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What to Do After a Semi-Truck Accident in CO

Semi-Truck Accident

There’s a reason why people use the phrase like being hit by a Mack truck to describe something disastrous and impactful. Semi-truck accidents can be catastrophic, both in terms of physical injuries and emotional trauma.

The statistics in the United States are staggering, with tens of thousands of accidents involving these tractor-trailers every year. If you experience the misfortune of being involved in a semi-truck accident, you need to know what to do in the aftermath, understand the legal aspects, and how a qualified attorney can help.

The Grim Reality of Semi-Truck Accidents

Before we delve into the steps you should take post-accident, you should understand the gravity of the issue. Semi-trucks, (also known as tractor-trailers, big rigs, or 18-wheelers), are a ubiquitous sight on American roads. They support the American economy by transporting goods from East to West and everywhere in between. However, their size, stopping distance, and driver error can pose a significant risk to other motorists and pedestrians.

Here are some sobering facts about semi-truck accidents in the United States:

Accident Frequency: The most recent national data shows that there were over 500,000 large truck accidents in the space of a year. The good news is that only about 1% of these accidents resulted in fatalities; however, around 22% did cause injuries.

Where Accidents Often Take Place: Some of these facts may surprise you, but the majority of tractor-trailer accidents happen during the daytime on non-interstate roads. A semi-truck accident is also slightly more likely to happen in urban areas versus rural – about 55% vs. 45%.

Big Rig Size and Impact: The average semi-truck weighs about 20-30 times the average passenger car, posing a significant danger to smaller vehicles, especially when fully loaded and traveling at high rates of speed.

Truck Driver Fatigue: Long hours on the road can lead to driver fatigue, a major contributor to truck accidents. While regulations are in place to limit driving hours, violations are not uncommon.

Braking Distance: Have you ever noticed those runaway truck ramps? That’s because semi trucks require significantly more distance to come to a complete stop compared to passenger vehicles – especially in the case of brake failure. This increased stopping distance can increase the chances of rear-end collisions and other types of accidents.

Regardless of the statistics, we all know that we have to share the road with large trucks, so in the event that you’re involved in a crash with one of these vehicles, it’s important to know what to do.

What to Do After a Semi-Truck Accident

Ensure Your Safety

Your first priority after a collision is your safety and that of your passengers.

If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location. Turn on your hazard lights, and if it's safe to exit your vehicle, do so. Check on the well-being of your passengers and any other involved parties. If there are injuries, call 911 for immediate medical assistance.

Exchange Information

Next, you should exchange information with the truck driver and any witnesses. Obtain the following:

  • Name, contact information, and insurance details of the truck driver.
  • The trucking company's name and contact information.
  • License plate numbers of all vehicles involved.
  • Names and contact information of any witnesses.

This information is crucial for insurance claims and potential legal claims.

Document the Scene

In the age of smartphones, documenting the scene has never been easier. Take photos of the accident, vehicle damage, road conditions, and any relevant traffic signs or signals. This visual evidence can be invaluable later on, especially if you pursue legal action.

Report the Accident

Report the accident to the local authorities. A police report can provide an objective account of the incident, which can be essential for your insurance claim and lawsuit.

Cooperate with law enforcement but avoid admitting fault or speculating about the cause of the accident.

Seek Medical Attention

Even if you feel okay immediately after the accident, it's still essential to seek medical attention. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms right away, and prompt medical care is essential for your well-being as well as your legal case.

Preserve Evidence

Keep all evidence related to the accident in a safe and secure place until your case has been fully resolved. This includes medical records, repair estimates, and correspondence with the insurance company. This documentation will be crucial when pursuing an accident or personal injury claim.

How Colorado Law Pertains to Semi-Truck Accidents

Now, Colorado has specific laws and regulations for truck accidents, and understanding these can be vital if you find yourself involved in a crash.

Comparative Fault

Colorado follows a modified comparative fault rule. This means that if you are found partially at fault for the accident, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. However, if you are deemed more than 50% responsible for the accident, you may not recover any damages.

