Denver Semi-Truck Accident Lawyers
Commercial trucks like 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, big rig and tractor trailers can weigh as much as 40 tons and thus have the potential to cause severe injuries if there is an accident. When a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident, it is much more likely to result in fatalities and serious injuries than a simple automobile accident. Unfortunately, commercial truck accidents are not uncommon. There are approximately 500,000 commercial truck accidents each year in the United States, and about 5,000 of those accidents involve a fatality. One out of every eight traffic-related deaths involves a trucking accident.
Colorado and Wyoming Interstate Truck Accidents
Semitrucks are common along Interstate 80 in southern Wyoming and along Interstates 25 and 70 in Colorado. They travel at high rates of speed and cannot maneuver or make sudden stops the way that smaller vehicles can. Many times, the drivers of commercial trucks are from out of state and are unfamiliar with the local road and weather conditions; this results in many truck accidents in Colorado and Wyoming. Other possible causes of truck accidents include speeding, mechanical or brake failure, failure to yield, maintenance failure, overloaded trucks or tires, and driver fatigue.
Wyoming Roads are the Most Dangerous in the Country
Ironically, Wyoming's sparse population, along with Wyoming's rural nature, actually makes Wyoming's roads more deadly than any other state. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that, on a per capita basis, Wyoming had more car accident deaths than any other state. According to the study, there were 24.6 deaths annually per 100,000 residents in Wyoming. The high death rate on Wyoming's roads is attributable to several factors. First, Wyoming has the lowest seat belt use in the country, which makes accidents in Wyoming more deadly than in other states. Another factor which contributes to increased fatalities in Wyoming is the fact that police and paramedics are often several miles away when an accident occurs. In more densely populated states, emergency services are closer and can respond more quickly. Cars and trucks in Wyoming also tend to drive at higher speeds than in other states because there is less traffic, due to the small population. All of these factors combine to make Wyoming residents more likely to die in a car or truck accident than in any other state.
Icy Roads in Colorado Contribute to a High Number of Fatalities
Statistics from the National Highway Safety Administration show that Interstate 25 in Colorado ranks as the 74 th most deadly stretch of interstate in the country, with 0.55 traffic-related fatalities per mile over the course four years (2004-2008). Driving conditions in Colorado are challenging because of our unique climate. Snow storms are common, and these storms are often followed by days of warm sunshine. This leads to rapid snowmelt during the day, which then turns into ice at night. Colorado ranks high among the fifty states for icy road related fatalities. For the 2009-2010 season, only nine states had more icy road related deaths than Colorado.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents in Denver and Wyoming often result from code violations. The trucking industry is regulated by both state and federal laws; this includes driver licensing and training, driver testing for alcohol and drug use, vehicle safety, weight requirements, and road restrictions. Regulations and codes are often violated, however, as trucking companies sometimes put profits ahead of safety. Commercial truck drivers often violate laws which limit the number of hours that they can spend driving and sets minimum standards for the amount of time drivers must spend resting. These laws are called hours-of-service (HOS) rules. In addition, trucking companies may fail to provide adequate training to their drivers, or may fail to properly maintain their fleet of trucks.
Many truck accidents are caused by problems with the vehicle itself. This includes equipment failure (such as brake failure), poor maintenance (such as bald tires or broken taillights), overloading the truck, or failing to properly secure the cargo in the truck. Driver error is another common cause of trucking accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, conducted a large study to determine the most common causes of trucking accidents. This study, referred to as "The Large Truck Causation Study," investigated 967 accidents from all across the country. There were 251 deaths and 1,408 injuries in these accidents. The study concluded that the most common causes of truck accidents were:
Truck driver fatigue. Although there are laws that regulate how often truck drivers can go without stopping to rest, many commercial truck drivers feel pressure to meet deadlines, and therefore continue driving for several hours, even when they are tired. This can result in the driver either losing alertness and focus, or even falling asleep. One study found that someone who has been awake and driving for 18 hours is as dangerous as someone who is driving drunk.
Truck drivers who are unfamiliar with the roads they are traveling on. Many trucking accidents in Colorado and Wyoming occur because the truck driver is from out-of-state and is not familiar with the local road and weather conditions. The mountainous terrain and the sudden changes in weather in Colorado and Wyoming are especially challenging to drivers who are not experienced driving in these conditions.
