Mintz Law Firm
Like most places in the US, Colorado relies heavily on the trucking industry for transporting goods and products in and out of Colorado. Commercial trucks have to travel through the state every day, adding to traffic volume and traffic accidents. Colorado, like most states, has laws implemented to protect truck drivers and other motorists. These state and federal laws are in place to help prevent injury and accidents. Unfortunately, when one or more parties fail to uphold these laws and safety standards, it can result in dire consequences.
The Thornton truck accident attorneys at Mintz Law Firm have seen firsthand the damage that these kinds of accidents inflict on people in standard passenger vehicles. People in passenger vehicles are at incredible risk when they collide with commercial vehicles because of the immense impact of these heavier and larger vehicles. Our Thornton truck accident lawyers believe in holding the people responsible for these accidents responsible and helping victims secure fair compensation.
How Is Liability in a Truck Accident Different from a Standard Car Accident?
In a standard car accident involving two motorists, there’s typically one liable party—the driver who was negligent. However, in a truck accident, the truck driver is usually not the only person responsible for causing the accident. More hands are involved in the operation of a commercial truck than in a standard car, which means that more parties can share liability for the accident.
The Truck Driver
Most of the time, the truck driver is at least one of the parties liable in a truck accident. Truck drivers could share liability if their negligent actions contributed to the accident and the harm the victim suffered. Common ways in which truck drivers are negligent include but are not limited to the following:
- Distracted driving
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving under the influence
However, a truck driver could do everything right and still end up in an accident because of circumstances outside of their control. For instance, a driver may have no control over the maintenance of the truck, the loading of the cargo, or the effectiveness of the truck’s parts.
The Trucking Company
Under federal and state laws, trucking companies are legally responsible for ensuring the qualification and quality of their drivers and the safety of the trucks their drivers are operating. This means that if their driver is underqualified, has a known substance abuse, or is pushed to drive while fatigued by the company, then the company is partially liable for an accident caused by their driver’s negligent behavior. Drivers must go through regular physical and driving tests, and if there’s evidence that the driver hasn’t had to go through those, their employer is liable for failing to ensure their truck’s operator is physically and mentally able to operate the vehicle.
Furthermore, if the truck company is responsible for their truck’s maintenance and they fail to ensure the truck is able to function properly, they can be held liable for an accident caused by a maintenance failure. Common examples of maintenance failures include:
- Steering wheel issues
- Tires in bad conditions
- Defective brakes
Additionally, if the company is also responsible for the cargo loading, they are liable if poor loading conditions caused the truck to tip or impaired the driver’s ability to stop in time to avoid the accident.
Cargo loaders don’t just include the trucking company. In some cases, third-party shippers or independent cargo loading companies are responsible for the loading of a commercial vehicle. Whether it’s the truck company or third-party companies, they are responsible for adhering to the specific regulations and requirements regarding weight limits, load balance, and capacity. When cargo loaders fail to adhere to these regulations, an accident occurs because of cargo-related issues, they are liable for any harm or damage resulting from the accident.
Maintenance and Manufactures
Maintenance, manufacturing companies, and mechanics are responsible for ensuring the parts of the truck are all working and functioning properly. If the accident could have been avoided with poor maintenance or if a truck’s parts were defective, the companies in charge of that upkeep are liable for damages.
Are Commercial Trucks Considered Common Carriers?
In Colorado, common carriers are considered to be a public utility because they’re a service that regularly transports people or goods on established roads and schedules. Common carriers include commercial trucks that transport cargo and buses that routinely transport passengers. The law recognizes that public utilities operate for the benefit of the public. As a result, common carriers are legally imposed a higher degree of care to promote and protect the public.
Common carrier law requires the conducting of regular safety inspections, proper equipment training, and complying with financial responsibility laws regarding liability for accidents.
Common carriers must be covered by insurance policies that pay for damages for certain injuries sustained by a common carrier passenger or third-party victims. Since accidents involving common carrier vehicles have the potential for catastrophically injuring a large number of people, the liability limits for these companies are usually higher than consumer auto insurance coverage.
Contact a Skilled and Seasoned Thornton Truck Accident Lawyer
When you’re traveling down a Colorado highway or road, you’re not imagining that your world will be turned upside down in an instant. Although legally, commercial trucks are held to a higher standard of care because of their common carrier status, the various parties involved can make mistakes. Unfortunately, their mistakes can cause immense pain and suffering.
Mintz Law Firm is here to help those who’ve suffered a loss or have been injured by negligent parties in a truck accident. Our Thornton truck accident lawyers know that these are likely some of the hardest moments of your life, and we are proud to offer the legal support you need to bring those responsible for your losses to justice. You can complete our online contact form to learn more about how we may be able to help you find a favorable resolution to your case. You can also schedule a consultation at (303) 462-2999.