Trucks carrying oversized loads pose a serious risk to motorists in California, which is why oversized loads are strictly regulated. Given their size and weight, a collision with an oversized truck can result in catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in an overweight or oversized truck accident, an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you recover substantial compensation.
J&Y Law has extensive experience handling truck accidents throughout the state of California. Well-versed in the applicable regulations governing oversized loads, we have a proven history of holding negligent trucking companies, truck drivers, and other responsible parties accountable. Knowing that being injured in a truck accident is an overwhelming experience, we will offer you knowledge, compassion, and aggressive representation.
What is an oversized load?
A truck carrying an oversized or overweight load is one that exceeds California’s legal load, width, height, and weight limits:
- Gross weight — 80,000 lbs.
- Width — 8 feet, 6 inches
- Height –14 feet
- Length — 40 feet for single unit, 53 feet for semi-trailer on designated highways, 65 feet overall length on all other roads
Permits are required for oversized loads that exceed these limits. Generally, the permit limits for loads in California are as follows:
- Gross weight — Depends on axles (e.g. single axle, 20,000 lbs., tandem axles, 60,000 lbs.)
- Width — Up to 15 feet (16 feet for mobile homes)
- Height — Up to 17 feet (a minimum of 3 feet clearance is required)
- Length — Up to 135 feet
Despite these permitting requirements, unscrupulous trucking companies and truck drivers often transport oversized cargo unlawfully.
Other California Oversized Load Regulations
In addition to width, height, length, and weight limits and permitted requirements, other regulations apply to oversized loads:
- Travel Restrictions — The time periods that an oversized load can travel in are restricted in certain areas. No travel is permitted between 6 and 9 a.m. in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, and San Francisco, and travel is not permitted on holidays.
- Pilot/Escort Cars — Some oversized loads require pilot or escort cars, depending on the length, width, and height. If the length of the oversized truck is more than 100 feet, for example, the vehicle must be accompanied by one escort car in the front and one in the rear. Similarly, both front and rear pilot cars are required with loads 15 feet wide. If the width is 12 to 15 feet, a front pilot car is required on two lane roads and in the rear on four lane roads. If the load is 17 feet high, pilot cars equipped with height poles are necessary.
- Signs and Flashing Lights — All trucks carrying oversized loads are required to display banners warning about the load (e.g. wide load). Additionally, the top of the truck must be equipped with flashing lights.
Common Oversized Truck Accidents
The increased weight and size of an oversized load makes it more difficult to maneuver and control than a typical commercial truck or tractor-trailer. In addition, the stopping distance of a truck carrying an oversized load is far longer than the stopping distance of a fully loaded big rig. Finally, trucks that are higher than 14 feet are not permitted to travel under certain bridges due to the risk of the vehicle striking a bridge and becoming wedged underneath it, potentially causing a bridge collapse. All of these factors contribute to common oversized load truck accidents, including:
- Rollovers — Rollovers can occur when the cargo weighs more or is loaded improperly. As an example, a top-heavy cargo placement can easily tip the vehicle into a rollover. Rollovers can also occur when the truck loses control and drives into soft dirt on the roadside.
- Blowouts — The additional weight placed on tires by an oversized load increases the risk of a blowout, particularly if the tires are not in good condition or have not been properly inspected before a haul. A blowout makes it more difficult for a truck driver to control and oversized load, which can lead to collisions with passenger vehicles.
- Jackknifing — Excess weight also increases the risk of an oversized truck jackknifing, which occurs when the load moves at a faster rate than the cab pulling it. Jackknife truck accidents can be the result of trucker slamming on the brakes, sudden stops in traffic or truck driver distraction.
Who is liable in an oversized truck accident?
Both the trucking company and the truck driver can be held liable in an oversized truck accident that results in injuries to occupants of other vehicles. Trucking companies have an obligation to ensure that vehicles in their fleet are properly maintained and truck drivers are required to inspect their vehicles before a haul. In particular, improper maintenance of brakes and tires increases the risk of an oversized truck accident. Finally, the party responsible for loading the truck (e.g. the trucking company, the trucker, or a freight or warehouse operator) can also be held liable for an accident caused by an improperly loaded oversized truck.
Contact Our Experienced California Oversized Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a truck carrying an oversized load, J&Y Law can help. We will take the time to understand your concerns, explain all your rights, and explore your options for obtaining just compensation. If a loved one has died as a result of an oversized truck accident, you may have a legal basis for a wrongful death lawsuit. When you consult us, we will provide you with the powerful representation you need and the personal attention you deserve. Please contact our office today to speak with our truck accident lawyers. We offer free consultations and you will not pay any attorneys’ fees to us until we recover for you.