Understand the Dangers of Large Trucks on Colorado Roadways
Large commercial trucks are a natural part of the nation’s commerce system and these vehicles are used constantly to transport cargo from coast to coast across the United States. While truck drivers and the companies that employ them serve an important role in the country’s economy, they also pose a serious danger to other drivers on American roadways due to their massive size.
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Federal Trucking Regulations – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Every year, approximately half a million truck accidents happen in the United States. Of this number, about five thousand results in fatalities. Most of the victims in these accidents are the drivers and passengers of conventional vehicles. Negligent or reckless driving is always dangerous, but the danger increases when the driver is operating a vehicle weighing five tons or more.
For this reason, the federal government has enacted a series of laws designed to regulate truck drivers and the companies that employ them. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established these safety measures in order to protect other motorists.
Federal trucking regulations include:
- Mandatory rest periods
- Proper loading of the vehicle including certain weight restrictions
- Regular inspections
- Zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol use
- Training for all drivers
Failure to observe these regulations could result in death or serious injury. Other motorists have a right to be protected from irresponsible commercial drivers. When a negligent commercial truck driver refuses to adhere to federal and state trucking regulations, fatal collisions can occur. In the event of a trucking accident, you must take immediate legal action by seeking counsel from our Denver truck accident lawyers at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
In 2020, large truck crashes killed 81 people in Colorado. Because commercial trucks are enormous, even minor truck accidents can cause heavy damage and injury. But knowing the common causes of semi-truck accidents can help you avoid or prevent them.
The most common causes of commercial truck accidents include the following.
- Alcohol and drug use—The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) considers a CDL commercial motor vehicle operator under the influence of alcohol if they drive with a 0.04% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level or more.
- Brake and other mechanical failures—Trucks can carry up to 80,000 pounds of cargo, straining a truck’s braking system and leading to rear-end collisions and runaway semis. But any truck part can fail and contribute to dangerous accidents.
- Distracted Driving—In 2020, 248 truck drivers in the U.S. were involved in fatal crashes caused by distracted driving. Anything that stops a driver from focusing on the road—like talking or texting on a cell phone—is a distraction.
- Overloaded and poorly loaded cargo—Poorly secured cargo can cause items to fall onto a roadway and cause accidents. And trucks carrying cargo over the allowed weight limit can suffer blowouts, jack-knife, or even tip over.
- Speeding—Speeding is one of the top causes of accidents on Colorado roadways. In 2020, 23% of all fatal truck accidents in the U.S. involved trucks driving at unsafe speeds.
- Unsafe road conditions—Road construction and poor road maintenance, including temporary traffic signs, last-minute detours, and poorly lit or maintained roads, commonly lead to truck accidents. In fact, in 2020, 26% of all fatal work-zone crashes in the U.S. involved large trucks;
- Night driving—In 2020, 39% of all fatal Colorado truck crashes involved trucks driving at dusk, dawn, or at night.
- Reckless driving—Reckless driving includes unsafe passing, failing to yield the right of way, and road rage behaviors like tailgating and cutting other drivers off.
Truck wrecks caused by driver fatigue happen so often they deserve their own paragraph.
Driving drowsy and driver fatigue is so common that it’s one of the reasons the FMCSA regulates the number of hours a commercial truck driver can drive. For truckers, driver fatigue amounts to being tired or sleepy while operating the truck.
Unfortunately, companies often pressure truck drivers to quickly get from one place to another.
Truck drivers are also often paid by the mile. In other words, the more they drive, the more money they earn. So while the FMCSA limits how many hours truck operators are allowed to drive each day, drivers commonly ignore these regulations.
Common Injuries Following Truck Accidents
Because of their size and weight, semi-truck accidents can result in catastrophic injury. In fact, large trucks can weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars. But even a minor injury can cost you days off from work and medical bills.
Some of the most common types of truck accident-related injuries include:
- Bruises and lacerations,
- Back and neck injuries,
- Broken bones,
- Internal bleeding,
- Loss of sight,
- Burn injuries,
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Spinal cord injuries, and
- Amputated limbs.
