Companies of all sizes, from large multi-national corporations to small family businesses, rely on commercial trucks to move their merchandise around the country. Unfortunately, when people improperly utilize these vehicles, they can be extremely dangerous.
One way that people commonly misuse commercial trucks is by overloading them. This can create a variety of hazards, ranging from load imbalance to longer stopping distances. In fact, there are federal laws in place that control weight limits on commercial vehicles.
Whenever a commercial truck is overweight and is involved in an accident, the trucks owner may be found legally negligent and responsible for any resulting damage. West Palm Beach overloaded truck accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, but an experienced and compassionate 18-wheeler collision attorney may be able to help in the aftermath of one.
Defining Overloaded Trucks
The United States Federal Highway Administration strictly controls the maximum weights for all commercial vehicles on the interstate highway system. For a typical, single-axle truck, the maximum legal weight is 20,000 pounds. This limit increases to 34,000 pounds for dual-axle trucks. In no event can the total weight of a truck exceed 80,000 pounds. More information about weight and length limits on the interstate highway system can be found here.
The Potential Dangers of Overloaded Trucks
The federal rules concerning proper truck weights exist for a reason. The Department of Transportation calculates the forces in effect when a truck travels at the speed limit. They then calculate the distance it would take for that vehicle to come to a full stop.
However, these calculations depend on the truck having an appropriate weight. When a truck exceeds the maximum weight established by law, it takes longer for the vehicle to stop. This can have catastrophic effects in emergency situations where a truck needs to come to a sudden stop and is a leading cause of accidents.
A truck that exceeds the maximum legal weight can also struggle to properly navigate curves. In situations where the truck is carrying excess weight in the top of the trailer, the vehicle may become top-heavy and liable to tip over.
The Legal Consequences of an Overloaded Truck
In most cases involving driver negligence, the actions of both drivers are taken into consideration when determining fault. However, a major caveat to this is when one of the drivers is in violation of the law.
This is a legal concept known as negligence per se. This means that if one of the parties in a negligence case violates a law intended to prevent the kinds of accidents such a case may be based around, the law would assume the violator to be negligent.
Negligent parties may be required to compensate injured plaintiffs for all their damages. This includes the medical costs needed to bring them back to health as well as any financial and emotional damages resulting from the accident. It is important to examine every aspect of West Palm Beach overloaded truck accidents in order to assign blame and effectively demand compensation.
Working with an Overloaded Truck Accident Attorney in West Palm Beach
Any truck accident can have catastrophic effects on your life. On top of any physical injuries and damage to their car, many truck accidents result in financial losses or mental anguish. The main question in most truck accidents is which driver is at fault.
However, when a truck is overloaded to the point of violating federal law, the truck driver and their company may be assumed to be negligent. Overloaded trucks are less able to stop in case of an emergency and may tip over during sharp turns. Either circumstance can cause an accident and West Palm Beach overloaded truck accidents can have severe consequences.
An attorney could help you examine the facts of your case to determine which course of action leads to the best chances for a positive outcome. Contact a local lawyer today to schedule a consultation.