The first thing you should do is ensure the safety and condition of everyone involved in the accident.
Second, call 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).
Now you can contact a personal injury attorney. You will probably hear from the insurance company representing the trucking company and they will want to get a statement from you. 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.
The commercial trucking industry is governed by federal law. Of course, the normal rules of the road in Renton 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. 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. Injuries and other high costs will only make the trucking more incentivized to try to push the blame away from them and 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.
The statute of limitations for truck accident claims in Renton 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.
It sounds strange, but there can be benefits to being at fault in an accident with a big rig in Renton. In most cases where someone gets injured in a vehicle accident, they will have multiple layers of insurance to pay their bills. In Renton, 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. 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 Renton 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. Therefore, if you are partially at fault but only to a small degree, it can provide some benefit in an accident.
You should be aware that trucking and insurance companies will try to say you are more at fault in order to gain leverage, though. Do not take these claims of fault at face value. Consultation with an attorney about the particulars of your case is always advised, especially where the consult is free – there is nothing to lose. 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 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.
The typical manner in which claims are resolved involves the insurance company providing lower than realistic offers of settlement. 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. Every case is unique and when you resolve a claim, you must sign a release indicating you will never again in your whole life come back and ask for anything more from the insurance company, no matter what the future holds. 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. However, operator error is not the only cause; there are many other ways a truck or big rig could get into an accident. Most of these reasons require discovery of information and documents unique to the trucking company such as driver’s logs and inspection checklists. 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 other driver in a trucking accident can be severely injured because they are operating a much lighter vehicle. In our time working with clients involved in trucking accidents, we have seen many types and severities of injuries, 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.
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 many means of finding statistics on trucking accidents. We’ve collected some of the highlights and resources below.
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 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.
More men than women die in motor vehicle crashes. 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. What follows is an expert from the introduction:
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.
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