First, make certain that everyone involved is safe and that medical care is provided whenever necessary.
Next, contact the local 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.
Next, call your insurance agency. You have a legal obligation to cooperate with your own company and to notify them of your accident. 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. 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. The person who calls you will probably want to eliminate or lessen the claim against the trucking company. 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.
The commercial trucking industry is governed by federal law. This does not mean in any way that truck drivers don’t have to obey the local laws in Tukwila, however. 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:
Trucking companies may have their own means of insurance, though some use outside insurers. 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. 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 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.
Three years is the statute of limitations for truck accidents in Tukwila. 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 Tukwila, 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. 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 Tukwila 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. Their claims that you were at fault should not be accepted on face value though. You have nothing to lose, therefore, by consulting with an attorney in the case of an accident to make sure you are not taken advantage of after an accident. We would be happy to go over your case with you.
At Wiener and Lambka, PS, we will consult with you for free. 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.
The typical manner in which claims are resolved involves the insurance company providing lower than realistic offers of settlement. 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. 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. 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, 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. That being said, there are a host of other possible reasons why a commercial vehicle can cause an accident. At this point, it is important to get all the information you can, including drivers’ logs and inspection checklists, in order to discover the true cause or causes of an accident that involves you and a commercial trucking vehicle. Having an attorney on your side early on can help to make sure that you can prove your case later.
Because of the forces involved truck accidents can involve serious injuries. Wiener and Lambka, PS, has 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.
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 many means of finding statistics on trucking accidents. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
To access the entire study, please go to: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/LTCF2015 Early Release.pdf.
“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"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 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“Everything was great. It was the best legal experience I have ever had!” - T. Hoskins“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“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“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“Wiener & Lambka took care of the leg work for me and even managed to get a larger settlement than expected.” - J. Hanson“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“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“You minimized my stress levels on a process foreign and scary to me. Very professional, caring, and patient with me.” - A. Maas“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
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