Tragedy struck on Interstate 70 in Lakewood last week, when an out-of-control tractor-trailer slammed into dozens of cars. Four individuals were killed in the fiery crash that involved as many as 28 vehicles, and 10 were taken to the hospital. The destruction caused by the accident was magnified by the fact that the runaway big-rig was fully loaded with lumber. When its cargo of two-by-fours spilled out during the collision, they acted as tinder for the vehicle fires. Those killed were trapped in their cars. The number of deaths would have been higher if it hadn’t been for several heroic crash survivors, who helped other accident victims out of their cars and to safety. The semi-truck’s 23-year-old operator has been charged with four counts of vehicular homicide and is in jail with his bond set at $400,000. The driver, who has a valid commercial driver’s license from Texas, claims he was traveling at 85 miles per hour when his brakes went out. The accident is still under investigation, but authorities say drugs or alcohol do not appear to have been a factor.
How Dangerous Is a Tractor-Trailer Accident?
This accident is a tragic reminder of the devastation a tractor-trailer can cause. Fully loaded, an 18-wheeler can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which vastly dwarfs the average passenger vehicle weight of about 4,000 pounds. For this reason, the occupants of a passenger vehicle tend to suffer more severe injuries in collisions involving semi-trucks, and fatality rates are higher. Due to their size and weight, tractor-trailers require more time and distance to come to a complete stop than smaller vehicles; and because semi-trucks tow one or two trailers, there is also the danger of jackknifing, and the trailer(s) becoming detached or rolling over.
What Caused This Accident?
While the true cause of the I-70 accident has not yet been determined, we know from past experience that truck drivers, and companies that employ them, sometimes skirt federal trucking laws in order to increase profits and meet deadlines. Such questionable practices include encouraging drivers to speed, skip rest breaks, and work longer shifts than mandated by law. Trucking companies may also overload trailers, skip maintenance and inspections, or fail to test drivers for drugs and alcohol on a routine basis.
What If I’m Involved in a Tractor-Trailer Accident?
If you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in an accident with a tractor-trailer, you have the right to seek compensation for such losses as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent injury, and much more, as well as wrongful death damages. But the trucking company’s insurer isn’t just going to hand you the compensation you deserve, you’re going to have to fight for it by obtaining the representation of an experienced Lakewood injury attorney. The legal team at the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, has obtained multiple jury awards and settlements on behalf of Colorado clients involved in tractor-trailer accidents and will put their knowledge and skill to work on your case. For a free case evaluation, call (303) 665-2929 today. We have offices in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins.