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If a car collides with an overloaded semi, the semi wins

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From the perspective of a motorist, the problem with traveling near an overloaded 18-wheeler is that there may be no indication of impending trouble.

On a freeway, traffic may hem the motorist in, and he or she might be unable to get out of the way if the cargo in the big rig should shift. The result could be a devastating collision.

Losing control

Agencies that collect statistics about trucks find that overloading is one of the major causes of truck-related crashes. Overloading violates federal and state regulations, but to some in the trucking industry, the bottom line is more important than safety considerations.

If cargo is not loaded properly, it can easily shift when the driver changes lanes suddenly or makes a sharp turn. A heavier than normal load also requires longer braking distances, especially if the truck is traveling down a hill. The driver may not compensate for the added weight and find it difficult to control the vehicle. Depending on the circumstances, the truck could roll over, jackknife or sideswipe another vehicle — and the driver of the other vehicle, unaware of the overloading issue, would not see trouble coming.

Developing wear and tear

Overloading also puts an extra strain on the components of a big rig. For example, tires run hotter and can fail as a result. In addition to the strain on tires, additional cargo and improper load distribution is hard on brakes, axles and suspension components. Of most concern, however, is that problems like these will translate to performance issues and a driver faces a potential disaster, especially at the high speeds that freeway travel requires.

Assigning blame

The safety risk associated with overloading opens the trucking company to liability. However, in a truck-car collision, an investigation will likely establish that various parties should share the blame in addition to the company that owns the big rig. Negligent parties might include the truck driver, the company responsible for loading the truck and the company in charge of maintaining the truck. These parties will be held liable for the injuries the crash victim suffers. In a car-truck crash caused by overloading, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Those who have suffered harm in a truck accident should speak with an attorney regarding a potential negligence claim and a demand for compensation.

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