Truck Accidents Lawyer
You might not think that there are any big differences between a collision with a car and a collision with a commercial truck. But in truth, there are two very important differences that you should know about, especially if you have been involved in a crash with an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer, box truck, or commercial vehicle:
- Truck accidents result in more damage and injury. Trucks are significantly bigger and heavier than other vehicles on the road. In fact, a large truck with cargo can legally weigh 80,000 pounds. When 80,000 pounds crash into your vehicle at any speed, the damage can be significant and the injuries could be permanent.
- Truck accidents are more complex legally. Non-commercial drivers are responsible for their actions behind the wheel, and only rarely are other parties involved in a wreck (such as a municipality or an auto manufacturer). But when you are struck by a commercial vehicle, a number of parties may be to blame, including the driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, the owner of the trailer, the truck’s mechanic, etc.
Because truck accidents are more serious and more complex than most traffic accidents, it is all the more important that you speak with an experienced, knowledgeable Colorado truck accident attorney after your crash. At Zaner Harden Law, we are extremely familiar with these accidents and can help you secure the justice and compensation that you and your family deserve.
Understanding the Trucking Industry in Denver and Colorado
The trucking industry is a significant part of the both the U.S. and the Colorado economy. Because of our reliance on trucks for shipping goods, each year the number of large trucks on the road grows.
Registered Large Trucks in the US: 2006 – 2015
Here are a few fast facts from the Colorado Motor Carriers Association:
- The trucking industry employs almost 100,000 people across the state, or about 1 in 20 jobs in Colorado.
- There were 12,660 trucking companies in Colorado as of 2014, many of them small, locally-owned businesses.
- About 90 percent of manufactured goods sold in Colorado are moved by trucks, and 80 percent of Colorado communities receive their goods solely through trucks.
While trucking companies bring a lot of good with them to our state, there are also a number of problems and concerns with the industry. Trucking companies who violate federal and state commercial vehicle regulations endanger others on the roads, and far too many companies cut corners and break laws in order to increase their profits. For every great trucking company making the world better, there is one who might be negligent or grossly negligent–an issue that leads to loss of life during highway and interstate truck accidents.
Trucking Accidents and the I-70 Corridor
Snaking East/West through the Rocky Mountain front, the Interstate 70 is a popular throughway for both truckers and non-commercial drivers. Trucks use the highway to get to and from Summit County, while long-haul truckers use the road as they pass through the state. At the same time, skiers use I-70 to access Colorado’s famous resorts, including Vail and Aspen, in the winter and spring, and to access hiking, fishing, and outdoor recreation in the summer and fall months.
Because the road is crowded with a mix of traffic, and also because the road bends through various mountain passes and rough terrain, it is a hotbed of trucking accidents year round. The causes of these accidents vary, but you should speak with a truck accident lawyer if you have been involved in a I-70 trucking crash.
Truck Accident Facts and Statistics Across Colorado and the United States
Just how often are there commercial truck and tractor-trailer accidents in Denver and Colorado? Here are a few facts from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
- In 2014, there were 62 large truck and bus fatalities in Colorado.
- Each year in Colorado, between 40 and 50 trucks are involved in fatal crashes.
- Over 500 truck-car crashes each year in Colorado involve serious injuries.
- Each year in Colorado, there are about 2,000 collisions between large truck and passenger vehicles.
Of course, truck accidents are not just a phenomenon of Denver and Colorado.
Large Trucks and Injury Crashes: 2006 – 2015
Each year in the United States:
- There are about 400,000 large truck accidents across the country.
- Between 4,000 and 5,000 Americans lose their lives in truck accidents each year–about 10 percent of all fatal crashes.
- An astonishing 75 percent of truck accident fatalities involves passengers in non-truck vehicle.
- Between 400 and 500 bicycle riders are killed by large trucks each year in the U.S., and about 2,000 are injured.
