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Trucking accidents are common and can be devastating. It’s also important to know what to do after a truck accident should you ever become a truck accident victim. This article will discuss some important topics relating to trucking accidents, including common causes, how to file a claim, and what forms of compensation may be available to you following a wreck.
If you have been injured in a trucking accident and would like to learn more about filing a claim, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Boulder attorneys.
COMMON CAUSES OF TRUCKING ACCIDENTS
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Truck drivers have demanding schedules. Sometimes, a truck driver may be on the road for twelve or more hours a day. Pressure to meet deadlines and reach target destinations is an additional source of stress. These factors often combine to increase a driver’s fatigue, thus increasing the chances that the driver causes a wreck.
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A truck driver who has been drinking or using drugs puts other motorists in serious danger. Alcohol and drug use can impair a driver’s focus and coordination, which may lead to a wreck.
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Taking your eyes off the road even for just a moment increases the risk of causing a wreck. For instance, texting while driving or eating while driving may subject a truck driver to liability if his or her negligence caused the collision.
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Some trucking companies neglect or entirely fail to properly train their employees. As a result, these employees may be ill-equipped to handle and operate a commercial vehicle. These inexperienced drivers may pose an increased risk of causing a trucking accident.
Trucking companies may also contribute to commercial vehicle accidents by neglecting to properly maintain company trucks. For instance, insufficient maintenance can lead to overworn tire treads, faulty brakes, or overly dim headlights. These mechanical issues may ultimately prove to be the cause of an automobile accident. In such cases, the trucking company may be held liable for negligence.
COMMON TRUCKING ACCIDENT INJURIES
Unfortunately, trucking accidents have the potential to be fatal. This is especially the case for accidents involving elderly persons, small children, or passengers who are not wearing a seatbelt.
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Head, Neck, and Brain Injuries
Head, neck, and brain injuries are some of the most prevalent and severe forms of trucking accident injuries. For instance, the victim of a trucking accident may suffer whiplash, a type of head and neck injury that results when a person’s head is quickly and suddenly forced backward. In some cases, brain injuries such as a concussion may occur.
Cuts, Scarring, and Permanent Disfigurement
Lacerations and bruising are other common trucking accident injuries. Seatbelts may cause serious skin rash. When seatbelts are not worn, a collision may lead to a passenger being ejected from their vehicle, which may cause permanent disfigurement or death.
Spinal Injuries and Paralysis
Spinal cord injuries are closely related to head and neck injuries. These types of injuries are also common in trucking accident cases. Because trucking accidents are often high-speed collisions, the forceful impact of the wreck may be sufficient to injure the spine.
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WHAT TO DO AFTER A TRUCKING ACCIDENT
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Seeking immediate medical attention is the first and most important step to take after being involved in a trucking accident. Even if the injuries do not appear to be serious, receiving prompt medical attention may not only increase your chances of recovering from the injuries sustained in the accident, but it may also prevent future related injuries from occurring.
Document as Much as Possible
One of the most important and often overlooked steps to take following a trucking accident is to “document” the accident by creating a thorough record of the incident. Properly documenting the accident will require you to keep important items such as:
- Copies of any police reports or accident reports
- Photographs of the vehicles and resulting damage
- Photographs of your injuries as a result of the accident
- Photographs of the scene of the accident
- Witness statements
- Medical bills
- Pharmacy bills
- Rehabilitation bills
- Car repair estimates
Exchange Information with the Truck Driver
After an accident with a tractor-trailer, it is not only important, but also legally required, to exchange information with the truck driver. If a driver refuses to exchange information with you, you may call local authorities to assist you.
When exchanging information with the driver, remember to collect the following pieces of information:
- Name of the driver
- Driver’s license number
- Driver’s phone number
- Driver’s address
- Name of driver’s employer
- Employer’s phone number
- Employer’s address
- License plate of vehicle
- Insurance company and policy number(s)
Do Not Admit Fault or Make Any Statement About the Accident
One common mistake made by trucking accident victims is to admit fault for all or a portion of the accident. For instance, a trucking accident victim may admit to the driver that he was texting when the accident occurred. Because such admissions may diminish to destroy the value of your claim, it is critical that you remember to never admit fault or make any statement regarding the accident. Even if you believe that you caused the accident, you should refrain from admitting or accepting any type of fault.
