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Colorado Truck Accident FAQs

If you’ve been in a truck accident in Colorado, this is what you need to know.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, 346,000 trucks in the United States were involved in collisions that caused property damage in 2014. In the same year, 88,000 trucks were involved in accidents resulting in injuries. Fatalities occurred in accidents involving 3,744 trucks. At some point in time, Colorado truck drivers may become involved in a motor vehicle accident. Truck drivers often have many questions concerning collisions.

The moments following an accident involving a truck can leave you feeling stunned, but it’s important to start dealing with the situation as soon as you are safe and functional. Let’s take a look at some of the concerns that people commonly have about truck accidents, especially ones that occur in Colorado.

What to do after a truck accident?

Get Medical Help. Even if you think you just have a small bruise, you should immediately have a medical professional take a look at it. A small bump to the head could lead to paralyzing brain damage down the road, and it’s wise to have it looked at before it has an opportunity to get worse.

Call the Cops. Whether all parties to a truck accident are being cooperative or not, having the police present will make a major difference. It will settle the scene down, and having an impartial third party present allows everyone to state their cases and get their accounts recorded. The police also have access to equipment that allows them to assess the nature of the accident.

Collect Names. Make every effort to collect the names of as many people at the scene as possible. Foremost, get the names of any police and medical professionals who were present. If possible, try to identify witnesses to what happened and get their names and contact information. Should you not have a pen and paper present, use a cell phone. Don’t hesitate to ask to use someone else’s.

Most trucking companies will hire at least one investigator to review the scene of an accident. Make sure to get this person’s name in addition to that of the claims adjuster from the insurance carrier. This individual will likely be your lawyer’s contact for obtaining information like the driver’s logs.

Document Everything. Taking pictures of the scene of a truck accident when it’s fresh can provide insurance adjusters a better picture of what went down. The relationship between the vehicles involved will be readily apparent. Photos also may allow you to identify potential witnesses who you missed in your efforts to collect contact information.

After you’ve moved on from the immediate accident scene, try to get as much documentation as possible from as many professionals as possible. If a doctor tells you something about an injury, ask that they put it in writing. Police officers will also be good about providing documentation. If you speak with a claims adjuster, request that they provide you with copies of all documents they produce.

Conditions. Take time to check the current weather at the scene of the accident and write it down. It may seem tempting to let a driver off the hook for bad conditions, but all truck operators have a responsibility to run their vehicles safely, regardless of conditions.

What are the leading reasons for truck accidents?

Driver error remains the main reason why accidents occur, and driver error is more likely to occur when trucking rules are not followed. For example, truck drivers are limited by law as to how many hours they are allowed to be on the road. However, in order to meet deadlines or increase profits, it is not uncommon for drivers to remain on the road in excess of hours of service restrictions. When driving while fatigued, accidents are more likely to happen.

Speeding is another factor behind truck and motor vehicle collisions, and speeding is even more dangerous when a truck is involved. The size and weight of trucks make it difficult for them to slow down or stop when necessary, which could result in an accident. Speeding may also cause drivers to lose control of the truck. The risk of losing control of the truck increases when exceeding the speed limit on wet or slippery roads.

Denver accident attorney Mack Babcock explains the different causes of large truck accidents, and why it's important you seek representation.

What is driver negligence?

Truck drivers must understand that due to the size and weight of their trucks, they carry a heavy responsibility to other motorists on the road. Truck operators who drive too long between rest breaks, exceed the speed limit or change lanes before checking the blind spot are all considered to be taking negligent actions. Driving while under the influence and falling asleep at the wheel are other offenses.

When involved in a collision, what are the first actions a truck driver must take?

Law enforcement authorities must be notified immediately. In the event that occupants of either vehicle sustained injuries, emergency responders must also be called. Do not leave the scene and do not move the vehicles until the police have investigated the area. If able, drivers should collect the contact and insurance information of all the people involved in the collision. Use a smartphone or mobile device to take photographs of the scene from different angles and include license plate numbers.

Do not admit guilt. Consider consulting an attorney experienced in handling truck collision cases to arrange an investigation of the scene in order to protect your legal rights.

Should I settle if the insurance company presents an offer?

Insurance companies commonly want to settle claims swiftly and as cost-effectively as possible. However, the settlement offered may not be in your best interest. Do not sign anything or enter into an agreement before discussing the case with a qualified attorney. By consulting with a lawyer, you will have a better understanding of your rights under the law and the extent of the compensation that you deserve.

If a truck driver suffers injuries during a collision, who is liable for compensation?

It depends on the situation. If the driver was employed by a company, that company is typically liable for personal and property damages. Similarly, if the problem happened due to poor maintenance of the truck, the trucking company is responsible. However, the truck manufacturer may be held liable if the accident occurred secondary to an equipment malfunction. If the accident was caused by another vehicle, then the driver of that vehicle is liable for damages.

If a truck jackknifes and causes an accident, who is at fault?

Trucks typically jackknife when the brakes lock, which causes the truck to skid out of control. Brake locking may occur on slippery roads or during sudden turns. The situation often occurs when the truck is being operated by an inexperienced driver or a driver who was acting negligently. Under these circumstances, the driver will most likely be held responsible.

On the other hand, if road conditions were the primary factors in the collision, the driver may not be considered at fault. A thorough investigation of the scene is necessary in order to determine cause and effect.

Who is responsible for collisions in the event of adverse weather conditions?

Extremely wet, snowy or icy road conditions complicate fault determination. When considering fault, investigators take into consideration the speed of drivers, the length of time the driver was on the road in the past 24 hours and their driving experience. In the case of adverse weather conditions, insurance companies may argue that one or both drivers should not have been on the road due to the inclement weather.

Who can I sue?

Establishing the division of responsibility for a truck accident is important. Colorado is a state that uses a system called modified comparative negligence, meaning that if the victim of an accident is deemed to be more than 50-percent responsible then there will be no recovery of damages allowed. Responsibility can, however, be split among multiple parties, such as a fleet operator and a maintenance garage.

Working with a lawyer, you can track down who might have been responsible for an incident. It’s common for large organizations to try to offload as much responsibility as possible onto drivers. However, it should also be noted that companies are usually responsible for many aspects of putting a driver on the road, including hiring, assigning hours and maintaining their rides. Negligence in any of those aspects of an accident may have contributed to someone being injured.

If you have been in a truck accident and require the assistance of an attorney,
contact The Babcock Law Firm.

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