Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyers in Fort Collins, Texas
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Thousands of car accidents occur across the country every day, and many of these accidents occur on major highways. Often, these accidents involve at least one commercial vehicle. Any vehicle accident can cause hardship, but when commercial vehicles are involved, these accidents are far more likely to have serious, long-lasting consequences. Accidents involving commercial vehicles become more complicated because there are additional parties involved aside from the two drivers. Our experienced Fort Collins commercial vehicle accident lawyers will be able to help you navigate the insurance claims and pursue maximum compensation.
If you or a loved one have suffered from an injury after a commercial vehicle accident in Fort Collins, Colorado, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with one of our Fort Collins commercial vehicle accident lawyers.
WHAT IS A commercial VEHICLE?
In Colorado, a “commercial vehicle” is defined as a vehicle used in commerce that weighs at least 16,001 pounds and is self‑propelled, towed, or designed to transport 16 or more passengers. Vehicles that are used for the commercial transportation of other motor vehicles or for hazardous materials transportation are included in the classification of “commercial vehicles.” School buses and certain agricultural vehicles are excluded from the classification.
In addition, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published regulations which define, among other things, what a commercial vehicle is. Under the definition in these regulations, a commercial vehicle is one that’s driven or towed (meaning a trailer), transporting goods or services, and meets one or more of the following criteria:
- It weighs more than 10,000 pounds: Either the vehicle itself weighs 10,000 pounds or its max operating weight (i.e., when towing cargo) is over 10,000 pounds.
- It’s transporting nine or more people for commercial purposes: If a vehicle is carrying eight people plus the driver for a commercial purpose, it’s a commercial vehicle.
- It’s transporting more than 15 people for any purpose: Even when no one’s getting paid, if a vehicle is transporting more than 15 people, it’s considered commercial.
- It’s moving hazardous materials: Any size vehicle is commercial if it’s transporting any material the government deems hazardous in quantities that require the vehicle to display a special placard; even passenger cars can be commercial if they are carrying hazardous material.
Examples of commercial vehicles include:
- Big rig (18-wheeler) semi-truck
- Delivery truck, such as UPS or FedEx
- Mail truck
- Furniture delivery truck
- Utility vehicle
- Cable television installation vehicle
- Landscaping vehicle
- Construction vehicle
- Garbage truck
- Street sweeper
- A Smart Car carrying hazardous material
Common Injuries Associated With Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Like any car accident, commercial vehicle accidents can cause all kinds of injuries, ranging in severity. How serious the injuries are can depend on many different factors, such as the size of the vehicle, how fast it was going, and at what angle it hit you. As commercial vehicle accidents tend to involve larger vehicles, injuries stemming from these accidents tend to be more severe. Some common accident injuries resulting from commercial vehicle crashes are:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Cuts, lacerations, and bruises
- Internal organ injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Common Causes of Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Many factors can contribute to a commercial vehicle accident. Below are several common causes of commercial vehicle accidents in Fort Collins.
Overworked or Fatigued Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has placed restrictions on the number of hours a commercial driver can log per day; FMCSA restricts the number of hours a commercial driver can drive per day to a maximum limit of 11 driving hours for truckers carrying cargo after 10 consecutive hours off duty. These regulations help ensure that drivers get an adequate amount of sleep or rest to remain alert on the road. Some scheduled routes, however, entail hundreds or thousands of miles, which can wear down even the most experienced driver.
Inadequate Vehicle Maintenance
Commercial vehicle companies are responsible for maintaining adequate operating conditions for their vehicles and equipment, including brakes, steering, lighting, tires, horn, and other important safety features. Any failure or malfunction in these parts of a commercial vehicle can lead to an accident while driving on the road.
Inclement Weather or Poor Road Conditions
Truck drivers regularly confront many hazardous conditions on their routes through and within Colorado. Weather elements such as rain, snow, ice, and sleet, as well as poorly maintained roads and a number of other factors can cause dangerous conditions for drivers. There may also be curves in the road which create blind spots for drivers that may further increase the risk of an accident.
