Oversized Truck Load Accidents
Trucks and their cargo loads have maximum size and weight limits. They can’t be too wide, too long, or too heavy. But sometimes, the irresponsible actions of trucking companies, truck drivers, and/or cargo loaders can result in loads that are too large or poorly secured to allow for safe travel. This puts truckers and motorists at risk for serious truck accidents.
Oversized loads can cause accidents in several ways. Trailers can detach while the truck is already on the road. Wide loads can also cause trucks to be unstable, potentially resulting in jackknife wrecks that can send trailers sprawling across multiple lanes of traffic.
If you’ve been hurt in an oversized truck load accident in South Carolina, talk to the Lancaster truck accident lawyers at David Blackwell Law. You could be entitled to compensation to help with the high medical costs and other losses that often accompany serious truck crashes.
Our accomplished legal team is not afraid to fight against large companies who should be held liable for your injuries. Call us or contact us today for a free consultation.
What Is an Oversized or Wide Load?
An oversized, overweight, or wide load refers to a truck with size parameters that are larger than the maximum limits set by state law. South Carolina regulations have specified limits for the length and height of commercial trucks. Trucking companies must obtain a special permit in order to carry an oversized load.
According to S.C. Department of Transportation regulations, the maximum legal load sizes and weights for trucks are:
- Length: 60 feet is allowed without a permit.
- Width: 8 feet 6 inches is the maximum for travel on state roads.
- Height: 13 feet 6 inches is allowed without a permit.
- Weight: 80,000 pounds is the maximum weight limit without a permit.
- Overhang: 3 feet in front and 6 feet in the rear is the maximum allowable overhang.
Permits for oversize and overweight loads that are handled on a regular basis include:
- Length: 125 feet in length is the maximum for routing permits; 100 feet max is allowed for mobile homes.
- Width: 16 feet wide is the limit on a routine permit.
- Height: 16 feet in height is roughly the maximum. Any shipment that is more than 16 feet high will be required to have a route survey done before a permit can be issued.
- Weight: The single-axle maximum weight is 20,000 pounds.
- Overhang: The maximum allowable limit is about 15 feet in length.
Any loads weighing more than 130,000 pounds are called superloads. A bridge analysis must be done before a superload can travel on South Carolina roads.
Common Causes of Oversized Truck Load Accidents
There are a number of ways in which oversized trucks can cause accidents. These include:
- Instability: Oversized trucks have a higher center of gravity due to their heavy loads, making them less stable. This can make it difficult for drivers to turn corners as well as maneuver quickly to avoid accidents.
- Less maneuverability: When an oversized truck is traveling on a road that slopes downward, the trucker could have a hard time stopping it due to its greater mass and weight.
- Unbalanced or unsecured loads: Overloaded trucks typically carry a lot of cargo in the back, which shifts the weight distribution to one area of the trailer. An unbalanced load is more prone to tipping over.
- Mechanical failures: Oversized trucks carry so much cargo that sometimes their tires to blow out. Wide loads are also vulnerable to brake failures.
If you were struck by an oversized truck, an experienced truck accident lawyer can investigate the crash to determine what happened and who should be held responsible.
FMCSA Load Securement Requirements
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has load securement requirements to ensure that cargo is safely stowed to prevent crashes caused by debris falling off the truck. These rules require that cargo be firmly secured on or within the truck. The rules include even more specific guidelines for securing certain larger objects such as logs, concrete pipes, vehicles, and metal coils.
There are a number of ways in which trucks can be improperly loaded, such as when:
- The weight is unevenly distributed in the truck’s bed.
- The load is not stacked in a way that will ensure it is balanced in the truck.
- The cargo is blocked or improperly braced.
- The load is secured but with not enough tie-downs or with tie-downs that are not rated for the cargo’s weight.
- The cargo has no edge protection to stop the tie-downs from being cut.
- There is no protective wrap or barrier covering the cargo.
- There are no boards in front of the trailer and behind the cab to prevent spillage into the cab when the truck stops abruptly or when there is a collision.
- Specific securing requirements for large cargo objects like logs, metal coils, and vehicles are not followed.
When trucking and cargo loading companies fail to follow the mandatory restrictions on the size and weight of a tractor-trailer, they can be held accountable for their negligence according to South Carolina personal injury law. It’s critical that you talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights to compensation.
Oversized Truck Accident Statistics
Commercial trucks carry nearly 11 billion tons of freight annually, according to the most current FMCSA data. Of that number, around six percent of all truckloads are oversize or overweight.
The federal statistics also show that large trucks were involved in 505,000 crashes in a recent year. More than 3,300 of the fatal collisions involved big rigs in the largest weight segment, known as Class 8.
In addition, a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reports that trucks that weigh over 80,000 pounds are 50 percent more likely to be involved in fatal accidents compared to trucks that weigh less than 65,000 pounds.
Injuries Caused by Wide Loads
Truck accidents caused by an oversize load can cause life-threatening harm. Some of the most common injuries include:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic brain injuries can cause permanent and catastrophic damage to accident victims. Many times, symptoms of a mild brain injury do not arise until days or even weeks after the truck accident. Sadly, some people never recover from a serious TBI.
Spinal cord injuries
Injuries to the spinal cord can be devastating, especially if they result in partial or total paralysis. Damage may include bruising, a partial tear, or a complete tear of the spinal cord.
Life after suffering a spinal cord injury can be challenging. Compensation can help cover the ongoing medical costs, lost income, adaptive medical equipment, rehabilitation, and any home renovations that may need to be done to accommodate lasting disabilities.
Trucks — especially those with oversized loads — generate a lot of force. The shock of a sudden impact can cause severe damage to internal organs, even if only a few outward injuries are apparent. For this reason, it’s essential for anyone who has been in a truck accident to be examined by a doctor right away. Internal bleeding can quickly turn deadly.
Commercial trucks have larger fuel tanks and often transport flammable materials and liquids. If the fuel or other flammable material ignites after a collision, it can cause explosions, leading to severe thermal and chemical burns.
A traumatic amputation may occur at the accident scene. Other amputations are necessary if a body part has been crushed beyond repair in a crash.
Losing a limb certainly has physical and psychological consequences, but it can also put a victim’s livelihood in jeopardy. If you can no longer work after losing a limb in an oversized truck load accident, contact an attorney right away.
Who Is Liable for an Oversize Load Accident?
Oversize truck load accident claims are handled differently than those for car crashes. That’s because the trucking industry is heavily regulated. Truckers, truck companies, and other related parties are held to a higher standard when it comes to safety. When violations occur, multiple parties may be at fault.
At David Blackwell Law, we will identify who is responsible for your injuries and seek maximum compensation for your damages. Parties that may share liability in wide-load accident claims include:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Truck loaders
- Cargo loading company
- Maintenance companies
- Vehicle manufacturers
- Other drivers
In South Carolina, you can collect compensation as long as you are 50 percent or less responsible for the accident that injured you. If your portion of fault is even one percentage point higher, you cannot recover any money at all. With so much on the line, you’d be well-advised to hire a Lancaster oversized truck accident lawyer to ensure that you are not unfairly blamed for the crash.
A Skilled S.C. Oversized Truck Accident Attorney Will Protect Your Rights
Trucking companies are protected by powerful insurers who will try to deny or diminish your demand for compensation. These corporations also may have multiple policies from which you can collect money. Rather than try to navigate the claims process alone, contact David Blackwell Law for help.
Our Lancaster truck accident lawyers have the knowledge, experience, and resources to build an effective and persuasive claim for compensation for you.
Ready to get started? Call us or contact us online for a free consultation.