Partial Fault in Trucking Accidents
When a trailer truck or other commercial vehicle collides with a passenger vehicle, the results can be devastating. The size and weight difference between vehicles almost always means that the passenger car will suffer the most damage. This does not mean that the passenger vehicle is never at fault, however. There are plenty of instances when a car is at least partially liable for a truck accident, which can significantly reduce or even negate a settlement. Read our article to learn about partial fault in trucking accidents and what it means for your personal injury case.
Common Causes of Partial Liability in Trucking Accidents
Drivers of private vehicles are responsible for obeying the rules of the road and operating their car in a safe, predictable manner. Very simply, if a driver breaks a traffic law and a crash ensues, he or she can be held liable. Some of the more common cases where passenger vehicles contribute to trucking accidents include:
Following Too Closely Causes Truck Accidents
It is against the law in Colorado to follow any vehicle too closely, including commercial trucks. Leave more space between your vehicle and the rear of the truck than you would ordinarily. Colorado actually requires 3 seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Give yourself an extra second or two when a truck is involved.
Passing Illegally in Trucking Accidents
It is also illegal to pass any vehicle on the right in Colorado. This is especially dangerous to do when a truck is involved, since their visibility is already reduced and their blind spot is larger. Pass only on the left hand side and do so as quickly as possible without speeding. It is also wise to avoid passing trucks while going uphill or downhill. The weight of the truck can make their acceleration or deceleration somewhat unpredictable in these cases.
Speeding in Commercial Vehicle Collisions
If you were driving well above the speed limit when the truck accident occurred, you will likely be found partially at fault. Avoid speeding at all times, but especially around trucks. Don’t attempt to speed up to pass a truck that is already driving at or above the limit.
Accidents Caused By Ignoring Traffic Signals
Running a red light or speeding through a yellow when a truck is attempting to make a left turn can result in t-bone accidents that can be especially damaging. Trucks should yield to oncoming traffic, and Colorado law does permit drivers to continue through a yellow light. Just be sure you have ample time to make it through the intersection all the way and keep your eyes open for any trucks attempting to turn.
Comparative Negligence in Colorado Trucking Accidents
Under Colorado law, injured parties of a trucking accident have the right to seek compensation, even if they are found partially responsible. This is a statute known as comparative negligence, and it is calculated as a percentage of liability. For example, if you were in a truck accident and found to be 25 percent responsible for following a bit too closely, your settlement will be reduced by that amount.
Comparative negligence only applies when a claimant’s percentage of liability is less than or equal to the other driver. For example, if you are 51 percent responsible and the truck driver is 49 percent responsible, you cannot seek compensation under the comparative negligence law. This is why it is very important to seek professional advice from a truck accident attorney. A single percentage point can mean the difference between a settlement or nothing.
Other states adopt what is known as “contributory negligence.” Contributory negligence prevents an individual from seeking any damages if they were found in any way responsible for the crash, partial or otherwise.
Truck Accident Attorney in Colorado
Trucking accidents are complicated, even when fault seems fairly clear. When comparative negligence comes into play, you will especially want to have an experienced attorney on your side. Your truck accident lawyer will be able to build a case to help prevent your settlement from being unfairly reduced under comparative negligence, ensuring you are awarded fairly for the injuries you suffered.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident in Colorado, contact David Roth with the Roth Group. Dave is a highly experienced Denver truck accident attorney who works tirelessly to help his clients receive fair compensation. Call or go online today to schedule your free consultation.