What Happens if a Truck Is Overweight?

The commercial trucking industry is subject to strict federal regulations that dictate, among many other things, what constitutes a safe weight for a commercial truck. At their largest, the trucks delivering goods throughout Mississippi and all across the country can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Given the sheer size of these vehicles, it’s no surprise that an overweight truck can present a risk to everyone else on the road.

What Constitutes an Overweight Truck? 

According to federal regulations, the weight limits for large trucks are as follows:

  • 80,000 pounds for gross vehicle weight
  • 20,000 pounds on a single axle
  • 34,000 pounds on a tandem axle group

There may be exceptional circumstances in which a commercial truck must exceed these federal weight limits when transporting certain types of loads. In these situations, the trucking company must apply for permits allowing them to transport an overweight load in any state through which the vehicle intends to pass.

What Are the Risks Associated with Overweight Trucks?

Overweight trucks present a number of risks, both for truck drivers and for the other drivers and passengers with whom they share the road.

For starters, overweight trucks are more challenging to control and maneuver. Accelerating, braking, and navigating curves are significantly more complicated, and one error of judgment or moment of inattentiveness behind the wheel can easily cause a catastrophic accident. When an overweight truck is involved in a collision, the consequences can be even more devastating than usual due to the additional weight.

The excess weight also puts more strain on the truck itself. This can increase the likelihood of issues like tire blowouts, brake failure, and engine failure. These mechanical failures can also cause or contribute to truck accidents. Additionally, an overweight vehicle has a greater chance of falling over while negotiating tight corners or during periods of high winds. 

Finally, significantly overweight trucks can also damage local roadways and infrastructure by causing excess wear and tear. They may also pose serious safety risks when navigating bridges, underpasses, and overpasses. 

What Are the Consequences for Drivers of Overweight Trucks? 

Operating an overweight truck in Mississippi without a valid permit leaves drivers and their employers open to significant fines, which increase according to the amount of excess weight they’re carrying. Additionally, if they cause an accident, drivers may face fines, jail time, loss of their commercial driver’s license, and reputational harm. When trucks stop at mandatory weigh stations and are determined to be over the legal weight limit, they may be prevented from proceeding with their route, which can lead to missed deadlines. 

However, the most devastating consequences of driving an overweight truck are those that come from being involved in an accident with another vehicle. A truck accident can cause severe injuries, some of which result in lifelong complications for victims. In the most tragic scenarios, truck accidents result in death. When truck drivers, their employers, truck owners, mechanics, or cargo loaders cause an accident, they can be held liable for victims’ injuries.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact an Attorney Today

Have you suffered injuries in an accident caused by an overweight commercial truck? You deserve robust legal representation as you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries and other losses. When you contact Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman, we’ll go over your options for pursuing financial recovery from the truck driver, trucking company, and any other parties responsible for your injuries. Reach out today to set up a free, no-risk consultation. We’re here to help you through this challenging time.

About the Author
Jefferson D. Gilder is a Partner at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman and was admitted to the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars in 1990. Mr. Gilder is admitted to practice in all courts in Mississippi and Tennessee including Federal Court, the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Gilder's areas of practice include personal injury, criminal, medical malpractice, civil rights, and product liability. Mr. Gilder spent his first ten years as an attorney practicing with his father, Robert G. Gilder, at Gilder Law Firm in Southaven, Mississippi before forming Gilder, Howell & Assoc., P.A. with Jamie W. Howell, Jr. in June of 2000. This firm although as another legal entity has now combined their resources and experience with Chatham – Pittman, to form Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Jefferson through our contact page.