There’s a good reason that both the United States and Washington State have strict rules about the size and weight of commercial vehicles. Truck accidents involving oversized or supersized vehicles can cause catastrophic injuries due to the greater collision force.
If you or someone you love was seriously hurt in a wide load or oversized truck accident that wasn’t your fault, there are numerous details to consider when filing a personal injury claim. At Max Meyers Law, we strive to make certain you’re completely informed on all points of your case and what type of strategy helps secure proper compensation. Here’s what you should know.
What is a Wide Load or Oversized Load Vehicle?
Large commercial flatbed vehicles often carry cargo that can’t be broken down into multiple smaller shipments, such as:
- Heavy equipment
- Farm equipment
- Construction materials
- Wind turbines
- Planes and aircraft
- Homes or small structures, such as manufactured housing
Each state has different requirements for oversized loads. In Washington, the legal dimensions of a regular commercial truck are:
- 8’6” wide
- 14’ tall
- 53’ long
- 40’ for a single unit
- 75’ overall with a truck and trailer
- 3’ of front overhang and 15’ of rear overhang.
The legal weight of a truck in our state is calculated using three different parameters: tire size, axle weight, and a specific weight chart.
Oversized Truck Permits in Washington State
There are special permits that allow for wide, heavy, oversized, or supersized trucks to operate on our roads, highways, and interstates if they exceed the regulated dimensions and weight. These permits ensure that not too many oversized loads are traveling at once, their routes are planned, and that each load is accompanied by pilot cars that add a layer of safety to the transport.
Before transport, a trucking company or truck driver must apply for and obtain a permit through the Washington State Department of Transportation. They must also follow a specific set of rules, that could include restricted traveling at night, restricted roads (due to, for example, low overpasses), and other considerations.
Types of Oversized Load Accidents
As you might guess, the most common types of oversized and supersized truck accidents happen due to the size and weight of the vehicle. Here are some examples:
- Vehicles wider than normal can clip other vehicles or run into objects just outside of their lane, causing passenger car motorists to lose control or a full-on accident.
- Taller commercial trucks might strike an overpass, bridge, overhang, or tree.
- Operators of heavier-than-normal vehicles can lose control if speeding or on an overturn. These trucks might also experience brake malfunctions on a steep decline, causing a runaway incident.
- Trucks carrying oddly shaped loads are more likely to have cargo fall off—endangering other drivers—or shift, causing the trucker to lose control.
- Pilot cars can also cause or be involved in accidents.
There are also a significant number of fleet companies and operators who break the rules of oversized loads in Washington State and illegally drive commercial vehicles that are too large or too heavy. While weigh stations and other measures are in place to stop these violations, they still happen.
If someone is involved in an oversized truck accident due to negligence actions of the truck operator, a cargo loading company, the maintenance staff, or the trucking company, the victim deserves justice. They have the right to file a truck accident claim for compensation for their medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic damages. An experienced Washington truck accident attorney will make investigating the permit legalities a first priority.
Catastrophic Injuries Related to Oversized Trucks
On average, a fully loaded semi-truck weighs approximately 80,000 pounds. The force exerted by a commercial truck can easily crush a passenger vehicle, leading to severe injuries. So the magnified force of wide load and oversized trucks is even more catastrophic—like hitting an immovable wall.
Some of the injuries resulting from a collision with a commercial oversized load can include:
- Blunt force trauma
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Broken bones
- Organ and nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries
And in the most unfortunate cases, people lose their lives.
What To Do After an Oversize Truck Accident
In the minutes and hours after a truck accident, be sure to:
- Call 911 immediately to dispatch emergency service personnel and law enforcement.
- Make certain that you and any other people involved get safely out of the road and away from any dangerous vehicles (such as a vehicle that’s smoking or on fire).
- Don’t apologize for the accident or claim fault.
- If you can, get all possible information about the truck driver and their company.
- Also gather eyewitness information and photos of your injuries and the accident scene.
In the days and weeks after a truck accident, be sure to:
- Continue to follow the advice of your doctor.
- Report any medical issues that may have presented in the days after the crash, such as new symptoms or worsening problems.
- Contact a knowledgeable truck accident attorney about your case.
- Don’t give a recorded statement to the insurance company or other truck-affiliated entities.
Who’s at Fault for a Wide Load or Oversized Truck Accident?
Many people assume that the only parties responsible for a traffic accident are the individuals behind the wheel. But that’s not the case at all, especially when crashes involve a commercial truck using special permits for oversized or wide loads.
These are just a few of the parties that could be responsible for a commercial truck accident:
- The transportation company or vehicle owner
- The truck driver
- The entity that maintains the truck
- Pilot car drivers and company owners
- The manufacturer of the item being shipped
- The shipping company
- A cargo loading team
- The person or entity that approved the permit
And keep in mind: more than one of the above individuals or entities could be at fault.
Commercial truck accidents are already more complex than traditional vehicle accidents. However, the professionals at Max Meyers Law have dealt with similar cases, and can help ensure that your claim results in rightful compensation and fair punishment for the at-fault parties—all while taking the burden off your shoulders.