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Who Is Liable for Overloaded Trucks When They’re Involved in Accidents?

Accidents involving overloaded trucks can have devastating consequences, causing injuries, fatalities, and extensive property damage. Determining liability in these cases is crucial for seeking justice and compensation for the victims.

Trucking companies are typically responsible for ensuring that their trucks comply with weight limitations and safety regulations. However, liability can extend to other parties, including truck drivers and those responsible for loading the trucks.

If you were injured in a crash involving an overloaded truck in Wisconsin, you may need to contact an Appleton commercial truck accident lawyer to help with your case. Our team can help determine who is at fault and file a claim to receive compensation.

Trucking Companies’ Liability

Trucking companies are the first line of responsibility for overloaded truck accidents. They are entrusted with their fleet’s operation, maintenance, and regulation, ensuring that each truck adheres to the weight limitations of federal and state authorities.

  • Compliance with regulations. Federal and state laws specify weight limitations for trucks to maintain safety on the road. For example, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation limits gross weight to 80,000 lbs. for an 8-axle truck. Those exceeding this weight must obtain a permit. Trucking companies must comply with these regulations and ensure they do not overload their trucks.
  • Maintenance and inspections. Trucking companies are responsible for conducting regular vehicle maintenance and safety inspections. Overloading can lead to accelerated wear and tear on critical components, such as brakes, suspension, tires, axles, and engines, making maintenance even more critical.
  • Hiring and training. The hiring and training of truck drivers are crucial responsibilities of trucking companies. They must ensure that their drivers know weight limits and safety protocols, emphasizing the importance of adhering to these standards.
  • Fleet management. Companies must have effective fleet management systems, such as Fleetio or Samsara, in place to monitor and control the weight of their trucks. Failing to do so can result in untracked, overloaded trucks on the road.

Truck Drivers’ Liability

Truck drivers play a role in ensuring the safe operation of their vehicles. While immediate responsibility often lies with the trucking company, drivers can also be held liable under specific circumstances:

  • Willful overloading. In cases where truck drivers knowingly and willfully overload their vehicles to generate more profit, they can be held personally liable. This often applies to owner-operators who have more control over their truck’s loading process.
  • Negligence. Even if drivers are not directly responsible for the loading process, they are expected to perform pre-trip inspections to identify and report any issues, including overloading. They must also maneuver the trucks safely, accounting for the extra weight and dimensions of the overloaded cargo if they have a valid permit to carry it. If they act negligently, they may be liable for damages.
  • Violation of regulations. Truck drivers must follow all relevant federal and state regulations. They can be held accountable for their actions if they exceed weight limits or ignore safety protocols such as the FMCSA’s cargo securement regulations.

Liability of Cargo Loaders

Individuals or parties responsible for physically loading trucks may also have liability for overloaded truck accidents. This may apply in the following situations:

  • Knowledge of overloading. Those involved in the loading process, such as vendors, warehouse workers, loading dock supervisors, or freight brokers, must know the weight limits and safety regulations. If they knowingly and intentionally overload a truck, they can be liable for contributing to the accident.
  • Training and supervision. Trucking companies are responsible for training and supervising individuals involved in the loading process. The company may be held accountable if inadequate training or supervision leads to overloading.
  • Documentation. Proper documentation of the loading process is critical. If those responsible for loading fail to document the weight accurately or ignore safety guidelines, it can create liability for damages that result from an accident.

Seek Compensation for Injuries After an Overloaded Truck Collision

The responsibility for overloaded truck accidents in Wisconsin can extend to multiple parties, including trucking companies, drivers, and those responsible for loading. If you or a loved one was injured in an overloaded truck accident, speak with our Appleton commercial truck crash lawyers.

We can review your case during a free consultation. This allows us to determine who might be at fault and create a winning legal strategy for your case. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary case review to get started on your path toward obtaining a fair settlement for your injuries.

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