Be Cautious When Speaking with Insurance Companies
After a trucking accident, an insurance company that insures the driver or the trucking company may contact the victim. During these communications, the insurance company may encourage the victim to make a statement regarding the accident. The insurance company may then use this statement against the victim to reduce the value of the victim’s claim. Remember that you have the right to refuse to speak with the other insurance company until you have consulted with an attorney.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
Finally, you should consider consulting with an experienced Boulder trucking accident lawyer. A trucking accident attorney may gather the facts of your case provide valuable legal advice moving forward. An attorney may also act as an intermediary between you and insurance companies, ensuring that your rights are fully protected after an accident. Finally, should the case go to trial, a trucking accident lawyer may advocate on your behalf in front of a judge and jury.
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WHO CAN I SUE?
The victim of a trucking accident may sue the truck driver if the driver caused the accident. For instance, if the truck driver was driving while intoxicated or texting while driving, a trucking accident victim may be able to pursue legal action against the truck driver.
The Trucking Company
Another party that may be sued is the trucking company. Generally, employers are liable for the negligent actions of their employees when the employees are on the job. If a trucking company was negligent in its hiring, supervision, or retention of one of its employees, the trucking company may be held liable for a victim’s injuries.
A Third Party
Third parties such as car part manufacturers may also be held liable for trucking accidents under certain circumstances. For instance, if a brake manufacturer supplied a trucking company with defective brakes, the manufacturer who made or sold the defective brakes may be subject to liability.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR COMPENSATION
If a lawsuit is brought against a truck driver or trucking company, the driver, the company, or the insurance carrier may be held liable for causing the wreck. In such cases, the at-fault party may have to compensate the victim for any harm suffered. The damages that may be awarded to a victim of a trucking accident are separated into two general categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages that can be accounted for and calculated. The primary components of economic damages involved in tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income (present and future)
- Property damage
The phrase “medical bills” encompasses all costs paid by the victim for services, such as hospital visits, doctors’ appointments, pharmaceuticals, rehabilitation services, and physical therapy. Lost income refers to time missed from work due to injuries sustained as a result of the accident. If the injury prevents or impairs the victim’s ability to work beyond the date of the accident, lost income may also include the victim’s loss in earning capacity. Property damage refers to damage inflicted to the victim’s vehicle and personal belongings.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are subjectively evaluated by the jury in a lawsuit. Types of non-economic damages involved in a trucking accident case may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages are a separate type of damages that may also be awarded, depending on the circumstances of the case. Although punitive damages are rare, they may be awarded in cases where the at-fault party’s conduct was found to be especially reckless or intentional.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
A “statute of limitations” is a legal time limit by which an accident victim must initiate a lawsuit. If the victim fails to file a claim within the relevant statute of limitations, the victim may be effectively barred from litigating the claim in court.
In Colorado, there is typically a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims arising out of a motor vehicle accident, such as a truck accident. This means that a trucking accident victim must file a lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident.
In certain cases, the statute of limitations may be extended or “tolled.” Tolling has the effect of giving a victim extra time to initiate a lawsuit. However, it is important to remember that tolling a statute of limitations is an exception, not the norm.
Discussing the facts and details of your case with an attorney may help you better understand the implications of a statute of limitations.
OUR BOULDER ATTORNEYS ARE READY TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS
At Zinda Law Group, our Boulder trucking accident attorneys have years of experience handling and settling trucking accident cases. While you focus on recovering from your injuries, our team may focus on protecting your rights.
Our firm also believes that an injury victim should not have to worry about being able to afford high-quality legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case.
If you would like to discuss the details of your case with an experienced Boulder injury lawyer, or to learn more about your rights following a trucking accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free case evaluation.
Meetings with attorneys are by appointment only.
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), & NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021)
AWARDED TO JACK ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA & JOE CAPUTO
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