The Most Common Causes of Tractor-Trailer & Trucking Accidents
Unlike passenger car accidents and pick-up truck accidents, commercial truck and 18-wheeler accidents can have causes that aren’t obvious at first. Here are just a few more common causes of truck accidents in Colorado and the United States:
- Distracted driving. Because truckers are in their vehicle for many hours each week, they may fall victim to distracted driving. This could include anything from using a mobile device to watching television to eating a meal to using an on-board computer for work.
- Driving under the influence. There are strict regulations regarding commercial drivers drinking or using drugs, and incidents have fallen greatly in the past two decades. Yet a surprising number of truckers are still found to be drinking or using drugs while on the job.
- Fatigued driving. One of the most common causes of truck accidents is tired drivers who have been on the road too long or who haven’t gotten enough sleep. Many believe that regulations regarding how long truckers can drive safely over a day and over a week should be stricter, but trucking companies have pushed back.
- Speeding. Truckers and truck companies make more money when they deliver goods faster. So it’s no surprise that speeding is a big issue in the trucking industry and a very common cause of truck accidents. And remember: trucks shouldn’t be going as fast as other cars on the road because of their size and weight.
- Mechanical failures. Some truck accidents occur when part of the truck fails–such as its tires or the hitch to the trailer. In some cases, mechanical failures take place because truck owners or trucking companies do not properly maintain or fix their vehicles in order to save money.
- Unsafe loads. Trucks that are carrying too much weight can crash–and cause significant damage when they do. At the same time, trucks trailers that are loaded improperly can cause the vehicle to sway or roll, taking out any vehicles in its path.
- Poor driver vetting. Truck drivers must have special commercial licenses as well as a stellar record in order to stay on the road. If a truck company doesn’t properly vet a driver they hire, or if they neglect to fire a troubled driver, they may be liable for the accident.
- Defective truck parts. In some cases, a defective auto part may have caused the truck accident. For example, a bad tire could blow, causing the truck to lose balance, sway, and roll.
Who Is Liable In A Trucking Accident?
There are several entities that could be liable after a tractor-trailer accident in Colorado. In some cases, more than one party will be liable, and damages should be divided between all responsible parties in a proportional manner. These liable parties could include:
- The truck driver or owner. The truck driver may have been driving recklessly, under the influence, or distracted at the time of the accident.
- The trucking company or leasing company. The trucking company could have failed to vet the driver, ignored federal trucking regulations, or failed to maintain the vehicle.
- A manufacturer. The manufacturer of the cab, the trailer, the hitch, or the tires could be responsible for an accident if it produced a defective or dangerous product that malfunctioned before or during the crash.
- The shipper or truck loader. If the company shipping the cargo and loading the truck do their job badly, items may shift during transport, causing an accident. Or an overloaded truck may experience issues braking and cause an accident.
An experienced Colorado truck accident lawyer can help you understand who is liable for your truck accident injuries and find evidence to back up your claims.
Four Things To Do After A Truck Accident
Being involved in a 18-wheeler accident can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you are injured. Still, it is vital that you know what is most important in the hours, days, and weeks, after your crash. Here are the four steps every accident victim should take.
- See a doctor as soon as possible. Caring for your health is more important than anything else: if you are not taken to the hospital via ambulance, be sure to get examined at the scene of the crash and schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Be aware that some injuries may be covered by adrenaline and others may take time to surface, such as traumatic brain injuries.
- Collect all possible evidence. We understand that you are probably not healthy enough to sleuth around the wreckage and solve the mystery of what happened, but even if you can take down witness names and snap a few pictures with your phone, you could hold on to evidence that will help you win your truck accident injury case down the road.
- Don’t bend under pressure. Truck companies are very, very familiar with fighting accident and injury claims. One tactic they will use, along with the insurance companies, is to convince you to make a recorded statement without an attorney or to settle for much less than your case is worth. Don’t do either. Contact a tractor-trailer accident attorney. When it comes to these cases, we have just as much experience as the truck companies and we can level the playing field. Schedule a consultation today to speak with our team.