Do You Need An Attorney After a Truck Accident?
There are about 3 million semi trucks in operation across the United States. The average truck is about 72 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 14 feet tall. Even with nothing in the cargo bay, an unladen semi truck can weigh as much as 35,000 lbs. When towing cargo, the US allows for a total weight of up to 80,000 pounds. For reference, that is about the weight of ten Asian elephants.
Suffice to say, semi trucks are big. As a result, accidents involving these trucks can have devastating consequences. About 500,000 truck accidents occur each year in the US, about 1 percent of which involve fatalities.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government agency that regulates trucking within the US. They have identified three main categories used to determine the root cause of trucking accidents.
1. Driver Cause of Semi-Truck Accident
The first potential cause of a trucking accident relates to driver negligence or inexperience. The driver category of accidents is further divided into four sub-categories:
This sub-category describes a situation where the driver was physically unable to operate the truck safely. It includes medical events (such as cardiac arrest) or when the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
This often pertains to distracted driving that resulted in failure to recognize a dangerous situation. The driver may have been texting, for example.
This means the driver made a poor decision that resulted in the accident and includes traffic violations, such as speeding or following too closely.
This may be due to inexperience or panic under pressure, either of which caused the driver to mishandle the vehicle. He or she may have neglected to use a runaway ramp, for example, or slammed on the brakes at high speed.
2. Vehicle-Related Truck Accident
An accident falls under this category when it occurred because of a mechanical issue with the vehicle. This includes when brakes fail, the engine malfunctions, or a tire blows suddenly.
3. Environmental Cause of Accident
Crashes that occur due to environmental conditions or unforeseen road hazards fall under this category. This might include blizzards, floods, or other severe weather conditions. It also describes situations where the road was poorly maintained or when an animal was involved.
What To Do After a Truck Accident
If you are involved in any motor vehicle accident, your first priority should be your safety. Once you are in the process of recovering from your injuries, you will want to hire an attorney. Unlike car accidents, which can often be solved outside the courtroom, truck accidents nearly always require the assistance of an experienced truck accident lawyer. This is for several reasons:
- Truck accidents are more complex, often involving more than one vehicle
- Truck drivers are heavily insured and will be financially backed by their company
- More than one person may be responsible for your injuries, further complicating the process
- Injuries sustained from truck accidents often require longer recovery times, and victims may be unable to file a timely claim
- If someone was killed in the crash, you will need to seek legal assistance in filing a wrongful death claim.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help Your Case
As mentioned above, truck drivers are heavily insured, and the companies they represent have their own attorneys. A good truck accident lawyer can help level the playing field in the courtroom and make sure you are not bullied into accepting a low-ball settlement. In addition to compensation for your damaged property and medical bills, a truck accident lawyer can help you seek damages in the form of:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
- Punitive damages
How Long Do You Have to File Your Truck Accident Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for truck accident cases in Colorado is three years. Damages related to wrongful death, however, are limited to two years.
How to Select a Lawyer for a Truck Accident Case?
When interviewing attorneys for your truck accident case, you will first and foremost want to feel comfortable. If you can’t talk to your attorney, there is no point in moving forward with what can be an arduous and emotional process. In addition to a positive first impression, look for the following qualities in your potential lawyer:
You will need someone who has handled truck accidents before. General personal injury attorneys can handle these cases, but it is preferable to work with someone who has specific experience with truck accident litigation. Again, truck accidents are complicated, and having someone who is familiar with the process will be a huge advantage.
Your attorney should not just have experience in the courtroom. If an attorney is not willing to go to trial for your case, search elsewhere.
Good Online Reviews
Research your candidate online and see what kind of reviews they have on Google and Yelp. Look for plenty of 5 star ratings and endorsements that mention qualities such as “dedication” and “professionalism.”
Are There Attorneys Who Specialize in Truck Accidents?
Truck accident cases fall under the category of personal injury. When selecting your lawyer, look for a personal injury attorney who has plenty of experience dealing with truck and motor vehicle accidents.
David Roth is an experienced truck accident attorney in Colorado and has helped hundreds of clients, both in and out of the courtroom. If you have been involved in a truck accident and need help, please contact our office or go online to schedule a free consultation.