Accidents involving semi-trucks happen every day throughout the country. When an oversized or overloaded commercial vehicle collides with a small car, the result is horrific. Unfortunately, accidents caused by oversized or overloaded trucks are fairly common. With the help of the St. Louis truck accident lawyers from OnderLaw, LLC, you could pursue compensation from the trucker or their employer for the injuries you sustained.
Imagine an overloaded 18-wheeler weighing more than 80,000 pounds crashing into a four-door sedan that weighs only around 5,000 pounds. The occupants of the smaller vehicle are likely to suffer severe injuries. It’s dangerous for everyone involved and could lead to disastrous effects. When a commercial truck is overweight or contains too much cargo, the driver is more likely to lose control, especially in inclement weather or dangerous road conditions.
We have secured more than $3 billion in settlements for our clients, and we can help you, too. Our experienced truck accident attorneys will dedicate themselves to you and your case. Give us a call today at (314) 963-9000 for a free evaluation of your case.
Why Is an Oversized or Overloaded Truck Dangerous?
Commercial vehicles pose a safety hazard for motorists sharing the roadway. When there’s an oversized or overloaded truck, it could put other people at risk for the following reasons:
- Overloaded and oversized trucks have a higher center of gravity, increasing the chance of a rollover crash.
- A commercial vehicle that is oversized or contains overloaded cargo requires more time and distance to stop, making it difficult for the driver to avoid an accident if they lack experience or are distracted behind the wheel.
- Driving an overloaded truck uphill can cause the vehicle to slow down, stall, or roll backward.
- Driving downhill with an overloaded cargo could increase the speed, making it difficult for the trucker to control the truck.
- Oversized trucks are more susceptible to tire blowouts, rollovers, and jackknifing.
- Overloaded cargo can shift, especially during lane changes, sharp turns, or hard braking, which can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
- Oversized trucks can obstruct the motorist’s view of their surroundings on the road.
- The cargo in an overloaded commercial vehicle tends to be unsecured and can fall out.
Due to the dangers associated with oversized or overloaded trucks, state and federal laws regulate the size of specific commercial vehicles and how much weight they can carry. The maximum weight allowed according to the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways is:
- 80,000 pounds for the gross vehicle weight
- 20,000 pounds for single axle vehicles
- 34,000 pounds for tandem axle trucks
You must have a permit to transport cargo across the state and across state lines if the dimension of the vehicle exceeds federal limits. However, the federal government does not issue those permits; it’s something you need to apply for through the state.
The legal dimensions for semi-trailers, including their load and any overhang, is a maximum of 53 feet on the interstate and designated highways. A maximum height of 14 feet is permitted on certain highways.
If your vehicle is more than 90 feet long, you must have one escort on all types of highways, except on divided highways. Oversized loads also require signs in the front and rear of the truck if the width exceeds 10 feet 6 inches. For trucks more than 90 feet in length, you must place a sign on the rear of the load.
Unfortunately, many truckers and trucking companies don’t follow federal and state laws. They put profits over the safety of others and want to make sure they stay ahead of schedule. When that happens, innocent motorists end up suffering the consequences.
How to Handle an Accident Caused by an Oversized or Overloaded Truck
Accidents with a commercial vehicle usually result in immediate injuries that could cause long-term medical problems. Some injuries are internal, and victims might not show symptoms for several days or weeks after a crash. That’s why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately after a truck accident. Even if you believe you have a minor injury, you should still undergo an evaluation by a doctor.
There are some helpful things you can do at the scene of the crash if you intend to pursue compensation from an insurance claim. Gathering information and evidence is crucial to building a strong case against the truck driver and proving their oversized or overloaded vehicle caused the accident.
- Write down as much information as possible, such as the trucker’s name and phone number, their employer and contact information, and auto insurance carrier and policy number.
- Take pictures of the crash site, including damage to the vehicles.
- Make sure to call the police to the scene to perform an investigation and write a traffic crash report. Request a copy of it when it becomes available.
- Get names and phone numbers of people who witnessed the accident.
You should also hire a St. Louis truck accident lawyer. OnderLaw, LLC understands the legal process and can maximize your compensation with our experience and resources. Having an experienced lawyer by your side will ensure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you. We’ll protect your rights and make sure you receive a full and fair settlement to cover your losses.
