Commercial trucks are massive vehicles, even the smallest of which could easily dwarf the largest personal SUVs. Because of this, tractor trailers and construction trucks are not very agile and can take a long time to stop in case of an emergency. This is the best-case scenario if the truck is loaded properly and driven by a well-trained and alert trucker.
Unfortunately, in the name of profits and speed, many truckers and their parent companies choose to ignore the federal weight limits that govern trucks travelling on the national highway system. This results in the trucks being even more dangerous, as the truck may not be able to stop suddenly if needed or may jackknife when the driver applies the brakes.
All of these factors combine to make overloaded truck accidents a common source of injuries. These accidents often total the cars of the people involved and may result in life-changing injuries.
Proving that the truck involved in such an accident was overloaded can be a powerful piece of evidence in a lawsuit or settlement negotiations. As such, it is vital that individuals injured in these accidents understand the law and how it may apply to their case. For more information, contact a Chicago overloaded truck accident lawyer.
Federal Weight Limits for Trucks on Highways
There are strict limits on how much a vehicle may weigh if it uses the interstate highway system. To enforce these limits, the Federal Highway Administration—a sub-agency of the Department of Transportation—utilizes weigh stations, which all truckers are required to stop at. If a truck is found to be overweight, their cargo is impounded, and the driver and their company may be cited for a civil violation.
The maximum allowable weight of a truck is determined by the number of axles on that vehicle. For a standard one-axle truck, the maximum weight is 20,000 pounds. If the truck has two axles, the maximum allowable weight increases to 34,000. Many trucks use more than two axles, allowing them to avoid many weight restrictions, but in no event can a truck weigh more than 80,000 pounds.
The Effects of a Truck Being Overweight
Trucks are thoroughly engineered machines that take great skill to operate properly and are designed to function under certain parameters that keep all people on the road safe. Therefore, if a truck driver or their company overload their trailers, they place everyone on the road in severe danger.
The more weight that a truck takes on, the longer it typically takes for the truck to come to a safe stop. Alternatively, but no less dangerous, the sudden use of brakes may cause the truck to jackknife, resulting in the trailer or cargo bay of the truck swinging out to the side of the cab and into other lanes. This can pose a danger not just to the cars behind the truck, but also to vehicles to the sides in other lanes.
Any accident involving a commercial vehicle is generally investigated by both the police and the Federal Highway Administration. If this investigation leads to a citation for travelling with an overloaded truck, this could serve as evidence in an civil suit that the truck driver—or the company that employs them—was negligent.
In fact, if a truck driver receives a citation for having an overweight vehicle, courts and juries are allowed to overtly assume that the truck driver was at-fault for the accident. This can lead to a quick settlement in many truck accident cases.
Overloaded Truck Accidents are a Common Source of Personal Injuries
Truck accidents can result in some of the most serious injuries that an individual can endure on Illinois roads. Not only would a driver’s car likely be totaled, but they may be lucky just to be able to walk away.
Normally, the plaintiff in a truck accident case must provide evidence that the involved trucker’s driving was negligent in order to prove their claim. However, if the police or Federal Highway Administration cite the trucker for driving an overweight vehicle, the case can become much simpler.
If an overweight truck is involved in an accident that is caused by being overweight, the law assumes that the truck driver was negligent. In some situations, this can allow the plaintiff to collect damages without even going to court. Contact a Chicago overloaded truck accident lawyer today to learn more about the federal trucking weight limits and how they could affect your case.