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Michigan Overloaded Truck Accident: What You Need To Know

December 1, 2021 by Steven M. Gursten

Overloaded Truck Accident: What You Need To Know

An overloaded truck accident in Michigan that results in injury or loss of life is a senseless tragedy that is almost always 100% preventable. Federal and state safety rules state the maximum weight for trucks. By ignoring these safety mandates when overloading trucks, these companies recklessly endanger the public.

As an attorney who has litigated many overloaded truck accident cases in Michigan, the most common cause that I see are trucking companies choosing to disregard federal and state laws and regulations, overweighting loads, and then putting these overweight trucks on our roads.

This is usually just one aspect of a pattern of recklessness and disregarding mandatory safety rules. Often these are the same companies who also disregard hours-of-service requirements, ELD requirements, AWOL safety programs, and proper inspection and maintenance of their fleets. The common theme is that safety is an added expense, and these companies tend to take short-cuts on safety to increase profits.

I write often in the pages of this legal blog about the truck crash cases I have litigated, and I speak frequently every year at legal seminars across the country teaching other lawyers how to successfully help people who have been seriously injured or killed in overloaded truck accidents.

Unfortunately, police only inspect a fraction of trucks on our roads and do not serve as a strong deterrent to companies who choose to overload trucks. All too often the only truly effective safety deterrent that can prevent these types of crashes from happening in the future are experienced truck accident attorneys who can find these safety violations and then hold the responsible parties accountable when lives are destroyed.

What are the causes of an overloaded truck accident?

The causes for an overlooked truck accident include: (1) brake failure; (2) longer stopping distances; (3) tire blowouts; (4) turns resulting in rollovers; (5) shifting cargo; (6) loose cargo; (7) road collapses; and (8) extremely low speeds when climbing roads with a steep uphill grade.

Here is more detail about the causes of an overloaded truck accident:

  • Brake failure – A truck’s brakes may not be capable of functioning properly when the weight of the truck exceeds the weight that the brakes were designed to handle
  • Longer stopping distances – The heavier that a vehicle is, the more distance it will need in order to come to a full stop
  • Tire blowouts – Overloaded vehicles subject the tires to more pressure than they are designed and/or maintained to handle before exploding
  • Turns resulting in rollovers – Turning can cause the cargo and weight and, thus, the center of gravity to shift, resulting in the truck rolling over in the direction of the shifting cargo and weight
  • Shifting cargo – When a truck is loaded with more cargo than it is designed to carry, the cargo could shift and interfere with the trucker’s ability to drive the semi, causing the truck driver to lose control
  • Loose cargo – The cargo may not be properly secured and, thus, may come loose and interfere with the operation of the semi that is carrying it and/or striking other vehicles on the road
  • Road collapse – They may exceed a road’s weight limit and, thus, cause the road to collapse, resulting in a crash involving the trucks and other vehicles that are sharing the road
  • Extremely low speeds – A truck that is carrying more cargo and weight than it has been designed to do safely will travel at extremely low speeds on roads with a steep uphill grade, causing disruptions to traffic flow and forcing some drivers to dangerously slower than others on the road

Trucking companies’ drive to increase profits is most often the cause of these types of crashes

The drive to increase profits is what makes trucking companies ignore the rules and create the conditions that will cause an overloaded truck accident. Following the rules to keep truckers and the driving public safe costs money. Ignoring the rules at the expense of safety saves money for trucking companies.

Who do I sue for this type of crash?

If you or a loved one has been injured in an overloaded truck accident in Michigan, the potentially responsible parties that you may be able to sue include: (1) the truck driver; (2) the trucking company; (3) the maintenance company; (4) the load broker; (5) the loading company; (6) the lease agent; and (7) truck manufacturer.

Aren’t there weight limits to prevent an overloaded truck accident In Michgan?

