Accidents Caused By Overweight/Oversized Loads
It’s an all-too-familiar sight for drivers: an 18-wheeler carrying oversize loads of cargo barreling down our highways and interstates. Over-length, over-width, and/or overweight loads generally require special transit permits, impose time constraints, and may require special equipment such as flashing lights or signs in order to protect the other drivers on the road. Not only do these overloaded trucks cause extensive damage to our infrastructure, but further, they cause devastating accidents with other vehicles.
Oversize and/or overweight truck accidents happen for various reasons, including the following:
- The unbalanced load causes the weight of the truck to shift to the rear, making it difficult for the truck driver to control the vehicle’s movement and speed
- The weight of the load can cause a tire blowout
- The truck’s center of of gravity is higher due to the load, increasing the likelihood of rollovers
- The load causes an increase in speed, especially when the truck is traveling downhill, making it difficult to slow down and/or stop the truck.
Holding Companies Accountable: Penalties for Oversize and Overweight Loads
Because of the hazards associated with oversize and overweight vehicles, the Texas Legislature has instituted stiffer penalties for oversize and overweight violations in order to combat the danger this practice presents on our highways and interstates. Before the new penalties took effect in September 2013, fines for a truck with a single weight violation exceeding 10,000 pounds over the legal limit ranged from just $500 to $1,000 for a first offense.
A first offense for a weight violation imposes fines ranging from $500 to $10,000 on a sliding scale based on how many pounds overweight the truck is. Trucks that are up to 2,500 pounds over the legal limit can be fined up to $500; trucks that are between 2,500 pounds and 5,000 pounds overweight can be fined up to $1,000. For a repeat offense within the same year, these fines are doubled. If the oversize and overweight load is un-permitted, additional fines are imposed upon the trucking company. Because improperly loaded trucks have such a great potential for loss of control and rollover, the Texas Department of Public Safety (responsible for enforcing the new legislation) has notified trucking companies of the new penalty system in hopes that by hitting offenders’ wallets, they will in effect curb violations and ultimately prevent the destructive accidents oversize and overweight truck loads can cause.
Civil Liability for Oversized and Over Weight Truck Loads
In the civil context, violation of a regulatory standard such as this can be used to prove negligence and show negligence per se. At Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., our truck accident attorneys are familiar withe the State and Federal regulations that place restrictions on truck drivers. We will use these to the advantage of our clients when negligent drivers and companies violate the law resulting in injury to you. Call us today.
Speak to Our Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Driving a properly loaded truck is challenging enough. But when trucking companies put their bottom line before public safety, their negligence sets the stage for catastrophic accidents on the Texas roadways. If you have been in an accident with an overweight truck or commercial vehicle, please contact Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. for a free consultation with no obligation. 800-298-0111.
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.