What To Do After A Collision With A Big Rig
The commercial trucking industry is a necessary presence throughout the country. Each day, countless trucks crisscross the Pacific Northwest, transporting various goods to different places. But due to their massive size and weight, these trucks have the potential to cause serious injuries or loss of life when they crash.
Being in a truck accident can leave you with substantial medical bills, lost income, and other damages. If the collision was caused by negligence, the driver and his employer need to be held accountable. Proving this, however, can be difficult unless you are working with an experienced legal team.
The truck accident attorneys at Pendergast Law want to help you recover full and fair compensation. Call our Seattle office at 888-539-9211 to schedule a free consultation.
Washington Truck Accident Recoveries
- $390,000 recovery for truck accident in Skykomish.
- $230,000 recovery for lacerations and broken ribs sustained when a truck overturned as a result of an improperly secured load in Sumas.
How Truck Accidents Cause Serious Injury
In a crash involving a large commercial truck and a passenger vehicle, the trucker isn’t the one likely to suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries. When a fully-loaded big rig weighing 80,000 pounds collides with a 3,000-pound passenger vehicle, the occupants of the passenger vehicle are much more vulnerable to harm.
There are many potential acts of negligence on the part of the trucker that may warrant legal action, but some of the most common include:
- Drunk driving: Driving under the influence in a truck can put everyone on the roadway in danger. This offense is so dangerous that it often leads to the truck driver losing his or her commercial driving license (CDL) and job.
- Illegal U-turn: Trucks that make illegal U-turns can cause devastating side underride accidents if a car hits the side of the trailer. Depending upon the height of the trailer, this kind of crash can result in roof crush or even occupant decapitation.
- Reckless driving: Washington law defines a reckless driver as “any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
- Running a red light or stop sign: Failure to obey a traffic control device can result in catastrophic intersection accidents.
- Speeding: Not only must truck drivers not exceed the speed limit, but they also must adjust their speed to traffic conditions. Any truck driver who drives at an unsafe rate of speed may be held accountable for any resulting accidents.
- Overloaded cargo: Semi trucks are designed to carry heavier loads than any other vehicle, but even these massive vehicles can be overloaded with cargo. When a truck is carrying more than its maximum capacity, it can cause rollovers, cargo spills, runaway trailers, and other accidents.
- Chronic fatigue: Commercial drivers are bound by federal hours-of-service regulations that require them to take adequate rest before getting on the road. A failure to fulfill these obligations amounts to negligence.
Truck drivers who drive recklessly deserve to pay. However, unless you can prove that the other driver caused the crash, you may not be able to recover compensation. That’s where we come in.
Who Else Is Liable?
Colliding with an 18-wheeler can be confusing, frightening, and intimidating when it comes to deciding what to do next. Remember, if the trucking company compelled the driver to operate his vehicle with overloaded cargo to save money, injury victims could file a claim against that company. While many cases involving obvious negligence, such as intoxicated driving, could lead to a criminal suit charge, a truck driver doesn’t have to be cited by the authorities to be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit.
However, truckers, trucking companies, and their insurance providers will fight back. Regardless of the severity of your injuries, expect the at-fault party and insurance company to put up a fight. They will try to dispute your claim and give you the least amount of compensation possible or not pay at all. But with the help of an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney, you can incorporate testimony and evidence that will prove how the crash happened, who caused it, and how much you should be paid to cope with past and future losses. This compensation will help you move forward from your devastating crash.
Cross-Border Trucking Accidents
Washington state is uniquely situated on the Canadian border and, as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is frequently visited by trucks that cross the border. If you are involved in an accident with a Canadian truck, you will also have to contend with Canadian trucking companies as well as their insurance agencies. While most of the regulations regarding truck drivers that apply in the United States are the same as the ones in Canada, there are some key differences, such as:
- Federal regulations: Canadian truck drivers are subject to not subject to a federal transportation department. Instead, regulations and rules are determined by each province in Canada, which can make a personal injury claim more difficult.
