First, make certain that everyone involved is safe and that medical care is provided whenever necessary.
Second, call the police.
Only after you know everyone is unharmed should you think about moving vehicles out of the way. If it’s possible to take pictures of the crash before moving the vehicles out of the way then you should do that.
Then call your insurance company. Legally, you are required to contact your insurance company and let them know about the incident. Doing so should also trigger the opening of appropriate files for your property damage, medical care and possibly underinsured motorist protection (depending on which coverages you have).
Now you can contact a personal injury attorney. You will probably hear from the insurance company representing the trucking company and they will want to get a statement from you. They will of course want to minimize their own culpability in the accident if they can. One thing you can do to protect yourself in this case is call a personal injury attorney of your own, who can help you navigate this call and will likely help you for free while you are trying to understand the accident and your rights in the situation.
Federal rules and guidelines govern the commercial trucking industry. This does not mean in any way that truck drivers don’t have to obey the local laws in Auburn, however. Additionally, in trucking cases, we want to look at many different things that can contribute directly or indirectly to operator error. Of all the rules that big rig operators need to follow, here are some of the most common:
Trucking companies are sometimes self-insured, and sometimes insured through a separate entity. No matter how they are insured, it can be hard to get compensation from a trucking company if you are involved in an incident with a truck or big rig. Truck drivers have big incentives to lie about how the accident occurred such that they don’t have an accident on their employment record. If you are trying to prove your case in an accident and need any information from the trucking company itself, you might find yourself with a tough fight ahead of you when working with the company. On top of all that, it’s possible you will be dealing with serious injuries; big rigs and trucks are much larger and exert much more force than normal, non-commercial vehicles on the road. The greater the true value of the case, the more the trucking company, or its insurer, will be willing to fight about it because to do so can save it more money. These kinds of incidents with big rigs and trucks are litigated more often than any other type of vehicle collision; it is imperative that you act quickly and decisively to file your claim and build your defense, before evidence corroborating your story can be lost or destroyed.
At Wiener and Lambka, PS, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that our clients do not have to pay us up front out of their pocket. Payment is made when cases resolve, and we are compensated by receiving a portion of the proceeds obtained. In most cases, our fee is one third of that which we obtain for our clients. Sometimes this fee will go up to 40%, depending upon the nature of the case and the work needed to be done to obtain the award, but the vast majority of the time our charges are only 33.3%. If no monies are obtained for a client then no fee is charged.
We will also forward the costs needed to move cases forward and then get repaid these monies when the case resolves. Clients in Washington can only hire an attorney with the understanding that all costs are ultimately the client’s responsibility, but attorneys are allowed to front these costs and be repaid out of the settlement proceeds. This means that clients are never out of pocket as their case progresses.
Three years is the statute of limitations for truck accidents in Auburn. With so little time to act, you should get an attorney to represent you as soon as you can. Plus, the trucking company will probably act more helpfully and work with you more on evidence and the details of the claim if they know that you have started an investigation promptly and have an attorney working with you on your side.
It sounds strange, but there can be benefits to being at fault in an accident with a big rig in Auburn. Often, when someone is involved in any kind of car or truck accident where there are injuries, they are protected with more than one layer of insurance. Whether that is automobile PIP insurance or health insurance, Auburn law allows for the company that pays first for healthcare to be repaid if the injured person then collects the money representing those same bills from the negligent third party. So if you have $5,000.00 in medical bills paid for by your own insurance stemming from an accident that is not your fault, and you then collect that $5,000.00 as part of your overall damages from the negligent driver, you will then have to repay your insurance company that money (you don’t get both the care paid for and then the money representing that same care in your pocket; this would be a double recovery).
In a situation where you are partially to blame for an accident, you will just get a percentage of your bills paid by the other driver’s insurance, rather than the full bill. For example, if you had to pay $5000 for medical bills after an accident and were 20% at fault, the other driver’s insurance would only pay $4000. In this scenario the injured party has some advantages, as Auburn law says that someone who is injured in an accident and does not receive all their damages from the other party (the trucking company) does not have to repay the insurance company since they didn’t receive their full award from the other side. It can therefore be somewhat advantageous to be partially at fault but only to a small degree.
But trucking and insurance companies will both try to say you are more at fault in order to gain leverage when it comes to insurance claims. Do not take these claims of fault at face value. You have nothing to lose, therefore, by consulting with an attorney in the case of an accident to make sure you are not taken advantage of after an accident. We would be happy to go over your case with you.
First, set up a free consultation with Wiener and Lambka, PS. There is no obligation to become a client afterward. While it is not always possible to ascertain the reasonableness of an offer without reviewing the medical records in a case, and in trucking cases, without knowing a great deal about how the accident was caused, we can generally tell if a proposed settlement is one that is unfair by having a telephone conversation about it. You have nothing to lose and a lot to potentially gain by calling us for a brief consultation over the phone.
The typical manner in which claims are resolved involves the insurance company providing lower than realistic offers of settlement. Trucking companies know that people who need the money or simply don’t have enough information will accept an offer that is lower than they should accept. You will probably be asked to sign a release that prevents you from going back to the trucking company and asking for more money if you realize later that you should have been compensated better after a claim is fully resolved. Therefore, you need an attorney on your side who can make sure you get the right award right away after an accident, before you sign anything that would prevent you from being fully compensated later.
