More than ninety people die every day as a result of a car collision. The U.S. has an average of six million car accidents every year. What happens when that accident involves a large truck?
With about 70% of all merchandise in the US. being moved by truck, you have a good chance of tangling with one on the roadways. Seventy-four percent of fatal passenger collisions include a large truck.
How do you know whether you need a truck accident lawyer or a car accident lawyer? Let’s take a look at the differences.
Truck Accident Facts
One of the top causes of large truck accidents is vehicle defects. The other problem is that the truck’s weight requires a considerably longer distance to stop. A tractor-trailer hauling a full load takes about 20-40% more distance to stop than a car does.
One of the most dangerous things a car can do is cut in front of a semi when vehicles ahead are stopping. Your actions on the road may result in you being found contributorily negligent in a lawsuit.
The Difference Between Car and Truck Accidents
The basics of car and truck accidents are similar. There are unique issues when accidents involve a large truck. This includes a higher likelihood that those in the car will suffer catastrophic injuries.
An average car is 10-14 feet long, about 6-1/4 feet wide, around five feet tall, and weighs between 2,000 to 6,000 pounds. It stands little chance of survival against a semi-truck that is about 72 feet long, 8-1/2 feet wide, 13-1/2 feet tall, and weighs around 80,000 pounds.
It is not unusual for the car occupants to suffer a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, bone fractures, paralysis, severe burns, amputations, or death. Because of this, the amount awarded in truck accidents is usually higher than that of collisions involving motorcycles or other cars.
In truck accidents, beyond the standard police report, there may be investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The information in their reports may play an important part in your lawsuit.
Why You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer
When you suffer injuries in a truck accident, you need an attorney with experience in automotive law, truck law, and personal injury law. All of these factor into filing a lawsuit or going to trial.
Trucking companies pay big bucks to keep attorneys on retainer. Using an attorney who is knowledgeable in all three types of law is necessary for a proper assessment and litigation of your accident.
The insurance company or truck company attorneys may offer you a settlement. Do not sign anything. Once you sign a settlement you give up your right to file a lawsuit.
Do not succumb to pressure tactics such as “this is a one-time offer and if you don’t agree you lose it.” That simply isn’t true when you have an attorney. Your attorney is going to look at your long-term medical prognosis when deciding if an offer is appropriate.
Truck Accident Lawyer v. Car Accident Lawyer
The basics of traffic law, court rules, and personal injury law are similar when filing a lawsuit. You need an attorney with experience in both car and truck accidents because of special aspects to a trucking accident lawsuit.
In Colorado, a truck driver’s CDL license may be suspended if they cause an accident. The driver may be sued in civil court if the accident resulted in you suffering serious injuries. Colorado considers the following to be serious trucker violations:
- Speeding 15 mph or more above the posted limit
- Driving recklessly with willful disregard for the safety of others
- Making improper or dangerous lane changes
- Following vehicles too closely
- Driving without a CDL or without carrying a CDL
When filing a civil lawsuit you need to prove the driver’s negligence. The truck driver has a duty to drive in a safe and prudent manner. You must show the driver was negligent in their duty, causing the accident.
You must also show you suffer from injuries that are the direct and proximate result of the driver’s negligence and because of that, you suffer damages. Your damages are the cost of your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Your attorney will review all evidence and reports to determine if there are others who need to be sued. The truck driver may be the only defendant in a case, or there may be multiple defendants. This determination is made by knowing the laws and obligations of drivers, trucking companies, and maintenance facilities.
A trucking company may be liable if their driver is not properly trained or the company did not verify the driver’s credentials. In this case, both the company and driver may be liable. Other areas of liability to consider include:
- Failure to inspect and maintain trucks, resulting in company liability
- Manufacturing defects making manufacturer liable
- Repairs not properly performed, resulting in a repair facility being liable
- A loading company overloading or loading out of balance, resulting in an accident
- The city or county not remedying dangerous road conditions, contributing to the accident
In each of these cases, your personal injury attorney may need to sue more than one defendant. The legal term for this legal requirement is Joinder of Parties and is set forth in Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Colorado law restricts the amount of damages you can recover based on comparative negligence. This means if you are found to be partially at fault, your monetary award will be reduced by the applicable percentage. For example, if you are found to be 40% at fault in the accident, the driver will only be liable for 60% of the damage award.
Statute of Limitations and Rights
Each state establishes a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims. In Colorado, it is two years for personal injury and three years for negligence. This can be confusing and if you miss the appropriate deadline to file, your case will result in a dismissal.
This is what happens if you file a personal injury case within three (3) years of a truck accident. You need to meet the personal injury two-year statute.
It is advisable to contact a personal injury attorney as soon after your car or truck accident as possible. They will know how to apply the statute of limitations to your case and make sure everything is filed in a timely manner.
Many people are not aware of their rights following a crash resulting in the death of a family member. If the other driver is at fault immediate family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit and recover the financial loss from their loved one’s death. Your truck accident attorney will advise you on this option.
Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
When you are suffering injuries from an accident, you need to concentrate on your recovery, not negotiating a settlement. At Sweet Law, we provide you with a free and confidential consultation with an experienced truck accident lawyer. We collect no fee unless we win your case.
We understand that when an accident happens you want answers now. That is why we are available 24/7 by phone, text, or email us any time day or night.
Call us at 1-800-674-7854 regarding truck or auto accidents, personal injury, wrongful death, or disability. We are here to help!