When fully loaded with cargo, commercial trucks can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds. At this weight, it is often difficult for experienced drivers to maneuver their vehicles. Accordingly, any tractor-trailer loaded beyond the maximum weight is unsafe to drive and could cause a catastrophic accident.
A civil suit involving alleged violations of the federal truck weight regulations can be complex, so it is best for injured parties to seek legal help from an experienced truck wreck attorney. If you were harmed in an overloaded or overweight truck accident in Charlottesville, representation from a lawyer at The Warren Firm could make all the difference in the success of your case.
The federal limitations on maximum truck weight are codified in 23 Code of Federal Regulations §658.17. According to this statute, no commercial vehicle that operates on the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways can exceed a maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds. Furthermore, no tractor-trailer can carry more than 20,000 pounds of gross weight on any one axle, and no tractor-trailer can put more than 34,000 pounds of gross weight on any tandem axle.
The state has adopted these same maximum weight limits for vehicles on state roads. However, Code of Virginia §46.2-1126 establishes much more in-depth limitations on truck weight per axle, based on the longest distance between distinct axle groups. State law also prohibits vehicles from carrying more than 650 pounds of weight per inch of tire width that makes contact with the driving surface.
There are some exceptions to these regulations for commercial vehicles that only travel within state borders. However, these exceptions only apply under strict conditions and to drivers with specific permits. A knowledgeable local attorney could offer further clarification about how these laws affect your overloaded truck crash case.
It is possible to hold a truck driver responsible for an accident caused by overweight cargo. However, this is not always the best course of action. An individual trucker may not have the financial means to fully compensate you for your injuries and damages. Another liable party could be the trucking company that the driver works for.
For example, some trucking companies force their drivers to operate overweight trucks as a cost-saving measure. Employers maximize the amount of goods they transport per trip by ignoring safety regulations. After an overloaded truck accident in Charlottesville, a dedicated lawyer could gather evidence like cargo records, maintenance logs, and other quantitative evidence that could indicate reckless behavior by a driver or his or her employer.
Even under the best of circumstances, commercial trucks are incredibly dangerous machines that require operators to be thoroughly trained and constantly aware of their surroundings. When a massive semi-truck is loaded with more cargo than it can safely bear, the drivers are far more likely to lose control of the vehicle and cause a severe accident.
Fortunately, if you were injured in this kind of incident, you may be able to recover comprehensive compensation for all your injuries and losses. Contact our firm today to learn more about your legal options following an overloaded/overweight truck accident in Charlottesville.