The Washington Truck Accident Guide was created by Edmonds personal injury attorney Pellegrino Certa to help residents that have been seriously injured in a wreck earn their maximum injury settlement.
Accidents involving a semi-truck or heavy trucks are extremely serious. Thousands of these accidents occur every year. They can cause serious injuries that can permanently change how the victim lives their life. Many of these accidents are deadly and rob a family of income, love, and affection. If you or someone you love was involved in one of these catastrophic accidents, contact a truck accident lawyer right away. You only have three years after the date of the accident to file your claim. Call us as soon as possible to schedule your free consultation. We’ll let you know if you have a valid legal claim. If you do, we’ll explain your next steps and how we can help you protect your legal rights.
Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?
Semi-trucks and many heavy trucks require a special license known as a CDL to drive. To get that license, a person must pass a state test. If the driver wishes to haul certain types of material, they must undergo even more specialized training and pass tests to get an endorsement for those materials. With all of the education and testing, why do truck accidents happen? Given the weather in Washington, how often does the weather play a big role?
Less than 10% of truck accidents have anything to do with the weather. The most common causes of truck accidents include distracted driving by the truck driver, speeding, fatigue, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, an improperly loaded trailer, and failure to properly maintain the truck.
Distracted driving. Distracted driving, also known as E-DUI when an electronic device is involved, makes holding cellphones, putting on makeup, or eating and driving illegal. In essence, distracted driving may be considered any action that causes the driver of any vehicle, including truck drivers, to not put their full attention onto the road. Distracted driving is particularly dangerous when we’re dealing with vehicles that can be as much as ten times heavier than a passenger vehicle.
Speeding. If there’s one very important factor about semi-trucks and heavy trucks you should know, it is that they cannot stop as fast as a passenger vehicle or truck. Since they’re heavier, it takes them longer to stop. Speeding truck drivers may not have adequate time to react if they run into a traffic jam or if another vehicle suddenly pulls out or swerves in front of them. Speeding is one of the main causes of these types of accidents.
Fatigue. Both state and federal laws determine how long a truck driver may be on the road. Yet, despite these laws, which are created to help ensure that drivers are well-rested, truck drivers may be pressured to try and meet unrealistic or unreasonable deadlines by the company they work for or by the company that contracted them to make the delivery. When a driver is overly tired, they will not react as quickly as they should. It can also inhibit their ability to measure distance.
Driving while under the influence. As a professional driver with a CDL, truck drivers have a different standard when it comes to driving while under the influence. Someone who gets behind the wheel of a passenger vehicle isn’t considered to be driving while under the influence unless their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is .08% or higher. Someone with a CDL may not have a BAC higher than .04%. Also, many prescription drugs and OTC drugs may also cause impairment.
Improperly loaded trailer. Drivers aren’t always responsible for loading and securing the trailer. When a trailer isn’t properly loaded and secured, the load may shift when the driver takes a turn or even when the driver accelerates or brakes. When the load shifts, the trailer may roll, jack knife, or propel the cab of the truck to continue to move forward causing an accident.
Failure to properly maintain the truck. Proper and regular maintenance is a necessity for semi-trucks and heavy trucks. When these vehicles aren’t maintained, the chance of an accident increases. Sometimes, the truck driver isn’t the responsible party. Other potential responsible parties include, but may not be limited to, the trucking company, the contracted maintenance company, the mechanic assigned to the vehicle, or even the manufacturer of a part.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
An Edmonton truck accident lawyer can help victims and their families in several ways. We can help you determine who is at fault for an accident. Truck accidents are complex. There may be more than one person (or company) responsible for your injuries. We can help you determine who should be named as a defendant.
We can also help you with the settlement process. Settlement negotiations often take place before a lawsuit is filed. The settlement process is often less stressful, less expensive, and takes less time than a lawsuit. Yet, insurance companies and trucking companies don’t always want to take full responsibility for their actions. They may offer you less than your claim is worth. They may try to pressure you into signing a settlement agreement. We can let you know whether it’s in your best interest to sign a settlement agreement or if the negotiations process should continue. It’s important that you don’t sign anything without first having an attorney look over the document. Signing a legally binding agreement could strip you of valuable legal rights and even the ability for future medical care for your on-going injuries.
Frequently Asked Questions | Washington Truck Accident Guide
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident Injury?
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Washington state, there are several things you need to do. If possible, the first thing you should do is call the police officer and have a police report made. The second thing you should do, if possible, is take photographs at the scene of the accident. Nowadays, most people have cell phones and that’s something that’s very simple to do, if possible. The third thing you need to do is get medical treatment and have yourself examined by a doctor. The fourth thing you should do is contact an experienced personal injury attorney who’s handled truck accidents in the past, since they are different than the average everyday automobile collision.
Is a Truck Accident Claim Different From a Car Accident Claim?
