In instances of an automobile-truck collision, there is a disproportionately strong chance of serious wrongful injury or even a fatality – any experienced big rig driver will tell you this.
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury as a result of a truck-related accident, it is important to immediately contact an experienced truck accident lawyer who can handle a variety of difficulties during recovery. Big rig collisions & wrecks are not to be taken lightly, in any case.
A semi-truck accident case is usually very complex because of the range of issues involved. There are physical dynamics of trucks and their cargo that frequently make these accident injuries extensive with possible permanent ramifications.
Important reasons for contacting an experienced Seattle truck accident lawyer rather than attempting to handle the accident on your own include:
If you are the victim of wrongful injury as a result of a semi-truck accident in Washington State, contact Wiener & Lambka as soon as possible to preserve all of the case evidence in an effort to recover maximum compensation.
Accidents involving trucks occur regularly, and for a variety of reasons.
A number of laws have been developed by the federal government to regulate accidents relating to trucks. One of those federal laws states that if you have been injured in a semi-truck accident, the negligent party who caused the accident shall compensate you.
Any driver (or pedestrian) in an accident with a truck resulting in injury should seek the services of a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to establish certain factors, such as:
After the facts regarding the accident have been determined, an experienced lawyer should be able to provide you with advice regarding the feasibility of a lawsuit. Call us today for a case evaluation.
Washington state is extremely active in terms of business and tourists that involves not only automobiles but also many trucks.
If you have sustained injuries from a truck-related accident, step one is to seek the assistance of a qualified attorney who is experienced in semi truck accident litigation.
These are the things we can do for your case immediately:
And if your case suggests legal action, we can:
Call Wiener & Lambka to ensure the best possible outcome for your legal issue: 206-452-1055
First, make certain that everyone involved is safe – including the truck driver and his cargo, especially if it’s hazardous. Ensure that medical care is provided whenever necessary.
Second, call the police.
Third, consider whether vehicles need to be moved before the police arrive as a matter of safety. If they need to be moved and pictures can be safely taken on the scene and resting place of the vehicles first then consider doing so.
Fourth, contact your insurance company. You have a legal obligation to cooperate with your own company and to notify them of your accident. Doing so should also trigger the opening of appropriate files for your property damage, medical care for injuries 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. 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. Truck drivers still, of course, need to follow the rules of the road in Washington. Additionally, in trucking cases, we want to look at many different things that can contribute directly or indirectly to operator error. 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. Truck drivers have big incentives to lie about how the accident occurred such that they don’t have an accident on their employment record. 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. Also, many trucking injury cases involved greater injuries to the occupants of the other vehicle because of the massive size and forces involved in many trucking collisions. 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 upfront 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 Washington is 3 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 Washington, 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 of health insurance, Washington 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.
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 picket- this would be a double recovery.
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.
Washington law at this point, however, provides a bit of an advantage to the injured party because, in instances where one has not received all of their damages from the other driver, they do not incur the same responsibility to repay to their insurance company any of the monies back because they did not receive ALL of their damages from the other side. Accordingly, being partially at fault in only a little amount can be advantageous to the client.
Moreover, trucking companies, semi truck drivers, 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. Consultation with an attorney about the particulars of your case is always advised, especially where the consult is free – there is nothing to lose. 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. 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. 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. 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. Because this is a complicated question involving a serious matter, you should never resolve your claim without at least having a discussion with an experienced attorney.
What causes most semi truck and commercial transport accidents?
While there is not one set cause, the typical causation facts with these trucks are 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. Operator error in these regards is usually the cause. That being said, there are a host of other possible reasons why a commercial vehicle can cause an accident. Most of these reasons require the discovery of information and documents unique to the trucking company such as driver’s logs and inspection checklists. Having an attorney on your side early on can help to make sure that you can prove your case later.
Negligent truck drivers can produce accidents that cause serious injuries to occupants of other vehicles.
Because of the forces involved truck accidents can involve serious injuries. Wiener and Lambka PS have 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.
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. 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.
Crashes took 37,461 lives in the U.S. in 2016.
The number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes has fallen over the last decade. 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.
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.
More men than women die in motor vehicle crashes. 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. 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%20Early%20Release.pdf.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a trucking accident, it is crucial to retain legal counsel immediately. If you are in the Seattle, Washington area and would like to arrange a consultation with one of our truck accident attorneys, contact Wiener & Lambka today. We will gladly assess your case and explain the important aspects of trucking accident litigation.
Automobiles are designed under Federal Motor Vehicle Standards to encounter like-size vehicles, not an 18-wheel truck. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2004, a total of 5,190 people died (12 percent of all the traffic fatalities reported) and an additional 116,000 were injured in truck accidents. Common causes of trucking accidents include:
If you’ve been involved in a serious truck accident, contact one of our Seattle trucking accident lawyers and set up a consultation. We will evaluate your case and answer any questions you may have.
The law protects the rights of semi truck accident victims. Those involved in trucking accidents could be eligible for compensation – medical bills, property damage, loss of wages or earning capacity, etc. If a family member is killed in a trucking accident, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death suit.
Washington State has instituted an at-fault law. This at-fault statute states that the party responsible for the accident must pay all related costs. Victims seriously injured in a truck accident can rely on our Seattle trucking accident lawyers to ensure they receive the maximum compensation allowed under the law. In order to receive sufficient compensation for your claim, it is very important that you retain experienced, aggressive legal representation as soon as possible.
The Seattle truck accident lawyer representatives at Wiener & Lambka, Attorneys at Law realize the period immediately following an accident is a difficult time for the victims and their loved ones. We have represented many Seattle and Washington State truck accident victims over the years. Our skilled lawyers maintain an impressive record of obtaining just settlements and helping victims get back on their feet.
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