Truck Accident FAQ’s
TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER WASHINGTON
What are some of the common accidents between cars and large trucks?
There are three primary types of accidents that proactive automobile operators can avoid.
- One of the most common mistakes that cause accidents is driving in the “no zone.” These are the blind spots that all trucks have. There is a blind spot right in front of the truck. There are blind spots along the side of the truck. There’s a very large blind spot right behind the truck. Any time you are in one of the no zones for any length of time, you are at risk. A truck driver can pull into you because they’re not aware that you were there. This is a common cause of serious accidents.
- Another common mistake is to pull up beside a tractor-trailer when the right turn signal is on. Trucks need extra room to make a right turn. This means they commonly move over to the middle-of-the-road or into a left lane to make the turn. You are vulnerable for two reasons. If you pull up beside the truck, you’re in the blind spot. And secondly, as the truck turns you can be squeezed between the truck and the curb.
- You also want to make sure that you maintain a good distance between you and a truck that follows you. The big rig trucks take a lot longer to stop because of their weight. If something happens in front of you and you have to stop, you’re at high risk of a rear end collision. The resulting damage could be devastating.
Another type of accidents happens less often, and is usually the fault of the transport truck. This occurs when a truck turns at a speed that is too fast for conditions and swings into the adjacent lane unexpectedly. Any cars that are beside the truck can be swiped, causing a severe accident.
What are some of the other causes for truck/automobile accidents?
Most of the following reasons for truck accidents are beyond the control of the person in the automobile. They include aggressive or speeding truck drivers, tailgating or jackknifing.. They include truck drivers who are trying to meet unrealistic schedules. Working long shifts and driver fatigue contributes in many accidents involving trucks and automobiles. And some accidents involve failure to keep the truck in proper condition through the inspection of tires, brakes and lights, or by failing to install blind spot mirrors to reduce the size of blind spots.
Why are commercial trucks more likely to cause serious injury in an accident?
It’s all a matter of physics. The average automobile weighs approximately 3000 pounds. A loaded commercial truck weighs 80,000 pounds or more. Even an empty rig is considerably larger than most cars.
How often does alcohol and drug use play a role in tractor-trailer accidents?
The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted a one-year study. They performed blood alcohol screenings on hundred and 68 drivers who were fatally injured in their truck wrecks. In 67%, one or more drugs were detected. 33% of those drivers had detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol.
Will the laws that regulate truck drivers help me with my personal injury claim?
Yes, in many cases they will be very helpful. There are strict regulations concerning maintenance of equipment and the hours of service that is lawful. Truck drivers must maintain a driver’s log that demonstrates that adequate breaks and mandatory rest laws were observed.
It is also illegal for a truck driver to operate commercial motor vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater. The truck driver cannot have anything containing alcohol in the cab with them, including cold medications that contain alcohol. In fact if a truck driver consumed alcohol within eight hours preceding accident, they can be cited.
How many hours can a truck driver be on the road in a 24-hour period?
Because driver fatigue and drowsiness have caused so many fatal accidents, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2003, overhauled a 1939 law that allowed much more generous hours on the road. Limitations vary according to whether the commercial motor vehicle carries property or passengers. Property carrying truck drivers must take 10 consecutive hours off duty before they can drive again. Then they are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours. They have to stop driving when the clock says it has been 14 hours since they first clocked in, then they must take another 10 hours off. Even if the truck has a sleeper booth, a driver must take 10 hours of sleep/break consecutively before they get behind the wheel again.
What is the best way to handle the trucking company or the insurance company after an accident?
Contact a personal injury attorney immediately. Most trucking companies and insurance adjusters have highly developed skills at investigating truck accident claims. They will be looking for any excuse to reduce the amount they have to pay out. If they asked to speak with you, referred them to your attorney.
Should I accept whatever the insurance company offers me for my truck injury?
No, you should not. Believe it or not, many insurance companies actually offer unfair truck injury settlements hoping that you will accept the offer. The insurance company is willing to take the risk that you will hire an attorney to represent you. They know that if you hire one that is incompetent, they will save still money.
This practice highlights two things. One, you should never try to recover compensation for injuries from a truck accident without legal representation. Two, you should make sure that the attorney you hire is experienced in personal injury law.
What advantages do I gain by hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle my auto accident?
- When an attorney takes your truck-related personal injury case, you are relieved of dealing with all the headaches connected to dealing with the insurance or trucking companies that may be involved.
- You have an advocate that is on your side. The insurance company, even your own, is never your advocate.
- When you hire a competent, aggressive and experienced lawyer to negotiate your trucking injury settlement, you usually walk away with more money than if you had tried to negotiate with the insurance companies on your own—even after you have paid attorney’s fees. Insurance companies know you don’t know the strategies and rules that our Boyd Buckingham attorneys have taken years to acquire.