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident claim, you need to know that it’s different than your typical automobile accident case. Truck companies are held to a higher standard than the typical driver. Trucking companies will hire these drivers and they have to do background checks. They have to monitor how long the drivers are driving, and make sure they get rest. They have to inspect and fix the trucks on a regular basis, keep logs, and keep records. It’s different than a typical automobile accident case.
For instance, a good example would be the driver that injured Tracy Morgan, who was driving for Walmart. In that case, it was alleged that that driver had been driving for 20 hours longer than what he was supposed to and Walmart was held responsible for that. There are nuances and differences that an experienced attorney would know.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid After a Truck Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident in Washington state, there are some dos and don’ts. First of all, absolutely do not speak with an insurance company or the attorney for the trucking company. Their job is to get information that’s going to help their case and hurt yours. Second is, do not hesitate to get medical treatment. If you are hurt, seek medical treatment right away and have your injuries documented. One of the arguments we hear from the trucking companies are, “If he or she was hurt, why didn’t they get medical treatment right away?”
Third is, don’t delay in speaking with an attorney. Trucking accidents are different than automobile accidents in that, for instance, the trucks that are operated contain black boxes and those black boxes contain vital information that an attorney can get for the case right away that you might not be able to get. Fourth is, hire the right type of attorney. Do not hire a general practice attorney who’s doing wills, estates, divorce, and business law. You want to hire an attorney who does personal injury and who’s handled trucking accident cases in the past.
How Do I Choose the Best Truck Accident Attorney for My Case?
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Washington and need an attorney, you should hire an attorney who’s qualified to handle these types of cases. They’re different than the standard automobile accident case, so you should hire an attorney who does personal injury and who’s handled truck accident cases in the past. If possible, hire an attorney who has some experience in defending these cases as well, since those attorneys typically have information that they can use against the trucking industry and turn the tables on them to benefit your case. Fourth, hire an attorney who is prepared to go to trial and that will prepare your case like it will go to trial. Although settlement is always a possibility, it’s not guaranteed, and you need to be ready to go all the way.
What are the Steps in a Truck Accident Claim?
Handling a truck accident injury claim in Washington is almost like handling most personal injury cases, in that you have to focus on medical treatment and getting better. Once you’ve either plateaued, reached maximum medical improvement, or reached pre-accident condition, then at that point you can start negotiating with the trucking company and see if you can get a fast settlement. If you cannot get a fast settlement, then you have to start a lawsuit, so it’s important that you hire the right type of attorney to handle these types of cases. Truck accidents are different than automobile accidents. There are different steps involved, so it’s important to get an experienced attorney.
Should I Speak to the Insurance Company?
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Washington state, absolutely do not speak with anybody from the insurance company for the trucking industry or their attorney. Their job is not to gather information to help you, but to gather information to help the trucking company.
Should I Take the First Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company?
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Washington state and an insurance company reaches out to try and settle that case, the odds are that it’s not going to be a fair settlement. Insurance companies are notorious for low-balling people who are unrepresented by a lawyer. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Washington state and an insurance company is reaching out to you to settle that case, make sure you contact an experienced personal injury attorney, such as us, to see what they can do for you.
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim in Washington?
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Washington state, you have three years to file a claim, but it’s important that you not wait three years or even two years. Witnesses forget things. People get lost. Defendants are hard to find. You want to get an attorney right away who can interview the witnesses, find the defendant, the driver, and protect the evidence and get the facts necessary to prosecute your claim later. A lot of these truck companies hire drivers who go from state-to-state and they cannot be found that easily, so you do not want to wait until the last minute
How Do I Determine the Value of My Truck Accident Claim?
If you’re hurt in a truck accident case in Washington and you’re trying to figure out how much your case is worth, it’s almost impossible to know that right off the bat. That’s going to be dependent on what your injuries are, how long your recovery time is, whether you have any permanent injuries, and whether you missed time from work. There’re many factors that make it impossible to know the true value of the case at the outset. As time progresses and months go by, an attorney may be able to better estimate what the case would be worth at that time.
How Long Will It Take for My Truck Accident Case to Settle?
If you’re involved in a truck accident in Washington and you’ve suffered injuries, and you need to bring a claim, it’s going to take some time. It’s impossible to tell how long it takes for that case to resolve. A lot of it will be dependent on your recovery time, and a lot of it will be dependent on whether litigation is necessary. Obviously, if you don’t need to file a lawsuit and you can settle the claim, it will take less time. If you and the insurance company are not able to agree on what your damages are worth, and you need to file a lawsuit, typically it will be between 12 and 18 months after you file a lawsuit until you go to trial.
Contact Us If You Want to Learn More
If you were hurt in an accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical expenses, future medical care, rehabilitative care, missed time from work, permanent disfigurement, disability, pain and suffering, and more. Families who lost their loved one may also be entitled to final expenses as well as loss of companionship. If you’re ready to learn more, schedule your free consultation with one of our Edmonds truck accident lawyers right away.