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Commercial vehicles are subject to strict state and federal regulations when it comes to the weight of the vehicles. While many people and businesses want to ship as much as possible in a single trip, there are limits to the weight that trucks can carry because of public safety concerns.
Some companies or people do overload trailers or other commercial vehicles in violation of the law, and the unfortunate consequence of these actions is that the commercial truck could be involved in a severe injury or fatal accident. Weight limits are primarily in place to maintain the safety of commercial vehicles, and excess weight can affect performance and cause serious crashes.
Did you suffer catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed in a truck accident in the Seattle area, possibly involving an overloaded vehicle? Do not wait to get legal help so you can know all of your options.
If you sustained severe injuries or your loved one was killed in an overloaded vehicle crash in the greater Seattle area, act quickly to protect your rights and your health. Make sure to immediately hire a Seattle truck accident attorney who has the right experience and resources necessary to identify if the truck was overloaded and if the trucking company was in violation of established restrictions. If this was the case, you could be owed significant compensation for the harm you’ve suffered and the financial losses you’ve incurred.
Do I Need An Overloaded Vehicle Accident Lawyer?
An attorney will be of immediate help to you by conducting an independent investigation of your accident. During the investigation, the lawyer can determine what the weight of the commercial vehicle was at the time of the crash and also identify all liable parties.
An attorney will also know which kinds of evidence to collect, and quick action is critical in truck accident cases because trucking companies are legally allowed to destroy some types of evidence after a certain amount of time has passed. Some time limits are very short, so you want to make sure that your lawyer can act before any crucial evidence is destroyed.
Another enormous benefit of having an attorney is that they can handle all dealings with insurance companies and speak on your behalf. This is important because recorded statements provided to insurers are often used to reduce or even completely deny compensation paid to victims significantly.
An insurance company may have contacted you and told you that you do not need to worry about having a lawyer because they will take care of you. Some insurers may use this as an excuse to delay payment because of supposed investigations, but others will usually offer victims lump sum settlements that are much less than what they are entitled to. As a general rule, avoid speaking to any insurance company until you have legal representation.
Why Choose Caffee Law To Handle My Case?
For more than a decade, Caffee Law has fought to help the people injured in accidents in Seattle and many other surrounding areas of Washington. Our firm can make sure you receive a just settlement to your case, but we will also prepare your case for trial and file a lawsuit when it becomes apparent that an insurance company will not adequately compensate you.
Caffee Law handles overloaded vehicle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you only pay legal fees when you receive a financial award.
Jeffrey R. Caffee is a member of the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association, Washington State Bar Association, and King County Bar Association. He has been named one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers every year since 2013.
Mr. Caffee earned his J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School and was a research assistant at the University of Notre Dame. He received the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Trial Academy Scholarship in 2011 and was honored by The International Academy of Trial Lawyers in 2009 with an Award for Advocacy for distinguished achievement in the art and science of advocacy.
Types of Overloaded Vehicle Cases We Handle
Overloaded vehicles are dangerous because they can cause many possible problems with vehicles. Drivers can be powerless to avoid crashes when specific issues caused by overloaded vehicles arise.
Some of the most common dangers arising from overloaded vehicles include, but are not limited to:
- Tire blow-outs
- Difficulty stopping
- Brake failure
- Rollover accident
- Loss of cargo
- Damage to bridges
- Loss of control
- Steering failure
- Rear-end collisions
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) states that gross vehicle weight (GVW) for a vehicle or a vehicle combination is determined by the vehicle’s tire size, axle weight, and the weight table found in Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 46.44.041. The legal weight maximums in Washington are 105,500 pounds gross vehicle weight, 20,000 pounds for single axle, 34,000 pounds for tandem axle, 500 pounds per inch width (numerous exceptions though) for two tire axle, and 600 pounds per inch width for steer axle.
What should I do if I am involved in an overloaded vehicle accident?
You always want to make medical attention your priority after any motor vehicle accident. You still do this for many reasons. First, it creates a medical record showing you received treatment immediately after your crash. Second, you will be sure that any injuries you suffered are appropriately treated. When you suspect that a vehicle was overloaded, try to get pictures of it. If the vehicle lost cargo, take photos of that too. Take pictures of everything involved in the scene of your crash.
Also, look for people who could be potential witnesses and get some contact information from them. If you are approached by anybody at the scene of your accident or in your hospital room asking you to sign anything, so not sign it until you have had it reviewed by an attorney. Do not discuss your accident with anybody and avoid writing anything about it on a social media website. You will want to contact a lawyer for advice on how to proceed with your case.
How long do I have to file an overloaded vehicle accident claim?
A person has three years to file an overloaded vehicle accident lawsuit under RCW § 4.16.080. State law does provide certain exceptions for a person imprisoned on a criminal charge, less than 18 years of age, or “incompetent or disabled to such a degree that he or she cannot understand the nature of the proceedings.”
Under Revised Code of Washington § 4.16.190, the statute of limitations will be tolled (delayed), so those under disability have three years to file lawsuits when their respective disabilities are cured (they either are released from imprisonment, turn 18 years of age, or become mentally competent).
The same three-year statute of limitations also applies to wrongful death lawsuits stemming from overloaded vehicles, and this limitations period will begin on the date of a person’s death instead of the date of an accident. While you technically have three years, you want to start putting in the investigatory work as soon as possible after an overloaded vehicle accident.
Can I still file a lawsuit if I was partially at fault for my overloaded vehicle accident?
You can, as Washington uses a pure comparative fault system in civil cases. This means that people are allowed to obtain damages regardless of fault. You could technically recover compensation even if it is found that you were more at fault than the commercial vehicle. A person’s damages will be reduced, however, by their percentage of negligence. This means that an award of $100,000 for an overloaded vehicle accident in which the plaintiff was 85 percent at fault leads to the damages being reduced by $85,000 and the plaintiff ultimately receiving $15,000.
Overloaded Vehicle Accident Statistics
According to the 2017 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts (LTBCF) from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the gross vehicle weight rating was between 10,001 pounds and 26,000 pounds for 957 large trucks in fatal crashes in 2017, or 20.5 percent. The gross vehicle weight rating was 26,001 pounds or more for 3,692 large trucks in fatal accidents, or 79.3 percent, while eight large trucks, or 0.2 percent, had unknown gross vehicle weight ratings.
The 2017 LTBCF also reported that the gross vehicle weight rating was 10,000 pounds or less for 39 large trucks in injury crashes in 2017, or 0.1 percent, while the gross vehicle weight rating was between 10,001 pounds and 26,000 pounds for 13,080 large trucks, or 23.2 percent. The gross vehicle weight rating was 26,001 pounds or more for 43,250 large trucks in injury crashes, or 76.7 percent, while 53 large trucks, or 0.1 percent, had unknown gross vehicle weight ratings.
According to the 2017 LTBCF, the gross vehicle weight rating was 10,000 pounds or less for 91 large trucks in towaway crashes in 2017, or 0.1 percent, while the gross vehicle weight rating was between 10,001 pounds and 26,000 pounds for 22,065 large trucks, or 21.4 percent. The gross vehicle weight rating was 26,001 pounds or more for 80,776 large trucks in towaway crashes, or 78.4 percent, while 41 large trucks, or less than 0.05 percent, had unknown gross vehicle weight ratings.
Contact a Seattle Overloaded Truck Accident Attorney Today
Caffee Law knows how to investigate overloaded vehicles and prove weight violations. We can answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (206) 312-0954 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.