Semi trucks are a common sight along American highways and are an essential part of keeping the economy moving smoothly. While they statistically are involved in fewer accidents than smaller passenger vehicles, the outcome can be far more disastrous simply because of their sheer size and the amount of cargo they carry. For this reason, both federal and state laws require trucking companies and drivers to properly manage and secure their loads for the safety of everyone on the road.
Unfortunately, improperly loaded trucks are still a common cause for numerous accidents on Minnesota highways. Perhaps the loading dock personnel were in a hurry and did not check whether the truck was overweight. Maybe someone cut a few corners and the load was not properly secured. Whatever the reasons, should this type of negligence cause an accident, the involved parties can be held liable and brought to court to pay for damages.
Improperly Loaded Trucks Explained
All truck manufacturing companies assign a gross vehicle weight rating, or GVWR, to their vehicles and will make note of it on the truck’s plate. As a general rule, the GVWR is not to be exceeded, although occasional exceptions are allowed with a permit. If there is no note on the plate, enforcement officers are to assume the GVWR is 26,001 or more pounds.
With this information in mind, truck drivers are supposed to use the weigh stations that are situated along trucking routes to ensure that they do not exceed their truck’s GVWR. However, some drivers do not actually make any effort to lighten their load when it is indicated that the vehicle is overweight. It is a troubling trend that can have devastating effects on everyone involved in an accident with such a truck.
Perhaps the most common cause of accidents involving improperly loaded trucks is connected to loads that were not secured according to protocol. While it is probable that this can occur because of worker inexperience or a faulty part on the truck, it does happen that blatant negligence causes a load to come loose and spill on the highway. This can also lead to cargo that shifts around in such a way that it interferes with other drivers and their ability to avoid an accident.
Sometimes these kinds of truck accidents do not even occur on the road. There have been cases where unloading personnel were killed after straps holding the cargo either broke or were removed and the load shifted in such a way during transport that it fell on them. Many people fail to realize just how dangerous truck loading can be when workers fail to follow the rules.
How Improperly Loaded Trucks Cause Accidents
Trucks that are overweight or improperly secured experience diminished performance. When used as they are designed, they are extremely effective at transporting large loads over long distances. However, failing to follow guidelines causes the vehicle to handle differently than how the driver is trained.
An overweight truck, for example, will travel downhill much faster than expected. This requires additional braking distance and force to stop in time. Hitting the brakes too hard will probably cause the cargo to shift, leading to improper weight distribution. The weight needs to be distributed in a certain way to avoid overloading any single axle, which would cause the truck itself to be off balance. This in turn makes the vehicle more prone to rollovers and causing multi-vehicle accidents.
Additionally, it is almost guaranteed that an overloaded truck is unlikely to be sufficiently secured. Chances are greater that parts of the load will fall from the truck onto the highway – or even striking a nearby passenger car. Overweight trucks are also more prone to tire blowouts and loss of control during lane changes or making sudden moves and sharp turns.
Establishing Liability For Accidents Involving Improperly Loaded Trucks
The first thing a truck accident lawyer will do following the incident is examine the load. He will determine if the vehicle was over its weight limit or if the cargo was improperly secured. In many cases, accident victims could have grounds for a personal injury claim to recover pain and suffering damages, lost wages, payment of medical bills, vehicle repair or replacement, and other costs incurred as a result of the accident.
Regardless of whether the client is the victim himself or is family of someone who was killed in an accident, the goal of the attorney is to secure sufficient compensation for the negligence of the responsible parties. This can involve a lawsuit against any number of people and entities, including manufacturers, installers, vendors, loading dock personnel, trucking companies, and truck drivers. The case will be thoroughly investigated while the attorney helps clients understand their options as they attempt to navigate an incredibly difficult ordeal.
After an accident occurs, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck-related accidents as soon as possible. There is nothing to stop a trucking company from destroying or altering their maintenance and inspection records in an attempt to avoid liability. These documents can be extremely vital in proving negligence, so time is of the essence.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident involving a semi truck, please consider contacting our law offices to schedule a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys will evaluate your case to help you determine the best course of action and answer any questions you may have.