Commercial trucks are an ever-present sight on Colorado roads and highways. These important but dangerous vehicles are the cause of a great number of accidents every year in Colorado, and throughout the United States. Because of the danger they pose to other drivers on the road, they are highly regulated at the federal level. These regulations are important, and when drivers or trucking companies fail to follow them, they can cause injury or even death to other drivers on the road.
When this happens, the violation of a federal regulation alongside an injury can be the basis for a personal injury lawsuit. This can help to compensate you and your loved ones for the injuries, or even death, suffered in a truck accident. You do not have to face this difficult time alone, and you can get the financial compensation you deserve.
Although these types of cases can be very complex, with the right lawyer by your side you will have the power to take on even the biggest trucking companies with confidence. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney at accidentdenver.com, you can fight for the financial compensation you deserve.
Truck Driver Accident Lawyers in Denver, Colorado
When you are involved in an accident caused by a truck driver who violated federal regulations in the greater Denver, Colorado area, you need an experienced legal team to fight for you. Injuries sustained from a truck driver accident can negatively affect your life in both the short term and long term. If you suffered as a result of another person's negligence, you are entitled to financial compensation.
Our team at accidentdenver.com pride themselves on clear, honest, and open communication with each and every one of their clients. No matter how small or how big your case may be, the accidentdenver.com team will keep you informed every step of the way throughout the process and they will handle every detail seamlessly to put you on the road to recovery.
Accidentdenver.com takes cases on a contingency basis. This means that you pay nothing until your case has reached a favorable resolution. Let us put our years of experience to work for you and your loved ones.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a federal agency whose purpose is to regulate the commercial trucking industry on the federal level. The purpose behind this regulation is to create safer roads for all Americans to drive upon, including those on the roads and highways of The Centennial State. The agency does this by writing and implementing federal regulations, or laws, that must be obeyed by the truck drivers and the trucking companies alike.
Failure to abide by the requirements imposed by the FMCSA can result in fines, loss of licensure, or loss of a trucking company's permission to have trucks on the road. The agency regulates the businesses and drivers but is not actively involved in a personal injury case.
Why Do I Care Then?
Even though the FMCSA does not actively participate in any personal injury case, the regulations set forth by the agency can be the basis for your negligence claim against the driver and the company who employed him or her. When a driver or company violates a regulation imposed by the FMCSA, it can provide the basis of proof of negligence in your personal injury case.
Your lawyer can use this violation to demonstrate to the judge and jury that the company or driver did not follow the rules. Failure to follow the rules imposed by the agency can result in a finding of negligence per se, meaning that a company is almost automatically found to have been negligent because of its failure to follow the federal regulation. This can be a great help in proving your personal injury case.
Drug and Alcohol Testing Requirements
Under the FMCSA regulations and guidelines, truck drivers are required to be tested for drugs and alcohol on a routine basis. This can happen under four different scenarios:
- Pre-employment testing
- Reasonable suspicion testing
- Random testing
- Post-accident testing
Truck drivers are required to be free of intoxicating substances when getting behind the wheel. Therefore, new truck drivers, before they are hired, must have a clean drug test in order to legally drive on Colorado roads and highways. Truck drivers are also subject to random drug tests and are required to consent to a test when there is reasonable suspicion that the driver may be using drugs.
Any time there is an accident involving a truck driver, that driver will be drug and alcohol tested. If it is determined that the driver was intoxicated, this can be used as evidence in your personal injury trial to show that the driver was negligent in causing your injuries.
Under federal law, a truck driver is automatically considered to be intoxicated if his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.04% or higher. This is a lower "legal limit" than for most drivers, which is set at 0.08%. This lower limit reflects the danger that large trucks pose on the road and the fact that these are professionals who are driving for a living.
A driver who blows higher than the legal limit on a breath test can be held liable for causing injuries while intoxicated.
Hours Limits for Commercial Truck Drivers
Commercial truck drivers are subject to strict driving time limitations under federal law. Drowsy or tired driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, so the agency takes this issue very seriously. The FMCSA requires that drivers not be behind the wheel for more than 11 hours within any 24 hour period. Further, the driver cannot be "on the job" for longer than 14 hours in a day.
Each driver is required to rest for at least 30 minutes after every eight hours spent driving a truck. There are also limits on the total number of hours a driver can operate a vehicle within a week-long period. A driver cannot work for more than 60 hours in a seven day week, or 70 hours in an eight-day week, without taking a rest period of at least 34 hours.
