What to Do If You or a Loved One Was Hit by a Truck
Becoming seriously injured or losing a loved one in a trucking accident is a devastating event. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were over 38,000 crashes in the state in 2021 that involved commercial trucks. Of these, over 7,000 resulted in injury, and tragically, 705 were fatal. If a crash like this has affected you or your family, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed.
It’s important to reach out to a personal injury attorney so you and your loved ones can seek compensation for your losses. If you’re in the Denver, Colorado area and would like to know more about filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim after a semi-truck accident, call our firm, Mark A. Simon, Attorney at Law, to learn about your options. We’re able to serve those throughout all of Colorado, including Aurora, Commerce City, Englewood, Arvada, Lakewood, Centennial, Wheatridge, and Thornton.
Laws Affecting Truck Accidents
Because semi-trucks have the potential to cause serious harm, there are a number of laws surrounding the use and operation of them. At the national level, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) works to set nationwide safety standards such as limiting the amount of hours a driver can be on the road to allow time to rest. It also sets repair and maintenance regulations, limits what goods and materials trucks are allowed to carry, and subjects drivers to drug and alcohol testing that non-commercial drivers aren’t required to comply with.
In Colorado, drivers with a commercial driver's license (CDL) can expect harsher penalties for violations like speeding, making dangerous lane changes, tailing other cars too closely, or driving recklessly. If you believe your 18-wheeler accident was caused by driver negligence or safety protocols not being followed, you can likely file a personal injury claim against them. In most cases, you’ll have three years from the date of the accident to file this.
Whenever you file a claim against another driver, a key task is determining liability. In a typical car crash, this means one driver is to blame, or both drivers share fault. Fault in a truck accident, however, can be more nuanced. A good truck accident attorney can help you sort through the available evidence to strengthen your case and establish liability.
Who can be liable?
● Truck driver: If the truck driver was driving recklessly, not paying attention, or was impaired by drugs or alcohol, liability will likely fall to them.
● Truck company: In some cases, the truck company—not the driver—could be held responsible. For example, if the driver was forced to work over the legal amount of hours or if they were not given adequate training, you could file a claim against the employer.
● Truck manufacturer (parts manufacturer): If the accident occurred due to a faulty part within the truck that failed, the truck or parts manufacturer can be blamed.
● Person who loaded the cargo: When a semi-truck turns, its load must be carefully balanced to avoid tipping and causing an accident. If the cargo was improperly loaded, it could cause the entire truck to flip on its side while turning. In these instances, the person who loaded the cargo could be liable for the accident.
● Vehicle driver: In other cases, the driver of the passenger vehicle can be found liable. For example, if they did not give the truck sufficient room to pass or were driving in the truck’s blind spots, they could hold fault.
● Maintenance personnel: All commercial trucks must go through regular maintenance to ensure it’s in good working order. If the maintenance crew failed to notice a problem or failed to address a known concern, they could be found at fault if the accident happened due to their negligence.
● Road conditions: Finally, it could be neither the truck driver nor the vehicle driver’s fault. Instead, poor road conditions like extreme fog, snow, or heavy rain could be the cause of the collision.
Filing a Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Claim
If I’m the Victim
If you’re the victim of a semi-truck accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. They can help you gather evidence and ensure you file a claim within the three-year statute of limitations. It’s also essential that you seek medical assistance right away and retain all documentation.
If I’m Representing a Loved One Who Lost Their Life
We know that filing a wrongful death claim won’t bring your loved one back, but it can provide critical financial assistance and it will hold the responsible parties accountable to prevent tragedies like this befalling other families. If you’ve lost someone in a truck accident, you can file a claim within the first year if you’re the surviving spouse of the victim. If they weren’t married, the children or named beneficiaries can file on their behalf. In the second year after their passing, any of these people may file. In general, all wrongful death claims in Colorado must be filed within two years.
Truck Accident Attorney in Denver, Colorado
Truck wrecks can change your life in the blink of an eye. If you’re in the Denver, Colorado area and are looking to work with a skilled personal injury attorney about a recent semi-truck accident, reach out to us at Mark A. Simon, Attorney at Law. We’re here to advocate for you and your future.