Colorado is undoubtedly one of the most scenic states in the country. Natural beauty abounds all throughout the state. This can turn even a simple drive into a scenic occasion, especially if you are going down a mountain pass. Unfortunately, some of the most scenic routes in the state are also some of the most dangerous. You may have even driven down some of them without knowing it. At the very least, you have probably heard of Pikes Peak Highway, Loveland Pass, and Trail Ridge Road.
These roads can be particularly dangerous for trucks, as steep inclines may cause a truck’s brakes to fail or its trailer to become detached. Obviously, this can lead to disastrous results. Nobody wants to see a 400-ton truck going full speed down a mountain totally out of control.
A truck accident can easily lead to catastrophic results. At the very least, it will likely lead to a complicated personal injury claim. With runaway truck accidents, in particular, it can be difficult and confusing to deal with any issues of liability.
In this blog post, we will go over the basics of runaway truck accidents and how to deal with them.
It is always important for truck drivers to exercise proper precautions when they are on the road, but it becomes especially important to do so when they are descending a slope. This is a common occurrence on Colorado mountain passes. Any truckers who pass through Colorado should be aware of certain precautions.
For one thing, big rig drivers should always put their trucks in first gear when going downhill. They should also act proactively to reach the descent speed before cresting the pass or reaching the beginning of the slope. These two things will work in tandem to prevent the truck from accelerating too quickly downhill. Of course, brakes are also always a fantastic prevention tool. They should be used specifically while drivers are on or around curves, in order to prevent losing control of the vehicle.
If a driver loses control of their tractor-trailer while it is gaining speed, it will become a runaway truck. Failure to take the proper precautions can even cause brakes and/or other equipment to fail. In an effort to account for these risks, the state of Colorado implemented runaway truck ramps on the shoulders of many highways. These ramps utilize friction (gravel) and incline in order to slow and stop runaway vehicles. According to Car and Driver, there were at least 170 such ramps in 27 states by the year 1990. Unfortunately, these ramps are not always 100 percent effective and not always available on every highway.
Runaway trucks pose a danger to everyone on the road–not just the truck and its driver. After all, a vehicle that has lost control can easily end up veering off-road or crashing into another driver, passenger, or other obstacle. Plus, runaway truck crashes often have more than just one simple cause. A trucking accident could be caused, for example, by both a truck driver speeding too fast and mechanical failures (e.g., malfunctioning brakes). In such a case, it is possible for the trucker, the trucking company, the trucking company’s insurance, and the manufacturer of the truck or a part of the truck to all be considered liable for the crash.
You may be asking yourself how this can be true. After all, how can more than one party be considered at fault? Well, let’s start by talking about the trucking company’s liability. Generally speaking, if an accident occurs while an employee was conducting company business on company time, the employer will be held responsible for any wrongful acts that have occurred. However, this is only the case for workers who are considered “employees”–such legal protections do not apply to independent contractors.
Furthermore, the employer can only be held responsible for an incident that was unintentional. This means that a trucking company cannot be held liable for any wrongful acts committed by their employees in a fit of road rage. They also cannot be held liable for any acts that were committed outside the scope of the worker’s employment. This means that a truck driver is not covered if they get in an accident while driving home after work hours.
As for auto manufacturers, they may be held responsible under the premises of product liability. In other words, if the trucking accident happened as a direct result of mechanical failure, the auto manufacturer must assume at least some degree of fault. However, it can be difficult to prove product liability. You will not only have to show evidence that the product was unreasonably dangerous and defective, but also that it was in that condition when you received it. Most people do not have the expertise to even know where to begin with this. Fortunately, an experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to work with both engineering and manufacturing experts in order to prove your case.
Going through any sort of personal injury accident can be nothing short of traumatic. Trucking accidents can be especially scarring, due to the magnitude of such incidents. Fortunately, you do not have to go through it alone. If you or a loved one have recently been injured in a trucking accident, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country.
You should never have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trusted nationwide trucking accident attorneys. We have helped countless clients successfully resolve their personal injury cases. We can help you, too. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.