Truck Accident Lawyer
Semi-truck accidents are different. They are not just car accidents involving bigger vehicles. Select an experienced and knowledgeable truck accident lawyer to represent you in an accident case involving a truck.Even the most experienced driver can feel nervous when a massive semi-trailer truck pulls up beside them on the interstate. Commercial trucks are huge, heavy, fast, and vulnerable to several mechanical problems and driver errors.
When a semi-truck rolls over, runs out of control, or collides with someone else’s car, the impact can be catastrophic. Victims typically suffer serious injuries, which may be life-altering. Sadly, many of these accidents are deadly.
If you have been injured in a truck accident in Colorado, or if someone you love has been killed in a collision with a commercial vehicle, understand the legal issues these accidents involve.
Why Truck Accidents Are Different
Truck accidents are not like ordinary car crashes. They raise several insurance issues, and they may be subject to legal standards, statutes, or regulations specific to the trucking industry. Semi-truck accidents in Colorado are complicated by various legal and insurance issues that might come as a surprise to those who haven’t dealt with the process before. We walk through a few of those factors below.
Truck accidents involve multiple parties
Whereas a straightforward auto accident will typically involve the driver, the victim, and the driver’s insurance company, semi-truck accidents can involve several parties, each with partial liability for the accident. While truck drivers must drive carefully and obey the rules of the road, their employers have certain duties too. Truck carriers, for example, must hire drivers carefully, train their employers thoroughly, and maintain their fleet in a safe working condition.
Often, trucking companies can also be held liable for their drivers’ negligence on the job. Truck accident claims involve not only the truck driver but also his or her employer, and the employer’s liability insurance carrier.
Further complicating claims, these cases involve issues of fractured or divided ownership, vehicle leases, and complex insurance arrangements. Depending upon the fact and circumstances, your claim might also involve various third parties such as the truck’s manufacturer, a maintenance provider, or the drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident.
The truck may be operated by an out-of-state carrier
Truck carriers send their drivers all over the country. When a tractor-trailer passes you on the Interstate, you may well find that their license plate comes from a different state. Colorado’s position on the map means that truckers from across the United States make transit on our roadways. Many trucking companies maintain a multi-state or even multinational presence.
If your accident happens in Colorado but involves an out-of-state driver or a company based outside of Colorado, negotiating and litigating your claim becomes more complicated. If you sue, it may ultimately be resolved in federal court. It’s critical that you be represented by a Denver truck accident lawyer with specific and extensive experience in federal court.
As a former board member of the Faculty of Federal Advocates, Jim Chalat is prepared to handle even the most complex truck accident cases at the state and/or federal level. Mr. Chalat’s experience extends to trial litigation in the United States District Courts and appellate advocacy in the United States Courts of Appeals.
Commercial trucks are subject to special rules under state & federal law.
Recognizing the inherent dangers associated with large commercial vehicles, state and federal rules and regulations pertain specifically to operating semi-trailers and other large over-the-road carriers. These are legal issues that do not arise in ordinary traffic accidents.
One important example is found in the federal Hours of Service regulations, which dictate how long truck drivers can work before stopping to get some rest. Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of semi-truck accidents. Often, the truck driver’s employer is to blame, having created an unrealistic or grueling delivery schedule for the driver.
As a semi-truck crash law firm in Denver, CO, we have subpoenaed various forms of evidence to determine how a crash happened and why, including (but not limited to):
- Employment records
- Drug tests
- Driving logs
- Work schedules
- Video surveillance
- Electronic data from within the truck itself
It is also important to investigate the driver’s license status (because truck drivers must maintain special licensing, beyond an ordinary driver’s license) and to determine whether traffic infractions, past performance issues, drug or alcohol use, or prescription or over-the-counter medications might have played a role.
The trucking industry has also experienced a large influx of non-English speaking drivers. Long-haul operators are required to ‘‘read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, understand highway traffic signs and signals, respond to official inquiries, and make entries on reports and records.’’ The inability to speak English can figure in causing an accident. In our experience, having deposed several drivers and carrier personnel through interpreters, it is apparent that the English language requirement is often disregarded.
Truck Accident Cases Have a Special Vocabulary
The terminology used by truck drivers, carriers, law enforcement and experts, in trucking accidents is different. Your truck accident lawyer better know the terminology before they take your case. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and General Estimates System (GES) are all entities which your lawyer must have knowledge.
Rapid Response to the Truck Accident Scene is Critical
It is important that your lawyer respond quickly. At Chalat Hatten and Banker, our personal cell phones receive after-hours phone calls to our offices. Our lawyers can respond quickly and can initiate a prompt response with expert witnesses and our own investigators. Each attorney can interview witnesses, talking to law enforcement and local law officials such as the county coroner or attorney, and taking photographs of the wreckage, the accident scene, and of other evidence.
Many trucking companies’ tractors are set up with electronic/digital satellite monitoring. This monitoring generates an electronic log of the truck and driver’s time of service and hours on duty to assure compliance with the United States Department of Transportation permissible hours on duty and driving hours.
However, many trucking companies refuse to integrate their vehicles into an electronic monitoring system, so the drivers make written records. Often these handwritten logs are inaccurate, illegible, incomplete, and sometimes outright falsified.
Whether by electronic logging data or by a cell call to an on-duty employee, the instant an accident occurs, the insurance defense team is notified, and within 24 hours an investigator is on the scene, interviewing witnesses, law enforcement officers, photographing the wreckage, the highway, and creating a narrative consistent with their own corporate and monetary interests.
Insurance companies defend truck claims aggressively
Truck accident injuries can cause staggering medical costs, prolonged time away from work, profound emotional distress, and life-long damages.
In terms of property damage, the trucks themselves are valuable and due to their size, the damage inflicted on other vehicles is greater.
In most truck accident cases, there is a lot of money on the line. That’s true not only for the victims but also for the truck carrier and the insurance companies. They defend themselves against these claims aggressively.
Many truck companies are large international conglomerates. They have a highly paid legal team on their side, many coming from the best insurance defense law firms in the nation. Their entire job is to protect the company’s wallet.
We provide truck accident lawyers with the investigative resources, legal experience, and financial wherewithal to sustain a long-term claim against a powerful and well-funded defense team. Chalat Law is a semi-truck crash law firm in Denver, CO up to the task.
Help for People with Serious or Catastrophic Truck Accident Injuries in Denver
If you’ve been hurt in a semi-truck accident in Colorado, we are here to help.
Chalat Law is a boutique law firm, meaning we can provide each client a great deal of individual time, attention, and care.
When you call our office, you will talk directly with a semi-truck accident lawyer in Denver. During business hours, our attorneys are available for immediate consultation when needed. Outside of business hours, we try to return your call or message quickly, often within a few hours (and always within the next business day).
To learn more about your rights and options, please contact our office and schedule a free case review.