Every-now-and-then, you hear about a truck that tried to go under a bridge but struck the bridge because the oversized load was too tall or it was so wide it didn’t fit between the bridge pillars. In addition to severely damaging the truck and bridge, this often winds up with other innocent motorists being injured by the wreckage itself in the roadway causing another wreck or by falling debris from the structurally damaged bridge. To properly determine who is liable, the truck accident lawyer you hire needs to know look at the permits and use them to his advantage to identify the cause of the collision.
Pulling the Permits
Oversized loads are not permitted to travel on Texas highways without the proper permit obtained from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). In the application, the truck driver must disclose a significant amount of material that may be beneficial in identifying the proper parties and determining responsibility. This information includes:
- The vehicle make, model, year, license plate number, and VIN;
- The load, height, width, gross weight, dimensions, and overhang;
- The route information;
- Loan origination and destination points, and;
- Permit movement date.
The oversized load permitting information can be obtained using a Freedom of Information Act Request to the appropriate department of TxDot.
Route and Traffic Studies
Many requirements must be met for a load permit to be issued for an oversized load. One specific requirement under Texas law to be aware of is the requirement of a Route and Traffic Study for certain vehicles. When a vehicle load exceeds 20 feet in width or 19 feet in height, the State of Texas requires the permit applicant to have had someone from their company physically go out and inspect the route to ensure that the truck with the oversized load can safely navigate the path. The inspector who conducts this Route and Traffic Study must certify by letter or fax that the oversized load can safely negotiate the route.
Using the Oversized Load Permit to Establish Liability
If the TxDot rules for oversized loads are followed, collisions with bridges and other permanent structures simply should not occur. This document can be an important tool in establishing why the accident happened. Some of the causes may include:
- The company employee either lied in the certification or miscalculated the route, thereby causing the accident;
- The truck driver failed to follow the established route;
- The load height or width was misstated in the application, or;
- The truck driver altered the load to change the height and/or width.
This document can be an important tool in defending against the truck driver’s defense that TxDot approved the route. If the trucking company filed false information, the fact that they approved something false helps to prevent them from shifting blame for an accident they caused.