Failure of the truck driver to check blind spots. A large commercial truck has blind spots on the sides as well as immediately in front of and immediately behind the truck. The truck driver's failure to check these blind spots before changing lanes was found to be a contributing factor in 14% of trucking accidents.
An illegal driving maneuver on the part of the truck driver is another common cause of trucking accidents. This includes failure to use turn signals or speeding.
Distracted driving. This includes not only talking or texting on a cell phone, but also drivers whose attention was diverted by other distractions such as roadwork or another accident.
Drug use. Prescription drugs and illegal drugs can affect the truck driver's attention span and reflexes, which contributes to a high number of trucking accidents. Many truck drivers take substances to help them stay awake, and these same substances can cause the driver to become overly fatigued when the stimulant effect wears off.
Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Semi-Trucks
Here are 10 tips you can follow in order to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident with a commercial truck:
- Avoid blinds spots. About one third of fatal accidents between large trucks and cars occur in the truck driver's blind spots. The bigger the truck is, the bigger the blind spots are. Position your car so that the truck driver can see you. If you cannot see the truck driver's mirror, then the truck driver cannot see you. Blind spots include not only the areas on the sides of the truck, but also areas immediately behind the truck and immediately in front of the truck. A truck driver may not be able to see the road immediately in front of the truck, and therefore you should not cut in front of the truck too closely.
- Avoid being sandwiched in between two large trucks. You do not want to be in a position where there is a large truck immediately in front of you and another one immediately behind you. If the truck in front of you suddenly slows down, you are at risk of crashing into the back of that truck; you are also at risk of being rear-ended by the truck behind you and being pushed into the truck in front of you.
- Do not abruptly cut in front of a large truck. A truck requires more time and distance to come to a stop. A car traveling at 55 mph can come to a stop in 240 feet, but a truck traveling at that same speed requires about 450 feet to come to a stop.
- As you pass a truck, wait until you can see the entire front of the truck in your rearview mirror before you change lanes. Also, do not slow down once you are in front of the truck.
- When passing a truck, do so quickly and avoid staying alongside the truck. If you are driving on the side of the truck, you may be in a blind spot. Therefore you should try to minimize the time spent along the side of the truck.
- When a large truck is coming from the opposite direction on the highway, move over a little bit to the right in order to reduce the wind turbulence that can be produced by large trucks. A sudden burst of wind from an oncoming eighteen wheeler can be enough to cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
- Do not follow too closely behind a truck. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the truck in front of you so that you have a better view of the road in front of you and can see what is going on in front of the truck.
- Pay attention to the truck's turn signals. Due to their large size, when a truck makes a right turn, it must first swing out to the left before going right. Be aware of this, and do not try to pass the truck on the left if the truck is signaling for a right hand turn.
- Move out of the way when large trucks are attempting to merge onto the highway. When you are approaching a truck weigh station, get out of the right hand lane so that the slow-moving trucks that are pulling back onto the road are able to merge back into traffic without having to avoid your car.
Avoid sudden moves when you are changing lanes near a truck. If you are preparing to change lanes, always use your turn signal and leave the signal on for a few extra seconds before you start to change lanes.
Why Hire The Maloney Law Firm For Your Truck Accident Case
Our experienced truck accident attorneys are familiar with the rules and regulations that apply to trucking companies and commercial truck drivers, which enables us to win your case by proving the fault of the truck driver who caused the accident. A truck accident lawsuit is more complex than an automobile or motorcycle accident. Oftentimes, more than one defendant must be named in the lawsuit, and more than one insurance policy is involved. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to investigate your case and obtain the necessary evidence to prove the negligence of the at-fault driver. We also have a track record of obtaining the best medical expert witnesses to testify regarding the injuries that you sustained in the accident. One of our attorneys is a medical doctor – we understand the nature of the physical injuries caused by the accident and can explain the science and medicine to the jury. If you or a family member has been involved in a trucking accident, contact The Mahoney Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation.
Personal Attention to Your Injury Case
Your truck accident case will get the attention it deserves. We do not take dozens of cases like other personal injury law firms. Nor do we advertise on television or the radio. We believe that the best results are achieved by only accepting a limited number of cases and giving those cases the attention that is warranted. When you call our law office, your call will be returned by an attorney, not a paralegal or a secretary. Once your case is filed, all of the attorneys in our firm will be intimately familiar with the status of your case, and we will keep you informed about what is going on. You will not get lost in the shuffle.