Both truck drivers and the company who supervises the drivers are required to not only follow the hour limits imposed by the FMCSA, but they must also keep a detailed log of all driver hours. Failure to properly document driver hours, or any attempt to fraudulently record them, is a violation of federal law.
Any violations can be used as evidence in your personal injury trial to show that the negligence of the driver and trucking company was the cause of the accident and your injuries.
Truck Maintenance Requirements
Very specific requirements are imposed upon drivers and trucking companies when it comes to regular maintenance on all trucks on U.S. roads. All trucks must undergo regular inspection by federal employees, as well as procedures and processes undertaken by employees of the trucking company. All records of these inspections and their results are required to be maintained by the company. The failure of a company to keep these records can show a pattern of conduct that could help imply a company is negligent in maintaining its fleet of vehicles.
Drivers are also required to complete a detailed inspection of the vehicle every day after driving. This report must look at a great many aspects of the vehicle, including, but not limited to:
- condition of the mirrors
- state of all safety equipment
- health of coupling devices
- any issues with brakes or other parts of the truck
- condition of tires and tread
- condition of trailer itself
Sometimes, drivers will falsify the inspection report to keep their truck on the road so they can keep making money. When this is the case, that fraud can be a major help in proving that the negligence (or intentional acts) of the driver and/or the company caused the accident and your injuries.
One way that trucking companies attempt to work around the rules to make extra money is to overload their trucks. Each truck has a specific weight limit, and when companies overfill vehicles above their weight limit, it can be a very dangerous situation when an accident occurs. Heavier trucks are harder to stop, may tip, or may break. Violations of truck weight limits may be further evidence that can be used in your personal injury case.
Personal Injury Lawsuits: How They Work
One of the most important parts of filing a personal injury lawsuit is to ensure you file suit against the correct party or parties. These parties may include, but are not limited to:
- Truck driver,
- Truck owner,
- Trucking company,
- Insurance provider,
- Brake manufacturer,
- Truck manufacturer, and
- Repair company.
A personal injury lawsuit can be filed by your Denver personal injury attorney, who has the years of experience needed to ensure your case is handled professionally and properly. As part of the personal injury lawsuit process, your attorney will investigate the cause of your crash, and determine who needs to be named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
The case may go to a judge or jury to decide the case, including how much in damages you are owed. Many of these cases eventually settle, but your attorney will always discuss with you all settlement offers and you will get to decide whether to accept the offer or take your case to trial.
Statute of Limitations
Under Colorado law, a person must file a personal injury lawsuit within three years of the accident, or the case could be dismissed. Failure to file will nearly always result in dismissal. This is true even if your claim is otherwise valid, and you are entitled to compensation. It is incredibly important to avoid this fate, as you do not want a valid claim to be dismissed simply because you waited too long to file.
Damages in Intoxicated Truck Driver Cases
When an intoxicated truck driver causes your injuries, you have the right to seek financial compensation for those injuries. The money damages that you can recover include:
- medical expenses
- future medical expenses
- loss of income
- loss of future earning capacity
- pain and suffering
- loss of consortium
- loss of support
- property damage
Depending on your case, other damages may also be appropriate, including the possibility for punitive damages that are designed to punish the wrongful truck driver and the company he or she works for. These are not available in all cases, but your attorney can work with you to make sure all options are on the table for you.
Wrongful Death Cases
Wrongful death lawsuits are designed to compensate the surviving family members of a truck accident. While only certain family members may file this type of lawsuit, it can be an incredibly helpful tool in helping the family deal with the financial impact of loss, including lost wages, grief, and loss of companionship and support.
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years, one year shorter than a typical personal injury claim. This makes it all the more important that you do not sleep on your rights. You should not wait to near the date of the statute of limitations, as it takes time to properly investigate and create a case.
Damages in a wrongful death claim can include:
- Loss of income,
- Loss of services,
- Loss of support the deceased would have provided,
- Funeral expenses, and
- Medical expenses before the individual died.
Consult an Experienced Denver Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
The injuries you suffer from a truck driver or company that failed to follow federal regulations can leave a lasting or permanent impact on your life. You should not have to be responsible for the incredible costs that will add up after the accident. Instead, the burden of paying for your injuries should be on the responsible party.
If you or a loved one has been injured in any sort of drunk driving vehicle accident in the greater Denver metropolitan area, please do not hesitate to contact accidentdenver.com today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation. We are here waiting for you.