A truck wreck lawyer will investigate several factors that may have contributed to the accident. The weight of the truck and its cargo is one of the elements that could have been altered– preventing the crash. Overweight trucks can be unsafe to operate, particularly when traveling at high speeds, going downhill, changing lanes, sudden braking, and turning. The federal government and the State of California place limits on how much a truck can weigh.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a recent truck accident, it’s worth calling a truck accident lawyer at the Hobbs Law Group for a free consultation. We can look into these matters to see if you are entitled to more significant compensation for your injuries– than the settlement the insurer is offering. 

What responsibility does a truck driver have in weighing a vehicle?

Truck manufacturers assign a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, which is noted on the truck’s plate. This maximum is calculated by tallying the weight of the brakes, axels, frame, suspension, and powertrain. No truck may carry more cargo weight than it is permitted to do so. Most semi-trucks weigh more than 26,000 pounds, but they could weigh as much as 80,000 pounds by federal standards.

Drivers must inspect cargo as part of a standard pre-trip inspection and a routine adjustment is typically made within 25 miles of beginning a long-haul trip. A reasonable habit is to check cargo every three hours or 150 miles and after every break. The Department of Transportation offers many weigh stations along commonly used trucking routes. New apps and sensor technologies may allow truck drivers to keep tabs on their vehicle weight without even stopping– but drivers must still monitor it and make adjustments, as necessary.

A California truck driver convicted of an overweight commercial vehicle violation under the California Vehicle Code Section 35551(a) can face up to six months in jail for a misdemeanor offense. Fines range from $20 to over $2,000. Additional federal penalties may apply, and punishments increase when there are multiple infractions.

How much can trucks weigh in California?

California law matches the federal vehicle weight limit of:

  • Maximum Gross Vehicle Weight (specified by the manufacturer and including cargo) – 80,000 lbs.
  • Maximum Single Axle Weight (the maximum allowed on one wheel axle) – 20,000 lbs.
  • Maximum Tandem Axles Weight (the maximum allowed on two-wheel axles) – 34,000 lbs.

What effect does an overweight truck have on an accident?

Excessive weight can directly cause an accident or worsen its effects by:

  • Tipping the truck over, when steering to change lanes, avoid an obstacle, or turn. 
  • Making a blown tire or slipping in adverse weather a catastrophe.
  • Forcing the vehicle to travel faster downhill, making it more difficult to stop.
  • Increasing the likelihood of experiencing a mechanical braking failure.
  • Increasing the severity of injuries, as more weight results in more crushing.
  • Causing more damage to the roadways we travel upon, increasing the likelihood of future crashes.

Who is responsible for an overweight truck?

California truck drivers are responsible for ensuring their truck and trailer meet all safety requirements, including weight limit. They can face an overweight violation, a hefty fine, and accident liability for failing to do so. In some cases, it is possible to sue the employer or those responsible for cargo loading, in addition to the driver. The fact that the vehicle was improperly weighted alone can be enough to prove negligence and fault, allowing you to seek substantial compensation for your losses.

Proving a truck was overweight

Truck drivers and trucking companies must maintain scrupulous records of truck maintenance and inspection, including the weight of every load. It is essential to contact an attorney immediately to prevent spoliation of evidence– the illegal act of moving, altering, or destroying evidence. This is done to avoid liability that all too commonly occurs in truck accident cases. Some trucking companies encourage truck overloading to make on-time deliveries or increase profits. They are all too eager to get rid of evidence suggesting their wrongdoing caused an accident. 

Contact us for a free consultation about your truck accident

Overweight truck accidents can cause life-altering injuries and premature death. If you live in the Greater Los Angeles Area, contact a semi-truck accident attorney at Hobbs Law Group for a free consultation and contingency-based representation. You may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages and loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental effects, and property damage.