Truck Accident Attorneys in Denver Helping You Get the Compensation You Need
Several major interstates run through Colorado, including I-70 running east and west and I-25 running north and south. Therefore, Colorado has a large amount of truck traffic. TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based national transportation research nonprofit organization, estimated that $331.8 billion worth of goods moved through the state in 2020. Of that freight, 88% moved through the state by truck. With such a large amount of truck traffic in Colorado, accidents involving trucks are inevitable. In 2019, 4,119 people died in truck crashes in 2019 across the US. Most of the victims (67%) were driving or riding in motor vehicles.
Liability for accidents involving commercial trucks is much more complicated than other motor vehicle accidents. Responsible parties could include not only the driver of the truck, but also the trucking company, the company that owns or distributes the freight the truck is transporting, the company responsible for the maintenance of the trucking company’s fleet, or even the manufacturer of the truck or its parts.
Trucking companies are often large, international corporations with large legal departments full of aggressive attorneys who are tasked with protecting the company from accident claims. Trying to fight against these corporations without experienced professional legal representation would be an uphill battle.
Call Greer Law Group at our Denver office today at 303-331-6460 to speak to a skilled and knowledgeable truck accident attorney to level the playing field and get the compensation you need.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Colorado?
There are four main categories of causes for truck accidents:
- Driver error: In some truck accidents, the driver of the truck is at fault. The driver may be distracted by things such as texting, talking, or even watching videos on a cell phone or tablet, or they could be sleepy after driving too many hours without a break. In some cases, the driver may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Anything that mistake that the driver of a car can make to cause an accident can happen with a truck driver, too, but the consequences may be even more serious due to the increased size and weight of the truck.
- Problems with the truck or the load: If a truck is not maintained properly or if parts are defective, problems such as brake malfunction, loss of steering ability, or any other mechanical failure can cause serious accidents. Similarly, an improperly balanced or too-heavy load can cause a truck to swerve or even tip over, causing havoc on the highway.
- Environmental causes: Coloradans know how difficult it can be to drive in the snow and ice that we deal with on a regular basis. If the road is not maintained properly, either through slow or absent snow and ice removal or poor maintenance leading to dangerous potholes or crumbling asphalt, for example, truck drivers may have a hard time controlling their rig, and this can cause accidents.
Who is Liable for Damages in a Truck Accident?
If you are not at fault in an accident with a truck, there are many people or entities who may be liable. If the accident happened due solely to truck driver error, like a driver using drugs or alcohol, for example, or texting while driving, the driver may be the responsible party.
If, however, the trucking company knowingly broke rules or laws in the requirements it put on its driver, for example disregarding required limits on time driving without a break, the trucking company may be at fault. Federal regulations require truck drivers to be off duty for 10 hours after 11 hours of driving, to take a 30-minute break for every 8 hours of driving, and to
extend their off-duty period by 2 hours in case of dangerous weather conditions. All trucks now contain recording devices that keep track of the driver’s time behind the wheel, and these devices are both easy to access and hard to tamper with. If the driver violated these regulations and their employer looked the other way, or if the employer gave the driver deadlines that were impossible to meet without violating the regulations, the company may be held responsible.
Sometimes, accidents happen due to a defect in the manufacturing of the truck, itself. If a truck was defective and the manufacturing defect(s) caused your accident, you may be able to make a claim for damages against the manufacturer of the truck.
Required maintenance must be done, and if this step was skipped or done poorly, the company that was responsible for truck maintenance may be liable for your injuries in a truck accident.
Although it is rare, there are cases in which a government entity that is responsible for road maintenance may be held liable in a truck accident case if it failed to maintain the road in a satisfactory manner and that failure caused your truck accident.
What if I Am Found Partially Liable for My Truck Accident?
Some states prohibit plaintiffs from recovering any damages at all if they are partially at fault for their truck accident. This is called “contributory negligence.” Other states allow a partially at-fault plaintiff to recover damages that are reduced by the percentage of their own liability. This is known as “comparative negligence.” For example, a plaintiff that is found 20% liable would get 80% of the damage award in these states. Colorado, however, follows a modified version of comparative negligence, which combines aspects of both contributory negligence and pure comparative negligence.
In Colorado, you are allowed to recover damages reduced by the percentage of your liability, but only if your liability is under 50%. For example, if you are 10% liable for your accident, you could receive 90% of the damages awarded. If you are found 50% liable or more, however, you would not be eligible to receive damages at all in Colorado.
Is There a Limit on the Amount I Can Seek in Compensation for my Truck Accident in Colorado?
In a truck accident case in Colorado, there are three kinds of damages you may be awarded: economic (sometimes called pecuniary) damages, non-economic (non-pecuniary) damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages include all of the expenses that you incur as a direct result of injuries sustained in your truck accident. Some of the costs included in economic damages are medical bills, lost wages, the costs of required over-the-counter medications and medical devices such as wheelchairs or crutches, and non-medical expenses such as the cost of travel and lodging for out-of-town doctor visits.
