Dangers of Overloaded Trucks in Kansas City, MO
Thousands of people are injured or killed each year in semi-truck accidents, including truck accidents on Missouri and Kansas highways. As a truck accident lawyer in Kansas City, MO, I know that accidents involving commercial trucks occur for a number of reasons, including overloaded cargo and unsecured cargo.
The damage and injury caused by a Kansas City semi-truck accident can be significant. To prevent truck accidents from occurring, the federal government has strict rules and regulations for trucks. For example, the government regulates the number of hours a truck driver may work without rest or sleep breaks. It also regulates truck maintenance and the weight of truck cargo.
Failing to follow cargo regulations, including intentionally overloading trucks to increase profits, is illegal. And overloading trucks with cargo can lead to an accident resulting in severe injuries or death.
What Are the Current Federal Regulations for Commercial Truck Cargo?
Trucking cargo is regulated by FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration). In 2002, the FMCSA issued new cargo securement rules. These rules govern commercial trucks operating in interstate commerce, including trucks traveling through Kansas and Missouri. Failing to follow the cargo securement rules could lead to fines and other penalties. Unfortunately, it could also lead to a catastrophic tractor-trailer accident.
The cargo securement rules govern how cargo must be loaded and secured on commercial trucks. The rules apply to all types of cargo, including toxic and hazardous materials, large equipment, timber, foods, and household goods. Because some types of cargo can pose unique hazards, there are special rules related to the securement of these types of cargo. For example, you would not want pipes, large machinery, lumber, or concrete barriers to fall off a large truck.
What Dangers Does Overloaded Cargo Pose to Other Drivers?
Trucking companies and truck drivers are under pressure to meet unrealistic schedules and deadlines for delivering loads. The quicker that loads arrive at their destination, the more money companies and drivers can make. Shippers also make more money by moving more goods out of warehouses and into the hands of distributors or purchasers.
The desire to make money often overrides common sense. Trucking companies and shippers ignore federal regulations for cargo securement to increase profits. However, they do so at the risk of causing large truck accidents that result in traffic fatalities and catastrophic injuries.
Some of the damages of overloading an 18-wheeler include, but are not limited to:
Improperly secured cargo can shift during transit. Shifting cargo can cause the trailer to become unstable, causing the trailer to tip over or jackknife. Unfortunately, by the time the truck driver realizes that there is a problem, it is too late to prevent the trailer from rolling over or jackknifing.
Decreased Stopping Distance
Increased weight in the trailer means that it takes longer for the truck to break and come to a safe stop. The truck driver may fail to compensate for the extra weight when breaking and trying to stop, thereby causing a rear-end truck collision. A tractor-trailer weighing more than 80,000 pounds crashing into stopped traffic on the interstate will likely cause numerous deaths and traumatic injuries.
Overloading cargo means that the restraints used to secure the cargo are stretched beyond their limits. In addition, the weight of the cargo may exceed the capacity of the straps and restraints. The result is cargo that falls off the truck in traffic. Extremely large items can crush other vehicles. Even small items can cause multi-vehicle accidents.
Overloading a semi-truck places additional pressure on the axles and tires. The added weight makes the brakes work much harder to slow and stop the truck. Brake failures, tire blowouts, and broken axels caused by a failure of truck maintenance or overloaded cargo can result in big rig accidents in Missouri and Kansas.
Injuries and Damages Sustained in Missouri and Kansas Truck Accidents
The potential for catastrophic injuries in a truck accident is high. A passenger vehicle is no match for an 80,000-pound semi-truck. In many cases, the passenger vehicle is unrecognizable. About three-fourths of the injuries and deaths in large truck accidents are the occupants of other vehicles.
Injuries sustained in large truck crashes include:
- Severe burns and disfigurement
- Multiple broken bones and fractures
- Amputations and loss of limbs
- Internal organ damage or failure
- Neck and back injuries
- Paralysis and spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage and soft tissue injuries
The risk of permanent impairments and disabilities from large truck accidents is also high. Therefore, the damages in a semi-truck accident case are high. Victims may require 24/7 personal care for the rest of their lives. Some accident victims may never be able to work again, or their earning potential may be significantly lower because of a permanent impairment.
In addition to lost wages, truck accident victims sustain high medical bills and costs for personal care. They suffer immense physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering. The economic and non-economic damages in a truck accident case can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. In catastrophic injury cases, the damages could total millions of dollars over a person’s lifetime.
Who Is Liable for Injuries and Damages Caused by a Commercial Truck Accident?
There could be one or more parties liable for your injuries and damages. Therefore, a thorough and comprehensive truck accident investigation must be completed to determine who is liable for damages. These investigations are complex and may involve hiring multiple experts and accident reconstructionists to assist in the investigations.
Parties that might have potential liability for a trucking accident caused by unsecured cargo or overloaded trucks include:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Shippers and cargo loading companies
- Other motorists
- Manufacturers of fasteners, cargo straps, and other equipment used to secure loads
The evidence in a truck accident case needs to be preserved as soon as possible. The information on the truck’s black box, truck driver logs, maintenance records, shipping information, and other documents could be destroyed, erased, or disappear. Our personal injury lawyer handles accident claims involving trucks and works to uncover evidence necessary to prove fault and liability in a truck crash.
Contact a Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Contacting a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after a semi-truck accident in Kansas or Missouri is in your best interest. You need an attorney who understands the trucking industry and how to protect your legal right to fair compensation for your injuries, financial losses, and other damages.
The Law Office of Kevin J. McManus represents truck accident victims in Missouri and Kansas. Our legal team has extensive experience handling commercial truck accidents. We have the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to handle complex personal injury cases involving commercial trucks.
We encourage you to reach out to our office to schedule your free consultation. Call 816-203-0143 or complete our online contact form to request your free appointment with a Kansas City truck accident lawyer.