Spending long stretches of time on the road can get incredibly dull or monotonous. After a while, drivers can be prone to distractions, including eating and drinking, grooming, reading, adjusting the radio, and using mobile devices.
Talking and texting on a cell phone while driving is especially dangerous. Texting and driving has been prohibited by law for any driver all across the country. In most places, this prohibition also applies to using any mobile device in general, not just for texting.
Unsafe Driving Practices
Even with proper training, commercial vehicle drivers can still demonstrate unsafe behavior on the road. Commercial drivers can end up engaging in the same unsafe behavior that passenger vehicle drivers do, including speeding, tailgating, and failing to use turn signals. Commercial vehicle drivers may also exhibit more erratic and dangerous behavior such as road rage or driving under the influence.
What to do After a COMMERCIAL Truck Accident
It is important to be aware of what you should do if you are involved in a commercial vehicle accident. The information you gather after the accident will help a truck accident lawyer make sure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve. Take the following steps immediately after the accident to protect not only yourself, but also the potential success of your claim.
Take Care of Medical Issues First
The first thing you should do is evaluate the injuries of you and anyone else involved in the accident. Next, call 911. If anyone is suffering from serious injuries, alert the 911 operator to this fact, and they will send emergency medical services to the scene along with the police. The police will investigate the scene of the accident and write up a police report.
Gather Information Next
Next, you should gather the contact and insurance information of anyone involved in the accident. Be sure to get names, phone numbers, and insurance information. If there were witnesses to the accident, collect their names and phone numbers as well.
After collecting information, document the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the scene, as well as any company logos that are visible on the commercial vehicle(s) involved in the accident.
After Leaving the Accident Scene
Finally, if you were not treated for serious injuries on the scene, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident. Even if you believe you have not suffered any injuries, or that your injuries are minor, it is important to see a doctor anyway because undetected latent injuries can become worse as time goes on.
Find an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
After taking care of your injuries, filing reports, and documenting the scene of the accident, try to speak with a Fort Collins personal injury lawyer as soon as possible; an experienced personal injury attorney who has handled many similar cases will be able to provide sound advice for your case and walk you through your next steps.
Contact Fort Collins Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyers As Soon As Possible
Finding the right personal injury lawyer in Colorado may seem difficult, but there are plenty of resources available to make the process easier. You can ask friends or family for recommendations, or even use a simple internet search using terms such as “injury lawyer near me” or “personal injury attorney Fort Collins.”
Another option when looking for representation is to look for an attorney through the American Bar Association’s online directory. You can also find a lawyer through the Colorado State Bar Association’s website or a bar association of Larimer County or another Colorado city nearer you if there is one available.
You should choose a personal injury attorney who has the experience and skill needed to handle commercial vehicle accident cases, and a track record of success in pursing personal injury claims. Zinda Law Group’s personal injury lawyers have experience with personal injury claims and an outstanding record of success in handling matters like these for our clients.
Colorado Statute of Limitations
As with all personal injury cases, time is of the essence. If you believe that the accident was caused by another’s negligence, contact a lawyer right away, for there are time constraints, such as statutes of limitations, involved in civil cases that determine how long you will have to file your claim. In Colorado, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is two years but it is three years if your claim involves a motor vehicle (see p. 465 of this linked document, section 13-80-101(n)]; this means that you would have three years from the date of your accident to file a claim.
If you attempt to file your claim beyond that two-year limit, your claim is barred; this means that it is not allowed and will be dismissed. An experienced Fort Collins personal injury attorney will be able to help you determine when you will need to file, and if you are subject to any of the exceptions that exist to “toll” or delay the statute of limitations.
Commercial vehicle ACCIDENT LAWSUIT PROCESS
The process of filing a claim after a commercial vehicle accident typically takes the course laid out below.
