Holding Negligent Trucking Companies Liable for Accidents
Overloading tractor-trailers with cargo is a violation of state and federal regulations. It creates a serious risk for other people sharing the streets and highways in Denver, often causing catastrophic injuries and extensive property damage. If you have been injured in a collision with an overloaded truck, you may have a personal injury claim for compensation.
Truck accidents are complex cases that can involve more than one potentially responsible party and several state or federal violations. In addition, trucking company insurers will enlist teams of lawyers to fight against high-stake truck accident claims involving serious injuries or death. Your best chance of recovering full and fair compensation is to have an experienced Denver overloaded truck accident attorney by your side. We at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC have more than 25 years of experience fighting against trucking companies on behalf of our clients. If you have been injured in an overloaded truck accident, call us at (303) 502-5587.
The Dangers of Overloaded Trucks
Most fatalities in truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. In fact, the truck driver who caused the collision is unlikely to be seriously hurt. Large commercial trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times as much as passenger cars, which means that even a properly loaded truck can, and will, cause massive damage. But when it is overloaded with cargo, it adds even more weight and force to a collision.
Due to the added weight and the shift in the center of gravity, overloaded trucks are more prone to rollovers and jackknife accidents. The cargo may also spill, causing incredible damage to the vehicles around the truck. A weight that exceeds the limits set by state and federal regulation makes it even more difficult for a driver to control a big rig. The driver may struggle to get it to come to a full stop, or may not even bother, given how long it may take. They may also have a hard time turning or merging safely, which can lead to a collision that impacts several lanes of traffic. It could even cause a pile-up. These dangers are exactly why Colorado has such strict laws over how much cargo a truck can carry.
Trucking Weight Rules and Regulations
Each state has its own laws on how much a truck can carry in cargo, but there are also federal laws that trucking companies must follow. In Colorado, commercial trucks are subject to weight limits, as stated by the Colorado Department of Transportation (DOT). On interstate highways, their combined gross vehicle weight (GVW) may not exceed 80,000 lbs. On non-interstate highways, the weight limit is 85,000 lbs. However, if a truck driver applies for it and pays a surcharge, the state may issue an overweight permit for a single trip or on an annual basis. The permit should never allow for a weight in excess of 110,000 lbs. If a trucking company neglects to get the permit, then they would be acting in negligence.
Truck Accident Injuries
A collision with an overloaded truck can cause serious, catastrophic, or fatal injuries to passenger vehicle occupants. The collision can, and likely will, impact multiple lanes of traffic, and all the vehicles in said lanes. The weight of the overloaded truck adds to the force of the impact, and injuries sustained from such an accident are not going to be easy to recover from. Common injuries from an overloaded truck include:
- Skull fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputations or the loss of a limb
- Fractured bones
- Crush injuries
- Severe lacerations
If you were injured, or lost a loved one, from an overloaded truck, then you are now in the position of having to file a personal injury or a wrongful death claim. This may seem incredibly overwhelming at first, but with a skilled attorney by your side, receiving proper compensation is possible. The first step is determining who the liable party is.
Proving Liability in Overloaded Truck Accidents
When overloading causes a truck accident, the truck driver, the trucking company, or both may be liable for your injuries. Truckers have a responsibility not to overload their trucks and to ensure that cargo is secured correctly. They are also required to stop at weigh stations to show that their vehicles are not overweight. If they knowingly and intentionally operate a rig that is overloaded, they may be liable for resulting injuries.
In addition, the trucking company that employs the driver may be liable if it puts pressure on the driver to overload the truck in violation of federal regulations, or if they neglected to get the proper permits allowing for an overloaded truck to be driven.
However, having a liable party is not enough when it comes to filing a claim. You must also prove that they acted negligently. To prove negligence in a personal injury claim, you must establish that certain elements exist in the case. Those are:
- Duty of care towards you or the victims
- That duty of care was breached
- That breach caused an accident
- That accident resulted in serious damages
If the defendant was breaking the law, it is a different matter. In an overloaded truck accident case, you may only need to prove that the truck weight exceeded the legal limits to establish negligence on the part of the driver, and possibly the trucking company. This can be done with a thorough investigation led by a dedicated attorney.
Why Choose the Tenge Law Firm, LLC?
Our Denver truck accident attorneys at the Tenge Law Firm, LCC have the knowledge, skills, and resources to effectively pursue compensation in an overloaded truck accident case. We can thoroughly investigate the crash to determine fault and liability, secure and preserve vital evidence, and assess the full extent of your past and future losses. To receive the best legal representation in a truck accident claim, call us at (303) 502-5587.