The Dangers of Overloaded and Improperly Loaded Trucks, Part I of II

June 19, 2014

Those who live in Georgia confront the possibility of being involved in a motor vehicle collision that causes serious injury, especially every time they travel the busy freeways of our metropolitan areas. However, this risk increases significantly when an overloaded tractor-trailer is involved in a collision. Fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to forty tons in gross vehicle weight (GVW). When a truck is loaded to its maximum capacity, the big-rig will require more time to maneuver or stop. A tractor-trailer will cause more devastating injuries in an accident because of the force generated by the extremely heavy vehicle. Despite these dangers, truck drivers often overload tractor-trailers with the approval of trucking companies, increasing this risk of harm in an accident exponentially.

Our Georgia Trucking Accident Lawyers understand the federal and Georgia regulations that cover weight, load, and size restrictions for commercial trucks. When commercial trucks transport excessively heavy loads, improperly secured loads, or unbalanced loads, there is significant risk of serious trucking accidents or objects falling from the bi-rig that can cause catastrophic injuries and death. This two-part blog post provides an overview of some of the common types of dangers posed by overloaded and improperly loaded semi-trucks.

A study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) revealed that tractor-trailers traveling with a maximum load of 80,000 pounds have double the risk of being involved in a fatal trucking accident when compared to a commercial truck weighing only 50,000 lbs. The UMTRI also has conducted other studies showing that overloaded trucks—particularly those that exceed 100,000 pounds—increase both the likelihood of collisions, as well as the risks of serious truck accident injuries and big-rig fatalities.

When commercial trucks are overloaded, they pose a multitude of potential hazards, including:

  • Increased Stopping Distance: When a commercial truck operator must execute an emergency stop, the stopping distance increases based on Newton's first law of motion, which provides in part that objects in motion tend to stay in motion at the same speed and in the same direction until acted upon by an unbalanced force. There is a direct relationship between the weight of the vehicle and the braking force needed to slow or stop a commercial truck.
  • Deterioration of Brakes & Tires: Trucks that exceed the maximum allowable weight cause more wear on tires and brakes. A tire blowout or brake failure is always dangerous, but this type of equipment malfunction poses an even greater hazard when it involves a massive commercial truck. Brake systems are calibrated based on a maximum weight load so when this weight is exceeded, it can cause excessive brake wear or failure. This risk is particularly serious when overloaded tractor-trailers are navigating hills.
  • Unbalanced or Improperly Secured Load: When the trucker or trucking company makes the decision to overload the trailer, it has many different repercussions. The increased weight of the load decreases the effectiveness of the driver in steering the vehicle. This results in dangerous lane changes where there is intrusion of the truck into the lanes of other vehicles traveling in the same direction. The tractor-trailer may even veer into oncoming traffic. In addition to jackknife and rollover accidents discussed in part II of this blog, there is the risk of the improperly secured load slipping from the restraints and crashing onto the roadway. When the cargo is heavy equipment, concrete forms, or other large items, the devastation is horrific.

When tractor-trailers with excessive weight, loads, and size travel the freeways and highways of Georgia, the result can be overloaded truck accidents resulting in permanent life-altering injuries, including severe head injuries causing brain damage, paralysis from spinal cord injuries, loss or use and feeling of extremities, and other forms of severe injury. Our Atlanta Trucking Collision Lawyers may be able to seek a wide variety of damages, such as pain and suffering, lost income, medical care costs, impaired quality of life, burial/funeral expenses, loss of consortium, and punitive damages.

Our semi-truck accident attorneys have extensive knowledge of federal and state regulations, trucking industry customs/practices, and the industry reputation for destroying or manipulating evidence. Trucking companies often utilize emergency response teams that can be gathering evidence and building the trucking company's defense to a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit within hours or even minutes of a collision. Because our Atlanta Trucking Accident Attorneys have experience with the unique issues involved in tractor-trailer crash litigation, they have the resources and experience to balance the scales when you pursue a trucking accident legal claim.

Put Our Law Firm's 30 Years of Legal Experience to Work for Your Case

Our Atlanta semi-truck accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries or wrongful death for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins, and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located, our attorneys are just a phone call away and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Truck Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.