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.
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).
This is when you can call an 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. The person who calls you will probably want to eliminate or lessen the claim against the trucking company. A call to a personal injury attorney is typically free and it may be a good idea to have someone who understands trucking accidents and insurance law on your side to even the playing field with the insurance company.
The commercial trucking industry is governed by federal law. Truck drivers still, of course, need to follow the rules of the road in Federal Way. In the case of a big rig accident, we evaluate anything that could have contributed to operator mistakes. The operators of trucks and big rigs have to follow strict driving rules, including:
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. 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. 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. 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 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 Federal Way, the statute of limitations on truck accident claims is three years. 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 Federal Way. 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, Federal Way 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 for the collision then you will not collect all of your medical bills from the other side, but only the percentage by which they were at fault. 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. However, in Federal Way 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.
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. Please feel free to contact us to go over your individual case.
First, set up a free consultation with Wiener and Lambka, PS. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. But operator error is not the only possible cause of an accident with a commercial trucking or transportation vehicle on the road. 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.
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.
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.
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 a couple of excellent resources for trucking statistics. 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. For example, here is an excerpt from their general statistics page: 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.
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.
Fatality rates per population and per mile traveled have dropped even more rapidly. The crash death rate per population increased 5 percent from 2015 to 2016; however, it has fallen by nearly half since the 1970s.
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 find excellent statistics on the trucking industry through the United States Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website at https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/.
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.
“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“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“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“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 took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“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“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"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“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“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“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 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“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
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