Tractor-trailers, also known as “big rigs,” are probably the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Weighing several tons, these commercial trucks can cause catastrophic injuries when they collide with passenger vehicles sharing the road with them.
Tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks become even more dangerous when they are carrying more cargo than they should. These overloaded trucks are harder to control and can cause more serious injuries after a collision. If you have been injured by a commercial truck, a Georgia truck accident attorney can help you obtain the compensation you need.Why Overloaded Trucks are so Dangerous
Overloaded trucks pose many dangers to other motorists, as well as to the driver of the truck. For example:
- Heavier trucks are typically harder to maneuver. As a result, a driver might not be able to avoid an accident even if he sees it in the distance.
- Overloaded trucks take longer to climb a hill. For this reason, following vehicles might accidentally slam into them or take risky maneuvers trying to pass.
- Heavier trucks take more time to slow down. A driver might crash into other people on the road.
- Heavier trucks put greater stress on the brakes. Consequently, the brakes might fail.
- An overloaded truck is more likely to roll over because of the higher center of gravity. A truck rollover can crush other vehicles but also set off a chain reaction, leading to a pileup.
- The heavier the truck, the more likely to suffer a tire blowout. Blowouts can make the truck harder to handle.
- Heavier trucks suffer mechanical breakdowns which render the truck dangerous.
- Overloaded trucks could cause bridges to collapse.
Other trucks, like dump trucks, pose their own dangers when overloaded. In particular, cargo can come flying out of the back of a dump truck and strike other motorists or cause them to swerve to avoid a crash. Heavy loads can also slide off a flatbed truck if not properly secured.
Overloaded trucks are particularly dangerous when they crash into passenger vehicles. All of that extra weight can cause even more damage to the vehicle and passengers inside. As a result, accidents with overloaded trucks tend to be more devastating than other truck accidents.Georgia Load Limits
Recognizing the danger of overloaded trucks, Georgia like other states puts strict limits on how much they can weigh. In particular, Georgia law prescribes the following limits:
- 20,340 lbs. on a single axle
- 40,680 lbs. on a tandem axle if the vehicle is not on the Interstate highway system
- 61,020 lbs. on a tridem axle if the vehicle is not on the Interstate highway system
- 80,000 lbs. in gross weight
- Different limits apply depending on the product being transported. For example, certain variances apply to the transport of farm produce or waste, especially if the truck is traveling a short distance.
Furthermore, some loads cannot be easily divided and therefore must be transported as one unit. In these situations, Georgia can issue special permits to carry these loads even when they otherwise exceed the state limits. For all of these reasons, many tractor-trailers on Georgia’s roads are carrying loads in excess of what is normally allowed.Who You can Hold Responsible After a Collision
If you or a family member was injured in a truck accident, you might be able to hold many different entities responsible. For example, if the truck was overloaded, then the following might be liable for the accident:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The company that loaded the truck
Because companies have deeper pockets than truck drivers do, your truck accident attorney should take a close look at adding them as defendants to any lawsuit. Doing so will allow injured victims to receive more in compensation if they are successful in obtaining a settlement or court judgment.
To prevail, you will need to show that the defendant breached their duty of care to you. Often, you can use the fact that the load weighed more than the legal limit as proof. However, you might also need other information, such as testimony from employees who admit that they loaded the truck in excess of the relevant law.
At Slappey & Sadd, we are committed to maximizing our client's compensation. To that end, we might be able to show that the trucking company or the loading company had a policy of overloading trucks to save money. This type of evidence can be particularly devastating since it shows a giant company's disregard for the safety of other people on the road.Why You Need a Georgia Truck Accident Lawyer
The trucking industry in Georgia and the entire United States is very powerful. Large trucking companies are committed to keeping their costs as low as possible, which means they have little incentive to settle a lawsuit with injured motorists. Instead, within an hour of the accident, they typically have an investigator on the scene of the accident. This investigator will be looking for ways to push responsibility for the accident onto someone else—possible even you.
As the injured party, you need a tough legal advocate in your corner. At Slappey & Sadd, our Georgia truck accident attorneys have years of experience working up cases the proper way so that we can obtain necessary compensation for our clients. For example, we can:
- Help to fully document all of your physical and emotional injuries
- Analyze the accident to determine who was at fault
- Review your memories of the accident to see if they reveal who is at fault
- Help you communicate with the trucking company’s insurance agent so that you do not make any comments that inadvertently hurt your case
We can also negotiate on your behalf for a full and fair settlement for your injuries. Negotiating settlements is a skill that requires years of experience. Our Georgia truck accident attorneys have sat across the bargaining table with some of the state’s largest trucking companies and insurers, and we will not be intimidated.
We represent the entire state of Georgia, including Troup County and Walton County.