Truck vs. Car Accidents: Not All Crashes Are the Same
A typical car accident can be expensive, frustrating, and frightening. Add an 18-wheeler to the mix, and things get even scarier. While car accidents and truck accidents go through similar processes, the nature of the crash and liability afterward can be quite different.
First and foremost, truck accidents usually cause much greater harm than car accidents due to the size and weight of most trucks. An 80,000-pound semi-truck making contact with a 3,000-pound car at a high speed can result in serious damage and injury for the car’s passengers. There are also certain types of accidents that are unique to trucks, like underride crashes, and they are particularly brutal.
Liability in a Car Accident
In a typical two-car accident, the determination of liability would fall under Colorado’s comparative negligence rule. If the other driver was completely at fault for the crash, this rule doesn’t apply and the driver and his insurance company would be liable for all damages. When both parties are to blame for some part of the accident, however, comparative fault dictates that damages are reduced by the percentage at which the plaintiff was at fault.
For example, let’s say you were involved in a car accident that was essentially the other driver’s fault. He was driving distracted and ignored right-of-way rules. However, you were speeding at the time of the crash, which may have aggravated what happened. Under the rule, a jury may decide that you were 20% responsible for the accident, thus you will receive 80% of your total damages award. If a jury awards you $100,000, you will actually receive $80,000.
After a car accident, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney will work through the details of the crash in order to prove that the other driver was liable for your damages. Your attorney will then fight to ensure you receive appropriate compensation for medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering from the driver’s insurance company.
Liability in a Truck Accident
With car accidents, it is rare for anyone other than the at-fault driver (and his or her insurance company) to be considered liable for damages. When a truck is involved, however, liability becomes more complex. This is because an 18-wheeler is almost always a commercial vehicle, where the driver is working on behalf of a trucking company.
Because the driver is on the job at the time of the crash, the owner of the truck and the company that leased the truck can also be considered liable. The truck manufacturer and loader of the truck’s cargo could also be found liable if a faulty part or improper loading of cargo contributed to the accident. Under federal law, any company owning a truck permit is responsible for all accidents involving that truck, regardless of whether the accident was due solely to driver error or the driver was an independent contractor.
Commercial trucks are also subject to more regulation than a personal vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation regulate maintenance of trucks, special driver’s licenses and qualifications, annual inspections, and log books. Violations of these regulations can contribute to a truck company or other party’s liability in the event of an accident. They could be on the hook for extra damages as punishment.
Work with an Experienced Truck Crash Attorney
At the end of the day, there’s one more thing you should know about commercial trucking accidents—their insurers are aggressive, and will attack your claim to keep from paying you anything. Newer trucks have “black boxes” that dial the trucking company’s insurer directly after a crash. In fact, some times, the insurance company will get there to “fix” the scene before the police. Don’t wade through the intricacies of Colorado law and negotiate with the insurance company alone. Also, you don’t want an attorney who treats car accidents and truck accidents as if they are the same. They’re not.
Insurance companies are experts at reducing a claim to the bare minimum without victims even knowing what they are losing. This is especially true for commercial companies with multi-million dollar insurance policies, tough insurance adjusters, and deep resources.
A knowledgeable, just-as-tough legal team will know how to handle a truck or car accident in Grand Junction, and will use the specifics of your accident to help you get the compensation you deserve. If you’ve recently been involved in a truck accident and would like to discuss it with a Grand Junction personal injury attorney, give Peters & Nolan, LLC, a call at (970) 243-4357. Your consultation is free.
Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.