Cargo in a tractor-trailer or semi on Indiana highways can weigh thousands of pounds. Federal and state regulations limit the size, weight and content of cargo that trucks can carry and set forth the rules and requirements for transporting oversized loads. An overloaded truck poses a variety of hazards that can lead to a crash causing injuries or death. When an overloaded truck or a truck carrying an oversized load causes a serious accident, it is often because the truck driver or trucking company acted negligently and failed to follow the proper regulations.
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in an oversized load accident involving a large truck in Indiana, you need to speak to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. If a truck was overloaded and that contributed to the accident that injured you, you may have a right to demand full compensation for your losses.
At Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, our truck accident lawyers have extensive experience representing victims of large truck crashes and the families of victims of fatal crashes. Truck accident claims are complicated in part because commercial trucks are often owned by large corporations and because of the complexity of regulations governing the trucking industry. Indiana truck accident attorney David W. Craig has successfully handled hundreds of commercial vehicle accident cases for clients in Indianapolis, Batesville, Richmond, Fort Wayne and throughout Indiana.
What Is an Oversized Load on a Commercial Truck?
A large truck is one that has a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds, including single-unit trucks and truck tractors. A single-unit truck is one in which the engine, cab, drive train, and cargo area are all on one chassis. A semi-trailer is designed for carrying cargo and constructed so that its weight is pulled by the tractor.
How Does the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating Work?
The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of a truck is the value specified by the manufacturer as the loaded weight of a single vehicle, including the weight of the base vehicle, all added equipment, driver and passengers, and all cargo loaded into or on the vehicle.
The GVWR is the heaviest combined weight of the truck, passengers and cargo that the manufacturer says is safe.
Exceeding a truck’s weight rating means the weight exceeds the design capacity of brakes, suspension systems, and tires.
An overloaded truck is harder to stop and harder to turn quickly in response to changes in traffic conditions such as slowed traffic, debris in the road and other unanticipated circumstances. Because tractor trailers are already top-heavy, an overweight truck is also more vulnerable to tipping and rollover accidents. A truck driver could lose control of an overloaded truck if the added weight causes brakes, suspension, tires or other systems or components to fail.
Special Permits for Oversized Loads in Indiana
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the commercial trucking industry. Its regulations include rules for how much trucks can weigh when on public roads.
The federally mandated maximum weights for interstate highways and travel on state highways required for reasonable access to interstates are:
- 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight
- 20,000-pound single axle weight
- 34,000-pound tandem axle weight.
However, states have the option to issue permits for oversize or overweight vehicles without regard to the axle, gross weight or bridge formula requirements for vehicles or loads that cannot feasibly be reduced in size.
A truck driver must obtain an oversize and/or overweight vehicle permit before traveling on Indiana roads if the vehicle exceeds:
- 13 feet 6 inches in height
- 8 feet 6 inches in width
- 60 feet (two-vehicle combination) or 53 feet (semi-tractor/semi-trailer combination) in length
- 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.
Oversized vehicles must be marked on the front and rear with a sign reading “OVER-SIZE LOAD” and must have escorts when they exceed 12 feet, 4 inches in width, 110 feet in length or 14 feet, 6 inches in height.
An oversize/overweight vehicle permit does not allow trucks on Interstate 65 or I-70 inside I-465 in Indianapolis, or on any county roads or city streets. A permitted vehicle over 85 feet long, or 10 feet, 6 inches wide or above legal height may not exceed 55 miles per hour.
Permitted vehicles wider than 14 feet, 6 inches are only allowed on roads during specified hours, such as weekdays from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. Regardless of size, permitted vehicles are not allowed on state highways on major holidays, unless they are permitted to haul overweight loads of metal or agricultural commodities.
Permitted oversized vehicles are not allowed to operate during hazardous weather or when visibility is less than 500 feet. Permitted vehicles may not operate when wind velocity exceeds 25 miles per hour.
What to Do After a Truck Accident Injury
Large trucks operate on Indiana roads under many legal restrictions. Large trucks stand out when compared to other vehicles on the road for how frequently they are involved in fatal multi-vehicle collisions, according to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute.
When a serious truck accident occurs, trucking companies respond quickly to protect their assets. This includes working to minimize the chances that anyone who has been injured in the accident can recover the compensation they deserve for their losses. We have even seen instances of trucking companies trying to hide evidence after an accident.
In other cases, trucking companies offer unsuspecting injury victims lowball settlements to obtain a signature that gives up the right to seek further compensation.
If you have been injured in a truck accident involving an oversized load, you should speak to an experienced truck accident lawyer. Do not make the mistake of dealing with trucking company representatives, including their insurers, on your own. Never sign anything after a serious accident unless an attorney working for you advises you to do so.
At Craig, Kelley & Faultless, we offer a free consultation to explain your legal options. If we handle your case, we will investigate the oversize load truck accident that caused your injuries.
An independent investigation can identify precisely what caused a truck accident. The investigation may produce evidence showing that the truck was overloaded and/or traveled in violation of an Indiana oversized load permit or trucking regulations, such as Hours of Service (HOS) restrictions. Truckers and trucking companies are required to keep numerous records regarding truck operations, including cargo loads, daily inspections of trucks and cargo, routes traveled, and travel times.
Large trucks are equipped with an event data recorder (EDR) that provides a record of truck speed, braking, steering angle, sudden deceleration/acceleration, and much more from just before the impact of a crash.
Our oversize load accident attorney will work with recognized accident reconstruction experts to examine the evidence and understand how the accident occurred to build a convincing case for full compensation to our clients.
If our investigation finds that negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company contributed to the accident, you should be able to recover compensation. However, you need to act quickly after an accident. The longer you wait to contact an attorney, the more difficult it becomes to find and preserve evidence and the greater the risk of jeopardizing your case and compensation recovery.
Trucking companies are only required to keep maintenance records and driver logs for a certain period of time, and potentially important evidence may be lost if you wait too long to hire an attorney. If we are investigating your accident, we can promptly send a spoliation letter to request that the trucking company preserve all relevant evidence. Once a letter has been issued, a defendant has a difficult time explaining why evidence identified as important to your claim no longer exists.
Contact Our Indiana Truck Accident Attorneys Today
It’s important not to delay in seeking legal help after suffering serious injuries in an oversize load truck accident. Contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to determine whether a truck accident involved a violation of Indiana oversize load regulations. If so, we will work to secure the evidence of the accident and identify the responsible parties and the compensation you are due.
Our legal team can develop a case that demonstrates how the truck accident you were in occurred and, if the truck was overloaded, build a convincing case for full compensation to you and your family. If you have been injured in a commercial truck accident in Indiana, contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC today.
We aggressively pursue truck accident claims on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we only get paid when we win your case. Contact us now by telephone or online for a free consultation about your accident. If you are unable to come to us, we will come to you.