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Three Crucial Points to Remember When Filing a Truck Accident Claim
Have you been wounded or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident? If this is the case, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or loss. Here are three things to keep in mind while submitting a truck accident claim.
Both state and federal laws govern the trucking industry.
Commercial trucking is a heavily regulated business due to the sheer size of the trucks involved and the danger to other road users. Both federal and state rules exist to protect the public from tractor-trailer accidents, and infractions may be used to prove carelessness if the truck is involved in an accident. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Regulations for Trucking in the United States
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the federal agency responsible for commercial vehicle regulation and safety monitoring. Truck driver weariness is a key focus of the legislation, both for their safety and the protection of others on the road.
To decrease accidents caused by driver weariness, the FMCSA has enacted rules that restrict the length of time a commercial truck driver may drive before taking a break. This regulation’s highlights are as follows:
All interstate drivers of commercial motor cars weighing more than 10,000 pounds in gross car weight or total gross weight and those transporting hazardous items in quantities requiring placards are subject to the hours of service restrictions.
After a period of off-duty time of 10 hours or longer, drivers transporting property have a 14-hour window to drive.
After eight hours of driving, the driver must take a 30-minute off-duty break.
During this 14-hour window, the driver may drive for up to 11 hours in a row. The Hours of Service rule mandates that drivers only work 60 hours every seven days or 70 hours every eight days, in addition to daily driving limitations.
Drivers may “restart” their 60 or 70-hour workweeks by taking at least 34 hours off duty in a row.
On-duty time includes all time spent at the motor carrier’s or shipper’s plant, terminal, facility, or other property, time spent inspecting, servicing, or conditioning the truck, time spent loading, unloading, supervising, or attending to the load in the truck, time spent dealing with paperwork related to shipments, and time spent travelling to and from a collection site to submit to mandated drug testing.
If drivers encounter unexpectedly bad driving conditions along their trip, they may be given an additional two hours of driving time.
Short-haul commercial drivers who do not need a CDL and operate within a 150-mile radius are exempt from the Hours of Service requirements.
Other federal laws that truck drivers must follow include:
Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace
Electronic logging devices
Medical criteria for duty fitness
Hands-free mobile phone use and the restriction of texting while driving
Hazardous material transportation
Regulations for Trucking in the State
Commercial truck drivers must also observe state requirements in addition to federal regulations. Suppose the truck weighs more than 26,000 pounds. In that case, the power unit has three or more axles, and the car is operating interstate, Colorado imposes the following regulations on truck drivers:
All commercial motor cars must have a valid and current tag registration.
If the truck weighs more than 26,000 pounds, the power unit has three or more axles, and the car operates interstate, a Department of Highway and Motor Cars fuel decal is required.
Regulations governing the tractor-height trailers and weight. The maximum weight for cars driving in Colorado is 80,000 pounds, with few exceptions. The car and trailer must have a combined height of no more than 13’6″.
A ticket and a civil penalty will be given to drivers whose cars are deemed to be overweight. Additionally, if the truck exceeds the weight restriction for particular highways or bridges by at least 6,000 pounds, the driver may be obliged to unload some of the cargo to pass.
The car must be in safe, operational condition.
A valid Colorado or U.S. Department of Transportation number must be shown.
There might be several parties that are at fault.
You may expect to seek reimbursement from the truck driver’s insurance company if you’re in an accident caused by a commercial truck driver and your losses exceed the limits of your injury protection policy, right? Both yes and no. It can become a little tricky. This is why.
Many truck drivers work for one firm but carry items for one or more other companies. However, there are exceptions. Their cars may be serviced and maintained by a separate firm, with components made and delivered by various other businesses.
I think you get the idea. When it comes to filing a personal injury claim after a truck accident, several parties may be liable to you, each with their insurance. Here are some scenarios in which many parties may be deemed to be negligent.
The truck driver who caused the accident was employed by the car’s owner. At the time of the accident, the driver tested positive for illicit substances, and your attorney’s research discovered that this wasn’t the first time the motorist had failed a drug test. Because the driver’s employer was aware of the failed tests but put him out on the road, the corporation may be responsible to you for damages.
The mechanic who repaired the truck in question omitted to execute a critical safety check before signing off on its roadworthiness. The mechanical breakdown that caused the collision would have been discovered during the safety inspection. As a consequence, the technician might be held accountable for your losses.
A faulty item on the truck involved in the collision failed, causing the accident. Because of the flaw, the maker and/or distributor of that component may be liable to you.
