Do I Need a Lawyer if an 18-wheeler was at Fault for My Accident?

CALL (512) 246 2224 TO SPEAK WITH COLORADO 18-WHEELER LAWYERS FOR FREE

Truck accidents often result in serious injuries and irreparable damage to victims’ vehicles.  This may present a serious financial burden to victims aside from the difficulty recovering from the physical injuries from the accident. When dealing with 18-wheeler accidents, trucking companies, and insurance companies, an attorney is often crucial to pursue the compensation you may be entitled to.

If you or a loved one has been injured by an 18-wheeler, call the experienced 18-wheeler lawyers from Zinda Law Group at (512) 246-2224 for a free consultation. If we are unable to reach a favorable result in your case, you will not owe us anything.

Why Should I Get A Lawyer?

The aftermath of an accident involving an 18-wheeler may be a very hectic time, as these accidents often result in serious injuries and significant property damage.  You may want to get the whole ordeal over with as fast as possible, but this is exactly what the insurance companies are counting on.  It may be tempting to accept the insurer’s initial offer, but by accepting this offer, you may be settling for much less than you may be entitled to.  Insurance companies will generally offer a low settlement after the accident, in the hopes of paying out as little as possible.  Insurers are aware that time is on their side, as victims often will have medical and other bills to pay, and insurers count on accident victims being unwilling to pursue a larger settlement if offered a small, but immediate, settlement.

By hiring an attorney, you may show the insurers that you are willing to fight for a larger settlement.  Insurers have teams of adjusters and lawyers who work hard to ensure their company pays out the least amount possible for every claim.  An experienced truck accident attorney may  help you level the playing field and guide you through the process and help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to.  Experienced truck accident attorneys help their clients understand the laws and regulations regarding trucking.

Determining Fault

In order to successfully make a claim in personal injury cases such as truck accident suits, there are four factors which must be proven:

1. Duty of Care

It must be proven that the at-fault 18-wheeler driver owed the victim a duty of care.  In an accident involving a truck, the truck driver would have a duty of care to take certain precautions, such as paying proper attention or not driving while intoxicated.

2. Breach of Duty

It must be shown that the at-fault driver breached this duty, such as by using a cell phone or driving while drunk. Evidence necessary to back up the claim that the 18-wheeler breached this duty of care includes any evidence that the driver was intoxicated or fatigued, evidence the driver was using a cell phone at the time of the accident, or any similar evidence of negligent behavior that may have caused the driver to breach their duty.

3. Causation

It must then be proven the breach of duty by the at-fault driver caused the accident. For example, by using their mobile device, the driver may not have been paying proper attention at a stoplight because the driver was using a cell phone and then rear-ended the victim.

4. Damages

It must be proven the accident caused injury or damage to the victim and/or their property. This would include physical injuries caused by the accident and damage to the victim’s car.

Who May I Sue?       

In most car accidents, the at-fault driver is the target of any lawsuit seeking compensation for damages caused by the accident.  However, in accidents involving commercial trucks, there may be other parties besides the truck driver who may be liable for the accident, including the shipping company, the company responsible for loading the truck, mechanics, truck manufacturer, or in some cases a government entity.  Parties that may be sued after a truck accident will largely depend on what may have caused the accident.

Some causes for truck accidents and potentially liable parties include:

  • Distracted Driving:  It is important for all drivers to pay proper attention to the road and vehicles around them, and perhaps even more so for truck drivers.   Distractions such as the use of mobile devices, eating, or interaction with passengers may distract the driver, which may result in an accident.  If the truck driver responsible for the accident was driving while distracted, the driver may be liable.
  • Driving Under the Influence:  It is illegal for any driver to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but this may be especially dangerous for truck drivers.  Driving under the influence is not limited to alcohol or illegal drugs, however, as even some legally prescribed medications may interfere with the ability to drive. In the event of an accident caused by a truck driver driving under the influence, the driver would be liable, and the trucking company may be liable as well, if they have failed to adequately screen their employees for such behavior.
  • Fatigued Driving:  Trucking companies desire to ship their cargo to its destination as fast as possible.  Sometimes, this may result in drivers driving longer than they should and becoming too tired to pay adequate attention to their driving.  If the driver causes an accident due to driver fatigue, the driver may be liable, as well as the trucking company, as the trucking company must ensure their drivers maintain a strict driving schedule and do not drive for longer periods than legally allowed.
  • Speeding or Reckless Driving:  In an effort to transport their cargo as quickly as possible, drivers may exceed the speed limit or drive recklessly, such as weaving in and out of traffic in order to pass slower vehicles.  Such behavior may be dangerous and cause accidents.  If speeding or reckless driving has caused an accident, the driver may be at fault.
  • Brakes Malfunction:  The brakes used to slow and stop cargo trucks are put under much more stress than those of smaller vehicles, as the increased weight of the truck and its cargo makes it more difficult to slow or stop.   This means the brakes on these vehicles must be inspected, maintained, and regularly inspected.  If the brakes on a truck fail, this may cause an accident.   If a truck causes an accident due to brake failure, the trucking company may be liable as they are often responsible for ensuring the brakes are properly maintained.  The mechanics who maintain the brakes may also be liable if the malfunction was caused by a failure on their part when performing maintenance or replacing the brakes.  The manufacturer of the brakes and parts may be liable if the brake failure was the result of a product or manufacturing defect.
  • Improper Braking Technique:  Truck drivers must take care to perform proper braking techniques, as their vehicles are very heavy, and will require more room to slow down or stop than other vehicles.  Truck drivers who do not perform proper braking techniques and cause an accident may be liable.  The trucking company may also be liable, as they are responsible for ensuring their drivers are properly trained.
  • Worn or Punctured Tires:  Trucks carry heavy cargoes over long distances, and this can quickly wear down tires and make them susceptible to punctures.  Worn or punctured tires will not provide proper grip on the surface of the road and may result in an accident.  If a truck accident is caused by worn or punctured tires, the trucking company may be liable, as they are often responsible for ensuring the truck is properly maintained.
  • Improperly Loaded Cargo:  The cargo onboard a truck must be carefully loaded to ensure it does not shift or move during transit.  If it is improperly loaded and shifts, this may cause the truck driver to lose control of the truck and may result in an accident.  If an accident is caused by improperly loaded cargo, the trucking company may be liable, as well as the company responsible for loading the truck.
  • Poor Road Maintenance: Debris in the road, poorly constructed roads or poorly maintained roads may all be hazardous, and in some cases cause an accident.  If bad road conditions caused by poor road maintenance cause an accident, the government entity responsible for maintaining the road may be liable for the accident.

