Denver Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyers
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Auto accidents are common occurrences; their results range from minor property damage to catastrophic injury and loss of life. Commercial vehicle accidents are no different in this regard. However, these kinds of accidents often present unique factual and legal challenges for victims seeking compensation. Our Denver commercial vehicle accident lawyers have years of experience evaluating and handling these kinds of cases, and they are ready to handle yours.
The personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group are here to help. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a company vehicle accident in or near the Denver, CO, metroplex, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer near you.
“Commercial vehicle” Case illustrations
The various scenarios leading to auto accidents and injuries are innumerable; therefore, each auto accident requires case-by-case attention. This is especially true of “commercial vehicle” accidents because they typically involve additional factual and legal complications; successfully recovering maximum compensation in these accidents generally requires the attention of an experienced personal injury attorney. The following cases pulled from across the country illustrate just a few varieties of “commercial vehicle” accidents; see if you can tell what these cases have in common.
Case Illustrations 1 & 2: 18-wheelers
On the afternoon of April 25, 2019, a semi-trailer was travelling eastbound on Interstate 70 on a mountainous stretch outside of Denver. The semi-truck was loaded with lumber. At around 4:00 p.m. earlier that day, another semi-truck was involved in a wreck with a school bus, which ultimately led to the highway being closed and heavy traffic backup.
As the lumber truck approached the backed-up traffic, the driver lost control when his brakes malfunctioned. The driver crashed into three other semi-trucks and 12 other vehicles; the lumber carried by the first truck, mattresses carried by another truck, and the large amounts of spilled gasoline led to an explosion and fire. Ten people were injured and four were killed.
Separately, the Houston Police Department responded to an accident around 3:00 a.m. on February 20, 2022. The accident occurred when a white vehicle was crossing the Sidney Sherman Bridge (a 135 foot-high bridge crossing the Houston Ship Channel) and crashed into the back of an 18-wheeler. The vehicle hit and bounced off a barrier; the driver was partially ejected and died at the scene.
Read more: Mitchell, Kirk. “At least four people confirmed dead in 28-vehicle crash on Interstate 70, near Denver West. Highway reopens in both directions.” The Denver Post, 22 April 2019; “Driver partially ejected, killed after fiery crash with big rig on Ship Channel bridge, police say.” KHOU 11 Houston, 20 Feb. 2022.
Case Illustrations 3 & 4: Tank Trucks
Early on the morning of February 16, 2022, an oil-tanker truck flipped and burst into flames on Long Island; the truck was carrying 9,200 gallons of gasoline when it crashed into a vacant furniture store around 1:15 a.m. The fire department chief explained: “When I came here, there was fire everywhere, the streets, the tanker, the two buildings, and when I looked down Sunrise Highway, there was fire coming out of seven or eight manhole covers.” The truck driver escaped with some injuries.
Similarly, early on the morning of October 11, 2021, an oil tanker, fully loaded with 6,000 gallons of crude oil, was travelling near Santa Barbara, California. At 4:39 a.m., the Santa Barbara County Fire Department arrived at the intersection of Old Dominion and Orcutt Garey Roads to respond to a traffic collision; they found “[t]he tanker on its side and in a ditch with the cab of the tanker fully involved in fire that spread to nearby trees and brush.” The truck driver sustained no injuries. The other driver sustained moderate injuries and was transported to the hospital.
Read more: “Oil Tanker Crash Causes Brush Fire Near Sisquoc.” Edhat, 11 Oct. 2020; Woods, Amanda. “Tanker truck holding 9,200 gallons of gas crashes, bursts into flames on Long Island.” New York Post, 16 Feb. 2022.
Case Illustrations 5 & 6: Delivery Trucks
On January 5, 2022, a FedEx box truck crashed with several other vehicles in Los Angeles County; the crash which was reported around 10:30 p.m. involved six vehicles. The crash occurred when a driver split lanes and rear-ended the box truck; one person died. Another was taken to the hospital in unknown condition, and a third sustained minor injuries.
In another case, a motorcycle driver in Virginia Beach was travelling south on October 4, 2021, when a rented Hertz truck turned into the motorcyclist’s lane, causing a crash. The rented truck was marked with an Amazon logo; the Amazon delivery driver admitted that near the time of the crash he was distracted from driving by his Amazon-supplied GPS navigator. The motorcyclist sustained a number of severe injuries and, in January 2022, filed a $100 million lawsuit against Amazon.
