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What is an Overloaded Truck Accident?

By Butler Prather LLP on August 24, 2022

Large commercial vehicles on the roadway operate under strict federal and state guidelines. Many of these guidelines surround the weight limits of the vehicles, including how much load semi-trucks can carry at a time. Anytime a vehicle is overloaded beyond its weight capacity, this significantly increases the chance of an accident occurring. Accidents involving commercial trucks often lead to major injuries and property damage on the roadways of Georgia.

Commercial Trucking Weight Limits

When we examine information available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we can see that there are various weight limits for commercial trucks on the roadway. The maximum single axle weight is 20,000 pounds, and the maximum tandem axle weight is 34,000 pounds. Overall, the maximum gross weight for a commercial truck is 80,000 pounds. These weight limits include the weight of the vehicle, tractor, trailer, and cargo.

Additionally, some states have varying limits on their own, but most states tend to stick with the federal limits in order to ensure uniformity across Interstate travel.

Overload Permits

The Georgia Department of Transportation does allow individuals to apply for an overweight permit. These permits allow individuals to carry loads of more than 125,000 pounds so long as it remains in legal dimensions. These permits are valid for 10 days, and they specify the time of day that overweight trucks are allowed to operate.

What Happens When a Truck is Overweight?

There is a reason that the FMCSA and state regulators place weight limits on commercial vehicles. Safety is of the utmost importance. If anything goes wrong with a larger commercial vehicle, it could lead to disaster on the roadway, particularly for those inside smaller passenger vehicles. The more a truck ways, the less control a driver will have over the vehicle in the event anything goes wrong, including mistakes other drivers make, brake failure, steering failure, and any number of other possible hazardous scenarios.

One of the main dangers associated with overweight trucks is downhill velocity. When a truck is going downhill, the brakes experience more significant strain, particularly if there is a heavier load. This increases the risk that the truck’s brakes will fail and lead to a runaway truck incident.

Overloaded trucks also deal with a higher risk of rear-end accidents. Additional weight in the trailer of the truck will increase the amount of time that it takes for a driver to come to a complete stop. In the event the driver is not used to this added weight, which most drivers are not, this could end up causing a collision with the vehicle or vehicles in front of them.

Finally, overloaded vehicles could change the center of gravity of the truck. Depending on how hey commercial truck gets loaded, an elevated center of gravity could increase the risk of a rollover accident, particularly if the driver has to make a sudden turn.

Contact an Attorney

If you or somebody you love has been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, and you suspect that the truck was overloaded, reach out to an Atlanta personal injury attorney and mediately. A lawyer will investigate every aspect of your claim and examine the evidence available from the truck driver and the trucking company. This will typically require going through the court system and subpoenas to obtain the right evidence to prove what happened. Your lawyer will help make sure that you recover the compensation you need for your injuries and property damage expenses.

Posted in: Truck Accidents

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