Who to Hold Responsible for Your Injuries
Depending on the circumstances leading to the truck accident, you could potentially hold the driver or their employer responsible for your resulting injuries and expenses. Every trucking company and driver must ensure they load each vehicle properly to meet federal and state standards. If they overload their fleet of trucks and it causes an accident, they become liable.
Missouri law requires everyone who operates a motor vehicle to carry liability auto insurance. Insurance policies list coverage for bodily injury, which is compensation paid to victims of car crashes based on the policyholder’s limit. The minimum limit required in Missouri is $25,000. So, if the trucker overloaded their vehicle and caused the accident, you could potentially receive up to $25,000 in compensation if that’s the limit they chose to purchase on their insurance policy.
If the trucker’s employer was responsible for loading the truck correctly and overloaded it, you could seek compensation from them. They could also be liable if they hired an unqualified employee. Trucking companies are supposed to perform thorough background checks on all potential drivers to ensure they hold the proper license, have experience driving a commercial vehicle, and don’t use illegal substances.
Damages Available for Compensation
After any type of auto accident, the expenses you incur add up quickly. You need to pay for medical treatment and could end up taking time away from work to recover. You might be entitled to recover a financial award for your economic damages, but could also pursue compensation based on your non-economic damages.
Economic and non-economic damages are losses suffered as the result of an accident and injury. Economic damages are expenses, while non-economic damages are intangible losses, such as emotional trauma. Depending on the severity of your injury and the coverage available on the liability insurance policy, you might be able to reimburse your total damages.
The damages you can attempt to pursue after an overloaded commercial vehicle accident include:
- Loss of income
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain and suffering
- Vehicle repair or replacement costs
- Rental car expense
Insurance companies often have a time limit for filing insurance claims, and it’s important to know that there’s a strict statute of limitations for lawsuits. In Missouri, you must follow a five-year statute of limitations for all motor vehicle crashes. That means you only have five years from the date of the truck accident to sue the driver or their employer.
What Are Punitive Damages?
If you believe the trucker’s actions were entirely reckless, you might be able to pursue compensation for punitive damages. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, punitive damages don’t compensate an injured individual for their expenses. Instead, they punish the party responsible for the accident occurring.
Punitive damages are only awarded in lawsuits and under specific circumstances. If a judge determines the truck driver behaved in a way that was dangerous and put others unnecessarily at risk, a jury can decide how much money the victim deserves for punitive damages.
How a St. Louis Accident Lawyer Can Help
OnderLaw, LLC knows the overwhelming feeling of trying to recover after a crash while also pursuing legal action. It’s stressful and challenging to handle alone. When you hire us, we will take care of each step on your behalf so you can focus on healing. We have the knowledge and skill to gather substantial evidence and negotiate an appropriate settlement with the insurance adjuster.
We know the information and documentation crucial to any oversized or overloaded vehicle accident case. Once you hire us to represent you, we will open a complete investigation into the crash and work on locating the following evidence:
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage
- Car repair estimates and bills
- Your medical records
- Video surveillance of the crash
- Liability insurance policies from the driver and trucking company
Hiring a lawyer immediately after the accident can greatly benefit you. Over time, evidence gets lost or destroyed, and if you don’t know how to handle the legal process, you could miss out on vital information that proves the truck driver’s actions caused the collision. We work diligently to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, and we obtain every piece of documentation available.
Why You Should Choose OnderLaw, LLC
The St. Louis truck accident lawyers from OnderLaw, LLC believe in pursuing justice for our clients. We know the stress you’re under and how important it is to recover the money owed to you quickly so you can move forward with your life. Our team works efficiently to ensure your case doesn’t drag on longer than it should. You can depend on us to make you a priority.
Our legal professionals understand Missouri law and the complexity of trucking regulations throughout the state and on a federal level. We use that knowledge to hold the negligent party financially responsible for the expenses you suffered as a result of the truck accident. It’s our mission to recover the maximum settlement available.
To find out how our St. Louis truck accident lawyers can help you seek compensation after getting injured in an oversized or overloaded vehicle crash, contact us today at (314) 963-9000. We offer a free initial consultation to answer all your questions and provide the legal advice you need.