When we encounter big rig trucks on the road, many drivers get nervous and go on the defense. You know the feeling if you’ve ever been sandwiched between two trucks or had one come up behind you. As soon as a truck gets closer, we might clench our steering wheel a bit tighter, for good reasons.
Trucking accidents are common – they injure and kill people daily. Sadly, passenger vehicles are no match for a truck or tractor in a collision. Moreover, many of these crashes are needless and preventable. The leading cause of truck accidents is driver error or carelessness. Furthermore, truck drivers have limited visibility compared to passenger vehicle drivers due to being so high up. Consequently, they often don’t see other vehicles until it’s too late to prevent a collision.
A truck accident can cause substantial damage and have disastrous outcomes. In addition, it can change the life of accident victims and their loved ones.
Accidents involving commercial vehicles or large trucks are especially dangerous due to their immense size and weight. Add heavy cargo to a massive vehicle, and the impact of a collision can cause monumental damage. Sadly, truck accidents are more likely to result in fatalities than regular car accidents.
After a truck accident, victims and their families often find themselves neck-deep in medical bills they can’t afford to pay. To make matters worse, the accident victim might be unable to work from their injuries and struggle with immense pain.
If drivers educate themselves about the common causes of truck accidents, they take steps to prevent them. This article will review data from state and federal organizations about truck accidents.
How Common Are Truck Accidents in the US?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) annually collects and publishes tract accident data. The organization is also in charge of establishing and enforcing commercial truck and common carrier regulations.
Here are some statistics according to FMCSA’s 2020 data report:
- 4,842 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents in the US in 2020
- 2020’s figure was a 4% decrease from 2019, with 5,033 nationwide fatal truck accidents
- 107,000 trucks were involved in an accident that resulted in injuries (a 10% decrease from 2019)
- 327,000 trucks were involved in a collision that resulted in property damage
- Large trucks made up almost 10% of all vehicles involved in a deadly crash
- The number of truck accidents in 2020 is a 33 percent increase since 2011
- 68% of truck accident deaths in 2020 were occupants of the other vehicle
- 30% of truck accident deaths were truck occupants or drivers
- 2% of truck accident fatalities were non-occupants
Truck Accident Statistics in Colorado
Here are some accident statistics for crashes involving large trucks in Colorado:
- There were 74 fatal crashes involving trucks in 2020
- Large truck accidents accounted for 8.4% of all fatal accidents in 2020
- There were 21 rollover accidents resulting in fatalities
The most common types of truck accidents in Colorado are as follows:
- Tractor-trailer trucks (38)
- Medium to heavy pickups weighing over 10,000 pounds (15)
- Single-unit trucks weighing 10,000 to 19,000 pounds (11)
- Single-unit trucks weighing 19,000 to 26,000 pounds (5)
- Single-unit trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds (5)
Truck accidents are unique and more dangerous than regular car accidents. For example, jackknife accidents happen when a truck turns too sharply, and the tractor folds into the truck at a 90-degree angle. The two massive parts colliding can cause a serious hazard on the roadway for the truck driver and other passengers. Furthermore, with the massive weight of a truck, the collision force is more likely to cause a rollover for all vehicles involved. Such accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or death. Finally, if a combustive fire starts from a truck collision, it’s likely to be significantly larger than a regular car fire.
Daytime and Rural Areas Are the Most Dangerous for Truck Accidents
FMCSA’s statistics suggest that over half of all deadly truck accidents occur on less busy roads. About 55% occur in rural areas, and 73% occur on non-interstate roads. The highest accident rate occurred in October, with 483 deadly collisions. Following October was June, with 430 fatal truck collisions.
Surprisingly, unlike regular car accidents, which are more common at night, truck accidents occur more frequently in the daytime. Daytime truck accidents are more common than nighttime accidents, with nearly 65% occurring in daylight and only 35% occurring at night.
What Are the Leading Causes of Truck Accidents?
