Coal Truck Accident Attorney Serving Ashland & Paintsville
The mountainous landscape of eastern Kentucky makes driving any type of large vehicle difficult. With a higher center of gravity, it is easy for a truck, van, or SUV to misjudge its turning speed and cause a rollover accident that can affect everyone on the road. Severe as these accidents can be for a passenger vehicle, large coal hauling trucks have even worse consequences.
The Problems With Overloading
The coal hauling business is one of the least regulated industries on Kentucky’s highways. The legal weight limit for a coal truck is 120,000 pounds, which is 40,000 pounds over the maximum for non-industry vehicles. Many of these trucks travel with loads several thousand pounds over this already high limit.
The problems associated with overweight coal trucks have been known for decades. The increased weight makes them more difficult to handle and increases the risk of tip-over accidents that are often fatal for those in smaller vehicles like cars and motorcycles. In addition to rollover accidents, jackknifing and under-ride incidents are common.
Even the weight of the trucks themselves is often far in excess of what the road is designed to handle. On rural roads, a legally loaded coal truck can be five to six times the weight limit. Even on highways, the weight limit is less than the coal truck exemption. This extra weight damages the roads and means coal trucks are often surrounded by dust, reducing visibility.
Lack of Consequences for Overloading
When a driver is caught with an overloaded coal truck, he or she is often only given a minimal fine and sent on his or her way. Nothing is done to penalize the driver further or the coal industry that requires drivers to continue operating overweight trucks to make a profit. The minimum fine for overloading is $60 and the maximum is $500. This is paid by the drivers.
These factors unique to Kentucky’s coal trucking industry are further compounded by the more common factors that plague truckers. Many teamsters are forced to function on little sleep and with improperly maintained and inspected equipment. Distracted haulers misread conditions and mishandle their vehicles.
What You Need to Do
As with any other kind of trucking accident, the first action you need to take is getting the name of the driver and his or her company. If you were not personally involved in the incident, do your best to gather all the information available. This includes witness statements and accident reports. A good personal injury lawyer can help you gain access to these documents.
Record everything discovered in the course of the investigation, whether that means keeping in touch with the authorities, collecting medical records, or just observations about the truck driver’s handling of the vehicle and actions after the accident. Some of the best information for your case can be about how the truck driver was acting – like if he or she seemed tired or intoxicated. You can also contact an accident reconstructionist, which may be key in determining all the factors leading to an accident and establishing fault.
Do not attempt to negotiate with the trucking companies on your own. These concerns are familiar to their lawyers, who understand how to use it to their best advantage. To win against the trucking industry, you need equally skilled assistance on your side.
Coal trucks are commercial vehicles subject to the documentation requirements imposed by Kentucky on tractor-trailer rigs. A legal expert can help determine whether the truck driver and his or her company were obeying the legal restrictions. If they were not, you have a very strong case for negligence. In the event that you or a loved one have been harmed in a coal truck accident, contact Salyer Law.
We are skilled legal professionals who have devoted time and effort understanding both state and federal laws regarding trucking accidents. Once we take your case, we will put all our resources into discovering the circumstances of the accident, including speaking with specialists, witnesses, and responders. We are familiar with the trucking industry and understand how to get you a fair settlement.