How to File a Claim

1. Contact A Truck Accident Attorney   

If you are involved in a truck accident, you should contact an experienced Colorado truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.   The sooner you are able to consult and hire an attorney, the sooner they may begin to investigate your accident and gather available evidence.  Your attorney may help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to.

2. Investigation                       

After you have contacted and hired an attorney, they may begin to investigate your accident to determine the cause and collect evidence to help prove liability as well as whether negligence may have played a role in the accident.  This may include pictures from the accident, contacting witnesses, and obtaining police reports as well as medical records.

3. Negotiation

Once your lawyer has collected and examined the available evidence, they may use this information to calculate a claim for compensation.  They will often present your claim to the insurer, along with any evidence that may strengthen your claim.  The insurer may often then reject this initial claim and offer a much lower amount.  Your attorney may make a counteroffer, and this may go back and forth until a settlement may be agreed upon.  If a settlement cannot be agreed upon, the case may go to trial, where attorneys represent their clients and prove the other party’s liability for your damages and injuries.

Common Truck Accident Injuries

Truck accidents often result in serious injuries, including:

  • Head and Neck Injuries: Head and neck injuries are common in accidents involving large trucks.  Such injuries may include concussions, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and whiplash.
  • Back and Spinal Injuries: Truck accidents may also cause serious back and spinal injuries.  These injuries may result in chronic pain and even paralysis.
  • Internal Bleeding and Organ Damage:  Truck accidents may result in internal bleeding and organ damage.  These kinds of injuries may not be obvious or readily apparent, but may be lethal, which is why you should always seek medical attention after an accident, even if you do not think you are injured.
  • Other Injuries:  Other injuries that may occur in the event of a truck accident include broken bones, contusions, lacerations, burns, and seat belt injuries.

Compensation

Compensation awarded for damages in a truck accident may be broken down into two categories: economic and non-economic.

Economic Compensation:

  • Medical Expenses:  Compensation for medical expenses may include doctor visits, hospital stays, treatments, medications, and any therapies required to fully recover from injuries caused by the 18-wheeler accident.
  • Property Damage:  Compensation for property damage may be awarded to cover the cost of repairing your damaged vehicle.  If your vehicle is too damaged to repair, you may be awarded the value of the vehicle, which is determined by the current fair market value of that type of vehicle.
  • Lost Wages:  Compensation for lost wages may be awarded if you are temporarily unable to perform your job duties as a result of your injuries and their treatment.  This is calculated based on your current salary and length of time you were unable to work.
  • Loss of Potential Earnings:  If you are no longer able to perform the duties required by your occupation due to injuries, you may be able to seek compensation for lost earning potential. This compensation takes numerous factors into consideration to determine the amount that may be awarded such as age, medical history, health before the accident, current salary, type of occupation, etc.

Non-Economic Compensation        

  • Pain and Suffering:  Compensation for pain and suffering may be awarded to compensate the victim for physical pain and mental trauma they may have suffered as a result of the accident.  The amount awarded will vary with each case, as various factors are considered, such as extent of injuries and details of the accident.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a time frame within which the victim is able to file a lawsuit.  This is different from state to state, but in Colorado, the statute of limitations for auto accidents is three years from the date of the accident. Thus, you must file any lawsuit within three years of being hit by the 18-wheeler.

In some cases involving children, the statute of limitations may not begin to run until the child turns 18.

In wrongful death suits, the statute of limitations usually begins from the date of death instead of the date of the accident.  Another difference is there may be different time frames during which certain family members may file a suit, such as in some states, only the spouse may file within the first year after the death, with children being allowed to file during the second year only. Furthermore, while personal injury lawsuits for auto accidents has a three-year statute of limitations in Colorado, the statute of limitations is only two years for wrongful death claims.

CALL OUR 18-WHEELER ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS TODAY

At Zinda Law Group, our trucking accident lawyers have helped manyvictims get their lives back on track after suffering an injury. We have the experience necessary to help you build the strongest case possible and pursue maximum compensation for all the ways your injuries may have cost you.

Our firm also believes a victim should never have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you will pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable result in your trucking accident case. That’s our No Fee Guarantee.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, call Zinda Law Group today at (817) 381-7415 to receive your free consultation with our 18-wheeler wreck lawyers.

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