The most important step is to check whether everyone involved is OK or if someone needs medical attention.
Next, contact the local police.
Next, decide if the vehicles involved should get moved out of the way for the sake of everyone’s safety. 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.
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).
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. Don’t get left trying to defend yourself here;level the playing field by calling a personal injury attorney, who can consult with you for free about your rights and help you understand what the best next steps are in regard to an accident with a big rig.
Federal law is what sets the rules and regulations for the commercial trucking industry. This does not mean in any way that truck drivers don’t have to obey the local laws in Lakewood, however. We aim to evaluate all the factors that might have contributed (directly or indirectly) to a trucking accident. 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. 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 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. You could be facing a hard uphill battle if you’re in an accident with a big rig, especially if you need information and documentation directly from them in order to prove your case. 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. For all of these reasons, it is critical to get on top of a claim related to a big rig accident in Lakewood immediately, before evidence can be lost or destroyed, and before the trucking company can mount a defense in order to discredit your claim for damages.
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 Lakewood, the statute of limitations on truck accident claims is three years. 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.
In Lakewood, 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. 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. 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 in an accident then the other driver’s insurance will only pay out a percentage of the damage to you and not all the damages. 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. In this scenario the injured party has some advantages, as Lakewood 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.
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.
First, set up a free consultation with Wiener and Lambka, PS. You will be under no pressure 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. There is nothing to lose in calling an experienced attorney to go over this question.
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. You will probably be asked to sign a release that prevents you from going back to the trucking company and asking for more money if you realize later that you should have been compensated better after a claim is fully resolved. 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. 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. 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 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.
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.
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 a couple of excellent resources for trucking statistics. An overview of these sites and their information follows.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute provides extensive information about truck safety and accidents. For example, here is an excerpt from their general statistics page: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/topicoverview.
In 2016, 37,461 people died in crashes in the U.S.
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.
The rate of fatalities has declined even more sharply per population and per mile traveled. 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. 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.
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/.
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.
To access the entire study, please go to: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/LTCF2015 Early Release.pdf.
“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 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“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 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“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“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"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 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“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"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“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 get the job done. I appreciated their concern and interest in my case, and would definitely recommend them to a friend.” - Y. Martin
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