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18 Wheeler / Commercial Truck Accidents

Thousands of large trucks and semi tractor-trailers pass through Colorado each year. Due to the size and weight difference, usually when the 18 wheelers or large commercial trucks cross paths with smaller passenger vehicles or motorcycles, the resulting injuries are severe and often fatal.

The Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson strives to hold negligent truck drivers and other negligent parties, including employers who negligently hire or retain dangerous drivers, accountable for the injuries or wrongful death that occurred as a result of the truck driver’s negligence.  

Accidents involving commercial trucks and 18-wheelers are common throughout Colorado, from intersection accidents to rural crashes on Colorado’s busy trucking corridors, including Interstate 70, Interstate 25, Interstate 76, Interstate 225, Interstate 270, U.S. Route 36, and U.S. Route 6. Anyone injured in a commercial vehicle accident is barred from filing a lawsuit against the negligent party after the three-year period has passed after they discovered their injury.

Commercial truck or 18-wheeler accidents are often catastrophic and typically result in death or very serious injury. Such cases require immediate investigation and attention. If you or your loved one has been injured in a commercial vehicle accident, it is very important to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in Denver to discuss the facts surrounding your case.

Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer in Denver, CO

Contact the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson today at (303)-458-5000 for a consultation about your 18 wheeler or semi tractor-trailer accident in Denver or any of the surrounding areas of Boulder, Longmont, Lakewood, Arvada, Aurora, Thornton, Westminster, Centennial and Littleton.

Attorney Jennifer L. Donaldson is experienced representing individuals who have been injured in a commercial truck crash and will make every effort to ensure that you are fully and fairly compensated for the injuries you suffered as a result of the driver’s negligence.  Call the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson for a consultation today about your 18 wheeler accident claim today.  

Commercial Truck Accident Info

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What to Do After a Denver Commercial Truck Accident

After any crash involving a commercial truck, the victims should immediately contact authorities to report the accident and seek medical treatment for their injuries. Even if a person feels fine, it is important to remember that many serious injuries do not always display immediate symptoms.

Victims should also take pictures or have somebody they know take photographs of the accident scene. Trucking companies will quickly make sure that key evidence is disposed of.

Perhaps most importantly, victims should be very careful with representatives that insurance companies for the truck will send to the scene of the crash. These agents will attempt to get victims to sign seemingly innocent paperwork that actually results in significant rights being forfeited.

As soon as a victim is able to, he or she should contact an experienced lawyer for assistance dealing with these trucking and insurance companies.

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Causes of 18-Wheeler Negligence Accidents in Denver

The trucking industry is heavily regulated by both federal and state laws. Therefore, truck crashes are often more complex than passenger vehicle crashes. Depending on the facts, claims may be brought against several parties, including the driver and the trucking company.  

At the Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson, we conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, often utilizing accident reconstructionists and other experts to determine the cause of the crash. Accidents involving commercial vehicles or 18-wheelers are commonly caused by the following:

  • Truck Driver Error — Driving too fast for conditions, following too closely, illegal turning or passing, changing lanes into the path of a driver, failure to yield or crossing the center line.
  • Violation of Federal Rules — Driver fatigue is a leading cause of truck accidents as hours of service regulations are often violated. Careful review of the records, including the driver's logs, will assist in proving negligence. Trucking companies are required to keep such records for a short period of time and if the records are destroyed before obtaining copies, it can be quite difficult to prove a case. We promptly obtain the trucking company's records for evidence of negligence.
  • Maintenance and Loading — Bad brakes, tire blowout and overweight or shifting loads can lead the truck to violently veer, flip over, jackknife or rear-end another car or motorcycle. We obtain vehicle service logs, and, if necessary, hire trucking experts to inspect the rig and download information from the onboard "black box" data recorder and braking monitors.  

Attorney Jennifer L. Donaldson will protect your right to full recovery, handles all types of Colorado truck accidents, including:

  • Head-On Crashes A head-on collision is when a truck going the opposite direction crashes directly into another vehicle.
  • Semi-Truck Rollover — A truck that is too heavy may roll over onto another vehicle when attempting to turn.
  • Jackknife — Jackknife accidents mean the driver loses control and the trailer swings in another direction. This occurs when the axles or brakes lock.
  • Underride Accidents — An underride accident is when a vehicle goes underneath the trailer.

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Common Injuries Caused by Commercial Vehicle Crashes

Often needing to be extracted from the truck wreckage, surviving victims may be found to have suffered severe and often life-altering injuries, including: 

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Safety Regulations for Commercial Trucks

Because commercial trucks have so much potential for harm, they are heavily regulated for size and weight. Some limitations include:

  • The gross weight of a vehicle on the interstate cannot exceed 80,000 pounds and must follow the “federal bridge formula,” which is an equation relating to the weight, number of axles and distance between those axles (Colorado Revised Statutes 42-4-508);
  • The maximum gross weight of a vehicle not on an interstate is 85,000 pounds (CRS 42-4-508);
  • A single unit truck and trailer may not exceed 85 feet (CRS 42-4-505);
  • The maximum height of a truck cannot exceed 13 feet (CRS 42-4-504); and
  • The total width of the truck or load may not exceed 103 inches (CRS 42-4-502).

Any commercial vehicle traveling on I-70 between Morrison and Dotsero, to the west of Denver, must also follow Colorado’s chain law. Chains help heavy vehicles make steep climbs in the mountain.

If a truck is not following safety regulations, it does not automatically mean that the truck driver or his or her employer are liable for the accident. However, if the truck was out of compliance and the accident caused was the type of harm the safety regulation being broken was trying to prevent, then it is “negligence per se.” Although the presumption can be rebutted by evidence, the defendant is presumed to be negligent.

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Insurance Requirements for Commercial Vehicles

Federal law requires commercial vehicles in interstate commerce carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance. Depending on the freight carried, they may also have to carry up to $5 million.

If you’ve been in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other large commercial vehicle, you will be dealing with an insurance company. The insurance company may contact you first and offer a settlement. Do not take it without talking to an attorney. The settlement may not cover the full extent of your damages.

Your lawyer can negotiate a higher settlement. Call an attorney before you agree to anything with an insurance company.

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Colorado Truck Accident Resources

Motor Carrier Safety | Colorado State Patrol — The Colorado State Patrol's Motor Carrier Safety Section has a mission "to provide a safe and secure environment in Colorado for all persons by reducing commercial vehicle related crashes, reducing hazardous materials incidents, and increased criminal interdiction activity in commercial motor vehicles." On this website, you can find forms, publications, and answers to frequently asked questions. There are also links to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), chain law information, and hazardous materials information.

Colorado Department of Public Safety
700 Kipling Street
Denver, CO 80215 USA
(303) 239-4400

Truckers | CoTrip.org — You can learn more about chain laws, hazmat rules, and times to avoid traffic on this section of the Colorado traveler information website. The website also lists chain locations, permit information, and current travel times. There is also specific information relating to Interstate 70 for those attempting to cross the Rockies.

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Finding an Attorney for a 18 Wheeler Accident in Denver, Colorado

If you sustained catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in a collision with a commercial truck, it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson helps 18 wheeler accident victims in Denver County and the surrounding areas of Boulder County, Jefferson County, Adams County and Arapahoe County.

Jennifer Donaldson is an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer who will listen to the facts of your situation and make every effort to help you recover damages from your commercial vehicle accident. Call (303)-458-5000 or submit an online form for a consultation about your accident with a semi-truck in Denver today.

This article was last updated on Friday, February 24, 2017.

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