First, make certain that everyone involved is safe and that medical care is provided whenever necessary.
Next, contact the local police.
Third, consider whether vehicles need to be moved before the police arrive as a matter of safety. If they need to be moved and pictures can be safely taken of the scene and resting place of the vehicles first then consider doing so.
Then call your insurance company. If you are in a collision, you are legally obligated to call your insurance company and notify them of the incident. When you call your insurer, you can get protection against underinsured motorists, open a file for property damage and log any need for medical care, depending on what kind of coverage you have.
Fifth, contact a personal injury attorney. The insurance company for the trucking company will likely be calling to ask for a recorded statement from you about what happened in the accident. These companies train their adjusters to look for potential ways to eliminate or lessen claims. Don’t get left trying to defend yourself here;level the playing field by calling a personal injury attorney, who can consult with you for free about your rights and help you understand what the best next steps are in regard to an accident with a big rig.
Federal law is what sets the rules and regulations for the commercial trucking industry. This does not mean in any way that truck drivers don’t have to obey the local laws in Bellevue, however. We aim to evaluate all the factors that might have contributed (directly or indirectly) to a trucking accident. The operators of trucks and big rigs have to follow strict driving rules, including:
Different trucking companies will use either their own insurance or an external insurance company. 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. Trucking companies will seek to keep any and all accidents off their own books by going to lengths to ensure they are not at fault no matter how the incident actually occurred. You could be facing a hard uphill battle if you’re in an accident with a big rig, especially if you need information and documentation directly from them in order to prove your case. Also, many trucking injury cases involved greater injuries to the occupants of the other vehicle because of the massive size and forces involved in many trucking collisions. 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 cases are litigated more often than other types of vehicle collision cases for these reasons and starting your case off properly, immediately after the accident so that evidence doesn’t get lost or tampered with or destroyed, is important.
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.
The statute of limitations for truck accident claims in Bellevue is three years. With so little time to act, you should get an attorney to represent you as soon as you can. A prompt investigation can make cases much more likely to resolve because important evidence has been properly retained and the trucking company has greater incentive to act reasonably knowing that an attorney will ultimately be holding their feet to the fire.
If you are at fault in an accident involving a truck then you do not need to worry; it can actually be a good thing. 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. In Bellevue, the law allows you to get repaid if the trucking company is paying for healthcare, whether it is automobile PIP insurance or health insurance and even if you as the injured party collect money from a 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. In a situation where you were 20% at fault and had $5000 in medical bills, for example, the other driver’s insurance would only pay out $4000. In this scenario the injured party has some advantages, as Bellevue 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.
Moreover, trucking companies and insurance companies love to allege that the other driver was also at fault because this presents them with leverage. Their claims that you were at fault should not be accepted on face value though. 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.
At Wiener and Lambka, PS, we will consult with you for free. There is no obligation to become a client. Even though we may not be able to tell you everything just from a phone conversation, we will do our best to judge how reasonable the trucking company’s offer is based on the details of the accident, though having access to medical records can change things significantly. You have nothing to lose and a lot to potentially gain by calling us for a brief consultation over the phone.
It is not at all uncommon for the trucking company to offer too low a settlement in accidents involving a big rig. They have every incentive to do so as sometimes people need the money or don’t know any better and therefore accept a lower than reasonable offer. Every case is unique and when you resolve a claim, you must sign a release indicating you will never again in your whole life come back and ask for anything more from the insurance company, no matter what the future holds. Because this is a complicated question involving a serious matter, you should never resolve your claim without at least having a discussion with an experience attorney.
While there is not one set cause, the typical causation facts with these trucks is that they require a great degree of foresight to operate on the roadway and their stopping time and ability to change lanes and make turns is very different than an ordinary car or truck. An accident with a truck often includes some amount of operator error. However, operator error is not the only cause; there are many other ways a truck or big rig could get into an accident. At this point, it is important to get all the information you can, including drivers’ logs and inspection checklists, in order to discover the true cause or causes of an accident that involves you and a commercial trucking vehicle. Get an attorney on your side early in this discovery process to ensure that you are also protected later on in the case.
The sheer size and force of a truck can lead to serious injuries for the other driver. 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.
Your first step if you are involved in this type of accident is to go to your doctor and make sure you are not going to be harmed by the chemicals spilled from the truck; next you want to talk to an experienced trucking accident attorney.
There are many good resources out there for statistics on trucking. An overview of these sites and their information follows.
One resource you can look to for information about trucking accidents is the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute. Some information from them follows, but you can find more here: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/topicoverview
Crashes took 37,461 lives in the U.S. in 2016.
In the past 10 years, the amount of people who have died in motor vehicle crashes has fallen. The death toll increased 6 percent in 2016, though it still is lower than it was in 2005, when it began a sharp decline, or in 1975, when the U.S. Department of Transportation began keeping track.
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.
Men are more likely to die in a crash than women. This data comes partly because men tend to drive in a riskier way than women and partly because men usually drive more miles than women.
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).
The FMCSA website can give you a comprehensive report detailing trucking accident statistics from 2015 and 2016. What follows is an expert from the introduction:
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.
You can read the study in its entirety at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/LTCF2015 Early Release.pdf.
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