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 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. If you are in a collision, you are legally obligated to call your insurance company and notify them of 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. 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. The person who calls you will probably want to eliminate or lessen the claim against the trucking company. 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 law is what sets the rules and regulations for the commercial trucking industry. Truck drivers still, of course, need to follow the rules of the road in Fife. In the case of a big rig accident, we evaluate anything that could have contributed to operator mistakes. 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. 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. 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. All this can mean a high cost for the trucking company, who will have further incentives to shift the blame away from them and more and more 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.
Three years is the statute of limitations for truck accidents in Fife. While this information is important, in most cases, having an attorney involved much earlier is of paramount importance. 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.
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. Many people who are injured in any kind of car or truck accident are protected by multiple layers of insurance. In Fife, 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. You can’t have a double recovery, however, which means that if you suffer an injury and your insurance pay for it, then the trucking company’s insurance also pays for it, you would need to pay back the money that your own insurance company paid out to you so that you weren’t getting the same compensation twice.
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. Fife law at this point, however, provides a bit of an advantage to the injured party because in instances where one has not received all of their damages from the other driver, they do not incur the same responsibility to repay to their insurance company any of the monies back because they did not receive ALL of their damages from the other side. Accordingly, being partially at fault in only a little amount can be advantageous to the client.
You should be aware that trucking and insurance companies will try to say you are more at fault in order to gain leverage, though. Just because they claim that you were at fault does not make it so. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. Operator error in these regards is usually the cause. 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. 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. In our time working with clients involved in trucking accidents, we have seen many types and severities of injuries, including:
Tanker trucks haul everything from the benign to the potentially harmful, from ordinary milk to dangerous chemicals.
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. 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.
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.
Another excellent resource for trucking industry statistics is the United State Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website – https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/.
The FMCSA website can give you a comprehensive report detailing trucking accident statistics from 2015 and 2016. 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.
You can read the study in its entirety at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/LTCF2015 Early Release.pdf.
“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"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“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“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“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 & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“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“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"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 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“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“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“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“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
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