Truck accidents can be devastating in the extent of the injuries and damage they cause. A collision involving a large commercial truck, such as an 18-wheeler, can total a smaller car and cause incapacitating injuries to its occupants. If you or a loved one was recently involved in a truck accident in Aurora, you will need to determine who is liable – or legally responsible – before you can file a claim for financial damages.
Is Colorado a No-Fault Truck Accident State?
The first step is understanding how your state handles traffic accident cases in general. Like most states, Colorado uses a fault-based or tort-based insurance law. With a fault-based system, everyone involved in a traffic accident seeks final compensation from the insurance provider of the at-fault driver or party.
A truck accident in Colorado is no exception; liability for the crash will go to the person or party most at fault. Before you can hold a defendant liable for your truck accident, however, you or your lawyer must prove that the defendant was negligent or failed to use proper care. In a no-fault state, on the other hand, a driver seeks compensation from his or her own insurance provider, regardless of fault.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Colorado?
The next step is determining the cause of your truck accident. This often takes an in-depth investigation. After a collision involving a truck, don’t admit fault or apologize for the wreck. Call the police to report the crash and give the police officer your version of events before you leave the scene. The police, the trucking company and your car insurance company will most likely investigate the crash promptly to determine its cause. The top causes of truck accidents in Colorado include:
- Truck driver errors
- Truck driver fatigue and broken hours-of-service regulations
- Other broken federal or state laws
- Distracted truck drivers
- Following too closely
- Drunk or drugged truck drivers
- Large blind spots/unsafe lane changes
- Wide turns
- Truck equipment breakdowns
- Poor fleet maintenance
- Lost cargo loads
Determining the cause of a commercial truck accident may require an analysis of evidence such as photographs, video or traffic camera surveillance footage, the truck’s black box, the truck driver’s cell phone records, eyewitness accounts of what happened, the trucking company’s safety compliance records, accident reconstruction, and opinions from experts. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you determine the cause of the truck accident – especially if an insurance company is blaming you.
Liable Parties in a Truck Accident Case
Determining the cause of your truck accident in Colorado allows you to name the appropriate defendant(s), or the party or parties you are holding liable. If the truck driver is at fault for distracted driving, for example, the individual driver could be held liable. Under federal laws, however, trucking companies are vicariously liable for most accidents involving their trucks and drivers, even if the driver is an independent contractor.
Vicarious liability means that an employer absorbs responsibility for the negligence of its workers. This rule means that trucking companies are liable for most truck accidents in Colorado. A trucking company could be liable both if its driver was negligent or if the company itself was negligent. Trucking company negligence may take the form of improper driver hiring and training procedures, broken federal safety regulations, or a lack of truck maintenance
It is also possible for the liable party in your truck accident case in Colorado to be a third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective truck part, the cargo company, a truck maintenance crewmember or the government for unsafe road conditions. This is why it is important to consult with an attorney about your truck accident case before accepting an insurance settlement. An attorney can explore all of your available options for financial compensation.