Read more: Lloyd, Jonathan. “One Killed When FedEx Delivery Truck and Several Other Vehicles Collide in Cerritos.” NBC Los Angeles, 5 Jan. 2022; Burchett, Caitlyn. “Motorcyclist sues Amazon after losing leg in Virginia Beach collision with delivery driver.” The Virginian-Pilot, 21 Feb. 2022.
Case Illustrations 7 & 8: Rideshares
On February 18, 2022, a crash occurred around 12:30 a.m. near Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport; the accident occurred when the driver of a black Nissan sideswiped a gray Acura TLX operated by an Uber driver. The Nissan was engulfed in flames; its four passengers perished in the fire. The Uber driver was not injured.
In another accident, an Uber passenger was travelling home from Boston to Sommerville, Massachusetts, on April 30, 2021. The Uber driver swerved and slammed into a parked car, leaving the Uber passenger a quadriplegic. The passenger later filed a $63 million suit against Uber, alleging that the driver “had such a dangerous driving history dating back to 1996, including moving violations, crashes, at least 20 citations, and state-imposed driver retraining, that Uber never should have hired him as a professional driver and bears responsibility for putting him behind the wheel.”
Read more: Ponder, Erica. “4 men dead in fiery crash after vehicle strikes Uber driver, hits tree near IAH Airport, police say.” KPRC2 Houston, 18 Feb. 2022; Alanez, Tonya. “Uber passenger paralyzed in crash sues company for $63 million.” The Boston Globe, 25 Jan. 2022
Reflection: What Do These Cases Have in Common?
As the foregoing shortlist of cases illustrates, the scenarios giving rise to auto accidents are quite diverse. However, what distinguishes these cases from more “commonplace” auto accidents? What makes these “commercial vehicle” cases? Answer: each case involves a vehicle being used in furtherance of a commercial enterprise.
Perhaps 18-wheelers hauling materials and tanker trucks transporting highly flammable fuels across the country seem like obvious examples. By contrast, rented box trucks being used by another company’s driver may seem like a more nuanced example. Similarly, some might find the rideshare cases to be even less obvious examples of “commercial vehicle” cases.
Notwithstanding, this category of auto accidents is broad and diverse. Their defining characteristic is simply that one of the vehicles involved was being used in furtherance of business.
If you or a loved one was involved in an auto accident involving a vehicle used in furtherance of a business enterprise, you may have a viable commercial vehicle accident case. You are advised to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The Denver commercial vehicle accident lawyers at Zinda Law Group are a phone call away.
How are commercial vehicle accidents different?
Commercial vehicle accidents present a number of challenges that are not typically present in more commonplace auto accidents between, say, two sedans used as family vehicles. In this section, we explore some of those differences.
What is a Commercial Vehicle?
Perhaps the most obvious place to start is by further distinguishing “commercial vehicles” from other vehicles. Of course, as has been highlighted, any vehicle being used by a business in furtherance of its enterprise may be classified as a commercial vehicle; however, an 18-wheeler is clearly different from an Amazon box truck, which is clearly different from a sedan being operated by an Uber driver. The most obvious difference is clearly the sizes of the vehicles.
Oftentimes, the defining characteristic of a commercial vehicle accident is precisely the size of the vehicles involved; in a case involving a crash between a four-door sedan and an 18-wheeler, the sedan is at a huge disadvantage. Similarly, the larger a vehicle, the more inertia it has, which translates into greater stop times and distances; unawareness of this fact often leads to accidents. Finally, the larger a vehicle, the more blind spots it is likely to have; driving within these blind spots is extremely dangerous.
Accidents between large trucks and smaller vehicles are often devastating. If you or a loved one were involved in such an accident near Denver and are looking for an injury lawyer near you, call Zinda Law Group today to speak with one of our Denver personal injury lawyers.
Read more: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), 2020 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics
Source, Scale, and Timeline of Liability
Another distinguishing feature of commercial vehicle accidents is the nature of liability in these cases. Firstly, liability may flow from numerous sources. For example, in the cases involving 18-wheelers and tanker trucks, liability may flow from the driver, the shipper, the trucking company, the loader, brokers, and even the truck manufacturers. Cases involving delivery trucks may similarly implicate the truck driver, loaders, their respective companies, etc.