Step One: Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
This is where your claims process begins. An experienced personal injury lawyer will guide you through the process of filing your claim; the attorney will use the evidence you gathered at the scene of the accident, as well as your injury documentation and accident reports, to evaluate the potential value of your claim and how to best move forward to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
Step Two: Attorney Investigation
Once you have given them the documentation they need, your attorney will begin their own investigation into your accident. The attorney will comb through all of the evidence available, both from you and from other sources. Attorney activities at this stage may include gathering employment data and maintenance records from the commercial vehicle company involved in the accident and conducting witness interviews.
Step Three: Case Settlement
When all the facts have been uncovered and analyzed, your attorney will begin to negotiate with the other parties involves, and their insurances companies, to come to a settlement on your claim. It is at this stage that your choice in attorney will be the most important, because a personal injury lawyer who has dealt with truck accidents in the past will know what similar cases have settled for and can negotiate effectively on your behalf to get you the maximum amount of compensation you’re entitled to.
WHOM CAN YOU SUE?
When it comes to commercial vehicle accidents, there may be any number of people that are liable. Aside from the drivers themselves, other parties, such as their employers or the manufacturers of the vehicles, may be responsible.
Commercial Vehicle Drivers
As with most accidents, the driver responsible for the accident may be held liable. If the commercial vehicle driver failed to take reasonable steps to avoid causing an accident, the driver may be liable for any injuries and damages you suffered. Drivers fail to mitigate the risk of an accident if they drive recklessly, such as speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or fail to obey other laws.
Additionally, truck drivers are required to do checks of their vehicles themselves before heading out on the road. If they fail to do so or discover unsafe conditions that they then ignore and choose to drive anyway, they can be held liable for the accident.
The Commercial Vehicle Company
Many drivers may be unable to fully compensate you for your injuries on their own. Nevertheless, you may be able to recover from the company that the driver works if they can be found liable for the accident. The trucking company may be liable for the accident for a variety of reasons.
First, the company may be held liable on the theory of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is a legal concept which states that employers may be held liable for any negligence by its employees while the employee was acting in the scope of employment, which in the case of trucking or commercial vehicle accidents means driving the commercial vehicles along their routes.
The company may also be liable if they failed to properly train their commercial vehicle drivers. Failure by the company to provide proper training for drivers, including training in accident prevention, properly securing trailers and cargo, and handling emergencies, could result in them being held liable.
Finally, the company could be held liable for failure to maintain their commercial vehicles. Like drivers, the company is responsible for routine maintenance of their vehicles and performing inspections to ensure the vehicles are functioning safely and properly. Failure to do so could result in liability if it is found that a problem with the commercial vehicle may have caused the accident.
What you can recover
You may be able to recover the costs associated with your injury and recovery through a personal injury claim. The severity of the injury and recovery time directly affects the amount of recovery for a personal injury action; your injury may leave you unable to work or perform daily tasks, and you might require ongoing medical care and extensive rehabilitative therapy. You may be able to recover the costs in the form of compensatory damages; an experienced personal injury lawyer can assist you in recovering the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
These types of damages available to victims of commercial vehicle accidents in Fort Collins include both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are the actual, monetary costs of your injury; these damages include medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other unanticipated costs of your injury such as transportation needs. Noneconomic damages cover the mental and emotional toll the injury has taken on your life and are recovered in the form of compensation for pain and suffering.
In pursing your claim, you may have to deal with the other person’s, or their employer’s insurance company. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you navigate this difficult legal terrain to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
How Zinda Can Help You
Suffering from an injury due to a commercial vehicle accident can be a source of immense emotional and financial strain on you and your family. It is important to get as much help and support as you can immediately following your or your loved one’s injury; we at Zinda Law Group are here to support you during this difficult time. Our Fort Collins personal injury lawyers can assist you with recovering the costs associated with your or your loved one’s injury and recovery.
Our experienced personal injury lawyers will guide you through the often-complex legal system to help file your claim and ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to. We will take care of the legal work so you can focus on yourself and your family during this time of recovery. If we do not win your case, you will not pay any fees; this is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you or a loved one has suffered from an injury after a commercial vehicle accident, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Fort Collins commercial vehicle accident attorneys.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.