First, make certain that everyone involved is safe and that medical care is provided whenever necessary.
Second, call the 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.
Fourth, contact 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. They will of course want to minimize their own culpability in the accident if they can. 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 Sumner. 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. Regardless, it can be tough to get a fair deal after an accident that involves a big rig and that requires you to work with them for compensation. Trucking companies will do everything they can to protect themselves and make it seem like any accident is not their fault so the incident doesn’t end up on their 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. Injuries and other high costs will only make the trucking more incentivized to try to push the blame away from them and onto you. For all of these reasons, it is critical to get on top of a claim related to a big rig accident in Sumner 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.
Three years is the statute of limitations for truck accidents in Sumner. 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 Sumner, 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, Sumner 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. For example, if you had to pay $5000 for medical bills after an accident and were 20% at fault, the other driver’s insurance would only pay $4000. In this scenario the injured party has some advantages, as Sumner 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. Therefore, if you are partially at fault but only to a small degree, it can provide some benefit in an accident.
But trucking and insurance companies will both try to say you are more at fault in order to gain leverage when it comes to insurance claims. 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. 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. 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. A quick phone conversation can mean the difference between a small award and the full award you really deserve.
It is not at all uncommon for the trucking company to offer too low a settlement in accidents involving a big rig. Trucking companies know that people who need the money or simply don’t have enough information will accept an offer that is lower than they should accept. 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. This is why you need an attorney on your side, ensuring you are compensated fairly and fully after an accident when the trucking company may be pressuring you to accept a lower award and sign a release.
Big rigs and commercial transportation vehicles are harder to operate than other vehicles and require more stopping time and more time to switch lanes and stuff, making them prone to accidents. An accident with a truck often includes some amount of operator error. 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.
The sheer size and force of a truck can lead to serious injuries for the other driver. At Wiener and Lambka, we have worked with clients who suffered a broad range of injuries after an accident, including:
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 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. 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. 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/.
For trucking accident statistics regarding 2015 but compiled in 2016, you can go to the FMSCA website, where you’ll find their report. 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.
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.
“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“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“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“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"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“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“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“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 & 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“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 & Lambka always kept me up to date with my case. I'd certainly suggest them to a friend." - J. Trujillo“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson
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