Overloaded Truck Accident Lawyers in Orlando - Paul Knopf Bigger
State and federal regulations impose weight limits for commercial trucks, which are more likely to be involved in devastating accidents when overloaded. Truck drivers or trucking companies could be held liable for injuries and damage caused by overloaded trucks and negligence. If you’ve been hurt in an accident with an overloaded truck in Orlando, you deserve to pursue compensation and accountability from those who injured you.
A truck accident lawyer from Paul Knopf Bigger can help. Our attorneys and staff are dedicated to helping injury victims fight injustice. We provide personalized service to every client and work tirelessly to obtain the best outcomes. We have a proven record of litigating and winning cases against the largest companies in the country.
If you were injured in an overloaded truck accident, don’t take legal action alone. Contact Paul Knopf Bigger for a free initial case review with an overloaded truck accident lawyer in Orlando.
What Makes an Overloaded Truck Dangerous?
What happens when a vehicle is overloaded? Excessive cargo weight makes any vehicle hard to control. But an overloaded truck’s increased size, weight, and inertia means it cannot slow down, accelerate, or maneuver as quickly as a lighter vehicle.
Excessive or unbalanced cargo weight increases the risk of a truck jackknifing or rolling over.
Overloaded trucks have a higher risk of cargo accidents because excessive weight can lead to equipment failure, causing cargo to spill out of the truck and onto the road.
Florida Laws on Commercial Vehicle Weight Limits
Florida regulations impose weight limits for commercial trucks in the state. Weight limits include truck gross weight, special gross weight, external bridge weight, and internal bridge weight. Limits on gross weight, or the total weight of the truck and its load, depend on the distance between the truck’s first and last axles. Gross weight limits range from 44,000 to a maximum of 73,271.
Specialty gross weight refers to the maximum allowable weight for single-unit specialty trucks, such as dump trucks, waste collection trucks, and concrete mixers. Per-axle specialty gross weight limits depend on the number and width of tires on the axle, up to a maximum of 22,000 pounds. The total gross weight of specialty trucks may be at most 70,000 pounds.
External/internal bridge weight limits range between 44,000 and 80,000 pounds, depending on the distance between consecutive axles and the truck’s number of axles.
Trucks can exceed these weight limits if a truck driver or motor carrier applies for an overweight permit from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Types of Crashes Due to Overloaded Trucks in Florida and Orlando
Overloaded trucks are challenging to operate and can cause various types of crashes. Some of the most common types of accidents involving overloaded trucks include:
- Rear-End Collisions – Overloaded trucks require more distance to slow down and stop. Putting too much cargo into a truck increases the risk that the truck will rear-end another vehicle, especially if a truck driver does not increase the following distance to account for the additional cargo weight.
- Jackknife Accidents – Overloaded trucks are more likely to jackknife. A jackknife accident occurs when a truck’s trailer swings out from the direction of travel and forward toward the truck’s cab, causing the cab and trailer to fold together like a pocketknife. Excess weight in a trailer increases the risk that the trailer may swing out and cause the truck to jackknife.
- Rollover Accidents – Excessive cargo loads or improperly balanced cargo weight may increase the risk of truck rollover accidents because overloaded trucks have higher centers of gravity. Thus, an overloaded truck will likely tip over under these circumstances.
- Road Departure/Runaway Truck Accidents – Overloading a truck puts excessive stress on the truck’s brake system, potentially leading to a brake failure that can cause the truck to run off the road or highway.
- Cargo Accidents – Excessive cargo weight or failure to secure the cargo load can lead to a cargo accident where a truck spills its cargo onto other vehicles or the road, where the cargo may pose a collision hazard for oncoming traffic.
Common Injuries Caused by an Overloaded Truck
Truck accidents frequently cause severe injuries to accident victims due to the violent forces a commercial truck can impart in a collision. Putting more weight in a truck means that the forces involved in a collision will increase, causing even more catastrophic injuries for accident victims. Some of the most common kinds of injuries that occur in overloaded truck accidents include:
- Severe lacerations and abrasions
- Degloving injuries
- Dislocated joints
- Ligament sprains or tears
- Muscle and tendon strains or tears
- Broken bones
- Neck and back injuries, including whiplash or herniated spinal discs
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Internal injuries and bleeding
- Crush injuries
- Facial injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Traumatic amputation, dismemberment, or limb loss
Who Is Responsible for Securing a Load on a Truck?
Federal trucking regulations place responsibility for securing loads on the truck driver and motor carrier. These obligations include distributing the cargo’s weight, securing cargo to ensure it does not shift during travel, and securing the truck’s tailgates, doors, or other means of fastening cargo to the truck.
Under federal trucking regulations, the truck driver bears primary responsibility for the safety of a cargo load. However, motor carriers may only allow a truck driver to operate a vehicle after the driver has secured the cargo load. Truck drivers must secure a cargo load to their satisfaction before getting on the road. Once the driver gets on the road, they must stop within the first 50 miles of their route to inspect the cargo and adjust cargo, resecure devices, or add more equipment to further secure cargo from shifting or falling out of the truck. After that, truck drivers must inspect the cargo load every three hours or 150 miles (whichever comes first) and every time the driver comes on or goes off duty.
The regulations expressly exempt any truck driver who operates a sealed cargo load after receiving instructions not to open the vehicle to inspect the cargo load. Truck drivers also do not need to inspect their cargo load if the way a motor carrier or shipping company loaded the cargo makes inspections impractical.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for an Overloaded Truck Accident in Florida and Orlando?
Depending on the circumstances of an overloaded truck accident, various parties may bear liability for the crash. Any of the following might be held responsible:
- The Truck Driver – A truck driver may be liable for an overloaded truck accident because federal regulations place responsibility for ensuring the safety of a cargo load on the driver.
- The Trucking Company – Federal trucking regulations also make trucking companies responsible for ensuring their drivers secure and inspect truck cargo loads as required by the regulations.
- The Shipping Company – A shipping company may bear some responsibility for an overloaded truck accident if it communicates an erroneous cargo weight figure to the truck driver and trucking company.
- The Truck or Trailer Manufacturer – A truck or trailer manufacturer may have liability for an overloaded truck accident if a design or manufacturing defect causes the crash.
- Manufacturers of Cargo-Securing Equipment – Companies that manufacture straps, nets, or other equipment used to secure cargo may bear liability for an accident caused by an equipment failure that allows cargo to shift during travel.
What Are Recoverable Damages or Compensation in an Overloaded Truck Accident in Florida?
In an overloaded truck accident case, you may have the right to recover compensation for financial and personal losses you suffer due to the crash. You could be entitled to money for the following:
- Medical treatment and rehabilitation for injuries you suffered in the crash
- Home health care and support services you need for permanent disabilities caused by your accident injuries
- Loss of wages, income, or earning capacity while recovering from the accident
- Loss of future earnings and employment benefits if you can no longer work due to injuries
- Physical pain and anguish
- Emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of enjoyment or quality of life due to disabilities or permanent, visible scarring and disfigurement
- Vehicle repairs or reimbursement for the value of your car if totaled by the accident
Contact an Orlando Overloaded Truck Accident Attorney
If you’ve suffered injuries in a crash caused by an overloaded commercial truck, you need an experienced advocate to help you seek the compensation you deserve. The seasoned attorneys at Paul Knopf Bigger have a track record of obtaining justice and financial relief for injury victims throughout Orlando. We will work tirelessly to pursue the money you need for medical bills, lost wages, and other crash-related losses.
Don’t try to take on the trucking industry alone. Contact Paul Knopf Bigger today for a free consultation with an Orlando overloaded truck accident attorney.