Overloaded Truck Accidents in Palm Beach
Overloaded truck accidents can occur in Palm Beach at any given time. Even in situations that do not involve high speeds, the results can often be catastrophic – resulting in severe injuries and fatalities. Throughout the state, it is estimated that 1 in 10 motorist fatalities are the result of a vehicle that has become involved in an accident with a commercial truck. Therefore, it’s become a matter of great importance that accidents which involve overloaded and overweight trucks be addressed on an on-going basis.
This estimated figure should be no surprise when you consider that a semi-truck, which is fully-loaded, can weigh approximately 80,000 lbs. or more. While the average passenger vehicle will only weigh about 5,000 lbs. Place these two vehicle sizes in a vehicle crash and you a formula that equates to a major disaster. Unfortunately, this type of accident is certainly not in favor of the smaller passenger vehicle that may be transporting multiple individuals. In addition, truck accident statistics in 2014 inform us that:
- When it comes to fatalities in large truck crashes, 68% of those killed were the ones who were riding in the smaller vehicle, 15% were bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. Compare this with only 16% who were occupants of the trucks.
- A 16% increase in the number of truck accident fatalities have been reported from the years 2009 to 2014.
- Approximately 59% of fatalities involving large trucks happened on major roadways that weren’t part of an interstate or freeway road system. Additionally, 9% occurred on minor roadways.
- When it comes to truck accidents, the most frequent crashes occurred during the hours between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., in which 47%. In addition, during those hours, 47% of truck accident fatalities occurred.
- Also, 16% of truck accidents happened during the weekend (Saturday and Sunday).
As one may suspect, some of the more serious truck accidents are the result of commercial trucks that have been overloaded past regulated weight limitations. This happens due to the fact that that the driver of an overweight truck has a reduced ability when it comes to maintaining full control over their vehicle. This is especially true when a sharp, emergency maneuver is needed or if the driver is operating their truck in poor weather conditions. During these occasions, there is a greater chance for the truck to completely tip over or for the cargo to become dislodged. As a result, wee many overweight truck accidents in which more than a single vehicle is involved.
In response to these facts, both federal and state agencies have enacted laws that are designed to limit the amount of weight that a truck is allowed to transport. In establishing these regulations, definition of trucks and their trailer equipment have been defined. These definitions include:
Trailers –This definition refers to a vehicle that does not have the ability to move under its own power. The purpose of this vehicle is to be attached to a motorized vehicle in such a manner that no part of its weight may rest on the motorized vehicle which is towing the trailer.
Semitrailer - This also refers to a vehicle that does not have the ability to move under its own power. The purpose of this vehicle is to be attached to a motorized vehicle in such a manner that some part of its weight will rest on the motorized vehicle which is towing the semitrailer.
Gross weight – Represents the weight (in pounds) of both the motorized vehicle and the load that the vehicle is towing.
Net weight – Represents the weight (in pounds) of both the motorized vehicle and the load that the vehicle is towing, along with any other attached equipment.
Truck – A truck is any motorized vehicle that has a net weight equal to 5,000 pounds, or less, which has been designed to transport cargo. The definition also includes; a platform, a rack, a cabinet box and any other carrying equipment that excludes the personal effects of any passengers.
Heavy Truck – A heavy truck is any motorized vehicle that has a net weight of over 5,000 pounds, which has been designed to transport cargo. It’s required to be registered according to its gross weight (per statute s. 320.08(4)). The definition also includes; a platform, a rack, a cabinet box and any other carrying equipment that excludes the personal effects of any passengers.
Truck Tractor – defines a motorized vehicle that has 4 (or more) wheels. There is also a 5th wheel that is equipped that can be used for the attachment of a semitrailer.What are the weight limitations of a truck?
Both federal and state agencies, such as The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration oversee truck operations with the purpose of establishing limitations when it comes to truck sizes. When determining how much weight a truck is allowed to carry different factors are taken into consideration, such as; vehicle axel number, braking ability, the working load limit and its weight rating pertaining to its gross weight combination.
These agencies enforce truck weight limitations through the use of highway weigh stations and various inspection programs. However, there are still many overloaded truck accidents in Palm Beach to trucks that are overweight.
