Injured in an Accident with an Overloaded Truck in Boulder?
Under state and federal laws, commercial trucks must not exceed certain weight limits. Sadly, trucking companies and drivers often exceed these limits to make more money on larger loads. Big rigs overloaded with cargo create a serious accident risk for others on the roadways, but trucking companies care more about their bottom line than they do about the safety of those on the road with their drivers.
Truck accidents are complex cases involving state and federal regulations and multiple potentially liable parties. It may require prompt action on the part of your attorney to preserve black box data after a crash before the data is lost and to ensure that your case is properly litigated. Large trucking companies and their insurers have teams of lawyers standing by to fight your claim but, with our experienced and seasoned Boulder overloaded truck accident attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC at your side, you will have the best fighting chance of getting the compensation you deserve. Call our firm at (303) 665-2929 for the best help in Boulder.
Why Overloaded Trucks are Dangerous
Trucks, without a load, usually weigh around 80,000 lbs. That is 16 times as heavy as the average passenger vehicle. That intense weight makes tractor-trailers difficult to stop and turn. It also means a truck’s blind spots are much larger than a car’s, and spotting vehicles around the truck can be almost impossible for the driver. With an overloaded truck, these issues become even worse, on top of the new problems that the extra weight often brings.
Overloaded trucks can be top-heavy or side heavy, which makes them more prone to jackknifing and rollovers, especially when the driver loses control during a sharp turn or sudden stop. The additional weight from overloading, which can be upwards of 20,000 lbs., makes it even more difficult for the driver to come to a complete stop. This means that the driver may choose to perform a rolling stop instead or be unable to stop if there is an obstacle in their path, causing a rear-end collision. On top of all that, the heavier the truck, the more force behind its impact during a collision. That means the injuries you may suffer during an overloaded truck collision will likely be catastrophic. These extreme dangers are exactly why Colorado has very strict laws on how much a loaded truck can weigh.
Colorado Truck Weight Rules and Regulations
Every state has laws regarding how heavy and how large a truck may be. In some states, they allow a truck to weigh as much as 100,000. Colorado, however, has much stricter rules. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (DOT), a truck may have a combined vehicle weight of just 80,000 lbs. on interstate highways and 85,000 lbs. on non-interstate highways. This means that trucks in Colorado must have relatively light cargos.
However, trucking companies can get special permits that allow them to carry a heavier load. These permits must be obtained before the driver sets out on the route and may not be granted retroactively. If a permit is granted, then the trucking company may have a truck weigh as much as 110,000 lbs. If the company fails to get this permit and violates trucking regulations, then it will likely be considered liable in the case of a collision.
Liability in Trucking Accidents
As with all types of truck accidents, there may be multiple potentially liable parties for an overloaded crash. Who is liable for your collision will depend on the facts of your particular case. Thankfully, our Boulder personal injury attorney can conduct a thorough investigation to determine fault and liability. Until that in-depth investigation is completed, however, there are two groups that are the most likely liable.
Truck drivers: Drivers are responsible for the loading of their cargo. Even if a team loaded the cargo for the driver, the driver must still weigh their truck and stop at any weighing stations along their route. This means they should be completely aware if their cargo makes their truck overloaded and take the appropriate steps the rectify the issue. In the case that the overloaded cargo causes a spill, the driver would also be liable, as they are responsible for making sure their cargo is properly secured.
Trucking companies: As we mentioned above, trucking companies are responsible for making sure they have the proper permits if they want to use an overloaded truck. These permits are readily available to trucking companies, so if they choose to not use them, then they would be acting negligently. If they do have the permits, but pressure their driver to load the truck even more, then they would still be liable for breaking the law.
Overloaded Trucks and Proving Negligence
When proving that a driver or a trucking company was negligent, you will need a lot of evidence backing you up, as well as a few key present factors. Trucking companies often fight tooth and nail to avoid paying their victims proper compensation, so without a clear cuts case, recovering damages may be difficult.
To prove negligence in a truck accident case, you must show that:
- The defendant (the driver or trucking company) had a duty to you;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The defendant’s actions were the actual and proximate cause of your injuries; and
- You suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
If those requirements sound impossible to prove to you, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to get your hands on evidence when it comes to truck collisions. For example, large commercial trucks have black boxes, or event data recorders that track various types of information about the operation of the truck. These black boxes often contain damaging information in truck accident cases, such as the speed the truck was going at the time of the accident, how long the driver had been operating the vehicle without a break, and if the driver was wearing a seatbelt or not. However, this data will be deleted over time, so working with an experienced truck accident attorney to get ahold of it will be key in proving negligence.
Why Choose Us?
Our Boulder trucking accident lawyers at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC can investigate your accident, secure and preserve evidence, assess the full extent of your damages, negotiate skillfully with insurance companies on your behalf, and fight for the compensation you deserve in court, if necessary. We have recovered tens of millions of dollars in settlements, arbitration awards, and verdicts for our clients.
We are a full-service firm. This means we will help you with everything involved in your case, from helping you with medical providers to protecting your credit rating, in addition to handling your claim. Call us at (303) 665-2929 to schedule a free consultation if you have been injured in an overloaded truck accident.