There are weight limits to prevent overloaded truck accidents in Michigan. However, they are often ignored by trucking companies. The law currently provides that the gross vehicle weight of a tractor-trailer combination cannot legally exceed 80,000 pounds. (23 CFR § 658.17(b); MCL 257.722(4) and (12))

Here are other weight limit-related issues to consider when trying to prevent these types of crashes:

  • Road weight limits – Roads have certain weight limits that they are designed and capable of withstanding before the road crumbles or falls apart and becomes unsafe to drive on. These road weight limits, which may be set by federal or state law, are different from the weight limit requirements that apply to the trucks themselves. As such a trucker could be driving a weight-compliant semi, but still violate the road weight limit by operating a tractor-trailer that is too heavy for the road.
  • Trailer weight differs from gross vehicle weight – There is a weight limit for any trailer that a semi truck is pulling. Even if a truck is in compliance with the gross vehicle weight limit, it may still be deemed to be overweight if the trailer exceeds the gross trailer weight rating.
  • Gross axle weight limit – This refers to the amount of weight that a truck’s axles can safely transport. Although it is generally a factor that is used to determine a vehicle’s gross vehicle weight, the gross axle weight can in some cases be lower than expected if lower grade components were used in the manufacturing process.

How do we prevent an overloaded truck accident?

An overloaded truck accident can be prevented by: (1) complying with FMCSA regulations for cargo weight limits, cargo inspections and cargo securing devices; (2) opening more weigh stations and get them off the road; and (3) increasing penalties and fines for weight violations.

Additionally, truck drivers need greater legal protection from retaliation by trucking companies when they refuse to drive an overloaded vehicle and/or they report being pressured to violate federal regulations on truck weight limits.

Wrongful death lawsuit

If you have lost a loved one in an overloaded truck accident in Michigan, then you and your family may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver and trucking company and other responsible parties.

A wrongful death lawsuit allows you and your family to recover damages for: (1) medical, hospital, funeral, and burial expenses; (2) pain and suffering compensation; and (3) loss of the deceased’s financial support, society and companionship.

Pain and suffering after an overloaded truck accident in Michigan

You or a loved one may be able to recover pain and suffering compensation from the at-fault truck driver and trucking company and other responsible parties after an overloaded truck accident in Michigan.

No-Fault benefits after an overloaded truck accident in Michigan

When you have been injured in an overloaded truck accident in Michigan, you are entitled to collect No-Fault PIP benefits from the responsible auto insurance company to help pay for your medical bills, lost wages, transportation costs for medical appointments, and attendant care services.

To protect your right to recover No-Fault benefits, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits – which is also called a “written notice of injury” – with the responsible auto insurance company within one (1) year after the crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))

If you do not file your application on time, then the auto insurance company will use this to deny your claim and refuse to pay any and all of the No-Fault benefits you would have otherwise been entitled to.

Injured in an overloaded truck accident in Michigan? Get help from a Michigan Auto Law truck crash attorney

If you were injured – or if you lost a loved one – in an overloaded truck accident in Michigan and you want to know about your legal rights to wrongful death damages, pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and No-Fault benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages, you can speak to an experienced Michigan truck accident attorney at (800) 968-1001  for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced truck crash attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.

For more than 50 years, our attorneys have been helping people like you who have been injured in these types of crashes in Michigan. We understand the physical, emotional and psychological hardships you are experiencing from your accident. We can help.

Michigan Auto Law truck accident attorney Steven Gursten has an extensive record of success in recovering the highest recorded jury verdicts and settlements in truck crash cases over multiple years, according to year-end compilations of settlements and trial verdicts by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Some notable truck accident settlements include:

  • $34.5 Million – Attorney Steve Gursten and his team secured the largest-reported tractor-trailer crash settlement in the U.S. that year. It is the largest truck settlement by an attorney in the state of Michigan.
  • $13.5 Million – Our attorneys settled a case for a victim in a car versus tractor trailer crash who suffered major burn injuries.
  • $10.5 Million – Attorney Steven Gursten obtained for a woman who was seriously injured when a truck crashed into her vehicle.
  • $9 Million – Attorney Steve Gursten and his team obtained this recovery for a man who lost both of his legs in a rear-end collision. This was the largest pain and suffering trucking settlement of the preceding decade for a rear-end crash in the state. Interestingly, the insurance company for the trucking company attempted to settle this case for $1 million dollars with the client’s previous attorney, who had urged the client to take this offer before Steve got involved in the case.
  • $6.2 million out of state – This trucking death case was settled by attorney Steve Gursten who was brought in by local counsel to take this case to trial. The highest offer before this settlement was $100,000.

Even more important than our record settlements in the state is how our attorneys treat the people we help. To see what our own clients have to say about the caring, compassion, and communication they received from us, you can read in their own words about their experience here on our testimonials page from the crash victims we have helped. You can also read about our 100% client satisfaction guarantee.

Michigan Overloaded Truck Accident: What You Need To Know

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