The weight restrictions that apply to commercial trucks are:
Semitrailers – The maximum weight that a semi is allowed to carry is:
- 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) on a single axle
- 34,000 lb (15,000 kg) on a tandem
- 80,000 lb (36,000 kg) total for any vehicle or combination
- The maximum weight, per axel, is 20,000 pounds with the axels spaced no less than 40 inches apart and no more than 96 inches apart.
Its maximum width is 8.5 ft (2.6 m) and no maximum height.
U.S. Semitruck – The maximum weight (with full trailer) is 80,000 pounds that is distributed over 18 wheels. (23 U.S.C. 127).
Trucks must also be equipped with a rear-end underride protection device according to 49 C.F.R. s. 393.86
It is equipped with a substantial rear-end underride protection device meeting the requirements of 49 C.F.R. s. 393.86, “Rear End Protection.”
Specific Palm Beach Statutes
Under Palm Beach (and the rest of the state), the statute s. 316.550 stipulates:
- In a truck tractor-semitrailer combination, the semitrailer cannot exceed 48 feet in its overall outside dimensions. This is measured from the unit’s front to its rear. This will usually exclude energy conservation and safety devices that have been approved to be utilized on open roads, by the Palm Beach Department of Transportation.
- In order to operate a semitrailer that is over than 48 feet in its lengths, may only operate in Palm Beach if a special permit is used s. 316.550.
If you sustain an injury in a Palm Beach overloaded truck accident, you may be able to file a claim and seek damages. Here, you may be able to hold the trucking company, the truck driver or both liable for the injuries you’ve suffered.
When it comes to overloaded truck accidents, the primary issue has to do with whether or not the defendant was negligent. In order to prove negligence, it needs to be shown that the defendant has neglected to exercise reasonable care in accordance with established federal and state regulations. This entails:
- Their failure to exercise reasonable care.
- A defendant’s breach of their duty of care (i.e. overloading the truck)
- As a result of this breach, an accident occurred in which damages were sustained
When one sets out to determine liability associated with an overweight/overloaded truck accident, a number of complications can arise. Part of this has to do with the fact that the fault may rest on the driver, the trucking company or both and it needs to be established just how this occurred. In addition, the loading company may also be responsible through an error on their part or they may have been acting under a directive that came from the trucking company. These examples indicate how the responsibility for the accident may extend over more than one party.
This is the main reason why it’s suggested that someone who has been involved in an overweight truck accident enlist the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney, serving Palm Beach.
Whether your trucking accident was the result of obvious negligence or not, you may still need assistance when it comes to handling the aftermath. These issues can include; pain and suffering, loss of income, medical bills and the resulting injuries. This is why it can be necessary to secure an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. An experienced attorney can try to:
- assist so that the critical evidence that is needed to prove negligence isn’t hidden away destroyed. This can be accomplished by obtaining a court order which will keep the trucking company from transporting the accident vehicle to a secret location. If this were to happen, then it might be impossible to determine the cause of the accident through direct inspection of the truck.
- A truck accident attorney will have the experience necessary to try to recreate the scene of the accident, which will possibly show how the accident happened.
- An experienced truck accident attorney will understand what type of evidence will be needed in order to try to establish liability.
A survivor of an overloaded/overweight truck accident can be trying to recover from both the loss of their vehicle as well as any injuries that have been sustained. In many cases, injuries from these accidents may take an extended period of time in order to heal – or they may never heal at all. These injuries typically include; broken bones, paralysis, internal injuries, brain trauma, disfigurement, burns and limb amputations.
Another consideration has to do with the fact that there is a statute of limitations associated with these types of accident. This means that someone will generally have just 4 years to file a lawsuit (except in very rare cases). In the event of a fatality, close family members or an estate has just two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition, making sure to speak with an attorney as soon as possible may assist with the chances of obtaining the necessary evidence for the case. Since the first consultation is free, you have nothing to lose.Enlist an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer to Protect Your Rights
Deaths and injuries from a Palm Beach overloaded/overweight truck accident can be the result of reckless behavior, which may occur in Palm Beach at any given time. In addition, it’s important to understand that while high speeds are often a factor, there are also many times when this isn’t the situation. If you or a loved one are involved in a Palm Beach overloaded/overweight truck accident, it is advised that you seek medical care and the advice of a truck accident personal injury attorney.
Discuss your case with an Overloaded/Overweight Truck Accident Personal Injury Attorney Serving Palm Beach Today! Turn to Frankl & Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call 561-800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.