No Upfront Cost To You
We work on a contingency basis. This means you do not have to pay The Mahoney Law Firm, P.C. unless we obtain a settlement or judgment on your behalf. We do not bill you by the hour. You do not pay any attorney's fees unless and until a recovery is made on your behalf. Contact us for a free consultation.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents
What is a commercial truck? A commercial truck is a large vehicle used to transport commercial goods. Examples include 18-wheelers ("big rigs"), dump trucks, fuel tankers, delivery trucks and semi-trucks. These vehicles require a commercial driver's license to operate.
What is the difference between a car accident and a truck accident? For starters, an accident involving a commercial truck is much more likely to result in serious injuries or fatalities. A fully loaded commercial truck weighs about 80,000 pounds, while a medium-sized car weighs about 3,000 pounds. This size disparity makes your chances of being injured by a large truck much greater than your chances of being injured by another car. Additionally, a commercial truck accident case has many aspects that are different than a car crash case. For instance, there are state and federal laws that regulate the commercial trucking industry and an experienced truck accident lawyer will know how to investigate whether the trucking company or the truck driver can be held liable for violating any of these laws.
What should I do if I am involved in a truck accident? If you or anyone else were injured in the accident call 911. You should always call the police and give them information about the accident. Obtain contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident, as these people may become important witnesses if a lawsuit is filed. Also obtain the contact information and insurance information from the driver of the other vehicle. Make sure that you file a police report, even if you were not hurt in the accident. Take pictures of the accident scene, including your vehicle and the other vehicles involved in the accident. Contact your insurance company and report the accident, but do not talk to representatives from the truck driver's employer or insurance company, unless you have consulted with an attorney first. You should also see a doctor within a few days of the accident, even if you do not think you have suffered any injuries. Some injuries do not manifest themselves immediately, particularly when the adrenaline from being in the accident can mask your symptoms.
Do commercial truck drivers have to undergo special training? In order to operate any vehicle used for commercial purposes which weighs more than 26,000 pounds one must obtain a commercial driver's license ("CDL"). A CDL is also required to drive any vehicle that is designed to carry 16 people or more. In order to obtain a CDL, the applicant must pass both a written test and a practical test, which is administered by the state. In most states, the driver must be at least 21 years old in order to apply for a CDL
What is an underride accident? An underride accident occurs when a vehicle crashes into the back end of a commercial truck and slides underneath the rear impact guard of the truck. Approximately 350 people die each year in underride accidents. This type of accident is particularly lethal, as the passengers in the car can be decapitated by the rear impact guard of the truck.
Who can be held liable if there is a trucking accident? Depending upon the facts of your case, there may be multiple potential defendants in your truck accident lawsuit. This includes the truck driver, the truck driver's employer, the owner of the truck, the company who leased the truck from the truck owner, the truck manufacturer, the tire manufacturer, or a third party maintenance company.
If I was injured and missed time from work, can I be compensated for my lost income? Yes. In addition, you can make a claim for your medical bills, loss of future income, loss of quality of life, physical impairment, and pain and suffering.
If I was partly to blame for the accident, can I still file a lawsuit? It will depend on your degree of fault. Ultimately, if the case proceeds to trial, the jury will decide what percentage of fault to assign to you and what percentage of fault to assign to the other driver.
If I was a passenger in a car hit by a truck, can I file a lawsuit? Yes. You do not have to be the driver of the car in order to be entitled to compensation. Passengers have the same rights as drivers.
Why do I need an attorney? Truck accident lawsuits are complex. Insurance companies know that they can settle claims for less then what they are worth if they can resolve the case before you retain an attorney. There are several factors that make truck accident lawsuits complex. First, there are several potential defendants, including the truck driver and his employer. Second, there are regulations promulgated by the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration, as well as Colorado Department of Motor Vehicle regulations that may have been violated; you need an experienced truck accident attorney who knows how to investigate whether or not the truck driver or his employer have violated any state or federal laws that regulate the trucking industry. Other issues that always need to be investigated in a truck accident lawsuit are the training and driving record of the truck driver. If you have been in an accident with a truck, you need an experienced attorney in order to investigate all of these issues and ensure that you are properly compensated.
Think you have a case? Contact our law firm today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your truck accident. Call 303-800-3168 or if you prefer you can fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you promptly.