The merchandise was put onto the car involved in the accident by a third-party warehousing firm. Your lawyer determines that the weight inside the car moved abruptly, leading the truck driver to lose control. You may be liable to the warehousing business.
In a truck accident case, proving negligence is difficult.
These are just a few instances of how a truck accident might result in many parties being held liable for your injuries. Your attorney will frequently (but not always) need to show each party’s carelessness for a court to declare those parties at blame. Establishing negligence is a three-step procedure that includes:
You owed the defendant a duty of care. Each party’s duty of care may be different. A truck driver’s duty of care, for example, would be to operate a tractor-trailer safely. The trucking company’s duty of care would be to ensure that they have safe drivers with clean records, enough training, and acceptable work practices.
The mechanic’s duty of care would be to ensure the car is properly maintained and in excellent functioning condition. The warehouse company’s duty of care is to ensure that cargo is loaded and secured by safety regulations. It is not the responsibility of those who make and distribute semi-truck components to put faulty items into circulation.
There was a violation of that duty of care, and the breach resulted in your injuries.
The pure comparative negligence rule in Colorado personal injury law requires the judge or jury to assign a proportion of guilt for a personal injury to any party who may have caused it. This might be any or all of the defendants and the plaintiff (whose actions may also have contributed to an accident). If a party is determined to be responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, it must pay damages based on its share of blame.
For example, suppose the damage award for a truck accident is $100,000 and the truck driver is found to be 50% at fault. In that case, the trucking company is found to be 10% at fault, the shipping company is also found to be 10% at fault, and the claimant is found to be 30% at fault for the accident that caused his or her injury:
The claimant’s compensation would be reduced by $30,000 due to his or her involvement in the accident.
A $50,000 fine would be imposed on the truck driver and/or his insurance company.
A $10,000 fine would be imposed on the trucking firm and/or its insurance carrier; a $10,000 fine would be imposed on the shipping business and/or its insurance carrier.
Retaining the Services of a Truck Accident Lawyer to Represent You in Your Claim
As you can see from the material above, truck accidents may be significantly more complicated than a collision involving two passenger cars. Hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer may be beneficial in negotiating a settlement or taking legal action to get the money you need for your recovery. Investigating the accident to seek proof of guilt and prospective insurance policies to acquire the compensation sought is part of the attorney’s services to you. The attorney will investigate the following:
The reason for the accident. Was the driver drowsy? A review of his or her computerised driving records may reveal how many hours the driver worked. In addition, the police report may include a narrative that suggests the motorist fell asleep or was weary at the time of the accident. Is it true that the driver was not adequately trained? The firm for which he or she works should maintain a complete record of the driver’s employment history, including any training he or she received as part of the position.
When the driver was employed, what type of background check was done on him or her? Was the driver under the influence at the time of the collision? Was he or she speeding, and if so, did it happen before? Is his or her commercial driver’s license valid?
What does the black box on the car suggest happened at the time of the accident? When was the last time the car was serviced? What were the components that were used? Are there any components that have been recalled? What was the policy of the shipper when it came to choosing a transportation company? Is it true that such policies were followed?
How was the merchandise of the shipper placed onto the truck? What procedures were used to ensure that the weight was equally distributed throughout the truck? Was the shipment a dangerous substance? If so, where is the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety’s requirements followed throughout loading and transportation?
Were the acts of the motorist who caused the collision so heinous that punitive damages should be sought to punish them? These are just a few of the questions to which a knowledgeable attorney would seek answers.
Is the truck driver a self-employed individual or a corporate employee? When assessing probable at-fault parties, this is critical. All factors to consider are the amount of control the corporation has over the driver’s activities, who owns the truck, how the firm compensates the driver, and the degree of competence necessary.
The severity of your injuries Truck accidents often result in serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or limb loss. These kinds of injuries are often fatal. A competent personal injury lawyer will examine your injuries, prognosis, and even your future earning capability loss.
All of these data contribute to determining the worth of your case—that is, how much money a court could award in damages. Medical expenditures, future medical treatment, lost income, lost earning potential, loss of quality of life, and pain and suffering are all losses that may be recovered via a personal injury lawsuit.
Have You Been Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact Us Right Now!
Warrior Truck Accident Lawyers is glad to chat with you about the circumstances of your case and explore the legal alternatives that may be available to you if you were injured in a commercial truck accident in Colorado. Call Warrior Truck Accident Lawyers at 719-300-1100 or send us an email to book a free consultation.
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Colorado Springs, CO 80904