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Oversized Truck Accidents

If you have driven on any part of I-5 or 405 in Seattle, Kirkland, or Olympia, or anywhere in Washington State for that matter, you have likely seen oversized trucks. Oversized trucks can be used for a variety of purposes, but they are mainly used to transport enormous pieces of equipment or pieces of steel, concrete, or other large materials used in building constructions.

Oftentimes an oversized truck will have what is called a travel escort that travels in front or behind the oversized truck. This is done for safety purposes. Oversized trucks that are over 12 feet require these kinds of escort. These travel escorts are there to warn the other cars on the road of the presence of the oversized truck, as well as to alert the truck driver of upcoming traffic or bridges or other circumstances that the truck driver may not understand. To be considered “overload” or “oversize” the truck has to be at least 8.5 feet wide and the item being shipped has to be at least 12 feet wide.

Washington State Oversized Truck Laws

Oversized trucks are normally considered commercial vehicles, which means more government regulation and larger insurance policies insuring the vehicle. The government imposes stricter regulations on commercial vehicles.

There are two primary sources of fault when there is an accident with a oversized truck that is not your fault. It is either the driver’s fault or the truck company’s fault. On some rare occasions, there can be a combination of both.

Common reasons for truck accidents when the driver is at fault:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Driver inexperience
  • Driver inattention
  • Driver distraction

In order for a commercial driver to be on the road in Washington State driving an oversized truck with equipment and materials, they need to have what is called a CDL or a commercial driver’s license. This kind of license is not easy to obtain. A driver must pass a background check and pass several fitness tests as well. In addition, responsible companies should also have internal background and fitness checks with which they screen their applicants. Not all oversized truck companies do their due diligence in hiring a trucker for their company.

While many oversized truck accidents are the result of driver error, there can also be instances when the truck company is at fault. Common reasons for truck accidents when the company is at fault:

  • Tire blowouts
  • Brake problems
  • Vehicle maintenance issues
  • Failing to properly screen or vet drivers

Sometimes oversized truck companies fail to properly maintain their vehicles and they put their drivers in trucks that are not safe, for a variety of reasons, ranging from brakes that are aging and faulty, tires that are bald and need replacing, and other mechanical issues that need addressed and fixed. If this happens to be the case, then the oversized company shares responsibility for the accident they caused.

There are times, however, when the insurance company for the truck company will attempt to conceal internal company documents that show how neglectful the company has been in properly and safely maintaining their oversized truck, depending on how many they have in their fleet.

One of the primary reasons oversized trucking accidents occur is because of two specific reasons. The first has to do with improperly securing cargo. It is estimated that 7% of all US trucking accidents are caused because of shifting cargo or cargo that was not properly loaded in the first place. As you can imagine, when you are talking about enormous oversized trucks that are transporting large pieces of equipment or machinery or heavy materials, if the cargo or machinery falls off the truck that is transporting it, drivers of cars and SUVs can be severely injured very seriously.

The second reason has to do with stopping distance. Given the sheer size of oversized trucks, it is not easy for them to stop quickly. By and large, stopping distance will go up about 25% for each 20,000 pound that is added to a vehicle after the initial 80,000 pounds. It takes about 196 feet for a tractor to stop, as opposed to a 133 feet for an ordinary care.

This extra distance can be a matter of life or death if you are in the path of an oversized truck that is traveling too fast for conditions, which is a common reason for accidents.

Aside from not being able to brake in time, there is another common reason for accidents involving oversized trucks. The risk is often times that the vehicle will hit bridges and overpasses because the oversized vehicle is so tall. In 2013, an oversized truck collided with the overhead beams on the Skagit River, which in turn triggered the bridge’s collapse.

There are often specific licenses that a driver must acquire and this license will specify the load the truck is hauling, the length of time it will be on the road, or even the route the truck will take, though in Washington State that is not currently the law.

Common Oversized Truck Accident Injuries

If you have been in an accident with an oversized truck, chances are you facing serious injuries. These vehicles are enormous and can create huge damage.

The most common injuries associated with tow truck injuries are:

  • Wrongful death
  • Brain injury
  • ACL or MCL tears
  • Herniated disc

If you have suffered any of these injuries, the likelihood is not good that these injuries will resolve on their own. In most instances, you will have to see a medical professional to help you recover. Aside from primary care doctors, the most common kinds of healthcare providers to treat people who have been in accidents with trucks are osteopaths, physiatrists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists.

Any of these healthcare providers can render quality care to you and they likely know the appropriate specialist who can treat you if you have been injured by a truck.

How The Jackman Law Firm can Help

If an oversized truck has either hit you or some of its cargo has hit you, then you are likely in one of the more difficult times of your life. You are likely facing phone calls from insurance companies, medical appointments, you may be losing money from work since you are unable to work, and many phone calls from insurance companies. If this is the case, why go through this process alone? The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover:

  • Money for lost wages
  • Money for pain and suffering
  • Money for medical bills
  • Money for lost wages

The Jackman Law Firm can assist you with all of these things. In addition, we can stand between you and the insurance company for the truck. While it is not common, there are also instances when the truck company’s insurance company may allege that you were either partly or completely at fault for the accident. If this unfortunate and untrue allegation is brought against you, then you need an attorney who can help you.

The Jackman Law Firm can assist you by sending subpoenas for any video footage that may have captured the accident, interviewing witnesses and bystanders, and speaking to the police, assuming an investigation was done. If it is clear that the vehicle was not properly maintained, then the Jackman Law Firm has the resources and experience to investigate the company internally and find out if the company was failing to properly maintain their vehicle, such as not checking and fixing their brakes, making sure the tires are properly maintained and inflated, and making sure the vehicle is safe to be on the road.

If you have questions about your truck accident, feel free to call for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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