Oversized Load Vehicle Accidents in Montgomery AL
As explained by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration, the commercial vehicle weight standard for commercial vehicles that operate on the interstate highway system is 80,000 pounds. To put that amount in perspective, consider that the average passenger vehicle is about 4,000 pounds, which means that a large commercial vehicle can weigh 20 times that amount.
And that’s not all – in some cases, vehicles may be carrying oversized loads, also called overweight loads. This means that the amount of cargo that a large truck is carrying exceeds federal standards for weight and size. While drivers must have a special permit in order to move an oversized load vehicle, the fact remains that driving around these vehicles presents a unique risk, and should a crash occur, the damages can be especially devastating.
Types of Oversized Load Vehicles
There are a number of situations in which a vehicle may be tasked with carrying an oversized load, and in which the government will give its permission to do so. For example, common types of oversized loads include:
- Wind propellers;
- Construction machines;
- Pre-built homes;
- Bridge beams;
- Industrial equipment;
- Agricultural equipment; and
The Dangers of Oversized Loads
There is no doubt that oversized loads are something necessary; after all, how would the equipment listed above ever reach its destination if not for commercial vehicles and their drivers willing to make the trip? That being said, there’s no doubt that oversized loads create a unique hazard on the road. This is a result of:
- The oversized load taking up more than a single lane, forcing surrounding traffic into a single lane (which increases congestion);
- Difficulty for the oversized load truck driver to control elements like speed and movement of the truck due to the excessive weight and any balance issues of the load;
- Potential tire blowouts due to load weight;
- Difficulty for the truck driver to stop due to excessive weight;
- Numerous traffic implications, including slowing traffic and increasing congestion; and
- High risk of driver error – when a load weighs more than 80,000 pounds–and sometimes more than 200,000 pounds!–the slightest error can have devastating consequences.
How Weight Increases the Risk of an Accident and the Risk of Serious Injuries
The more a vehicle weighs, the harder it is to control. Not only can light swerves or turns lead to deadly accidents, but the heavier a vehicle is, the more time it needs to stop. Stopping distances for large trucks and buses are already much greater than they are for smaller vehicles; when a truck is oversized, the stopping distance increases. This means that should an oversized load be required to stop quickly (vehicle cutting it off, stopping in front of it), it may be unable to do so.
But it is not just stopping distance that is a huge concern. In the event of a crash, the damages will be more severe based on the size of a load. Indeed, the greater the mass of an object (multiplied by its velocity), the greater the amount of kinetic energy. At the time of impact, this energy is transformed into the sound and heat that results, and the rest is absorbed by vehicles. In other words, the more kinetic energy (the more weight and speed of vehicles), the greater the damage to vehicles. And when damage to vehicle is serious, injuries sustained by those within the vehicles are often severe. Crumpled and totaled cars can mean crush injuries, amputation injuries, bone fractures, paralyzing spinal cord injuries, back and neck injuries, internal injuries, and myriad other serious and fatal injury types.
Who’s Liable for an Accident Caused by an Oversized Load?
When an oversized load accident occurs, determining liability is the most important part of ensuring that you get compensation for your injuries. Fault is based on negligence, or the failure to act with a reasonable degree of care. Parties who may be at fault in an oversized load accident include:
- Cargo loader, if cargo is improperly loaded or secured, resulting in a cargo shift that causes the accident;
- Trucking company, if an act of negligence–such as failing to properly train a driver, secure permission to move an oversized load, maintain trucks, etc.–was the cause of the accident;
- Truck driver, when an error such as taking a turn too fast, driving while distracted, speeding, tailgating, and other dangerous actions cause a crash, a truck driver may be liable (however, the truck driver may be protected from liability as a result of being an employee, and the trucking company may be held liable for the truck driver’s actions as such);
- Cargo manufacturer, if the cargo is inherently dangerous and this danger is the cause of the collision (i.e. cargo that exploded while in transit), the cargo manufacturer may be to blame;
- Truck part manufacturer, a large truck has a lot of parts that allow for its safe operation – if any of these parts are defective, such as a tire, this increases the risk of an accident, and the part manufacturer could be held liable as such; and
- Third party driver, who could have caused the accident as a result of their own negligence. Drivers around oversized loads can be impatient, and tailgating, speeding, and cutting off oversized loads can all cause serious accidents that endanger others.
Determining fault may require a thorough investigation, the analysis of vehicle electronic control module (ECM) data, and the help of accident reconstruction experts. Our legal team has the resources necessary to do whatever it takes to determine fault and hold a responsible party liable for your damages.
Contact Chip Nix, Attorney at Law Today
Accidents with oversized loads can lead to serious and even fatal injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered serious harm, or been killed, in a crash with an oversized truck, please call Alabama injury lawyer Chip Nix, Attorney at Law today. Consultations are offered free of charge, and our lawyer is passionate about helping you. Reach us now online or by phone at 334-279-7770.