The first thing you should do is ensure the safety and condition of everyone involved in the accident.
Step two is calling the police.
Only after you know everyone is unharmed should you think about moving vehicles out of the way. 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. Legally, you are required to contact your insurance company and let them know about the incident. When you call your insurer, you can get protection against underinsured motorists, open a file for property damage and log any need for medical care, depending on what kind of coverage you have.
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. They will of course want to minimize their own culpability in the accident if they can. 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 rules and guidelines govern the commercial trucking industry. This does not mean in any way that truck drivers don’t have to obey the local laws in North Bend, however. 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 are sometimes self-insured, and sometimes insured through a separate entity. 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 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. Because one is sometimes dependent upon the trucking company itself to provide the information and documentation that is needed in order to prove one’s case, these matters are almost always hard fought. On top of all that, it’s possible you will be dealing with serious injuries; big rigs and trucks are much larger and exert much more force than normal, non-commercial vehicles on the road. 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.
Here in North Bend, the statute of limitations on truck accident claims is three years. While this information is important, in most cases, having an attorney involved much earlier is of paramount importance. 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 North Bend, 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. Whether that is automobile PIP insurance or health insurance, North Bend 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. 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. 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 North Bend 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. 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. There is nothing to lose in calling an experienced attorney to go over this question.
It is very common in trucking accidents for the trucking company to offer a lower settlement than they should. 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. 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. 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. 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. Having an attorney on your side early on can help to make sure that you can prove your case later.
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 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.
If you have been involved in an incident whereby chemicals spilled from a tanker truck caused health problems then you should consult your doctor first and an experienced trucking accident attorney next.
There are a couple of excellent resources for trucking statistics. 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. Some information from them follows, but you can find more 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.
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. 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.
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/.
At the FMCSA site, one can find a comprehensive report compiled in 2016 regarding 2015 statistics for trucking accidents. 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.
“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“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“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 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 always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“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 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“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“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
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