Truck Accidents With Overweight Vehicles
If you are driving down a highway and are surrounded by large trucks, you may be nervous behind the wheel. However, should these trucks barreling by you at high rates of speed be exceeding their specified weights due to being overloaded with various cargo, you should be more alert of what could happen. Though truckers and trucking companies can face criminal penalties for having vehicles that exceed specified weights, this often does not stop them from breaking these laws and putting others who are driving on the highway at risk of serious injury or even worse. If you have been part of an accident with an overweight vehicle, schedule an appointment with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer from Grey Law.
Overweight Vehicles in California
When it comes to regulating overweight vehicles in California, look to Vehicle Code 35551a. Also referred to as an “overweight citation,” this law is in place primarily to protect California highways from being severely damaged by these vehicles. However, should these vehicles be involved in an accident, being overweight can make these accidents even more severe. Since large vehicles traveling fast need extra time to slow down and come to a complete stop, those that are overweight need even longer to do so. Unfortunately, most truckers and their employers know the vehicles are exceeding weight limits before the truck ever starts out on the road.
How to Define an Overweight Vehicle
In cases where overweight vehicles are involved in accidents with other vehicles, the truck driver and trucking company will likely say the vehicle was not overweight at the time of the accident. To properly calculate this, it will be crucial to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable about related injuries. According to Vehicle Code 35551a, determining whether a vehicle is overweight rests on the number of axles on the vehicle and measuring the distance between any group of two or more consecutive axles. If you have suffered injuries in an accident involving an overweight vehicle, working with a truck accident law firm will have you relying on lawyers who have years of experience with these cases and a thorough understanding of Vehicle Code 35551a.
How Does a Vehicle Get Overweight?
In many cases, large trucks are made to be overweight simply due to a company’s desire to put profits ahead of safety. In many cases, trucks are overloaded by companies that load extra containers of goods onto their trucks in an effort to meet tight deadlines or cut corners to save money. Even though truck drivers may know their trucks will be overweight if they encounter a weigh station along the way, they will nonetheless hit the road with a potentially dangerous vehicle. When these truck accidents occur, it will be vital your attorney use the data from weigh stations to prove the trucking company knew of this violation. If you have been severely injured in a truck crash accident lawyers in Los Angeles victims know they should always turn to Grey Law, since the firm has a sustained history of success in these cases.
Overweight Vehicle Penalties
If you think trucking companies and their drivers get severely punished for having overweight vehicles, think again. In fact, California law considers this to be only a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Due to the lack of severity for this violation, most truckers and trucking companies consider it to be a risk worth taking. As a result, other motorists on the road are unnecessarily and carelessly put at risk of being involved in a serious accident. Holding a trucking company accountable for its negligence can be a challenge, but with the proper legal guidance you may have a better chance.
As for legal defenses in these cases, some do exist. The most common include truckers not knowing their vehicles were overloaded when they left the loading dock, they had not been given the opportunity to weigh their vehicle prior to beginning the trip, or were told their cargo would not put them over specified weight limits. In many instances, trucking companies will claim the truck’s load was not finalized, which would mean they would be granted an exception to VC35551a. In other instances, a trucker whose English may be poor can claim they did not understand what they were instructed to do by a CHP officer who cited them for the violation. While some of these defenses may be genuine, that still does not undo the damage caused due to these accidents. Should you be injured in a truck accident, residents highly recommend speaking with experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Grey Law immediately.
Federal Law Violations
Depending upon the circumstances surrounding an accident that involved an overweight vehicle, a truck driver and trucking company may be charged with both state and federal crimes. This often comes into play in these situations, since most trucks must drive along the interstate highway system, which is considered to be a federal highway. In addition, if a trucking company is found to have been cited by CHP numerous times for this violation, they may be classified as habitual offenders, which can also carry more severe penalties. When these situations arise, it will be crucial to have attorneys on your side who know exactly how to proceed in these cases.
While accidents involving large trucks are very complex, they get much more detailed and confusing when overweight issues arise. By scheduling a consultation, you will have much needed support from a dedicated lawyer who will fight hard for your rights.