- You may also find that it is easier to get the medical treatment you need when you are able to tell the doctor that your attorney recommended the visit. This can make a major difference for your future health, especially if you do not have health insurance.
- You are less likely to be fooled into considering a poor personal injury offer a good settlement offer. A well-qualified personal injury attorney, like you will find at Boyd Buckingham, knows which costs should be included in the settlement. There are many truck injury costs that you might overlook.
Who can I hold liable for my commercial truck accident?
You may sue the person and/or the company responsible for the truck, as long as they are at fault for the accident. It is possible to extend the suit to include the truck driver, the trucking company, the owner of the trailer, the shipper and even a manufacturer, if the accident was caused by an equipment failure.
What can I expect to recover in compensation after a truck accident?
You are entitled to compensation for any medical expenses related to your truck accident. If you lose wages, you can seek compensation even if you are covered by sick leave or use vacation pay. If the truck accident leaves permanent impairment, you can seek compensation on several levels, such as loss of earning power or to cover longterm healthcare assistance. And obviously you’re entitled to the value of your car at the time of the accident. You may also seek damages for pain and suffering.
How much compensation can I expect for work lost?
You can expect compensation, as long as your loss of work was ordered by a doctor. This is one reason it is so important to seek medical attention for any injuries, no matter how minor they may seem at the time. Talk to the doctor about the typical tasks you perform during your work day. An experienced physician will be able to tell if you should take time off from work to recover from your injuries.
If the doctor orders you to take off work, you are entitled to compensation for the money you would have earned during the time you are under doctor’s orders. If you injury is severe enough to impact your earning power into the future, you can also seek compensation for loss of income earning capacity.
How much compensation can I expect for pain and suffering?
A great deal depends upon how thoroughly you keep records of the pain and suffering you experience after an automobile accident. You need to be very thorough in reporting all of your complaints. You need to keep a journal where you record your feelings are expressed clearly over time.
What do I need to do so that I am compensated adequately for my personal injury?
Do all the things recommended for demonstrating that you experienced pain and suffering as a result of your truck accident. But in addition, make sure that you do not stop treatment until you know that you are feeling better. If your symptoms continue, don’t stop going to the doctor. Insurance companies and juries will look at this as proof that you have recovered.
You also need to make sure you see the right type of specialist. The following doctors treat and diagnose different symptoms:
- Neurologist—See a neurologist if you suffer from severe, consistent headaches. Dizziness, vertigo, numbness, paralysis and loss of motion and/or feeling are symptoms of problems with nerve function. If you experience memory loss, fainting spells or changes in your cognitive functions, the best physician to see is a neurologist.
- Orthopedist—See an orthopedist if you experience severe or continuous neck and/or back pain. Discomfort in your shoulders, knees, hands and feet can indicate problems with the bones.
- Psychologist / Psychiatrist—Accidents often cause anxiety, depression, withdrawal, fear, phobias, and other behavioral issues.
- Physical Therapist / Chiropractor—Physical therapists and chiropractors help you recover from the muscular, tendon and ligament damage caused by many accidents.
Should I be concerned about what type of doctor I see?
It is important to visit the right doctor, so you get the appropriate treatment for your truck injuries. If you don’t have a primary care physician, we can recommend which types of specialists our previous clients have found useful.
If my car is damaged, should I expect a rental car while my car is in the repair shop?
If you are not the person at fault and the damage is minor enough to warrant repairs, you have two options. You can ask for a rental car while your car is being repaired, or you can ask for loss of use payments if you prefer to use an alternative transportation option.
What does it mean when the insurance company says my car has been totaled?
If the cost to repair the car is more than your car is worth, the insurance company will “total” it. You are entitled to the fair market value for your car at the time of the accident. Insurance companies will seek to settle for the lowest market value, even if you had a high-end model. Or you may have recently replaced the engine, meaning the car has a higher market value than a comparable car of the same age.
Am I entitled to a rental car if my car is totaled?
In general, you are entitled to a rental car or loss of use compensation from the time of the accident until the insurance company sends you a check to pay for your vehicle.
Do I need to pay before you will consider representing my trucking accident case?
No. Boyd Buckingham provides free evaluations for truck accident personal injury cases. Call our law offices at (425) 228-6662. If we do take your case, we use a basic contingency fee structure. Because Washington requires our clients to reimburse us for any costs we pay on your behalf, we will discuss any fees that you would have to pay if your case was unsuccessful. We make every effort to only take cases where we know we can win for you.
How soon must I file my suit if I am injured in a truck accident?
In Washington State, you must file suit within three years of the accident date. This cutoff date, known as the statute of limitations, prevents you from filing a claim in most cases after three years. There are some exceptions which we would be glad to discuss with you.
Is there a cap on damages in Washington State for truck accidents?
No, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that placing a ceiling on non-economic damages, commonly known as pain and suffering, is not constitutional.