The most important step is to check whether everyone involved is OK or if someone needs medical attention.
Second, call the police.
Third, consider whether vehicles need to be moved before the police arrive as a matter of safety. Before moving vehicles, take pictures of the scene of the collision if you can safely do so.
Next, call your insurance agency. Legally, you are required to contact your insurance company and let them know about 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.
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. 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 Kent. In the case of a big rig accident, we evaluate anything that could have contributed to operator mistakes. There are many rules that truck drivers should adhere to, but some common concerns are:
Trucking companies may have their own means of insurance, though some use outside insurers. Either way, it is almost always a difficult journey to obtain fair compensation when a truck accident is the basis for injury. 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. 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.
Three years is the statute of limitations for truck accidents in Kent. 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.
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. Whether that is automobile PIP insurance or health insurance, Kent 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.
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. In this scenario the injured party has some advantages, as Kent 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.
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. 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. Reach out to us to review your case and situation.
First, set up a free consultation with Wiener and Lambka, PS. There is no obligation to become a client. While it is not always possible to ascertain the reasonableness of an offer without reviewing the medical records in a case, and in trucking cases, without knowing a great deal about how the accident was caused, we can generally tell if a proposed settlement is one that is unfair by having a telephone conversation about it. 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. 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, 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. 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. Most of these reasons require discovery of information and documents unique to the trucking company such as driver’s logs and inspection checklists. 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. At Wiener and Lambka, we have worked with clients who suffered a broad range of injuries after an accident, including:
Tanker trucks haul everything from the benign to the potentially harmful, from ordinary milk to dangerous chemicals.
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. You can find a broad overview of this information here.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute provides extensive information about truck safety and accidents. Read on to learn more about general trucking statistics or go to their information page here: 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.
In the past 10 years, the amount of people who have died in motor vehicle crashes 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. Though the crash death rate per population rose by 5 percent from 2015 to 2015, it fell by nearly half since the 1970s.
In a motor vehicle crash, men are more likely to die 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).
For trucking accident statistics regarding 2015 but compiled in 2016, you can go to the FMSCA website, where you’ll find their report. 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.
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 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“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 took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“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“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“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“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“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 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"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“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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