipping or rolling over, due to a higher center of gravity
- Difficulty stopping, due to extra weight and needing more time to brake
- Tire blowouts, from too much continuous weight on the truck’s tires
- Obstruction of view, as overloaded or improperly loaded cargo can cause bigger blind spots
- Brake failure, as overloaded trucks can cause brakes to wear down too quickly
- Spilling cargo, as unsecured loads can fall or fly off trucks onto the road
- Loss of control, especially on curves or downhills, as cargo can shift
If any of these happen near a passenger car and a truck accident occurs, it can end in tragedy for the occupants of the lighter vehicle.
What kinds of injuries are caused by overloaded truck accidents?
Injuries from commercial truck accidents are often catastrophic and life-altering. When a truck is even heavier than it should be, damage can be even more severe. Common truck accident injuries include:
- Broken and fractured bones. From a broken hip to a fractured spine, broken bones can take months from which to heal and cause years of chronic pain.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Any forceful blow to the head can cause a brain injury, which can affect one’s cognitive ability, motor function, and emotions. Depending on the severity, the effects of a TBI can last for years or even a lifetime.
- Internal injuries. Blunt force trauma from truck accidents can cause internal bleeding and organ damage, like trauma or rupture to the kidney, liver, or spleen. These injuries are sometimes fatal.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI). Injuries to the spinal cord can result in partial or full paralysis. An SCI lasts a lifetime and involve a significant amount of money in medical bills and care.
- Wrongful death. Because of the tremendous size and weight of trucks, especially in the case of overloaded trucks, many of these accidents are fatal.
If you or a loved one are injured because of an overloaded truck it is important to determine who is liable for your injuries.
Who is responsible for my Chattanooga truck accident?
When you are in an accident with an overloaded truck, it may seem clear that the truck driver is responsible. However, these types of accidents can be complex, and an experienced law firm can launch an investigation to determine all liable parties. These can include the:
- Truck driver. The driver can be held responsible for transporting cargo that breaks weight regulations.
- Trucking company. If the trucking company fails to inspect or weigh outgoing trucks, or knowingly overloads a truck, it can also be held liable.
- Truck manufacturer. If a defect in the truck contributes to a truck accident, the manufacturer can also be held responsible.
- Third party. Any parties hired or responsible for loading the truck, weighing the truck, or conducting inspections can be held liable if an overloaded truck causes an accident.
What damages am I entitled to after a truck accident?
When you or a loved one are seriously injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you may be eligible for compensation for your losses. This compensation can include:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Loss of wages and earning capacity
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Our Chattanooga attorneys understand the overwhelming challenges a serious or catastrophic injury takes on both the victim and his or her family. We can launch an investigation into your accident to determine the cause, including whether the truck was improperly overloaded.
At Wagner and Wagner, Attorneys at Law, we protect the rights of individuals injured in car and truck accidents. We offer informed legal guidance when you are harmed in an accident that was not your fault – find out how we can help you today. At our firm, we never pass you on to a paralegal and you will work with an attorney every time. To find out more about our services, call our offices at 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to discuss your case. We proudly serve clients in and around Chattanooga, Cleveland, and North Georgia.
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