Who Can Be Held Liable For a Truck Accident in Colorado?
A semi-truck pulling an empty trailer weighs approximately 35,000 lbs, while the average passenger vehicle weighs between 2,750 and 4,000 lbs. Therefore, truck accidents often result in severe or life-threatening injuries to those who survive the collision. Injuries sustained in truck accidents often require significant medical procedures and therapy, which result in costly medical bills. After receiving these medical bills, you may wonder who is liable for a truck accident that caused your injuries. In a truck accident claim, the answer to this question depends on what circumstances led to the collision and whether you can show the parties involved were negligent.
In many cases, businesses own the trucks traveling on the road, not the driver. Thus, multiple parties may bear some liability in a truck accident claim. If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer right away. One of our personal injury attorneys at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C., can help you determine who is liable for a truck accident. Contact our office today to begin your free initial consultation.
Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident?
Who can be liable for a truck accident depends on the cause of the accident itself. Truck accidents present complexities that do not often exist in regular car accident cases, including the possibility that multiple parties bear liability in your accident with a semi-truck. In addition to a truck driver, other possible liable parties after a truck accident may include the trucking company or manufacturer. For example, in a truck accident caused by a defective part within a truck, the manufacturer may face liability. If the driver was also speeding, those two parties might both be liable for the accident.
The most obvious party facing liability is the truck driver. Hundreds of thousands of accidents occur every year due to operator error. Truck drivers make mistakes just like regular drivers. When those mistakes result in a crash that causes your injuries, the truck driver may face liability.
Many trucks and trailers are owned by a company that employs truck drivers to drive them. Thus, issues stemming from improper maintenance of the semi-truck itself could fall on the company rather than the driver. Proper maintenance of trucks prevents issues like worn tires and defective brakes that lead to hundreds of accidents yearly.
Additionally, trucking companies that employ drivers must ensure that the drivers meet the necessary qualifications, like possessing a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate the truck legally. If a trucking company hires a truck driver without a valid CDL and the truck driver causes an accident, the trucking company may bear some responsibility based on their decision to hire an unqualified driver.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes regulations designed to reduce fatigued driving by semi-truck drivers. Trucking companies may not disregard the regulations or encourage their employees to disobey them. However, most trucking companies encourage long hours and offer bonuses to drivers who meet high mileage quotas. Proof that a trucking company influenced a driver to go against FMCSA regulations could result in liability for the company if an accident occurs.
If a part of a truck is defective, you may have a product liability claim. Product liability claims are strict liability cases, meaning the manufacturer is strictly liable for any injuries once you prove a defect existed. Unlike a typical truck accident claim, you do not need to show the at-fault party’s negligence caused your injury.
A manufacturing defect in a truck can cause a truck accident. A manufacturing defect occurs during the development of a product and alters the product from its intended design. For example, if a truck’s brake is manufactured incorrectly and fails during a long road trip due to the defect, the brake manufacturer is liable for damages resulting from the brake failure.
In some cases, shipping companies hire cargo contractors to transport shipments across the United States. Unlike typical employees, these contractors do not undergo rigorous background checks or on-the-job training. Instead, the company relies on the expertise of the contractor. If a contractor lies about their qualifications and subsequently causes an accident, they may be personally liable for any losses.
If you suffer injuries in a truck accident caused by a government agency, some different rules may apply to your case. Typically, government agencies and employees are immune from being sued by individuals for personal injury losses. However, there are some circumstances under which the agency may face liability. If you suffered injuries in an accident caused by a government employee, contact an attorney today so we can review your case.
Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported approximately 159,000 injuries sustained in crashes involving large trucks and approximately 5,005 fatalities. The occupants of other vehicles involved in a crash with a large truck made up 71% of those fatalities.
Truck accidents can happen for almost any reason, just like any other car accident. The size and mass of semi-trucks make basic maneuvers like turning and stopping more complicated. Factors that may contribute to a truck accident include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- Driving too fast for the conditions,
- Making wide-right turns,
- Improper truck maintenance,
- Poor road conditions,
- Truck-loads shifting while in motion, and
- Distracted driving.
When a truck accident happens due to another person’s negligence, the negligent party should be held responsible. The nature of the product shipping industry enhances the risk of negligence occurring due to the emphasis on fast turnaround times and long hours. After all, trucking companies incentivize quick delivery times. Therefore, truck drivers aim to beat deadlines and arrive ahead of schedule, sometimes prioritizing speed over safety.
How to Prove Liability After a Truck Accident
A qualified personal injury lawyer can help gather evidence to prove the truck driver or trucking company’s negligence caused your damages. We will gather information and evidence that bolsters your claim, such as:
- Accident reports and photographs;
- Names, contact information, and statements of any witnesses to the accident; and
- Identifying information for the truck driver involved in the crash and the trucking company they work for.
We will use this information to negotiate with the insurance company and obtain a settlement offer that fully compensates you for your losses. Without an attorney, the insurance adjuster may bombard you with lowball settlement offers that do not cover all of the damages you incurred.
Is Colorado a No-Fault State?
Many people do not know if Colorado is a no-fault insurance state for purposes of accident liability. They may not know the difference between at-fault and no-fault insurance states. Luckily, our Colorado truck accident attorneys can help walk you through at-fault and no-fault systems and how it affects who can be liable for a truck accident in Colorado.
In a no-fault insurance state, each party involved in a vehicular accident files a claim with their own insurance company for damages they incur. No-fault states typically limit the ability of injured parties in a car accident to sue the responsible party.
Colorado, however, is a fault state. This means that when a car accident occurs in Colorado, the person who caused the crash is liable to the injured party for their losses. Typically the at-fault driver covers these damages with their car insurance policy. Colorado requires commercial vehicles to carry a minimum of at least $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident, and $15,000 in property damage liability coverage.
After a truck accident, the victim files a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Remember, insurance companies make more money when you accept a lower settlement offer. Thus, an insurance representative may approach you right after your truck accident with a settlement worth less than you deserve. The costs of a truck accident may tempt you to accept the offer and avoid the time and stress of going through a truck accident lawsuit. However, a Colorado truck accident attorney can help you recover the amount you deserve. An attorney can demonstrate who is liable in a truck accident and lay out the full extent of your losses. Contact a truck accident lawyer at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover today to discuss your potential accident settlement.
Common Injuries in a Truck Accident Liability Claim
Many semi-truck accidents result in severe, sometimes life-threatening injuries. Injuries commonly seen in truck accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Loss of limbs,
- Back injuries,
- Spinal cord injuries,
- Broken bones,
- Concussions, and
Any treatment in a hospital or emergency room may result in expensive medical bills—especially if you spend a long time in the hospital or need rehabilitation to recover from your injury.
Still Curious About Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident? Contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover Right Away
Our team at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover has decades of experience navigating personal injury claims and securing favorable settlement agreements for our clients. Not to mention, our firm has recovered over a hundred million dollars on behalf of our injured clients. One of our attorneys, Gerald Sloat, has received the highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards by a national rating service and has been named a Colorado “Super Lawyer.”
We pride ourselves on devoting individual attention to each one of our clients. Our team is dedicated to providing the highest level of legal service possible and fighting to ensure our clients are compensated fairly. If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, speak with one of our personal injury attorneys at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover as soon as possible to discuss your claim.
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