Commercial trucks are made for transporting goods, but there is a limit to what they can carry safely. When this weight limit is exceeded, the likelihood of accidents increases substantially. A truck accident attorney in Charleston, WV can help if an overloaded vehicle led to a serious crash.

Higher Risk of Rollovers

Due to their inherent high profile and an already heightened risk of rollovers, overloaded trucks face an even greater danger of tipping over. The excessive weight makes these vehicles more challenging to control, and maneuvers such as over-steering, sudden braking, aggressive swerving, or speeding can easily lead to an imbalance, resulting in a rollover accident. In such incidents, spilled cargo becomes a hazard on the roadway, with solid goods obstructing traffic and liquid or hazardous cargo posing threats ranging from road slickness to potential fires or explosions.

Increased Likelihood of Mechanical Failures

When a truck carries more weight than it is designed for, various mechanical failures can occur, leading to accidents, such as the following:

  • Transmission Failure: Overloading or improperly loading cargo is the primary cause of transmission failure in large trucks.
  • Tire Blowouts or Failure: The excess weight puts immense strain on tires, increasing the chances of blowouts or failure, particularly if the tires are thin, overinflated, under-inflated, punctured, or if the roads are wet.
  • Steering or Suspension Failure: Overloaded cargo is a frequent cause of issues with the steering column and suspension system.

Impaired Braking Distance

Commercial trucks inherently require more distance to come to a complete stop compared to other vehicles. An overloaded truck, with its increased weight, demands even more braking space due to the added momentum. The extended braking time can strain the braking system, potentially leading to brake failure or the inability of the vehicle to stop in a timely manner.

What to Do if You See an Overloaded Truck

If you observe a truck appearing overloaded, struggling to decelerate, or the driver experiencing difficulty maintaining control, it is crucial not to stay behind the vehicle. Safely slow down and pass in the left lane. If the overloaded truck poses an immediate danger to others on the road, call 911.

Liability for Overloaded Vehicle Accidents

Liability for an accident caused by an overloaded truck can involve multiple parties, depending on the circumstances. The primary parties that may be held liable include:

Truck Driver

The driver of the overloaded truck may be held personally liable if they knowingly operated the vehicle in an overloaded condition or if they should have been aware of the excessive load through proper inspection and maintenance practices.

Trucking Company

The trucking company can be held liable if they failed to enforce proper maintenance and loading practices or if they encouraged or endorsed overloading to maximize cargo capacity. Negligence in training and supervision of drivers may also contribute to the company’s liability.

Loading Company

The entity responsible for loading the truck may share liability if they exceeded weight limits or improperly distributed the cargo. If the loading company is a separate entity from the trucking company, they could be held independently responsible.

Third Parties

Other third parties involved in the transportation process, such as maintenance contractors, equipment manufacturers, or those responsible for inspecting and certifying the load, may also be held liable if their actions or negligence contributed to the overloading and subsequent accident.

Have You Been Involved in an Accident?

Trucking companies and their drivers bear a crucial responsibility in maintaining and appropriately loading trucks. If an overloaded truck leads to an accident, various parties, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the loading company, or potentially other third parties, may be liable.

If you or a loved one has been involved in such an incident, contact Tiano O’Dell, PLLC.  You may be entitled to significant compensation.