First, make certain that everyone involved is safe and that medical care is provided whenever necessary.
Step two is calling the police.
Only after you know everyone is unharmed should you think about moving vehicles out of the way. Before moving vehicles, take pictures of the scene of the collision if you can safely do so.
Fourth, contact your insurance company. If you are in a collision, you are legally obligated to call your insurance company and notify them of the incident. Depending on the coverage you have with your company, this call will initiate certain procedures, such as claims for property damage, medical care and underinsured motorist protection.
Now you can contact a personal injury attorney. Don’t be alarmed if the trucking company’s insurance agency calls you and wants to get a statement about what happened in the accident. 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 Burien, however. We aim to evaluate all the factors that might have contributed (directly or indirectly) to a trucking accident. Of all the rules that big rig operators need to follow, here are some of the most common:
Different trucking companies will use either their own insurance or an external insurance company. Regardless, it can be tough to get a fair deal after an accident that involves a big rig and that requires you to work with them for compensation. 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. 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. Even worse, trucking accidents can often involve very serious injuries due to the sheer size and force of a big rig in comparison to the usual types of vehicles driven by ordinary, non-commercial drivers. Injuries and other high costs will only make the trucking more incentivized to try to push the blame away from them and onto you. 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.
Here in Burien, the statute of limitations on truck accident claims is three years. Therefore, it is critical to get an attorney on your side as quickly as you can to protect yourself. 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.
In Burien, being partially at fault for a vehicle accident can actually have some advantages for our clients. Many people who are injured in any kind of car or truck accident are protected by multiple layers of insurance. Whether that is automobile PIP insurance or health insurance, Burien 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).
If you are partially at fault in an accident then the other driver’s insurance will only pay out a percentage of the damage to you and not all the damages. So if you had $5,000.00 in medical bills and were 20% at fault for the collision, the other driver would only be responsible to pay you $4,000.00 back for your bills. In this scenario the injured party has some advantages, as Burien 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. Accordingly, being partially at fault in only a little amount can be advantageous to the client.
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. An attorney who will consult with you after an accident can help make sure that you get the largest award possible after an accident. We would be happy to go over your case with you.
Wiener and Lambka, PS, provides free consultations. 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. There is nothing to lose in calling an experienced attorney to go over this question.
The typical manner in which claims are resolved involves the insurance company providing lower than realistic offers of settlement. 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. After the claim has been resolved you may come to realize that you deserved a higher settlement in the case, but by then you have probably already signed a release that prevents you from ever asking the trucking company for more money. 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 and commercial transportation vehicles are harder to operate than other vehicles and require more stopping time and more time to switch lanes and stuff, making them prone to accidents. 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. Get an attorney on your side early in this discovery process to ensure that you are also protected later on in the case.
Because of the forces involved truck accidents can involve serious injuries. Wiener and Lambka, PS, has extensive experience with clients who have incurred the following types of serious injuries:
There’s no telling what a tanker truck is hauling; it could be something as benign as milk or as dangerous as corrosive chemicals.
That is why it is important to have experts on your side when dealing with a tanker truck accident, experts who understand the exact dangers that are involved with whatever a tanker truck is transporting when it gets in an accident.
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. We’ve collected some of the highlights and resources below.
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
In 2016, 37,461 people died in crashes in the U.S.
The number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes has fallen over the last decade. Since 1975 when the U.S. Department of Transportation began tracking crashes, the death rate has declined, though the rate increased by 6 percent in 2016 (while still being lower in 2005 when a sharp decline began).
The rate of fatalities has declined even more sharply per population and per mile traveled. Though the crash death rate per population rose by 5 percent from 2015 to 2015, it fell by nearly half since the 1970s.
More men than women die in motor vehicle crashes. 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).
For trucking accident statistics regarding 2015 but compiled in 2016, you can go to the FMSCA website, where you’ll find their report. 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.
A complete copy of the study excerpted above can be found at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/LTCF2015 Early Release.pdf.
“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"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“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 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“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“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“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“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“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 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“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“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“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
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