Semi trucks are governed by numerous local, state, and federal laws that cover factors including how long an operator can drive without stopping, the size and weight of trucks, the weight distribution of trucks, the weight on each axle and each tire of a truck, and the speed at which trucks can travel. These regulations exist to decrease the threat to safety posed by semi trucks while still allowing trucking to be a commercially viable means of transportation for a large number of goods.
When truck drivers are alert and experienced and all applicable laws are followed, the chances of a semi truck being involved in an accident are much smaller than if regulations or laws are ignored or disregarded. But it is not only the truck driver and the cargo load of the truck at risk when procedures are ignored; instead, all motorists on the road share a risk of being involved in a collision with a dangerous truck driver, decreasing each driver’s safety while on the road.
One of the reasons semi trucks are more dangerous than other vehicles is because trucks are much larger and much heavier than passenger cars and trucks, meaning that they have a greater ability to sustain a collision than their smaller counterparts. In fact, when a semi collides with a passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle almost always experiences greater damage and the passenger car’s occupants are at a much higher risk for injury or death as a result.
Dangers Presented by Overweight Trucks
Loading a truck with too much weight poses a serious threat to safety because an overweight truck is difficult to handle. It requires a greater length of road to stop than a properly loaded truck and it is also more difficult to turn. The threats posed by an overweight/overloaded truck are exacerbated when the truck’s operator is a novice or inexperienced in semi maneuverability which increases the odds that the truck will be involved in an incident with another vehicle.
Extra weight loaded in a semi truck’s trailer also increase the chances of a tire blowing out while the truck is in use. Tire blowouts can lead to a loss of steering control and can cause a truck to veer into other lanes of traffic, potentially causing a collision. The remains of the blown tire can also fly into the path of travel of another vehicle or strike a car, leading to the driver of the car to crash.
An overloaded truck also poses a greater threat of rolling over than a truck that is properly stocked because excess weight raises the truck’s center of gravity, leading to a truck that can tip or fall over, especially when turning. A rolling truck may fall into oncoming lanes of traffic or in an intersection with other cars, motorcycles, or even pedestrians present.
Trucks that are heavier than allowed by local laws put greater stress on a road’s surface due to their excess weight. This leads to wearing and degradation of the road much faster than intended. When a bridge or overpass is present, though, this excess weight can lead to structural damage to the bridge’s support system, including support beams, and can lead to a crumbling or even collapsed bridge. Anyone on the bridge or overpass at the same time as an overweight truck is at risk if a bridge fails as are any drivers underneath an overpass that is being damaged.
Legal Rights of Truck Accident Victims
A truck can be loaded and driven by one individual or several companies can be involved in the process. In some cases, one company owns the truck, another operates it, a third loads it, and a fourth maintains and repairs the truck. The facts of an individual accident will determine who is responsible for the negligent condition of the truck and its cargo and who should be held legally liable for any damages that result.
What remains clear is that an innocent victim of a trucking accident is not to blame when a collision happens because a truck is overweight or overloaded. The laws of Chicago recognize this and allow accident victims the opportunity to make a civil claim for damages against a negligent trucker. These claims are separate from and in addition to any charges or fines assessed by local or state police for violations of area weight and driving laws.
The attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. focus on representing accident victims and helping those victims obtain a financial recovery they deserve to properly compensate them for all damages sustained in an accident. We will pursue all avenues of recovery on behalf of a victim and we always offer a free case consultation to those who contact us at (312) 924-7575 or toll free at (855) LAW-CHICAGO. If you have been injured in an accident, know that you may be entitled to a financial settlement. Call us today and let us help you understand your legal rights with no obligation on your part.
If you have been injured by an overweight truck, call us at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or Contact Us online for a free case consultation.