Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “If you bought it, a truck brought it.” While it’s true that virtually everything we buy is carried via truck at some point, it’s also important to appreciate that trucks are large, heavy vehicles that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
Unfortunately, this puts other, smaller vehicles on the road at a disadvantage. In 2019, there were 4,479 fatal crashes involving large trucks and 114,000 that led to injuries.
Longer-term data collected from 1975 to 2020 shows that fatalities in large truck accidents overwhelmingly occur in passengers of smaller vehicles.
How Can a Breckenridge Truck Accident Attorney Help?
If you’ve been in an accident with a large truck, the trucker or trucking company should have $750,000-1,000,000 in liability coverage. The problem is that the trucking company and their insurance carrier would rather not pay your claim for several reasons:
- The insurance company wants to save money by denying your claim entirely or paying much less than it’s worth.
- The trucking company doesn’t want their insurance rates to go up. Depending on the details of the accident, they also may have concerns about getting in legal trouble. A number of federal safety regulations govern what truck drivers and trucking companies can do, and if the company or driver violates one of these rules, there could be fines, inspections, and other headaches the trucking company would rather avoid.
- The truck driver could also get in trouble or lose their license if they violated some of these regulations or drove recklessly. Often the driver is in the unenviable position of doing or saying whatever their boss tells them or losing their job. Worse, if the driver is found to be at fault for the crash, they might be unable to get any job as a truck driver.
As a result, most large trucking companies have an army of lawyers ready to respond whenever one of their trucks is involved in an accident. Meanwhile, the insurance company adjuster will also look for excuses to deny or devalue your claim.
At the same time, you might be in pain and unable to think clearly for days or weeks after the crash, and when the fog clears, you could find your medical bills are piling up and you’ve missed a lot of time at work.
It could take months of treatment and therapy before you recover fully, or you may have a permanent disability or chronic pain. By the time you make an insurance claim, the insurance company and trucking company may have already found ways to blame the accident on you.
Your Breckenridge truck accident attorney can help you fight back. We will also start investigating the crash as soon as we take your case, and we’ll gather as much evidence as possible to show you were not at fault.
We’ll sort out who the liable party or parties are – because, in a large truck accident, the truck driver is not the only party who might be responsible. Here are some other possibilities:
- Even if the driver made a mistake, this could have been due to the trucking company’s negligence or willful actions. For instance, truck drivers have strict rules about how much time they can drive before taking a break and how much rest time they should have before driving again. If the trucking company sets unrealistic expectations about how quickly deliveries should be made and punishes drivers who don’t live up to these standards, the driver may feel they have no choice but to falsify their electronic logs.
- Negligence in hiring or training is another common cause of truck accidents. If the trucking company failed to verify the driver’s credentials or experience, did not provide adequate training, or didn’t ensure the driver had the right qualifications for the job (some driving jobs require HAZMAT certification, for example), the company might be at fault.
- The trucking company’s negligence could appear in other ways, even if the driver did nothing wrong. For example, in some cases, we may find that the driver repeatedly reported a problem with the truck, but the company did not make needed repairs, leading to a breakdown that caused an accident.
- Sometimes a third party is at fault. This could be a mechanic who repaired the truck incorrectly or the manufacturer of a defective truck component. Another common issue in truck accidents is a poorly-loaded trailer. It’s helpful to remember that trailers are tall and easy to flip, especially when the truck goes around curves or downhill. If the trailer is loaded with heavier items near the top, it becomes even easier to flip, leading to a severe accident if it lands on a nearby car. Freight isn’t necessarily loaded by the truck driver or the trucking company – it could be loaded by an outside party, such as the staff of a warehouse or store.
What Can You Do to Avoid a Large Truck Collision?
Although many large truck collisions are not the fault of the passenger vehicle’s driver, it’s a good idea to remember these safety tips:
- If you’re on the road, it’s best to give large trucks a wide berth because the driver may have difficulty seeing you or stopping the truck. Remember that truckers have large blind spots due to the length of the trailer and the height of the cab.
- Don’t pass a large truck unnecessarily, but if you really need to do so, pass as quickly as you can. Spend as little time in the trucker’s blind spot as possible.
- If you’re going to merge into a lane ahead of a large truck, put more distance between your vehicle and the truck before merging than you would for another passenger vehicle. If you’re too close to the front of the cab, the truck driver may not know you’re there!
- Similarly, you should also allow a wider following distance when you’re behind a truck. Some passenger cars can slip beneath a trailer – an underride accident. Unfortunately, if you have this type of accident, the driver is so far away in the cab that they may not notice the impact.
- Never get in the way of a truck turning right from the left lane. Trucks have to turn from farther out than smaller vehicles, and cars in the right-hand lane are not visible some of the time. If you need to turn or go straight through the intersection, please be patient and wait for the truck to finish turning first.
- Use caution when pulling over on the highway. Finding a wide shoulder or an exit is usually preferable because some accidents occur when a truck sideswipes a car on the shoulder.
Proving Fault in a Large Truck Accident
Once we determine what caused the accident, we still need to demonstrate the other party or parties were all or mostly at fault. This distinction is important because Colorado allows for shared fault in personal injury cases.
Even if the truck driver was mostly at fault, you could be partly responsible, and that percentage of fault would be deducted from your damages. The trucking company and insurance company will be working hard to suggest you also made some mistake that contributed to the accident.
Your lawyer will fight to refute these claims or to show that any mistake you did make was minor and had little or nothing to do with the actual crash.
To this end, we will collect evidence in the following ways:
- We’ll talk to witnesses. Our investigative team will canvas the area near the accident site, talking to people who live or work there. This sometimes allows us to find additional witnesses.
- We’ll review the police report with you to learn if anything is noted incorrectly. In many cases, the responding officer doesn’t have much information to work with when filing a report and does their best with limited evidence. Sometimes we’re able to identify inaccuracies and refute them.
- We search for photos or videos of the crash. Frequently we find footage on traffic cameras, security cameras, doorbell cameras, or dashcams. Sometimes witnesses have photos as well. However, we’re more likely to find this evidence shortly after the crash, before it gets erased, so we encourage you to call a lawyer as soon as possible.
- We request electronic evidence, like an event data recording (EDR) of the accident. The EDR is installed in almost all modern vehicles made in the US and records information about an “event” such as a crash. This might tell us how fast each vehicle was moving, what direction it was headed, and if the driver made any moves like changing direction or speed.
Get Help From a Breckenridge Truck Accident Law Firm Today
With the trucking and insurance companies working hard to keep you from the compensation you deserve, you need help from an experienced Breckenridge truck accident lawyer. Please contact the Olson Law Firm at (720) 730-4325 for a free consultation about your case.
We’re always available to answer your questions, explain your options, and fight for your rights to compensation after a serious accident.