- Hours of service: Both United States and Canadian truck drivers may drive for a specific period of time, but the limitations may vary depending on how long the length of a driver’s break, which may impact how fatigued the driver becomes over time.
- Caps on damages: British Columbia has a cap on compensation for pain and suffering, but the state of Washington does not.
- Statute of limitations: If you are injured in a truck accident in Washington, you have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. However, in British Columbia, the statute of limitations is two years.
Trucks from over the border must abide by United States laws and are subject to the same transportation laws as any other driver in Washington. When filing a personal injury claim against a cross-border trucking company, you will need the legal aid of an experienced trucking accident law firm to understand and combat the tactics of foreign insurance companies.
How Can I Get Compensation After A Truck Accident In Seattle?
It is necessary to seek legal help so you don’t have to fight for your case on your own. You can be awarded compensation for medical expenses, including hospitalization, medication, physical therapy, surgery, and more. You may also receive compensation for lost earnings and benefits due to time away from work. Restitution can also be obtained for pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other forms of mental and emotional duress.
In a wrongful death claim, surviving family members may receive compensation for funeral and burial expenses, loss of consortium, loss of future wages and benefits, pain and suffering of the deceased before death, and other damages related to the loss. But trucking companies won’t just hand it to you – you need a lawyer to do battle.
Seattle Attorneys Answer Truck Accident FAQs
The following are some of the more common questions our clients ask:
What should I do after a truck accident?
Your health is your top priority, so be sure to seek medical attention if you feel pain or discomfort. A medical examination will provide documentation of your injuries, which can be used as evidence in your claim. Then, contact an experienced lawyer to help you:
- Report the accident to your insurance provider,
- Communicate and negotiate with the opposing insurance provider,
- Investigate the accident scene and circumstances that led to the crash,
- Obtain evidence of liability and damages, such as medical records, police reports, and photos.
- Negotiate for a full and fair settlement on your behalf, or fight for your rightful award in trial.
How much does an attorney cost?
At Pendergast Law, we are proud to offer our clients a no-fee promise. That means that not only do we provide a free and comprehensive evaluation of your truck accident, but we will also handle your case with no upfront costs to you. Our payment is a percentage of the final verdict or settlement on your claim. If we do not make a recovery on your behalf, you do not owe us attorney fees. Guaranteed.
Can I still file a truck accident claim several months after the incident?
Yes, under Washington state law, you technically have three years from the date of the commercial truck accident or discovery of the damages from the accident to pursue an injury claim. To protect your claim, we recommend you seek legal advice as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the weaker your claim may be. There are many exceptions, so do not hesitate to get in touch with Pendergast Law, to discuss your situation.
The insurance company offered a settlement – should I just accept it?
No. Insurance adjustors always want to settle for the lowest amount possible. Depending on the severity of your injuries and other losses, you may be entitled to a significant amount. The insurance companies involved (even your own) are more concerned with their bottom line than ensuring you are covered. The legal team at Pendergast Law can determine the maximum amount you deserve and will negotiate on your behalf.
If I am partially at fault for the truck crash, can I still file a lawsuit?
You may still be able to recover compensation in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Washington follows a legal doctrine known as “comparative negligence,” which means your final settlement or verdict will be reduced based on your percentage of fault for the crash. For example, if the jury awards you $100,000 but finds that you were 25% at fault for being in the truck driver’s blind spot, your final award would be reduced to $75,000.
Seattle Attorneys Holding Negligent Truck Drivers Accountable
At Pendergast Law, we have the resources and experience to protect your rights and prove trucking company negligence. Going up against a big corporation and its insurers requires extensive investigation and preparation. Our skilled Seattle truck accident attorneys know how to get clients fair compensation following an injury accident in Washington. Call our law office today at 888-539-9211 for a free and comprehensive case assessment.