Truck Accidents Caused by Overloaded Trucks
West Virginia Truck Accident Attorneys
Fully loaded tractor-trailers are difficult to stop and maneuver even when they are carrying a legal weight. When a driver carries cargo that exceeds the legal weight limit, he or she is putting others at serious risk. Overloaded trucks and improperly loaded cargo frequently cause devastating and fatal truck accidents across the United States, including in West Virginia.
When a negligent truck driver causes an accident, Warner Law Offices, PLLC is here to represent the victims. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by an overloaded or improperly loaded truck, contact our West Virginia truck accident attorneys to discuss your case and learn more about your legal rights and options.
Risks Associated with Overloaded & Improperly Loaded Trucks
Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks pose a variety of risks to other drivers, including:
- Trucks carrying too much weight require longer stopping distances, which can lead to devastating rear-end collisions
- Trucks carrying an unbalanced load can jackknife or roll over when the driver makes sudden maneuvers, resulting in multi-lane accidents and chain-reaction collisions
- Improperly secured items can come loose in transit, spilling onto the roadway and injuring other drivers
In the aftermath of a truck accident, our West Virginia truck accident attorneys will take immediate steps to collect and preserve evidence of overloading or improper loading. We will also investigate the background of the driver and the trucking company to determine if they have past violations for overweight trucks. By doing so, we can build the strongest possible case of negligence against the truck driver and trucking company responsible for your injury.
Weight Restrictions for Trucks in West Virginia
Commercial vehicles are subject to both state and federal weight restrictions. The purpose of these laws is to lower the risk of serious accidents and injuries resulting from loss of control, inability to stop, spillage, rollovers, and other cargo-related issues.
Federal laws regulate maximum loads for trucks traveling on interstate highways and road systems. Under these laws:
- Trucks cannot have a gross weight of more than 80,000 pounds
- There cannot be more than 20,000 pounds on a single axle
- There cannot be more than 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle group
Federal laws also regulate standard lengths and widths of semi-trucks, big rigs, 18-wheelers, and other large commercial vehicles. Currently, there are no federal laws regarding the maximum height of commercial trucks.
West Virginia’s maximum load limitations are slightly different. Commercial vehicles traveling on West Virginia highways and roads cannot:
- Exceed more than 90,000 pounds (gross weight)
- Have more than 28,000 pounds on one axle
- Have more than 45,000 pounds on a tandem axle
- Have more than 50,000 pounds on a tridem axle
On local service routes, lower weight restrictions apply. Commercial vehicles using such routes cannot exceed 65,000 in gross vehicle weight. Additionally, various length, width, and height restrictions are in place for all commercial vehicles traveling on all West Virginia highways, interstates, and local routes.
Who Is Liable for Overloaded Trucks?
One thing that makes truck accidents much more complicated than standard auto accident claims is the issue of liability. In cases involving overloaded or improperly loaded trucks, liability may rest with a single entity or several parties.
Potentially liable parties may include:
- Truck Drivers: Truck drivers are sometimes responsible for loaded and unloading cargo, as well as ensuring that the vehicle meets all applicable weight restrictions. The truck driver may be legally liable for overloading or improperly loading a vehicle if he or she is classified as an independent contractor, rather than an employee.
- Truck Companies: Often, the trucking company is liable after a truck accident. This is because employers are generally liable for the conduct of their employees, so even if a truck driver overloaded a truck or loaded cargo improperly, leading to an accident, the trucking company could be legally responsible for your damages.
- Another Third Party: Though rare, it is possible that another third party—such as a consignor who loaded the truck—could be liable for the accident. The trucking company may argue that they are not liable, but this may not always be the case. Our attorneys know how to investigate accidents properly and fight back against attempts to dispute or diminish your claim.
Determining liability in a truck accident cases involving an overloaded or improperly loaded truck is often very difficult without the assistance of accident reconstructionists, forensic experts, and other specialists. At Warner Law Offices, PLLC, we frequently rely on a team of experts to help us build powerful cases for our clients; we have the resources to fully litigate your case and fight for the maximum compensation you are owed.
How an Attorney Can Help
Large truck accidents often result in severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, as well as death. At Warner Law Offices, PLLC, we understand the immense impact truck accidents have, both on victims and their loved ones. Our attorneys provide caring, client-focused support and develop personalized, strategic cases aimed at maximizing our clients’ recoveries. Our goal is to help you recover the fair compensation you need to manage unexpected medical bills and lost wages, new disabilities, and immeasurable pain and suffering.
When you turn to Warner Law Offices, PLLC, you get a team that will fight for you. We have been representing clients in Charleston and throughout West Virginia for more than 20 years, and we are ready to fight for you, too.