Statute of Limitations

In Colorado, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those resulting from semi-truck accidents, is generally two years from the date of the accident. It's crucial to file your claim within this timeframe to preserve your right to compensation.

Insurance Requirements

Trucking companies operating in Colorado are required to carry a minimum level of liability insurance coverage. This insurance can be a valuable resource when seeking compensation for your injuries and property damage.

Federal Regulations

Semi-trucks are subject to federal regulations enforced by the FMCSA. These regulations cover various aspects of truck operation, including driver hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and more. Violations of these regulations can be crucial evidence in a personal injury claim.

After a Semi-Truck Accident: Making Sure You Receive the Compensation You Deserve

Now, let's delve deeper into the aftermath of a semi-truck accident in Colorado.

Imagine you're involved in a semi-truck accident in Colorado. The collision totaled your car and left you with severe injuries, resulting in a brief hospital stay and extended recovery that keeps you from working for some time.

You know that the evidence suggests the truck driver violated federal regulations by exceeding their hours of service and that fatigue was a factor in the crash. After seeking medical attention, you documented the scene, exchanged insurance information, and spoke with witnesses who gave you their contact information.

With mounting medical bills, loss of work, and evidence on your side, you decide to pursue a personal injury claim.

Step 1: Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer

Your first strategic move is to seek the guidance of a seasoned personal injury lawyer who specializes in semi-truck accidents – like Veritas.

A lawyer with expertise in Colorado laws and federal regulations governing trucking will be your best ally in navigating the complexities of your case, and, luckily, Veritas already has a great track record, winning millions of dollars for our clients.

During the initial consultation, your attorney will carefully review the evidence you've gathered and assess the strength of your case.

Step 2: Investigation and Discovery

Upon officially taking your case, your lawyer will initiate a thorough investigation. This involves delving into the circumstances surrounding the accident, analyzing the truck driver's violation of federal regulations, and gathering any additional evidence that could bolster your claim.

Discovery processes may include obtaining the trucking company's records, such as maintenance logs, driver schedules, and communication records. This meticulous approach is key for building a compelling case that demonstrates the truck driver's negligence and the extent of your injuries.

Step 3: Building a Strong Case

Your personal injury lawyer will strategically use the evidence gathered during the investigation to strengthen your position.

Your legal team will then craft a compelling narrative, emphasizing the negligence of the truck driver and the impact of their actions on the severity of the accident. This narrative will serve as the backbone of your personal injury claim, supporting your pursuit of maximum, just compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Step 4: Negotiations and Settlement Discussions

Armed with a well-built case, your law firm will engage in negotiations with the at-fault party's insurance company. The goal is to reach a fair settlement that adequately compensates you for the physical, emotional, and financial toll of the accident.

Understanding the intricacies of Colorado laws and the federal regulations that govern trucking becomes paramount during these negotiations. Your attorney will leverage this knowledge to counter any attempts to shift blame onto you and to advocate for the compensation you rightfully deserve.

Step 5: Litigation if Necessary

In some cases, if the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, your personal injury lawyer may recommend litigation. This is, of course, when having a tried-and-true law firm in your corner becomes a distinct advantage.

The Advantages of Working With Veritas

Whether it’s directly negotiating with insurance companies for a fair settlement or ardently pursuing your case through the court system, Veritas has both the years of experience and record of success the demonstrate the competency and care necessary for winning these types of claims.

We have insider knowledge of how insurance companies work and can skillfully leverage our practical experience and legal expertise to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. Our confidence in our ability to win personal injury and accident cases is why we offer a no-risk policy: You don’t pay if we don’t win.

Veritas serves communities in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah, offers after-hours appointments, and can also provide Spanish-speaking consultations. When you call, you’ll speak with an actual attorney.

We know that a semi-truck accident is one of the most devastating incidents on our roads, and it can be hard to navigate the best course of action in the aftermath, especially when you’re focused on your health and well-being and concerned about paying bills and getting back on your feet.

That’s what we’re here for. We can make the road to recovery – physically and legally – less overwhelming and stressful. Reach out to Veritas for more information and stay safe, Colorado.