OVERWEIGHT AND OVERSIZE TRUCK ACCIDENTS IN VIRGINIA
Truck accidents involving 18-Wheelers, and other large trucks have the potential to be the most serious motor vehicle accidents on the roadways. When these tractor trailers are carrying oversized loads, the damage that can be caused from these accidents, and the injuries suffered by those who are involved, tend to increase from severe to catastrophic. If you have been involved in a truck accident where the truck was carrying an oversized load, or was overweight, you need an experienced Virginia truck accident lawyer to help you assert your claim, and get you the compensation you deserve.
Difference Between Oversized and Overweight Trucks
These two terms do not mean the same thing. Federal regulations state that a commercial vehicle such as a semi-truck, with its cargo, can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Once the gross vehicle weight increases beyond that, it is considered an overweight load (1). The DMV can grant special permits that allow the truck to carry more weight.
An oversize load is when cargo exceeds the normal capacity for the vehicle, such as the trailer, that is hauling the load. We have all seen these things on the highway. Sometimes the trucks are carrying are modular homes, or pieces of construction equipment that are much wider than the trailer that is hauling them. Sometimes they are merely bigger in height. We may not always notice it, but these oversized load vehicles have banners on the front and back of the tractor trailer specifically identifying them as such.
Certain oversized loads have to have escort vehicles as well, to clear traffic in front of them, and keep people away from the back.
Who Determines Maximum Truck Weight?
Federal law determines what a truck's weight limit is, and what its maximum length can be. All of these limits are dependent upon the size of the vehicle. For example, what a tractor trailer can haul is different from what a single-frame truck can carry.
The enforcement of these limits and regulations it's done by the state police, as well as the motor carrier enforcement units of local police departments and sheriff's offices.
Steps Taken to Ensure Safe Operation and Travel
Federal regulations are considerable, in discussing what truck drivers and trucking companies can and cannot do. These regulations are specifically written to ensure the safety of other motorists on the roadway. These are laid down in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Trucking companies themselves often have compliance personnel or inspectors whose sole job it is to continually ensure that the trucks that are on the roadway are properly maintained, regularly inspected, and safe to operate.
Truck drivers are also responsible for checking out their trucks and their trailers before pulling out of the lot or a yard and onto the road. This inspection should be quite comprehensive to make sure that all lights work, all tires are in good condition, and loads are properly secured and packed. Unfortunately, not all truck drivers perform thorough inspections of their trucks
However, if a trucking company or driver fails to properly and regularly inspect its vehicles, that company may be negligent. If that negligence is the proximate cause of the truck crash that caused your injuries, you may have a claim against that trucking company.
Why are Overweight Tractor Trailers Dangerous?
The weight limit assigned to certain classes of commercial vehicles is not arbitrary. These numbers were arrived at after crash tests, and other rigorous testing. For example, if the regulation says that a vehicle can be up to 80,000 pounds, then the brakes on that vehicle are going to be rated to be able to stop that 80,000 pound vehicle in a given distance. However, if the truck is overloaded, and is now 100,000 pounds, the brakes on that vehicle are not going to work as well. In the event that the truck hauling these 100,000 pounds has to stop, the distance needed by that truck to stop is going to be much longer. The driver may not have taken that into consideration, and may rear end another vehicle, even though he is furiously slamming on the brakes, because that extra inertia is still propelling him forward.
Are Oversize Loads Dangerous?
The oversize loads are not dangerous in and of themselves. However they do present a hazard on the roadway. They have to be operated with a heightened level of responsibility and consideration for clearances, turning radiuses, and things like that. The driver of an oversized load has an obligation to be very careful in the operation of that truck.
A driver who is not fully mindful of the cargo being carried, and its size, may not properly judge a turn, and may cause a collision with another truck or car. Equally horrific, is when a turn is taken too fast, and the load shifts, or so much force is applied that the straps and chains break, and the load comes off the trailer. There have been a few horrible instances when these loads have crushed other vehicles.
Do I need A Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer?
After a Virginia truck accident, you absolutely need to seek an experienced, aggressive lawyer who knows everything that needs to be done to find the truth of what happened. The person who is injured (the person who is bringing the claim which we call the plaintiff) always has the burden to prove his or her case. The Blaszkow Legal method, which we deploy for every client the moment they walk in the door, is to immediately put our team to work in investigating the facts of the incident that caused your injuries. This means we are immediately looking for camera footage, interviewing witnesses, and working tirelessly to preserve evidence. The longer you wait to get to an attorney, the longer it is going to take us to get everything that we need to be able to prove your case. Especially in the case of an oversized vehicle, some of this evidence is going to disappear very quickly. It is absolutely vital that you call a truck accident lawyer right away!
Call us today for a free consultation - 703-879-5910
1 - Virginia Commercial Vehicle Guide: https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/dmv109.pdf