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Old 10-21-2021, 11:44 PM   #1
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Towing: A legal question

If you tow knowing that you are exceeding the manufacturer's allowable limit for an non-braked trailer, are you legally liable if you are in an accident and found at fault because of said "negligence"? Also, the same question for exceeding the OCCC of the coach, no toad involved. Anyone know, or is it a "it depends" thing? Thanks. j
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Old 10-22-2021, 04:51 AM   #2
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It would depend on the severity of the accident. Fender bender, I doubt it. Major accident, I would be very worried because the the data collected at the scene these days. If you are found liable you could be brought up on charges. They would likely end up in a plea.
If your toad breaks away and kills someone, that's manslaughter and I am sure you will be charged as someone's family member is dead.
Let's not even get into the personal liability end of the equation.
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Old 10-22-2021, 06:42 AM   #3
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From what I can find doing a google search it seems most if not all state laws which mention GVWR or GAWL seem far more concerned about max loads on roads and bridges than they do about vehicles exceeding some rating number that is below this road loading amount. Of course there are always those catch all laws about operating in an unsafe manner.
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Old 10-22-2021, 08:29 AM   #4
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Depends on whether you get sued and how good your lawyer is!
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Old 10-22-2021, 08:50 AM   #5
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It depends on who their lawyer is. You can be accused of being negligent simply by having a gps in your line of sight that "distracts" you. Whether you win or not depends on who your lawyer is. Nobody in their right mind will gather all the bits to see if you were overweight but if you are pulling a dry weight 20k rig with a half ton you can be sure it will be part of the lawsuit if there is one.
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Old 10-22-2021, 08:51 AM   #6
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Exceeding the boundaries of your weight or tow limits can be considered Culpable Negligence or in some instances Criminal Offenses if intent can be proven beyond a resonable doubt.

It is best to stay within the guidelines and State Statutes governing load limits and towing (including flat-towing) to avoid placing yourself in unnecessary civil and/or criminal prosecution and to remain in compliance of most insurance carriers.

If you have any doubts, contact your family attorney for advice.....you'll be glad you did.
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Old 10-22-2021, 09:00 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jklingel View Post
If you tow knowing that you are exceeding the manufacturer's allowable limit for an non-braked trailer, are you legally liable if you are in an accident and found at fault because of said "negligence"? Also, the same question for exceeding the OCCC of the coach, no toad involved. Anyone know, or is it a "it depends" thing? Thanks. j

This is the key to the answer, "if you are found at fault" for any reason, then you are legally liable. However, keep in mind that you are not going to be found at fault simply for being overweight, for example if someone runs a red light and broadsides you then your setup being overweight was not the cause nor did that fact contribute to the cause of the accident. ~CA

Just to add a thought, there are some states that use a "No-Fault" system where each party pays for their own damages, however even in those states (most anyway) for major damages, significant injuries or death, the at fault driver can be held liable. In fact, some of those state courts in high $$$ lawsuits actually break down who was at fault and at what percentage.
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Old 10-22-2021, 09:43 AM   #8
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Knowingly exceeding a manufacturers rating puts the liability on you.

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Old 10-22-2021, 10:08 AM   #9
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Lots of good answers and they all cover the topic correctly.


More specifically, knowingly towing over the weight limits of your vehicle can put you in jeopardy in two areas, criminal and civil, with the civil arena being the far more dangerous and likely to occur.

In your original post, you created a situation where the driver was "at fault for said negligence", meaning towing over capacity of the vehicle. That is not the same as being "at fault" for the accident itself, but I'll leave it there just to stay on topic. Knowingly towing beyond the state's regulations can result in a ticket or fine, period. That will be the extent of your "criminal" exposure.

Given the above, it all goes out the window if investigation determines that the weight violation caused or contributed to the accident. If someone was seriously injured or killed, that could expose you to "criminal negligence" by the state if the situation so warrants.

Regardless of the severity of the accident, you expose yourself to civil liability by knowingly exceeding the weight limits. Even in a "fender bender," an aggressive insurance company or PI lawyer can make you life miserable, financially. This is the area where you will most likely suffer consequences, though they may all be handled by your own insurer. Knowingly towing beyond your weight limits will be a factor added to any plaintiff action against you, and even if it played no part in the accident itself, it is enough to get you into civil court by a hungry civil attorney.
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Old 10-22-2021, 10:59 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by jklingel View Post
If you tow knowing that you are exceeding the manufacturer's allowable limit for an non-braked trailer, are you legally liable if you are in an accident and found at fault because of said "negligence"? Also, the same question for exceeding the OCCC of the coach, no toad involved. Anyone know, or is it a "it depends" thing? Thanks. j
YES......
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Old 10-22-2021, 11:20 AM   #11
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You may or may not be held legally responsible, but anytime an accident occurs you must ask yourself "how could the accident have been prevented?" If something bad happens, can you live with your choice of knowing and publicly admitting you are running overweight and/or without an adequate trailer/toad auxiliary braking system? What's that saying about an ounce of prevention.....
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Old 10-22-2021, 11:40 PM   #12
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Thanks!

Good responses. FWIW, I have zero interest in towing anything even near the weight limit without the trailer (which, in my mind, includes a toad) having its own brakes. This question came up when I was discussing the questionable practice with a friend. I have no idea why anyone would pay all the money for a MH and then cheap out on not braking the toad. To me, it is not a personal choice, but a societal responsibility. Thanks again. Good info.... if said person will read and incorporate it into said person's MO......
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Old 10-23-2021, 04:28 AM   #13
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This topic comes up a lot on RV forums so I asked someone I know who used to investigate accidents as an LE officer. He said that it if it was found to be a contributing factor in the accident, it could find you at fault in the accident. With modern vehicles they can figure out from the software a lot of evidence like when you applied the brakes and how long it took to stop ect. However, it's not much different than if you are speeding and cause an accident as a result. How egregious your violation and how much damage you cause are a consideration. He told me of a specific example where a semi pulled out in front of an overloaded 5th wheel and the 5th wheel drivers stopping distance was increased so he was found at fault where as the semi driver would have been at fault otherwise.
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Old 10-23-2021, 05:06 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by jklingel View Post
Good responses. FWIW, I have zero interest in towing anything even near the weight limit without the trailer (which, in my mind, includes a toad) having its own brakes. This question came up when I was discussing the questionable practice with a friend. I have no idea why anyone would pay all the money for a MH and then cheap out on not braking the toad. To me, it is not a personal choice, but a societal responsibility. Thanks again. Good info.... if said person will read and incorporate it into said person's MO......
Bingo!!!!!
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