Big rigs, trucks and other commercial vehicles can get involved in accidents easily because they are so large and unwieldy, making turning, stopping and even switching lanes take a long time to do. An accident with a truck often includes some amount of operator error. That being said, there are a host of other possible reasons why a commercial vehicle can cause an accident. In order to ascertain the exact cause of a trucking accident it is usually necessary to have some amount of information discovery involving drivers’ logs, inspection checklists and other information from the driver or trucking company. Having an attorney on your side early on can help to make sure that you can prove your case later.
The other driver in a trucking accident can be severely injured because they are operating a much lighter vehicle. Wiener and Lambka, PS, has extensive experience with clients who have incurred the following types of serious injuries:
Tanker trucks can contain materials as safe as milk, but also can have chemicals that cause injury if one comes into contact with them, including in an airborne capacity.
Appropriate medical and expert insight on how dangerous the material the tanker truck is hauling is vitally important in situations where that truck is involved in an accident with a vehicle that is not a commercial truck.
Step one in this type of accident is to get any medical attention you need as a result of being exposed to the chemicals inside a tanker truck; step two is to seek out an attorney who understands the ins and outs of this type of accident claim.
There are many means of finding statistics on trucking accidents. You can find a broad overview of this information here.
One resource you can look to for information about trucking accidents is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute. Read on to learn more about general trucking statistics or go to their information page here: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/topicoverview
In the U.S. in 2016, 37.461 people died as a result of a crash.
In the past 10 years, the amount of people who have died in motor vehicle crashes has fallen. In 2016, the death rate increased by 6 percent, though it was lower than 2005 when the decline in fatalities began or in 1975 when the Department of Transportation started tracking crash fatalities.
Fatality rates per population and per mile traveled have dropped even more rapidly. The crash death rate per population has fallen by nearly half since the 1970s, but increased 5 percent from 2015 to 2016.
In a motor vehicle crash, men are more likely to die than women. This is partly because men tend to drive more miles than women on average and also engage in riskier behavior.
You can also go to https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ for more trucking statistics (this is the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website).
At the FMCSA site, one can find a comprehensive report compiled in 2016 regarding 2015 statistics for trucking accidents. The following is the introduction to the report on the website:
The tables in this chapter present crash statistics for large trucks and buses over time. Fatal crash statistics generally are available from 1975, the first year of FARS data, through 2015. In some cases, such as for alcohol involvement, data are available only from 1981 or 1982 through 2015. Nonfatal crash statistics are presented for 1995 through 2015. The statistics shown in this chapter represent crashes, vehicles, drivers, fatalities, and injuries in crashes. Below is a summary of some of the trend information in this section: In 2015, 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, an 8-percent increase from 2014. Although the number of large trucks and buses in fatal crashes has increased by 26 percent from its low of 3,432 in 2009, the 2015 number is still 18 percent lower than the 21st-century peak of 5,231 in 2005. There was a 34-percent decrease in the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses between 2005 and 2009, followed by an increase of 20 percent between 2009 and 2015. From 2014 to 2015, the number of fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses increased by 5 percent. The number of injury crashes involving large trucks or buses decreased steadily from 89,000 in 2005 to 60,000 in 2009 (a decline of 33 percent). This decline was followed by an increase of 62 percent from 60,000 in 2009 to 97,000 in 2015. On average, from 2005 to 2015, intercity buses accounted for 13 percent, and school buses and transit buses accounted for 41 percent and 33 percent, respectively, of all buses involved in fatal crashes. Over the past year (from 2014 to 2015): The number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 8 percent, from 3,749 to 4,050. The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes decreased by 1 percent, from 88,000 to 87,000. The number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes decreased by 1 percent, from 346,000 to 342,000. The number of buses involved in fatal crashes increased from 236 to 261, an increase of 11 percent.
To access the entire study, please go to: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/LTCF2015 Early Release.pdf.
“Wiener & Lambka get the job done. I appreciated their concern and interest in my case, and would definitely recommend them to a friend.” - Y. Martin"It was a stress free experience. I particularly enjoyed when, on my initial call, they sent someone out to my house to speak with me in person. I would certainly use or recommend Wiener & Lambka in the future." - M. Randall“The service and the staff were great. I was happy with everything, and would refer Wiener and Lambka to someone else in the future.” - I. Aleman“I was satisfied by the timely manner with which my case was handled. I would definitely recommend Wiener & Lambka to a friend in the future.” - D. Yusuf“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“Everyone was great. The staff at Wiener and Lambka make a good thing out of a bad situation, and for that, I am very thankful.” - D. Grami“Wiener and Lambka did a good job of keeping me up to date on my case, and I’d definitely suggest their services to someone looking for an attorney.” - L. Lafond“The Staff at Wiener and Lambka are friendly and understand customer needs. They reduced their fee on my case and didn’t even take any on my son’s.” - M. Ngo“In my moment of Crisis Wiener & Lambka lent me a helping hand. Their dedication to my case was outstanding. They stuck by my side and fought for my rights. Thank you!” - K. Tuazon"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“A job well done! The staff at Wiener and Lambka made a point of explaining everything to me and if necessary I’d work with them again in a heartbeat.” - O. Yusuf“Calls were returned in a timely manner, and the office staff is friendly. I’d recommend Wiener and Lambka to a friend in the future.” - T. Their“Wiener & Lambka helped me through the process, always discussing all of the available options. In particular, I was happy about the ease with which I was able to access my attorneys.”- B. Froton
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