If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, contact The Fang Law Firm as soon as possible. Our Denver truck accident lawyers have dedicated our practice to holding responsible parties accountable and recovering full and fair compensation for injured people.
In a collision between a passenger vehicle and a tractor-trailer weighing up to 80,000 lbs., passenger vehicle occupants are likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries. As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,317 fatal large truck crashes in a recent year.
Occupants of passenger vehicles often suffer serious or fatal injuries in a collision with a large commercial truck. Truck accidents are high-value claims and complex cases involving multiple potentially responsible parties and federal regulations.
Trucking companies and their insurers have teams of lawyers standing by, ready to fight your claim so they can deny liability or reduce the amount they pay out.
Our experienced truck accident attorneys in Denver can thoroughly investigate the accident to identify all responsible parties. We may work with accident reconstruction and other experts to show how the crash occurred and who is liable. We can obtain and preserve evidence, assess the full extent of your losses, and fight for the compensation you deserve, in or out of court.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry. FMCSA reports that in 2017:
NHTSA states that of the traffic deaths caused by large truck crashes in 2016:
In 2015, 116,000 people were hurt in large truck accidents in the U.S.
Although other drivers sometimes cause truck accidents, a large percentage of these serious crashes are the fault of the truck driver or trucking company.
NHTSA reports that driver distraction was a factor in six percent of fatal large truck crashes from 2014 to 2016, 16% of which was related to cell phone use. Other major factors associated with commercial trucks and their drivers found in a large study conducted by FMCSA and NHTSA include:
One of the most challenging aspects of a truck accident case is that one may easily involve multiple defendants. A truck accident could implicate the driver, the trucking company, a distributor, a maintenance technician, or a combination of these parties.
Trucking accidents often result from driver errors, but there may be other elements beyond the driver’s control that contribute to an accident.
The parties involved in a trucking accident will want to conduct a thorough investigation of the event, but physical evidence may not last long at the accident scene once the police and emergency crews start clearing the site and restoring the flow of traffic.
Vehicle computer data from all vehicles involved can help pinpoint crash times and driver actions leading up to the crash, and this evidence may help establish liability for the accident. Ultimately, the victim, another driver, any entity in the supply chain of the truck and its shipment, or a combination of these parties could bear liability for a trucking accident.
When a defective vehicle or vehicle part causes an accident, the manufacturer of the defective item will be liable for any resulting claims from the victims. In a product liability claim, the plaintiff must prove the product in question was defective and the sole cause of the plaintiff’s claimed damages.
If poor maintenance resulted in an equipment failure, the organization responsible for the truck’s maintenance, or the technician who performed the faulty maintenance will face liability for the resulting damages.
A trucking company will bear liability for a truck accident if the company failed to properly vet and train the driver, or if the company hired a driver without conducting appropriate background checks.
A truck driver will face liability if the accident occurred while the driver was off-duty or using the truck for purposes other than job duties. The driver will also face liability if the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
A third party, such as another private driver, could cause a trucking accident that injures other drivers. Those drivers would have grounds for personal injury claims against the negligent third party.
A distributor or shipping service provider may face liability if they improperly pack a trailer for transport. A poorly balanced load can cause a truck to tip over around a curve, and special types of cargo require specific safety equipment. For example, car-carriers, logging trucks, dump trucks, and flatbed trucks for transporting building materials all have specific safety requirements loaders must meet.
If road damage or poor road maintenance causes an accident, the local, state, or federal government agency responsible for the road could absorb liability. However, taking legal action against any government entity is more difficult than pursuing legal action against another private party; some of these entities have immunity from civil liability.
One of the most important documents a driver can secure after a trucking accident is the police report. Because physical evidence may not last long after the police arrive, having an account of their initial findings in an official report can be very valuable to a future lawsuit.
Private vehicle drivers are responsible for their vehicles and their conduct on the road, but commercial truck drivers face a higher duty of care due to the nature of their work and the inherently more dangerous nature of their vehicles.
Tractor-trailers spend much more time on the road than average passenger vehicles and generally drive for much longer periods at a time. This creates tremendous strain on the mechanical structures of trucks, and therefore multiple parties are responsible for the safe operation of these vehicles.
Commercial trucking companies must also follow federal regulations. The FMCSA upholds strict regulations concerning hours of service for drivers, required training and certifications, and proper vehicle maintenance schedules.
Violations of any applicable regulations can not only help prove liability in a trucking accident case, but the resulting investigations may also help expose unethical or illegal practices in a trucking company or other organization, hopefully preventing future accidents from the same cause.
The other major factor that sets trucking accidents apart from accidents with smaller vehicles is the potential damage these accidents can entail. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer is exponentially larger and heavier than the average passenger car and has a higher center of gravity.
This makes a large truck more vulnerable to forces from the sides and more susceptible to tip-overs and rollovers. It is common for a tractor-trailer to get into an accident that damages multiple other vehicles and injures multiple drivers.
The first steps you take after a truck accident can have a dramatic impact on your future lawsuit or ability to sue.
Your first priority should be your personal safety and well-being. Check yourself for injuries and leave your vehicle only if you feel well enough to do so. Check your passengers for injuries before checking on the other drivers involved in the accident. If you do not feel well enough to move, call 911 unless someone else already has and wait for paramedics to arrive.
If you can move about after the accident, do so slowly to avoid aggravating any injuries you may not have noticed yet. The adrenaline from the crash can dull pain sensations and you may feel completely fine until a few hours after the crash or even the next day.
If possible, take photos of the accident scene before the police start to clear it away. Try to take pictures of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicles involved, and notable landmarks near the accident site. You should also take pictures of the truck at its final resting position after the accident, skid marks and debris in the road, and any other elements that seem important. If in doubt, photograph it.
If other drivers or passersby witnessed the accident, be sure to obtain their contact information before leaving the scene. The police will also likely want to interview witnesses and will include their statements in the police report.
When the police ask you what happened, answer honestly and concisely, and avoid saying anything they could misconstrue as an admission of guilt. Even a seemingly innocuous phrase like “I’m sorry” could implicate you later.
Even if you believe you only suffered minor injuries, the adrenaline from the accident may make it impossible to tell how injured you really are at first. Your doctor can conduct a physical exam and check your injuries, and then provide a medical report that lists your injuries and potential for future complications. This will be an invaluable document for a future lawsuit.
Before you attempt to deal with insurance companies or any other official actions related to your truck accident, retain the services of a Denver truck accident attorney you can trust to handle your case. Your attorney will help you determine your eligibility for insurance coverage and help you determine your best options for legal recovery. Do not speak with any claims adjusters until you have an attorney and your attorney has advised you on how to approach discussions with claims adjusters.
Finding the right Denver trucking accident attorney is a tremendous asset after an accident with a commercial truck in Colorado.
Our Denver accident attorneys at The Fang Law Firm are tough advocates for people injured through the negligence of others. Call our office today to schedule a consultation with our Denver truck accident lawyers if you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a serious truck accident.