A single semi-truck can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo throughout Michigan and the greater U.S. These big rigs keep the economy going, supplying goods to businesses and consumers every day.

However, when a semi-truck has overloaded cargo, it can lead to devastating accidents, resulting in serious damage and bodily injury. If you’re hurt in a crash with an overloaded truck, our Michigan truck crash injury lawyers at Fieger Law can help protect your rights.

Learn who’s liable for an overloaded semi-truck collision and how we can help prove fault to get you a fair settlement.

Cargo Limits for Semi-Trucks

Semi-trucks, also known as tractor-trailers or 18-wheelers, are subject to specific state and federal regulations governing how much cargo they can carry. These limits are established to ensure the safety of truck drivers and other road users.

In the United States, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets these weight limits, which can vary depending on the type of road and the number of axles on the truck. These include the following limits for large commercial trucks:

Category Federal Limits State Limits (Michigan)
Weight Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW): 80,000 lbs.; single axle – 20,000 lbs., tandem axle group – 34,000 lbs. Up to 80,000 lbs. under regular operations; can exceed 80,000 lbs. up to 164,000 lbs. on 11 axles with appropriate spacing.
Width 102 inches (2.6 meters) on NN Same as Federal Limits (102 inches on NN)
Length Semitrailer in truck tractor-semitrailer combination: Minimum 48 feet; no overall length limit on NN N/A – follows federal standards


If you are injured in a crash with a semi-truck with cargo that exceeds these limits, contact Fieger Law. We can explain your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Why Trucking Companies Overload Cargo

There are various reasons why trucking companies or cargo loaders might overload a semi, often driven by the desire to boost profits. Here are some explanations for why overloading might occur:

  • Increased profit margins: Overloading can allow more goods to be transported in a single trip, potentially increasing revenue from each journey.
  • Pressure to meet delivery deadlines: Companies might overload trucks to meet tight delivery schedules, especially when facing high demand or logistical challenges.
  • Lack of awareness or disregard for safety: Some companies might not understand the risks of overloading, while others knowingly ignore these risks for immediate profit.

Our truck accident attorneys at Fieger Law can review the evidence of your crash to determine if these motivations led to the trucking company purposefully overloading the vehicle. If so, we can hold them responsible for your losses related to your injury, such as missed paychecks, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

How to Prove a Semi is Carrying Over the Limit

Determining whether a semi-truck was carrying more cargo than legally allowed can be challenging, especially when trying to do so immediately after a crash. However, at Fieger Law, we can help establish overloading with the following evidence:

  • Weigh stations: Weigh stations are checkpoints located along highways where commercial vehicles are required to stop and be weighed. We can gather records from these stations to indicate if the truck exceeded its weight limit.
  • Shipping documents: We can review shipping manifests, bills of lading, and other cargo-related paperwork to prove the cargo’s weight during the collision.
  • Inspection reports: We can gather post-accident inspections conducted by law enforcement or independent experts to reveal signs of overloading, such as damaged suspension systems or tire wear patterns.
  • Black box data: Many commercial vehicles have electronic control modules (ECMs) called black boxes. These devices record critical data, including vehicle speed, braking, and engine performance. We can analyze this information to determine if the truck was overloaded.
  • Witness statements: Eyewitness accounts from the accident scene can also provide valuable information about the condition of the truck and its cargo. We can speak with witnesses to collect their statements and prove overloading.

Who Can You Sue for Damages After a Trucking Accident?

When a semi-truck crashes due to overloading, it can result in major injuries, property damage, and fatalities. Your attorney with Fieger Law can help you sue the following liable parties for damages:

  • Trucking company: The trucking company that owns the vehicle and/or employs the driver is often the primary party responsible for ensuring compliance with cargo weight limits. We can hold them liable if they knowingly overloaded the truck or failed to maintain the truck properly.
  • Driver: We can hold the truck driver responsible if they were aware of the overloading or if their actions, such as driving recklessly, contributed to the accident.
  • Shippers and loaders: In some cases, we can hold the entities responsible for loading the cargo onto the truck at fault if they overloaded the vehicle or improperly secured the cargo.
  • Maintenance and repair contractors: If a maintenance or repair contractor fails to properly inspect or maintain the vehicle, resulting in an accident, we can hold them liable.
  • Manufacturers: If a defect in the semi-truck or any of its components contributed to the accident, we can file a product liability suit against the manufacturer.

Get Experienced Legal Aid After a Truck Accident

When a semi-truck is overloaded and crashes, the consequences can be severe, leaving you with physical, emotional, and financial burdens. At Fieger Law, we understand the complexities of trucking accident cases and have a proven track record of securing compensation for our clients.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking accident where overloading may have been a factor, contact us today for a free consultation. Our skilled attorneys are ready to assess your case, gather evidence, and fight for your rights in court.