What Happens if an Overweight Truck Crashes?

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The average car weighs 4,094 pounds. But a car is small compared to a commercial truck, which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Overweight trucks can create dangers on the roads.

Our Pensacola truck accident attorneys at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers discuss what happens if an overweight truck crashes.

When Overweight Trucks Crash, What Happens?

If an overweight truck crashes, those responsible for the vehicle’s weight may be liable to pay compensation to victims. The vehicle’s weight may be a contributing factor to the accident and resulting injuries to victims. Injured parties may qualify to claim compensation through a lawsuit for economic and non-economic damages. In addition, law enforcement may issue citations and penalties because of the vehicle’s weight.

What happens if a truck is overweight in Florida?

If a truck is overweight, Florida Statutes § 316.545 imposes a fine of $.05 per pound beyond the legal weight of the vehicle, with a $10 fine if the excess is 200 pounds or less. A person who violates overloading regulations is presumed to have damaged the roads. In addition to fines, if an overweight truck causes a collision, the truck’s weight may create legal liability for damages to victims.

Why Are Overweight Trucks Dangerous?

Here are some reasons that overweight trucks pose a danger on the roads:

  • Steering and maneuverability: A truck that is overweight can be difficult to steer and maneuver. Trucks are designed to operate within their weight limits. When a truck bears too much weight, it may be impossible to control.
  • Stopping distance: The more a vehicle weighs, the longer it takes to come to a stop. A collision that could have been prevented at a normal weight may be unavoidable.
  • Tipping and turning: With added weight, the danger of a tip or rollover increases.
  • Brake failure: When a truck is overweight, the brakes must work harder to stop the vehicle. This additional strain can cause the brakes to fail and consequently, a collision.
  • Tire blowouts: Like the other components of a commercial truck, tires are built to withstand maximum weight limits. Tires wear out faster when a truck is overweight, and a blowout may occur.
  • Incline difficulty: Driving a commercial truck on an incline takes skill. Even when using the correct technique, an overweight truck on an incline creates a danger on the roads.
  • Road damage: Roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure are built to withstand certain weights. When there is pressure that exceeds weight-bearing capabilities, transportation infrastructure can suffer damage that is not from normal wear and tear.

Who Is Responsible for an Overweight Truck?

Parties who may be responsible for an overweight truck include:

  • Commercial vehicle trucking operator
  • Load planner
  • The party who owns or loads the freight
  • Driver

Although it may be the driver who receives a ticket for an overweight truck, any party that is responsible for the truck’s weight may be liable for negligence if a collision occurs. A victim may seek financial compensation for damages and harms under Florida law.

Who sets weight restrictions in the trucking industry?

The U.S. Department of Transportation and state lawmakers set weight restrictions in the trucking industry. 23 CFR § 658.17 creates a maximum gross vehicle weight of 80,000 pounds, with lower limits for a single axle and tandem axles.

Truck Weight Limits and State Exceptions

  • Truck weight limits are set by federal and state law.
  • Weight limits are based on Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and weight upon a single axle or group of axles.
  • The maximum GVWR for the largest vehicles is 80,000 pounds unless the Bridge Gross Weight Formula dictates a lower maximum. (See 23 CFR § 658.17(e)).
  • There are state exceptions to federal truck weight limits. For example, in Alaska, state law dictates Interstate weight limits, and federal limits don’t apply.
  • On the Florida Turnpike, the maximum gross vehicle weight is 147,000 pounds. Only Michigan has a higher exception outlined in Appendix B to 23 CFR Part 658.
  • Where state exceptions exist, they often exist only on certain roads.

What is GVWR?

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is the total weight of a vehicle. It includes the weight of the vehicle when empty, passengers, fuel and anything hauled or towed. Weight limits for vehicles on public roads are set by GVWR.

Florida Truck Weight Regulations

Florida Statutes § 316.535 establishes maximum gross weights for vehicles on Florida highways. The gross weight on the highway imposed by the wheels of any one axle may not exceed 20,000 pounds. There are additional limitations for the entire vehicle based on the distance in feet between the first and last axles of the vehicle.

Who enforces Florida truck weight regulations?

The Florida Department of Transportation enforces state truck weight regulations.

Who must stop at a weigh station in Florida?

Commercial trucks must stop at all weigh stations in Florida en route to their destination. Even a personal vehicle pulling a rental trailer must stop.

See Florida Weigh Stations

Your Rights if You Are Hit by an Overweight Truck

If you’re in an accident with a commercial truck, one of the things to investigate is whether the truck was overweight. Law enforcement may gather information about the truck’s weight as part of their investigation. You may also review records from the trucking operation and work with accident reconstruction professionals to determine how weight may have played a role in the crash.

Even though Florida uses a no-fault system for minor accidents, there are exceptions when a person suffers severe injury. If you sustain a serious, permanent, or disfiguring injury in a truck accident, you may seek financial compensation through a legal claim. If qualified, the victim may claim economic damages plus non-economic compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement and other losses.

Get Legal Help for an Overweight Truck Accident

At Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers, we represent truck accident victims. Let us investigate if a weight violation was a factor in your crash. We build the evidence in your favor and pursue your rights.

Call 850-444-0000 or message us online to begin.

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