If you or a loved one have been injured in a trucking accident in Boulder, Colorado, you probably have questions. You may be curious about which parties may be held responsible, the regulations for commercial trucks, and damages you may be eligible to receive due to your losses. An experienced Boulder truck accident lawyer can help guide you through the legal process while ensuring your questions are answered, and your rights are protected.
Who Are the Liable Parties in Truck Accident Lawsuits?
You may be surprised to learn that in the event of a truck accident lawsuit, the claim is not necessarily limited to the truck driver. Usually, the truck driver is employed by a trucking company that may be liable for the negligent acts of the truck driver. Although the truck driver and the trucking company are the most common defendants in some cases, others may also be involved.
Liable parties in truck accident claims may include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The manufacturer of the truck and its parts
- The owner of the cargo
- Vendors providing services to the carrier
Multiple parties can be responsible for the negligence that caused the crash. In many tractor-trailer truck accident lawsuits, more than one party bears liability for the damages caused by the wreck. An experienced commercial truck accident lawyer in Boulder can help you determine the responsible parties and the best way to proceed with your claim.
What Are the Colorado and Federal Regulations for Commercial Trucks?
Trucks, truck drivers, and trucking companies are regulated by the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA).
A truck is classified as commercial if it fits the following criteria:
- It weighs at least 16,001 pounds
- It is self-propelled, towed, or designed to transport 16 or more passengers
Alternatively, a truck may be classified as commercial if:
- It is used for commercial transportation of other motor vehicles, or
- It is used for the transportation of hazardous materials
The driver must have a commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate a commercial truck. To hold a CDL, the person must be at least 18 years old and possess a regular driver's license. Applicants must pass a driving record check, medical exam, and written knowledge test to receive their CDL.
Once a truck driver has attained their CDL, they must earn endorsements to operate different types of trucks or haul particular cargo. These endorsements include:
- Class A. Authorizes the operation of any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating above 26,000 pounds and vehicles with a semi-trailer possessing two or more axles.
- Class B. Authorizes the operation of a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of up to 26,000 pounds or towing a vehicle with a gross weight of up to 10,000 pounds.
- Class C. Authorizes the operation of any vehicle that does not meet Class B or Class A definitions and is meant to carry 16+ passengers, including the driver.
As of January 2021, commercial drivers transporting hazardous materials must obtain a Hazardous Materials Permit.
The Colorado Mud Flap Law for Trucks requires trucks to use splash guards or 'mud flaps' to minimize spray from commercial truck tires. These mud flaps must be functional at all times.
The Colorado Chain Law for Trucks requires all commercial trucks driving on I-70 between certain mileposts during the dates of September 1 and May 31 to carry chains at all times. Depending on the type of commercial truck driven, different tire chains may be required.
There are also size and weight limitations that commercial trucks must adhere to.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes regulations in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations cover federal regulations for commercial trucks ranging from drug and alcohol regulations and testing requirements to transportation services for individuals with disabilities and transporting hazardous materials.
If you have been injured in a trucking accident, a lawyer should analyze whether the truck driver and/or the trucking company violated any of the DOT trucking regulations or the FMCSA There are many rules and regulations which govern the way in which a truck driver and a trucking company operate. For example, truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than a certain amount of hours without rest and trucking companies must ensure that their drivers are adequately trained to handle the trucks they operate. Every case is different and there are many different regulations that may apply to any given case.
Semi-Truck Accident Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
After a semi-truck accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation in the form of damages for the losses you have endured, including the following:
- Compensatory damages - for injuries and losses
- Economic damages - past wage loss, future wage loss and medical expenses
- Non-economic damages - pain and suffering, inconvenience, and impacts on life
- Impairment damages - loss of mobility, loss of use
There are no damage caps on economic damages in Colorado, but there are damage caps on non-economic damages. A damage cap is a limit legally imposed on what you may recover for your commercial truck accident.
Economic damages are relatively easy to calculate. They have a precise dollar figure assigned to their value. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Lost past wages
- Lost future wages
- Future medical expenses
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate and, therefore, more difficult for your lawyer to estimate. Examples of non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
Punitive damages are meant to punish the offender and set an example to others. Punitive damages are not always awarded. However, if the offender’s negligence was extreme, such as drunk driving or excessive speeding, the victim may receive punitive damages from the liable party due to their recklessness.
Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Boulder
If you have been a victim of a commercial truck accident in Boulder, Colorado, you must act quickly to protect your rights. Statutes of limitations place time limits on when victims may file their personal injury claims in court. If you wait too long, you may miss your chance at receiving the compensation you are legally due.
Hire an experienced Colorado truck accident lawyer. Mann & Maximon can help ensure your rights are protected, and your legal claims are upheld in court.
Contact Mann & Maximon today for a free consultation.
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