There is no limit on the compensation that can be awarded for economic damages. The costs are straightforward and easily proven with receipts and pay stubs.
Non-economic damages involve compensation for the intangible losses and suffering caused by your injuries. Often referred to as “pain and suffering” damages, these can include compensation for such things as emotional distress, trauma-induced mental illness, physical pain, PTSD, the loss of activities or hobbies you previously enjoyed, and the loss of family or other important relationships, for example. These losses are more difficult to prove, but an experienced truck accident attorney can help.
Colorado limits non-economic damages, and the dollar amount changes approximately every two years. The current limit on non-economic damages in personal injury cases in Colorado, like those involving truck accidents, is $613,760 for incidents that occurred on or after January 1, 2020, and before January 1, 2022. For accidents that happen on and after January 1, 2022, and before January 1, 2024, the cap is $642,180.
In certain cases, however, the judge can increase the caps. The Colorado Secretary of State publishes a Certificate with all of the current damage caps, and it is a good idea to check it out to see what the caps are at the time of your personal injury claim.
Punitive damages, which are known as exemplary damages in Colorado, are awarded when the negligence of the liable party is especially egregious and irresponsible. The purpose of punitive damages is, as the name suggests, to punish the negligent party or parties, and also to serve as a deterrent to others who might engage in similar negligent or malicious behavior. In Colorado, punitive damages cannot be sought in an initial claim. Instead, once the case is underway, the court must determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant punitive damages and must instruct the jury regarding this type of award. Punitive damages in Colorado are limited to an amount equal to the total economic and non-economic damages awarded in the case, though there are certain exceptions that allow for higher amounts. For example, if the plaintiff is awarded $10,000 in a truck accident case, the most they could have added in punitive damages is most likely another $10,000, barring exceptional circumstances.
Punitive damages will most often be awarded if the court determines there has been:
- Fraud: Fraud is a false representation of facts with the intent to deprive the victim of legal rights.
- Malice: Malice is the intent or desire to cause harm to another person without justification.
- Willful or Wanton Conduct: Willful or wanton conduct is acting recklessly with disregard for the health and safety of others with knowledge that the behavior is likely to cause harm.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Negotiating a Settlement in My Truck Accident Case?
In Colorado, many truck accident cases are settled out of court. Trucking companies may be motivated to agree to these settlements as they can save on the costs of litigation if they can keep their case out of court. While it is never a good idea to agree to the first settlement offer you are given, in certain cases your truck accident attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement that has advantages for you. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to accept a settlement offer in a truck accident case. A skilled truck accident attorney will give you sound legal advice that takes into account the specifics of your situation. While this list cannot take the place of professional legal advice, here are a few general advantages and disadvantages of settling your truck accident claim out of court:
- The settlement process is often much quicker than a trial, and you may receive compensation sooner. This can be important to plaintiffs who are in dire financial straits as a result of their accident.
- There is less conflict between the two parties and no fault is assigned, which often makes the party who would likely be held liable in court more willing to negotiate.
- The negotiation process can go on while a court case is moving forward, and the fear of losing in court can make the defendant more generous in their settlement offer.
- Usually, the plaintiff must give up the right to future litigation. This can be a problem if further injuries appear later, or more information about the liability of the defendant comes to light.
- A settlement may be much less than the amount a plaintiff could be awarded in court.
- There will be no public accountability for the at-fault party.
The decision of whether to accept an out-of-court settlement in your truck accident case is a momentous one that can have lifelong repercussions. It is vital that you seek the advice of a skilled truck accident attorney before you accept any settlement in your truck accident case. Failure to do so could shortchange you and your family and leave you unable to recover from your losses, setting you back for decades, and maybe even for generations.
Why Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
If you have been in an accident with a semi-truck, chances are your injuries are severe, due to the extreme weight and size of these vehicles. As you recover, you are in no shape to be handling accident investigation, legal paperwork, or making your case in court. On top of that, you will likely be going up against a large corporation such as a trucking company or an insurance company, and those corporations employ teams of lawyers whose whole job is to fight against any claim made against them. Trying to get the compensation you need and deserve without the help of a skilled truck accident attorney would not be likely to end well for you, and the party at fault for your accident might walk away scot-free while you struggle to pay your medical bills and keep your family afloat.
Here at Greer Law Group, our truck accident attorneys understand how difficult it can seem to take on one of these big corporations, but we have done it, and we will do it again. We are here to stand beside you and give you peace of mind knowing that skilled professionals are on the case, fighting for you and the compensation you need and deserve. We will thoroughly investigate the accident, file all the necessary legal paperwork, and argue your case in court. The last thing you need is to spend your energy trying to build a case against the truck driver or company that caused your accident when what you should be doing is taking time to rest and recuperate. The truck accident attorneys at Greer Law Group have the right combination of compassion and grit to stand by your side and fight for what’s right. You are not alone. We will be with you, every step of the way. Our injury lawyers are here to help. 303-331-6460