FMCSA’s reports show that 72% of truck accident deaths occurred in collisions with a vehicle in transport (or truck with a heavy cargo load). Moreover, according to FMCSA crash reports, the top causes of truck accidents are as follows:
- Truck operator negligence
- Reckless driving
- Distracted driving
- Tired driving
- Faulty truck equipment (such as brake failure)
- Cargo flying off the truck
- Making sharp turns
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Colorado Truck Accident Claims Are More Complicated Than Regular Car Accident Claims
Filing a claim after a truck accident is not the same as filing a claim for a regular car accident. Therefore, if you want to pursue compensation for your truck accident injuries, it might behoove you to seek legal counsel. Without an experienced attorney who knows how to handle a truck accident claim, your experience could be frustrating and stressful.
There are several reasons why truck accident claims are more complex than regular claims and thus call for an attorney with experience in handling such cases.
Securing Evidence for Truck Accidents Is More Challenging
You will need to conduct a thorough, in-depth investigation to obtain evidence after a truck accident. For example, you might need a copy of the truck driver’s logbooks, driving records, or truck maintenance records. Where to start to look for copies of these types of documents? Your attorney can assist you in getting right to the source and obtaining all relevant evidence.
Multiple Insurance Companies Might Be Involved
Another noteworthy difference between truck and regular car accidents is that several different insurance policies may be involved. For example, should you pursue the driver’s or company’s insurance for damage compensation? The claims process can quickly become complicated and confusing with multiple insurance policies.
Truck drivers also cross state lines regularly due to the nature of their job. What if you need to deal with a claims adjuster from another state? This is when the help of an experienced Denver truck accident attorney can help you save stress and avoid making mistakes to hurt your claim.
Lastly, trucking companies are required by law to maintain insurance with higher policy limits than regular car insurance. Higher policy limits mean you could potentially seek a larger financial award, depending on the severity of your injuries. If you sustained catastrophic injuries in a truck accident, you’re more likely to recover a full and fair amount with strong legal representation.
Trucks Must Follow Federal Regulations
All commercial trucks follow federal regulations. On the other hand, cars are subject to state laws regarding accidents and insurance. So while you might be familiar with how your state treats car accident claims, you might not be familiar with federal regulations.
Truck drivers have legal daily and weekly limits on the number of hours they are allowed to drive. Furthermore, they must follow strict maintenance guidelines in accordance with federal regulations. An experienced Denver truck accident attorney will be well-versed and acquainted with these federal regulations. Therefore, they will be able to accurately find evidence to prove the truck driver’s or company’s failure to comply with federal regulations, which is considered negligence.
Who Is Liable After a Truck Accident in Colorado?
With truck accidents often resulting in extensive property damage and catastrophic injuries, the stakes are high. Unlike a minor fender bender, where there’s clearly one liable party, truck accidents can have several liable parties. It’s possible that any of the following could be solely liable or share liability after a truck accident:
- The truck owner
- The driver operating the truck at the time of the accident
- A commercial entity like the trucking company
- The truck manufacturing company (for a defective part)
- Truck maintenance company
- Cargo loading company, if the cargo was loaded improperly
- A shipping agency
- Or another driver
Many truck drivers work as independent contractors, further complicating liability issues. In addition, if a truck driver is an independent contractor rather than a company employee, it’s more likely you will have multiple liable parties after an accident.
Furthermore, several different companies can be involved in the accident. For example, if one company owns the truck but another owns the cargo, it will be crucial to establish the cause of the accident. Then, you can establish liability accordingly.
Contact an Experienced Colorado Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Almost all commercial and large truck accidents are preventable. That means you could have avoided the injuries and pain, and suffering or lost loved ones had it not been for someone’s negligence. Our legal team can help thoroughly investigate your accident to identify all liable parties. Consequently, we will be able to help you identify all potential parties from which you can seek damage compensation. If you lost a loved one in a truck accident, you might have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
We have knowledgeable and skilled Denver truck accident lawyers who know what it takes to beat large truck companies and get you the compensation you deserve.
Since we offer a free initial consultation, you can call us today without further delay. We are happy to answer any questions you have regarding your legal options and the next best move to ensure a successful outcome for you.