As Charlotte area residents know, there are numerous trucks on the road day and night hauling merchandise and all kinds of cargo in and out of state. Most of the time, the drivers of passenger vehicles are able to safely share the roadway with these trucks. However, in some cases, truck accidents occur as a result of a particularly dangerous situation – overloaded or improperly loaded truck cargo.
When the driver of a passenger car gets into a collision with a large truck or an 18-wheeler, serious injuries often result. Trucks have significantly more mass and weight than standard cars and light trucks, and the loads they carry on top of this can be tens of thousands of pounds in weight. Also, large trucks are not able to stop as quickly as smaller cars, and they are also more cumbersome to maneuver. Many truck accidents occur as a result of mistakes or negligence involving the amount and/or the way in which cargo is loaded onto a large truck.
According to laws passed by the North Carolina legislature, the maximum weight limit for any vehicle is 80,000 pounds (per N. C. Gen. Stat. 20-118). The weight limit for the most common types of commercial trucks – tandem axle semi-trailers – is 38,000 pounds. The aforementioned weight limits apply to state highways, which are the widest and most well maintained roads in the state. Lower weight restrictions apply for smaller roads.
If a truck exceeds its weight limit, excessive strain can be placed on the tires, brakes, and engine. Tire blowouts and failed brakes can easily cause devastating accidents. The risk for serious injuries is greatest for occupants of other vehicles on the roadway and the truck driver when these accidents occur.
Improperly loaded cargo
Cargo loaded improperly on a large truck is another serious issue that can lead to dangerous and catastrophic injuries and accidents. When driving at highway speeds, skidding, swerving, sudden braking, or otherwise suddenly changing the truck’s direction can increase the chances of an accident when cargo is improperly loaded or secured.
When cargo in a truck shifts or comes loose, the risk of serious or fatal injuries increases significantly. Cargo loading errors can play a part in the following types of truck accidents:
- Cargo collisions and spills
- Rear-end collisions
- Tire blowouts
An improperly loaded truck can easily lose its cargo. When the cargo separates from the vehicle, it can enter the path of other oncoming vehicles and present sudden and dangerous roadway hazards.
Negligence per se
Most of the time, in a personal injury lawsuit that involves a truck accident, the plaintiff must demonstrate with evidence that the driver operated in a negligent manner. However, if a defendant is convicted of a law or traffic violation, such as exceeding the truck’s weight limit, and this violation contributed to the accident, the courts may consider the defendant automatically negligent. This is referred to as negligent per se.
This is why all parties involved in an accident with a commercial truck should contact the police. The police will commence with their own investigation of the accident and make sure the truck is weighed as part of the investigation and gathering of evidence. The truck driver or trucking carrier will be fined if the truck is found to be over the legal weight limit. If the excessive weight was a cause of the collision, the plaintiff(s) seeking compensation for injuries will have a solid case.
An experienced truck accident attorney can review the circumstances of your accident and determine who is liable. They can hold the driver of the truck and/or the trucking company responsible for any negligence and pursue damages to cover your lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
If you have sustained a trucking accident injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, our Charlotte truck accident attorneys at Warren & Kallianos, PLLC can help you obtain justice and compensation. We are here to fight with determined representation and skill to help you secure the compensation owed to you for your injury and other losses. To set up a free case consultation, give us a call today at 704.275.5593 or complete our contact form.