The most important step is to check whether everyone involved is OK or if someone needs medical attention.
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. You have a legal obligation to cooperate with your own company and to notify them of your accident. 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.
This is when you can call an attorney. You will probably hear from the insurance company representing the trucking company and they will want to get a statement from you. 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. Of course, the normal rules of the road in Kirkland still apply to truck drivers who are passing through. We aim to evaluate all the factors that might have contributed (directly or indirectly) to a trucking accident. The operators of trucks and big rigs have to follow strict driving rules, including:
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. 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 cases are litigated more often than other types of vehicle collision cases for these reasons and starting your case off properly, immediately after the accident so that evidence doesn’t get lost or tampered with or destroyed, is important.
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 Kirkland, 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. 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.
It sounds strange, but there can be benefits to being at fault in an accident with a big rig in Kirkland. In most cases where someone gets injured in a vehicle accident, they will have multiple layers of insurance to pay their bills. When there is an accident, if a party collects money, the company can also pay out money for injuries through their insurance, whether that insurance is automobile PIP insurance or health insurance. 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. 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 Kirkland 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. It can therefore be somewhat advantageous to be partially at fault but only to a small degree.
Moreover, trucking companies and insurance companies love to allege that the other driver was also at fault because this presents them with leverage. Just because they claim that you were at fault does not make it so. An attorney who will consult with you after an accident can help make sure that you get the largest award possible after an accident. Please feel free to contact us to go over your individual case.
Wiener and Lambka, PS, provides free consultations. 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 very common in trucking accidents for the trucking company to offer a lower settlement than they should. 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. 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. 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.
Because of the forces involved truck accidents can involve serious injuries. At Wiener and Lambka, we have worked with clients who suffered a broad range of injuries after an accident, including:
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 means of finding statistics on trucking accidents. You can find a broad overview of this information here.
One excellent resource for data on trucking safety 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.
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. 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.
There has been an even sharper decrease in fatalities per population rate and per mile traveled. The crash death rate per population increased 5 percent from 2015 to 2016; however, it has fallen 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.
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 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.
“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“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“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“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“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 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 took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“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“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins"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
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