Key Points of This Article:
- One of the more common factors in semi-truck accidents is improper load weight and ignored truck or equipment maintenance.
- Large trucks include both commercial and non-commercial trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 10,000 pounds. Most weigh significantly more when loaded.
- Many trucks on the road still overload their trailers despite maximum weight laws, making them more challenging to control, prone to tipping or rolling over, and the cause of serious accidents.
- When a driver or trucking company does not follow the legal limits set for the weight of semi-trucks and trailers carrying wide-loads, they may be held liable for injuries or damage resulting from a commercial truck crash.
Your Michigan Big Truck Accident Could Have Been Caused by Overloaded Trailers and Unsecured Loads
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) says 111,470 registered truck operators contribute approximately $290 million per year in Michigan road revenues, or around 13%, making trucking and delivery services a vital part of Michigan’s economy. Most of the delivery trucks that everyday drivers share the road with weigh just under 26,000 pounds. However, that is still more than six times the average passenger vehicle amount at 4,000 pounds. The weight difference creates a huge semi-truck accident risk.
Type of registered trucks in Michigan:
- (41%) 46,150 medium trucks are under 26,000 pounds
- (28%) 31,575 vary in weight and work in interstate commerce (travel between a place in a state and a place outside of such state or between two locations in a state through another state or an area outside of the U.S.)
- (25%) 27,360 other trucks weight between 26,000 and 80,000 pounds
- (6%) 6,385 able to carry more than 80,000 pounds
- (2%) 2,649 are registered to carry over 145,000 pounds
No matter the truck’s weight, each carries significant responsibilities to ensure the industries necessary to Michigan can deliver $408 billion worth of products and resources to market each year. To be more profitable, companies do get in the bad habit of overloading trucks or rushing deliveries without securing a load first, making them too heavy and risky to navigate Michigan roads and highways safely.
Semi-Truck Weight Will Crush New Passenger Vehicle Components
Motor vehicle crashes are the number one safety problem in American transportation, and large trucks and trucking companies that do not follow the rules of the road contribute to the issue. Simply put, an overloaded truck relative to passenger vehicles, and motorcycles, will hurt overall crash safety risks. This is due to differences in size, weight, and vehicle handling characteristics for the weather, road conditions, speed, and heavy traffic.
Overloaded and wide-load trucks are also more prone to rollover during certain steering maneuvers and create deadly hazards for occupants of the smaller, lighter vehicles built with aluminum and plastic designed to improved efficiency and increased fuel economy. Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers hauling heavy loads will take much more time to slow down safely and stop as well.
Michigan State Police stay busy year-round stopping overloaded trucks and responding to semi-truck accidents around Lansing near I-96 and Detroit and southeastern Michigan, on I-69 or U.S. Highway 23. These 18-wheelers, big rigs, wide-load trucks, and semis also travel from other states and collectively cause more than 5,000 fatalities in crashes in the U.S. each year.
Take extra care when traveling near larger, heavier trucks, especially while driving interstates where traffic may be congested during commuting hours or peak holiday travel. Not only could a semi-truck be overloaded, but it could also have unsecured loads making the chance of causing severe injury or death to other motorists even more likely. Several Michigan industries depend on semi-trucks that haul heavier loads that tend to become loose or unsecured and include:
- steel construction
When an item falls out of a truck and lands on the roadway, the accident outcome is almost always fatal as other drivers will stop suddenly, creating a chain reaction crash or swerve into oncoming traffic or off the road while still traveling high speeds to try and avoid it. If an unsecured load shifts to one side, the truck also could flip over when the driver changes lanes or turns or when caught in the wind, resulting in an accident or backup traffic and cause rear-end collisions.
Overloaded or Wide-Load Truck Crash. Who is Responsible?
It’s unfortunate that trucking companies who break weight rules and load restrictions, don’t maintain their fleet, and overload trailers are similar in one way. They are also the ones who employ truck drivers more likely to lose control of their truck due to speeding or aggressive driving, hydroplane, and slide in lousy weather, and create those devastating jackknife or multi-vehicle pile-up crashes. Those drivers likely had inadequate training, are forced to drive tired and without rest, are misinformed about load weights, don’t know how to maintain their truck or trailer, drive while distracted, and make poor choices like operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When a driver or trucking company does not follow the regulations set in place to keep the road safe, they may be held liable for injuries or damage resulting from a commercial truck crash. To make a claim, you will first need to prove that the truck driver did something wrong to cause the collision.
Be Prepared for Trucking Companies with Resources That Fight Hard
Trucking companies have different accident policies and more powerful insurance companies working for them than the rest of us. And if you become injured due to the negligence of one of their drivers, proving fault and seeking a fair settlement and the compensation you deserve can be frustrating. When working with an experienced truck accident attorney, an intensive review of facts and evidence to make a case will be done through:
- Using accident reports, including accident reconstruction data to determine if the driver was acting per traffic laws;
- Obtaining toxicology reports to show any evidence of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Reviewing inspection and repair records to verify that both the trucking company and the driver were undertaking regular inspection and maintenance required for the safe operation of the truck;
- Requesting records of driver’s sleep, driving, and electronic logs to ascertain whether or not the driver was adhering to safety regulation and if he or she may have been driving while too tired or while distracted or if they were ignoring any system warnings and road cautions at the time of the accident;
- Many trucks are equipped with event data recorders that track a truck’s speed. This information may only be available to access for a short amount of time and might be the evidence necessary to help prove your case;
- Truck weight laws are enforced by the Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Division, weighmasters, and increasingly more by mobile weight enforcement officials. Mobile weight enforcement technology is also used at numerous points on Michigan roads, not just on freeways. Accessing this history and data may require timely legal support.
If you or someone you love is involved in an accident with a semi-truck in Michigan, the injuries will likely be severe and result in a disability or cause death. Victims and their caregivers may be exhausted by medical bills and impacted for a lifetime by rehabilitative needs.
Involved and Injured in a Michigan Semi-Truck Accident?
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C., has been representing Michigan semi-truck accident victims for over 40 years, and we can help you through this difficult time. Contact us today for a free consultation about your potential case, or call us at 1-800-LEE-FREE. With offices all across the state, our experienced personal injury attorneys can be right there when you need us most.