A lot of attention is focused on the driver when a truck accident occurs, but there are instances when the driver may be fully capable and skilled and still an accident occurs. Trucking professionals maintain that a leading cause of truck accidents is improper loading, which includes overloading and failing to adequately secure loads. In such cases, assigning liability for damage and injuries becomes more complicated.
Overloading is an ongoing problem among those in the trucking industry. Just like violations of hours of service regulations, overloading is driven by the bottom line. The more a truck can carry in one trip, the more money is made by the motor carrier as well as the shipping company. Overloading may also occur when companies use trucks with gross vehicle weight (GVW) ratings that are less expensive and below the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) threshold of 26,001 lbs (which would require a driver with a commercial driver’s license) but still carry loads appropriate for vehicles with higher GVW ratings.
The problem with an overloaded truck is that it is more prone to accidents. An overloaded truck needs a longer braking distance than normal which can lead to collisions. Tire blow outs are also common because tires carrying heavy loads generate more heat, and this can cause the truck to roll over, the cargo to shift dangerously, or the driver to lose control. Imagine being confronted with a pile of logs bouncing off the truck bed and rolling towards you in an 18-wheeler accident.
The same risks apply for an improperly secured load, even if the load is within the manufacturer’s payload restrictions. Trucks travel at high speed, and when even a part of a load falls off, it can cause great damage to property and people in the vicinity. Even if an improperly secured load only shifts, the imbalance can cause the truck to roll over.
Liability for injuries sustained in an accident caused by an overloaded or improperly loaded truck will depend on the circumstances. It could be the motor carrier, the shipping company, the loaders, the driver, or any combination of the above. Consult with a trucking accident lawyer to sort it all out and get started with filing a case.