First, make certain that everyone involved is safe and that medical care is provided whenever necessary.
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 it’s possible to take pictures of the crash before moving the vehicles out of the way then you should do that.
Next, call your insurance agency. 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.
Now you can contact a personal injury attorney. Don’t be alarmed if the trucking company’s insurance agency calls you and wants to get a statement about what happened in the accident. They will of course want to minimize their own culpability in the accident if they can. 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 rules and guidelines govern the commercial trucking industry. Truck drivers still, of course, need to follow the rules of the road in Seatac. In the case of a big rig accident, we evaluate anything that could have contributed to operator mistakes. The operators of trucks and big rigs have to follow strict driving rules, including:
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 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 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.
The statute of limitations for truck accident claims in Seatac is three years. Therefore, it is critical to get an attorney on your side as quickly as you can to protect yourself. When you get an attorney on your side quickly you also get the benefit of knowing the investigation into the incident will go well from the beginning and the trucking company will be more incentivized to cooperate with you and produce the evidence and data you need to win your case.
In Seatac, 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. 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. In this scenario the injured party has some advantages, as Seatac 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. Accordingly, being partially at fault in only a little amount can be advantageous to the client.
Moreover, trucking companies and insurance companies love to allege that the other driver was also at fault because this presents them with leverage. 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. 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. You have nothing to lose and a lot to potentially gain by calling us for a brief consultation over the phone.
The typical manner in which claims are resolved involves the insurance company providing lower than realistic offers of settlement. They have every incentive to do so as sometimes people need the money or don’t know any better and therefore accept a lower than reasonable offer. 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. Operator error in these regards is usually the cause. 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.
Because of the forces involved truck accidents can involve serious injuries. In our time working with clients involved in trucking accidents, we have seen many types and severities of injuries, 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.
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 good resources out there for statistics on trucking. An overview of these sites and their information follows.
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.
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. 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. The crash death rate per population has fallen by nearly half since the 1970s, but increased 5 percent from 2015 to 2016.
Men are more likely to die in a crash than women. Men typically drive more miles than women and are more likely to engage in risky practices.
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. 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.
To access the entire study, please go to: 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“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“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“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“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“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“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“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 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"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“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas"Wiener & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“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“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
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