Larger vehicles can present a greater risk to others on the road. The potential for danger is increased even more when a truck is overloaded. The motor vehicle accident lawyers at Briggs & Wholey have been fighting for the rights of Maine victims for nearly 30 years. If you have suffered serious injury as the result of an improperly loaded vehicle, we can help you assert your right to the compensation that you deserve.Truck Accidents
The Department of Transportation has noted that it can be difficult to obtain statistics related to truck weight because weight and dimensions are not always recorded in police reports. We do know, however, that large trucks are disproportionally involved in fatal accidents. Large trucks, meaning those larger than 10,000 pounds, made up just 4% of registered vehicles in 2012, but they comprised 8% of the vehicles involved in fatal accidents during that year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of the fatal accidents that involved a large truck, 81% were multi-vehicle accidents.
Overloading a truck can result in increased braking time needed to stop, decreased stability, and potential tire blow out. A driver may be unable to stop in time during an emergency. The truck may roll over or jackknife as the result of a heavy or unsecure load. The driver of an overweight or improperly loaded truck may not have sufficient control of the vehicle to prevent or avoid an accident.State and Federal Law
Federal regulations place limits on the weight of vehicles that drive on interstate highways. Typically, the maximum gross weight of a truck is limited to 80,000 pounds unless a lower weight is required by something known as the “bridge formula,” which is used to determine the maximum gross weight of a vehicle traveling on an interstate highway. A vehicle is therefore generally limited to the lesser of the maximum weight as determined by the bridge formula or 80,000 pounds.
States, however, are specifically allowed to issues special permits for “nondivisible” loads or vehicles, regardless of the limitations described above. Furthermore, certain state laws in place on or before July 1, 1956 are grandfathered. Even if the state lowers the weight limit for some period of time, the grandfathered weight limit remains available. States therefore maintain some power in determining the weight of vehicles allowed upon their roadways.
Maine may issue an overlimit permit for certain vehicles weighing up to 120,000 pounds. A truck may legally be on Maine roads at a weight well in excess of the 80,000-pound limit provided by federal regulations, if a permit is obtained.Holding a Negligent Driver or Company Accountable for Your Injuries
Claims involving an overweight truck are usually negligence claims. The injured party may prove negligence by showing that the truck driver owed a duty to him or her and that a breach of that duty proximately caused the person’s injuries and quantifiable damages. Drivers have a general duty of reasonable care in operating a vehicle. Furthermore, a truck’s violation of state or federal weight limits will help the injured party show that the driver had a duty and the standard of care that is required. Maine does not generally recognize negligence per se, so violation of a state or federal statute or regulation is not by itself sufficient to prove that a truck driver was negligent. Such a violation, however, can bolster an injured person’s claims.
It is important to remember that when a truck is involved in an accident, the truck’s weight may not be the only cause or factor in the accident. The truck’s weight may prevent the driver from stopping in time to avoid an accident, or it may cause the truck to roll over or jackknife, resulting in injuries to additional people, even if another vehicle was responsible for setting off the chain of events leading to the accident. A victim may be able to recover damages even if he or she had some fault in the accident. A person who is less than half at fault for the accident may recover an equitable and just amount as determined by the jury. However, an injured person who is 50% or more at fault is barred from recovering anything.
A victim may have claims for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, vehicle repairs, and other damages from the party responsible for the accident. In cases where a death has occurred, claims may also include funeral expenses, medical bills, the loss of society of the deceased person, and the deceased person’s “conscious suffering.” Maine automobile accident victims must file their claim within six years. The time for bringing a wrongful death claims is just two years.Seek Guidance After a Truck Accident from a Maine Lawyer
Accidents involving large commercial vehicles can involve a complex intersection of state and federal law. If you have been hurt anywhere in Maine by the negligence of another driver, the truck accident attorneys at Briggs & Wholey can identify and analyze the applicable law in your case. Contact us online or call (888) 596-1099 to schedule a free consultation.