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. 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.
Fourth, contact your insurance company. Legally, you are required to contact your insurance company and let them know about 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. 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. These companies train their adjusters to look for potential ways to eliminate or lessen claims. 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. Truck drivers still, of course, need to follow the rules of the road in Everett. 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 may have their own means of insurance, though some use outside insurers. 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 do everything they can to protect themselves and make it seem like any accident is not their fault so the incident doesn’t end up on their record. Because one is sometimes dependent upon the trucking company itself to provide the information and documentation that is needed in order to prove one’s case, these matters are almost always hard fought. 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 Everett, the statute of limitations on truck accident claims is three years. While this information is important, in most cases, having an attorney involved much earlier is of paramount importance. 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 Everett, being partially at fault for a vehicle accident can actually have some advantages for our clients. In most cases where someone gets injured in a vehicle accident, they will have multiple layers of insurance to pay their bills. Whether that is automobile PIP insurance or health insurance, Everett 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. For example, if you were involved in an accident with a truck and a negligent driver’s insurance company paid out $5000 to you in compensation for your medical bills, you could not also get paid $5000 from your own insurance company; you would have to pay back the $5000 if you own insurance also compensated you for the accident.
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. 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. However, in Everett you as the injured party in the accident do have some extra rights and advantages in this situation; if you do not get fully compensated from the other driver than you do not have the same responsibility to repay the insurance company because you did not receive all your money 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. Do not take these claims of fault at face value. Consultation with an attorney about the particulars of your case is always advised, especially where the consult is free – there is nothing to lose. Please feel free to contact us to go over your individual case.
At Wiener and Lambka, PS, we will consult with you for free. There is no obligation to become a client afterward. While it is difficult to make a judgement without knowing how the accident was caused or without access to medical records related to the incident, we will do our best to ascertain how reasonable the offer you are getting from the trucking company really is based on our phone call. A quick phone conversation can mean the difference between a small award and the full award you really deserve.
It is not at all uncommon for the trucking company to offer too low a settlement in accidents involving a big rig. The trucking companies are well aware that without full knowledge, a person involved in an accident can be susceptible to accepting an offer that is lower than what they actually deserve. 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. This is why you need an attorney on your side, ensuring you are compensated fairly and fully after an accident when the trucking company may be pressuring you to accept a lower award and sign a release.
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. It is easy for there to be operator error involved in an accident. That being said, there are a host of other possible reasons why a commercial vehicle can cause an accident. Most of these reasons require discovery of information and documents unique to the trucking company such as driver’s logs and inspection checklists. If you are able to work with an attorney at the early stages of discovery you will also be better protected later in the ordeal.
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.
Making sure that clients get the appropriate medical care and having a network of expert witnesses who understand the dangers involved with a chemical spill is an important consideration in handling these matters.
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 good resources out there for statistics on trucking. We’ve collected some of the highlights and resources below.
One excellent resource for data on trucking safety 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.
Over the past decade, the amount of people killed by a motor vehicle crash 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.
The rate of fatalities has declined even more sharply per population and per mile traveled. 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. Men typically drive more miles than women and are more likely to engage in risky practices.
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. The introduction, entitled “Trends” reads as follows:
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.
“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“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 get the job done. I appreciated their concern and interest in my case, and would definitely recommend them to a friend.” - Y. Martin“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 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“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"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“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“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 always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“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“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“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
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