All of these cases are likely to involve the legal distinction between “employees” and “independent contractors.” Navigating this distinction and evaluating its impact on your case requires the attention of an experienced attorney. The distinction is especially controversial and variable across jurisdictions in cases involving rideshares.
Further, because commercial vehicles can present heightened risks to the general public on the road (for example, when carrying highly flammable fuels) their drivers are often held to a higher standard of care than other drivers. First, the increased risk often translates into more catastrophic accidents, which in turn translate into higher damages for victims. Second, the heightened standard of care for commercial drivers often means that violation of the standard of care also results in higher damages for victims.
Finally, another distinguishing feature of commercial vehicle accidents is the “timeline of liability.” This simply refers to the fact that, in these cases, liability may start long before the actual date of the accident. For example, and at-fault company may be liable for (1) perpetuating unsafe practices, (2) negligent hiring (not properly vetting potential employees), (3) negligent supervision (not properly ensuring work is being performed safely), (4) negligent retention (not removing an employee after their dangerous propensities become apparent), and even for (5) covering up their violations and repeated violations.
Evaluating the sources, scale, and timeline of liability can become complex very quickly. Our personal injury lawyers in Denver have years of experience handling commercial vehicle accident cases. Call today for a free case evaluation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Finally, because of the potentially high values at stake (for example, the $63 million suit against Uber and the $100 million suit against Amazon), the parties involved in commercial vehicle cases are likely to litigate the case much more fiercely. Large companies often have entire in-house teams of lawyers trained in handling lawsuits of this nature on a routine basis. For plaintiffs seeking compensation, this can mean an uphill battle.
Often, plaintiffs lose not because of the merits of their case but because their legal team was not prepared to handle the case from beginning to end. At Zinda Law Group, rather than prepare cases for early settlement, we prepare every case as though it is destined for trial. Regardless of the opposition, our Denver personal injury attorneys will fight for you.
Common Causes of commercial vehicle accidents
Again, each personal injury accident is unique, and this is especially true in commercial vehicle accidents. In these cases, proper evaluation of the law and facts requires the close attention of an experienced attorney. That said, patterns do emerge when looking across various accidents.
Because of their highly catastrophic potential, this section focuses on common causes of accidents associated with large trucks. In particular, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the leading causes of truck accidents break down as follows:
- Brake problems (29%)
- Traveling too fast for conditions (23%)
- Unfamiliar with roadway (22%)
- Roadway problems (20%)
- Over-the-counter drug use (17%)
- Inadequate surveillance (14%)
- Fatigue (13%)
- Felt under work pressure from carrier (10%)
- Made illegal maneuver (9%)
- Inattention (9%)
- External distraction (8%)
- Tire problems (6%)
- Following too close (5%)
- Jackknife (5%)
- Cargo shift (4%)
- Illness (3%)
- Internal distraction (2%)
- Illegal drugs (2%)
- Alcohol (1%)
Read more: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), The Large Truck Crash Causation Study – Analysis Brief
statute of limitations
One of the simplest concepts in any personal injury case—including commercial vehicle accidents—is also one of the most consequential. That concept is, namely, the governing statute of limitations. Each state sets a statute of limitations that acts as a time bar on your case; after the time limit set by the statute of limitations passes, it acts as a virtual bar on bringing your case.
The statute of limitations in Colorado is set at two years; this means that if you do not bring your case within two years after the date of the accident, you have missed the opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries. Bringing your case to an attorney long before the statute of limitations deadline is one of the easiest ways for personal injury victims to take a proactive role in their case. If you were involved in a commercial vehicle accident in Colorado, do not hesitate to call our Denver personal injury attorneys today.
OUR Denver commercial vehicle accident lawyers CAN HELP
Commercial vehicle accidents are a specialized subset of personal injury accidents, and they require specialized attention. As attorneys who have seen the devastating consequences of many such accidents, the personal injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group take great pride in being able to help personal injury victims succeed in their goal of securing maximum compensation. Our personal injury attorneys in Denver are here to help you, too.
If you or a loved one was injured by a commercial vehicle accident in or near the Denver area, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with a Denver commercial vehicle accident lawyer. Tell us about your case, and we will tell you how we can help.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.