While it’s true that truck accidents aren’t as widely publicized as car accidents, they almost always result in injuries and property damage that far exceeds that of a car accident. A vehicle is considered a truck if it weighs more than 10,000 pounds, and some trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds. A car only weighs around 3000 pounds. When you think of that amount of momentum in terms of a collision, it’s no wonder the property damage and injuries are so extreme.
The enormous size and weight of a truck are what causes the injuries and fatalities when a truck is involved in an accident. And this doesn’t take into consideration the weight, mass, and hazard potential of the cargo a truck may be carrying when loaded. When a truck collides with a car, the result is nearly always horrific.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or IIHS reports that over 500,000 trucks were involved in accidents in the United States in 2010. As a result of those accidents, there were over 5000 fatalities and 100,000 injured individuals. Yet in 2009, there were only 3200 fatalities directly caused by truck accidents. That is an enormous increase, and experts predict that these numbers will rise as more and more trucks enter our roadways each year to keep up with commerce.
Negligence in Truck Accidents
From your attorney’s legal perspective, a truck accident is defined as a series of incidents involving a vehicle over 10,000 pounds resulting in bodily injury or death, and property damage to one or more vehicles. It is often the case that truck accidents are caused by the driver of the truck due to negligence in one or more areas, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
If you’ve been the victim of a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries and any property damage your vehicle sustained. Damages can include your medical expenses to treat the injuries you suffered in the accident, loss of income from not being able to work while you recovered, pain and suffering, as well as the cost of having your vehicle repaired or replaced. If a member of your immediate family was killed due to a truck driver’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation for damages relating to their death, including loss of consortium and burial expenses, and medical treatments that were necessary prior to their death due to injuries sustained in the accident.
In order to obtain compensation for damages, a few criteria must be met in regards to proving negligence:
- The truck driver’s negligence must have caused the accident.
- The accident must have been the cause of the injuries or death that occurred.
- Injuries that occurred must be severe enough that compensable damages are warranted.
Your attorney will prove negligence by utilizing several different means, such as police reports, photographs, eyewitness testimony, and accident reconstruction. This is why it’s so vital to have an attorney representing you who is experienced with truck accidents, such as the attorneys at Marathon Law. Attorneys Malissa Williams and Jeffry Dougan know that all the evidence must be carefully collected and preserved so that it may be used in your case against the negligent truck driver.
What Causes Colorado Truck Accidents?
There are many reasons why truck accidents occur, and a wide array of circumstances that can contribute to a truck accident. Simple traffic violations such as improper lane changes, driving over the speed limit, unsafe merging, or following too closely can have heinous consequences. Laws are put in place to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe, and when those laws are broken, that’s when accidents occur. When it is the driver of a truck that breaks traffic laws, the results are devastating due to the sheer weight and mass of a truck, especially if driving at high speeds. Add to the mix fatigue or alcohol or drug use, and reaction time is lessened. It is a recipe for disaster.
Usually, the main cause of a truck accident is driver error. There are so many conditions, and combinations of conditions, that result in driver error, such as:
- Fatigue or lack of sleep
- Driving while intoxicated by illicit drugs, alcohol, or even prescription drugs
- Reckless driving
- Improper truck cargo loading
- Insufficient truck driver training
Driving while sleepy and fatigued is the number one reason that truck drivers get into accidents. There are rules in place for truck drivers to specifically guard against this happening.
- A truck driver must not drive more than 14 consecutive hours.
- A truck driver must not drive over 60 hours during any consecutive seven-day period.
- A truck driver must take 34 consecutive hours off of driving after they have engaged in a seven- or eight-day work cycle.
Another common cause of truck accidents is equipment failure. It is both the truck driver and the commercial trucking company employing the truck driver, responsibility to perform scheduled maintenance on the trucks they own. Maintenance includes regular attention to brakes, engine, fuel line, chassis, wheels and tires, hitches, lighting, and engine.
Road and Driving Conditions
Poorly maintained road, faulty road design, and inclement driving conditions are also the cause of many truck accidents. In the case of road maintenance and design, it is the government body responsible for upkeep and proper road design that is at fault for the accident. In the case of inclement driving conditions, it is the responsibility of the truck driver to know the limitations of his or her truck, and his or her driving skills, when driving in snow, rain, hail, or fog.
Truck Accident Injuries
As one would expect, there are many severe injuries that result from truck accidents. These injuries can be so severe that they are life-changing, or even fatal. Catastrophic injuries may include:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries – Violent trauma to the head results in the brain ricocheting around in your skull. This can cause concussions resulting in personality changes, loss of visual acuity, and loss of balance, to name just a few permanent symptoms.
- Spinal Injury – Neck or back spinal injuries can cause partial or full paralysis.
- Back Injury – Damage to the gel-like discs between your vertebrae can cause excruciating pain and debilitation. Often, the pain is treatable, but it may never completely go away.
- Fractures, Cuts, and Bruising – These can also be severe, and while these types of injuries heal relatively quickly, they often accompany other injuries that take longer to recover from.
- Burns – If the cargo of the truck is flammable, burns will often occur resulting in permanent disfigurement and extreme pain.
If you’ve been the victim of a truck accident, we encourage you to call us for a free consultation. At Marathon Law, we are truck accident experts, and we can evaluate your case, estimate what your case is worth, and take the burden of filing your case off of your mind so that you can spend your time and energy properly healing from your injuries. You can contact us by phone at 303-704-1222 or via our online contact page.