If you were injured in a commercial truck crash, the Denver 18-wheeler accident attorneys at Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. can help. Our experienced professionals will be there to fight tirelessly for the money you need to set you on a path to recovery. We’ll handle the details so you can focus on healing.
Determining Liability for a Truck Accident
Determining fault in a truck accident can be complicated. Because more than one party can be to blame for an accident, it’s often challenging to figure out who the at-fault party is. If the trucking company knowingly allowed the driver to drive more than the FMCSA’s mandated hours of service, the company could be liable. If the shipping or loading company fails to secure the truck’s cargo properly, they could be liable. And if the truck maintenance company failed to maintain the truck, or if a parts manufacturer provided a defective part, they could be liable.
Colorado is also a proportional comparative fault state. This means that if the injury victim is 49% or less at fault for the truck accident, they can collect damages. However, if an injury victim is 50% or more at fault, they cannot collect damages. So if an investigation determines that a victim is 40% at fault because they were texting while driving, their settlement would be reduced by 40%.
Since it’s possible to hold several parties liable, consulting a Denver truck accident attorney is essential. A trucking accident attorney can review your case, investigate your accident, and determine each party’s level of responsibility.
Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents in CO
Colorado law allows truck accident victims to file claims for up to three years after the accident. If the truck accident victim does not file their claim within the three-year statutory period, they will not be able to recover compensation. However, there are certain exceptions to this timeframe:
- The Discovery Rule: In some cases, it may not be immediately apparent that an injury resulted from the accident. Under the discovery rule, the plaintiff has a period of time to file a lawsuit from the moment the injury is discovered, rather than when it initially occurred.
- Tolling: Certain circumstances beyond the plaintiff’s control may impede the progression of the case. This can result in the case being “tolled” or delayed until the issue is resolved. Examples of tolling situations include when the victim is mentally incapacitated to file a suit, the defendant declares bankruptcy, foreign objects remain in the victim’s body, or the victim was below 18 years old at the time of the accident.
- Multiple Causes of Action: If the plaintiff has several legal claims arising from a single accident, it may be possible to file a lawsuit even after the statute of limitations has expired for one of the claims.
How Is Injury Compensation Calculated?
A truck crash injury can be life-altering. Victims can amass medical bills and other expenses, and the injury can make it challenging to work or perform daily tasks.
In Colorado, you might be able to collect compensation for these losses. However, the amount an insurance company or court awards depends on the severity and types of damages the victim suffered.
Expenses a victim could recover include compensation for:
- Lost wages,
- Lost earning capacity,
- Medical bills,
- Future medical bills,
- Rehabilitation costs,
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of enjoyment,
- Loss of consortium,
- Mental anguish, and
- Property damage.
In Colorado, a victim might also be able to recover punitive damages. However, punitive damages are relatively rare. They are only awarded in trucking accident lawsuits when a party’s actions are particularly egregious or amount to gross negligence.
How do I File a Lawsuit?
If the liable party’s insurance company doesn’t offer a fair settlement, the first step is to consult with an experienced Denver truck accident lawyer. We will review your case, investigate the accident, and determine if there are other liable parties. If you decide to go forward with a suit, an attorney will also:
- Collect evidence,
- Interview witnesses,
- Send a demand letter,
- Attempt to negotiate a settlement,
- Prepare for trial if your case does not settle, and
- Argue your case to a jury.
Our experienced Denver truck accident lawyers know that an injury can affect your life, employment, and security. That’s why Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., will fight tirelessly to protect your rights. You deserve maximum compensation for your injuries, and we will work hard to ensure you get it.
Recommended Reading: The Complete Guide to Filing a Truck Accident Claim in Colorado
Call Our Denver Truck Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, speak with a Denver truck accident attorney from Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. right away. We offer free initial consultations, so obtaining the information you need to make a decision regarding your potential claim is risk-free.
Our experienced lawyers also handles other types of injury cases, including:
- Auto Vehicle Accidents
- Product Defects
- Wrongful Death Claim
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Trip and Fall
- Pedestrian / Bicycle Accidents
- Railroad / FELA Injuries
- Construction Site Accidents
- Catastrophic Injuries
Contact our office today to set up a time for your free consultation with a trusted accident attorney.