If you were hurt in an accident with an overloaded or oversized truck, then you should contact a Chicago trucking accident attorney right away. Federal and state laws carefully control commercial vehicles and their cargo, and drivers or businesses that fail to follow these regulations may be negligent in more than one way.
One of the many reasons trucking accidents are so catastrophic is that these vehicles are considerably larger and heavier than personal vehicles. Even if someone had an accident with a Hummer or a Suburban, the potential risk of property damage and injury is generally lower than if he or she had an accident with a semi.
The risk of accidents and injuries rise when trucks are overloaded. In some situations, a truck weighs more than is legally allowed for that type of vehicle. This makes it more difficult to handle and stop. In other instances, the weight is permitted but oversized load laws apply. Depending on the state, the truck may need warning flags or an escort.
An experienced Chicago trucking accident attorney understands the laws applicable to your case and knows where to look for the evidence to prove the other party’s fault. Whether it’s through depositions, gaining copies of the driver’s log books, or pictures of the vehicle after the accident, your attorney will be able to spot the details that matter. Due to his or her practice and skill in litigating these types of cases, you’re more likely to maximize your compensation, which can include:
- Lost wages
- Medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Loss of life
Maximum Weight by Law
Federal and state regulations are generally concerned with the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) when they lay out maximum weights for commercial vehicles. A vehicle’s GVWR cannot be more than the combined ratings allowed for all of the truck’s axles, but most regulations call for a maximum weight less than this sum. The GVWR isn’t arbitrary, it’s determined by looking at the number of axels, the truck’s frame and suspension, and more.
The Gross Combination Weight Rating is a crucial figure as it’s the greatest weight allowed for a truck and trailer combination. It would include the weight of the truck, the trailer, the driver, any passengers, the fuel, and the cargo.
Currently, most state weight limits have been raised to coincide with federal weight regulations. States cannot allow for a maximum weight greater than what is provided by federal law as the driver and company would end up in violation of the law.
Maximum weight limits are:
- Single axle: 20,000 lbs.
- Tandem axle: 34,000 lbs.
- Overall gross weight limits: 80,000 lbs.
- The bridge formula
If the maximums for a truck calculated by the single, tandem, gross weight, or bridge formula are different, the lower amount applies. For example, a lower weight for a truck may be necessary based on the bridge formula, which is used to protect the stability of bridges from too much weight and use over time.
Other factors can lower the maximum weight of a truck including the trailer’s weight rating, highway-specific weight ratings, and the truck design and registration.
Oversized Load Rules
Typically, an oversized load is one that needs to hang off the size or back of the truck a certain distance. It may be considerably taller, wider, or longer than normal hauls. Truckers with these types of loads have to drive with extreme caution as the perimeter of their trucks aren’t the same as with a normal load. Part of the oversized load are likely in blind spots, which means it can be difficult to tell if the load is close to affecting traffic.
Illinois requires a permit for all oversized load, and the trucks can weigh up to 120,000 pounds or 100,000 pounds, if the truck has 5 axles. In general, an oversized vehicle up to certain dimensions can travel on any day of the week, but a trucker generally can’t drive at night.
Oversized truck regulations are different on expressways and toll roads in Cook County. The weight limit is 120,000 pounds, but the truck can’t be as wide as on other roads in the states. Trucks of certain widths are limited to driving between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday in Cook and many of its collar counties. Truckers are also restricted from driving on certain holidays.
Flags and “Oversized Load” signs are required, as are rotating or flashing amber lights. The lights must be visible from both sides and the front of the truck from at least 500 ft away.
Call a Chicago Trucking Accident Lawyer Today
The regulations described here are only a few of the laws truckers and their employers must follow when loading up their trucks with cargo. Every little detail matters such as the distance of the axles, the type of suspension on the truck, the specific weight limit for the trailer, whether bridges are on the route, and so much more. An experienced litigator knows how to determine the maximum weight for the truck that injured you and if any oversized regulations dictated how and when it could travel.
You’re burdened enough by the consequences of the accident. It shouldn’t be up to you to figure this all out on your own and head into a trial or settlement negotiations alone. A Chicago trucking accident lawyer who has worked on these types of cases before is the person you need by your side. Call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at (312) 236-2900 to learn how they can help you.