Sometimes accidents are just accidents. Other times, accidents happen because of erratic or careless driving. When the accident involves an 18-wheeler, the path to recovery can be complicated. If you or a loved one were hit by a semi-truck, you know it can be devastating and you must seek assistance from a Fort Collins truck accident lawyer.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are inherently more complicated than personal vehicle accidents. There are more liable parties to consider, more laws to consider, and the injuries and damages tend to be more severe. Making matters worse, truck drivers often feel pressure to move cargo quickly and maximize profits. To make more money for themselves and their companies, truck drivers often drive for many hours and risk fatigue. Although the law requires truck drivers to rest for specific periods before continuing to drive, some drivers ignore this requirement to meet the schedule outlined by their employers. This type of greed and carelessness often leads to devastating accidents. Unfortunately, tight deadlines aren’t the only cause of truck accidents. Our experienced trucking accident attorneys in Fort Collins can assist you identifying other potential causes of your accident.
Proper and consistent maintenance is an essential part of trucking safety. Improper tire maintenance, for example, is a common cause of truck accidents. Trucking companies must routinely check tires for wear and keep them inflated to the proper pressure. A blowout can have significant consequences.
Properly maintaining a truck might seem like common sense. But while a truck is getting maintained, the trucking company is not making any money. For this reason, it’s tempting for some trucking companies to forgo necessary maintenance on their fleet. This is an unsafe and risky practice.
Improper Cargo Loading
Improperly loaded cargo makes the vehicle less responsive to steering and braking maneuvers, which can cause a driver to lose control. Shifting cargo can cause a truck to roll, jackknife, or even swerve into oncoming traffic. Trucking companies or even third-party brokers are responsible for establishing procedures that address payload characteristics during loading and unloading. Failing to do so could result in an accident and a lawsuit.
Alcohol and substance abuse among truck drivers risks the lives of everyone on the road—including the driver. According to a report by Reuters, as many as 30% of truck drivers admitted to using amphetamines.
Suppose a driver has issues with drug abuse or has a positive drug test result. In that case, the employer should ensure the employee completes substance abuse education and treatment before returning to work.
Determining Liability After a Truck Accident
Tort law allows an injured party to recover compensation when another party acts negligently. So, when it comes to proving liability, the goal is for the injured party to prove either negligence or strict liability to recover compensation.
Generally, a party is negligent if they failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances and someone else suffered an injury. Drivers not using reasonable care or violating safety regulations cause most truck accidents.
Reasonable care includes controlling the movement and speed of the truck. If the driver caused an accident because they were checking their phone rather than paying attention to the road, they were likely negligent.
Negligence could also occur when a driver violates a relevant regulation. For example, Colorado requires all commercial trucks driving on I-70 between mileposts 133 and 259 between September 1 and May 31 to carry chains at all times. If a truck driver violates this regulation and an accident occurs, the violation can establish a clear-cut case of driver negligence.
When an accident involves strict liability, negligence is not a factor. Instead, parties who are strictly liable are responsible regardless of whether or not they acted wrongly. In a strict liability case, designers, manufacturers, and any company involved in a product’s chain of distribution could be held liable if a defective product causes a truck accident.
Faulty equipment, like brakes, tires, engine parts, or cargo straps, could support a potential strict liability claim. To learn whether strict liability applies in your case, consider consulting with the 18-wheeler accident lawyers at Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
Semi-truck accidents differ from private vehicle accidents because there may be multiple potential negligent parties. Truck drivers and truck companies have additional regulations concerning loading requirements, weight requirements, and inspections that they must comply with. Because of the numerous parties and additional rules involved in truck accidents, it might be difficult to discern who is liable for your accident without the help of 18-wheeler accident attorneys in Fort Collins.
Is the Trucking Company Liable?
Commercial trucking companies maintain trucks and hire and train drivers. If the trucking company fails to ensure its drivers and trucks meet the highest levels of safety, a jury could find negligence.
If the negligent truck driver was an employee of the trucking company (as opposed to an independent contractor), the company might also be vicariously responsible for the employee’s actions. This might be the case even if the company did not act negligently. A truck accident lawyer in Fort Collins can help determine whether the driver, trucking company, or both might be liable in your case.
When Is a Manufacturer Liable?
If a part on the truck malfunctions or breaks and causes an accident, liability may fall on the manufacturer. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the parts a trucking company uses are safe and in working order.
Can Cargo Loaders Be Liable?
Either the trucking company or a subcontractor who loads the truck is responsible for loading it correctly and safely. If the cargo shifts during transportation due to incorrect loading or packaging and an accident occurs, cargo loaders could be responsible for damages.
When a Maintenance Company Is Negligent
If a truck maintenance company fails to exercise reasonable care, it can also be found negligent. Negligent repairs occur when a mechanic performs insufficient work or neglects to fix the vehicle’s problem. Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosing obvious problems, ignoring or failing to replace damaged parts, and damaging other parts while making repairs are all examples of possible maintenance company negligence.
Fort Collins Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help
Without specialized knowledge of trucking laws, navigating your way to an appropriate recovery can be burdensome. The attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. are Fort Collins truck accident lawyers who will take the burden off of your shoulders. Attorney and law firm partner Dr. Eric Steiner has 20 years of experience in law and 17 years of experience as a doctor—so he is particularly knowledgeable and helpful in cases involving injuries.
We also handle other types personal injury cases, such as:
- Personal Injury
- Medical Malpractice
- Criminal Defense
- Railroad Accidents
- Estate Planning and Probate
- Fiduciary & Estate Litigation
- Employment Law
- Civil Rights
- Appellate Work
With nearly 70 years of combined experience, our partners want you to rest easy knowing your case is in good hands. If a semi-truck accident upended your life, call us today at 720-821-6137.