Have you been injured in a truck accident in Denver, Colorado? If so, you could be entitled to financial compensation for your crash-related medical bills, lost wages, and more. However, to obtain the total compensation you are owed, you will need to prove who should be held liable, which depends on the unique circumstances of the accident.
To identify responsible parties, it is helpful to understand how truck accidents happen. With this in mind, Olson Law Firm, LLC, has compiled the following guide to the causes of truck accidents in Denver. Read on to learn more about your right to recover, and contact us for a free initial case review with an experienced Denver truck accident lawyer.
Denver Truck Accident Statistics
The following statistics from National Safety Council (NSC) illustrate just how common and deadly large truck accidents are:
- In a single recent year, large trucks accounted for just 4 percent of all registered vehicles but 9 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents.
- That year, a total of 4,965 people died in large truck accidents, a 31 percent increase over the fatality rate from a decade earlier.
- Roughly 83 percent of people killed in truck accidents were occupants of other vehicles or non-occupants, such as cyclists or pedestrians. Only 17 percent of people killed in truck accidents were occupants of the truck.
Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Denver
Most truck accidents are the result of multiple contributing factors. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents in Denver include:
- Distracted driving – When truck drivers are more focused on text messages, phone calls, or other distractions than the road ahead, they are significantly more likely to cause accidents. Crash data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that distraction was a factor in 6 percent of fatal truck accidents in one recent year.
- Driver impairment – The FMCSA prohibits commercial drivers from consuming or being under the influence of alcohol within four hours of going on duty. Unfortunately, impaired truck drivers under the influence of alcohol, recreational drugs, or even particular prescription or over-the-counter medications frequently cause serious accidents.
- Driver fatigue – Truckers commonly work long shifts and odd hours, making it challenging to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Because most truck drivers are paid by the mile, they are often incentivized to take as few breaks as possible, even when they need one. Despite FMCSA hours-of-service regulations designed to prevent drowsy driving and related accidents, fatigue is still a major cause of crashes.
- Driver inexperience – The American trucking industry has been dealing with a widespread shortage of qualified drivers for years. Out of desperation, some trucking companies have resorted to hiring drivers with limited experience. When an inexperienced driver with little to no real-world training gets behind the wheel of a semi-truck, collisions are particularly likely to occur.
- Excessive speed – Speed contributed to nearly 1 in 5 fatal truck crashes in one recent year. Large trucks require much more time and distance to make a complete stop, so even moderate speeding can be extremely dangerous for truckers. Additionally, driving faster than conditions allow can be hazardous even if drivers do not actually exceed posted speed limits.
- Following too closely – Tailgating or following too closely behind other vehicles is dangerous for truck drivers for the same reasons speeding is dangerous. Because large trucks have blind spots and take so much longer to slow down or stop, a truck driver who is following too closely has a very thin margin of error. Braking just a fraction of a second too late while tailgating can result in a disastrous rear-end accident.
- Overloaded trucks – When truck drivers or cargo-loading teams weigh down trucks with too much weight, the added strain can decrease the effectiveness of brakes and other critical components. Overloaded trucks are more likely to roll over, jackknife, and even spill cargo.
- Defective truck parts – Poor design, sub-par manufacturing standards, and inadequate maintenance can all contribute to dangerous truck defects. When essential truck parts or systems like brakes or assisted steering develop defects, those components can fail in transit and lead to devastating loss-of-control truck accidents.
- Poor road conditions – When the authorities fail to maintain local roads properly, they can develop serious hazards, such as large potholes, standing water from inadequate drainage, and missing traffic signage. If these unacceptable hazards are left unattended, they can contribute to driver confusion or loss of control and, ultimately, more accidents.
Who’s Responsible for a Truck Crash in Denver?
In collisions between passenger vehicles, one or more of the drivers involved are usually to blame. In a crash involving a commercial truck, however, any of the following parties may be liable:
- The truck driver, if their negligence contributed to the accident
- The trucking company, if it knowingly hired an unqualified driver or encouraged its drivers to engage in unsafe driving practices – or if the trucker were an employee (vicarious liability)
- A truck mechanic or shop, if they failed to properly inspect or repair the truck
- A cargo loading team, if it overloaded the truck or failed to properly secure or balance the cargo within the trailer
- A truck parts manufacturer, if a product defect contributed to the wreck
- A local government entity, if poor road maintenance contributed to the wreck
What Compensation Can I Receive After a Truck Crash in Denver?
With a successful truck accident injury claim, you could be entitled to compensation for the following types of crash-related losses:
- Medical expenses you incurred for the treatment of your injuries
- Lost wages from any time you missed at work while recovering from your injuries
- Projected losses in your future earning capacity, if you suffer permanent injuries
- Pain and suffering you endure due to your injuries
- The costs of repairing or replacing any property that was damaged in the crash
- Incidental costs, such as mileage expenses for medical appointments
Federal Regulations on Drive Time
Cargo-carrying drivers who operate across state lines are required to observe the following federal hours of service (HOS) regulations:
- Drivers may drive commercial vehicles for a maximum of 11 hours per day.
- Drivers are prohibited from driving beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty.
- Drivers must take 30-minute breaks after driving for 8 cumulative hours.
- Drivers are prohibited from driving more than 60 hours over 7 consecutive days or more than 70 hours over 8 consecutive days.
Getting Legal Help After a Truck Accident
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Colorado, don’t hesitate to reach out to the trusted legal team at Olson Law Firm, LLC. We can review the specifics of your case and provide dependable legal advice in a free initial consultation.