Washington Truck Accident Attorney
- Truck accidents tend to be more dangerous than car accidents because semi-trucks are large and heavy, especially when hauling cargo.
- You should take immediate steps after a Washington truck accident to protect yourself and your personal injury claim.
- Truck accidents must be reported to the Department of Transportation if there is $1,000 or more of property damage or someone is injured or killed.
- The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Washington is three years.
- There are several parties who can be held liable for truck accident compensation.
- Title 49 regulates the commercial trucking industry and can be used to determine who is liable for your injuries.
Semi-truck accidents often have a high fatality rate. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation found that 4,965 individuals died in accidents involving large trucks. Many of these fatalities were occupants of smaller vehicles such as cars.
If death does not occur as a result of a semi-truck crash, then catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries, are likely the result. If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck accident, McPartland Law Offices can help.
What Should You Do If You Were Involved in a Truck Accident in Washington?
Truck accidents can be extremely severe. While the entire experience can be very traumatic, it is important to switch gears to think about what you need to do next after an accident. What you do immediately after a truck accident can be the difference between life and death.
Hire a Washington Truck Accident Attorney
Having an attorney on your side after a truck accident is very important. Not only are truck crashes more severe, but they can also be more complicated from a legal perspective. They often involve more parties and different laws than what the average car accident will involve, such as federal regulations about weight, drive time, loading requirements, and more. Trucks and other commercial vehicles also carry data and information which a Washington truck accident lawyer can help preserve in order to prove the truck driver’s fault. Many commercial vehicles and the companies that broker them also operate internationally and identifying the players for timely service is often more complicated than a standard car accident.
The sooner you can involve a Washington truck accident lawyer, the better. An experienced truck accident attorney will help truck accident victims gather facts and information about the crash and work with any insurance company involved in the accident. They can also provide a free case evaluation to help you determine your rights under applicable personal injury law.
Seek Medical Attention
Getting medical help after a truck accident is critical. Even seemingly minor injuries can be much more severe than you might think. For instance, internal bleeding or traumatic brain injuries may not be instantly apparent after an accident. Having a once-over from a medical professional can spot even these harder-to-detect injuries.
By calling 911, you will not only get immediate medical attention, but you will also call out the local fire department and police. Medical attention is critical, but the fire department can help with removing people from vehicles and addressing very dangerous situations that involve gas leaks and fire.
Even if the accident was not particularly severe, having the police at the scene will result in the creation of a police report. The police will set out the names and contact information of everyone involved in the accident, including the name of the truck driver, their employer, and anyone involved with ownership of the load they were carrying. They will also often take witness statements and provide a summary of the facts of the crash. In some situations, they will provide an opinion as to why the crash occurred and who caused it. They can also issue citations to any driver who did not follow applicable traffic laws at the time of the truck crash.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance
Even if the truck accident is not your fault, do not wait to take action; your insurance company will likely want to do its own investigation of the accident and your truck accident injuries. If you have medical pay benefits, this type of coverage can be very helpful to address medical bills and related expenses.
Why Are Truck Crashes Dangerous?
Truck accidents present unique risks on the roadways. Collisions involving trucks often lead to significant damages and injuries due to trucks’ sheer size, weight, and momentum.
Weight & Size
Semi-trucks in Washington can legally weigh up to 105,500 pounds, while the average car weighs around 4,100 pounds. When two vehicles collide, and one is significantly smaller, the force from the larger vehicle can cause excessive damage. Because of their size, trucks also have unique blind spots, making it harder to see smaller vehicles on the road nearby.
This weight and size differential is a factor for why truck crashes are so dangerous but not necessarily the reason why truck accidents occur. You can find further insight into why these accidents happen on our blog.
The size and weight of a semi-truck also make it harder to maneuver. Sharp turns, lane changes, and braking are just a few actions that may be difficult for a large commercial vehicle. Performing any of these movements can be dangerous and requires a skilled truck driver.
Dangerous cargo in a semi-trailer can contribute to the damage caused in a crash. Items such as flammable or explosive materials could create a deadly blast or widespread chemical exposure upon impact. In 2021, hazardous materials were involved in 3,233 large truck crashes.
Regular cargo can also pose a threat when it is improperly loaded. The collision itself could be relatively minor, but unsecured cargo might fall out and severely injure another driver.
Most Common Causes of Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks
A normal car accident can be extremely difficult, but a run-in with a truck can be devastating. Below are just a few common causes of truck accidents in Washington State.
The most common reason truck accidents occur is driver error. Driver error is ten times more likely to be the reason an accident happens compared to other reasons, such as road conditions, weather, and vehicle performance. Truck drivers spend a significant amount of time on the road. They face pressure to meet deadlines and must deal with the hazards that come along with that, including stress and lack of sleep. These issues, in turn, can lead to speeding and lack of attention on the road.
Ignoring Federal Laws
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) includes hundreds of regulations that semi-truck drivers and the entire trucking industry must follow to maintain safety on the road. These laws are in place not only to protect truck drivers but also to protect everyone else around them. Examples of these regulations include standards for:
- Cargo loading methods
- Fleet maintenance
- Driving techniques
- Limitations on hours or miles driven in a specific amount of time
- Hiring and training requirements
By ignoring or disregarding these laws, drivers and trucking companies make the road a much more dangerous place. Keep in mind that federal laws still affect drivers in Seattle, Tacoma, Spokane, Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, Yakima, Wenatchee, Walla Walla, Moses Lake and beyond.
Large trucks take time to slow down and stop in an emergency. Traveling at higher speeds makes maneuverability even more challenging. Drivers will sometimes speed in an effort to meet tight or unrealistic deadlines. Regardless of the reason, speeding makes driving a large truck even more unsafe.
Driving a semi-truck is not the same as driving the average passenger vehicle. It requires special training and skill to operate a semi-truck and heavy load safely. Drivers need the resources to train properly, and that obligation often falls squarely on their employer. Employers or companies that use independent contractors as drivers have a duty to hire, train, and monitor these individuals. Failing to train and hire appropriately can lead to liability for the company or employer.
Types of Truck Accidents in Washington
The damage in a truck accident can be very severe. It can not only cause serious property damage, but it can result in life-threatening injuries. Below are the most common types of accidents specific to trucks in Washington.
A jackknife accident occurs when the trailer that the semi is hauling swings around the side of the truck while still attached. It often occurs because the driver tried to stop the truck too quickly, forcing the trailer to “jackknife” into the truck. The brakes lock up or stop the cab too quickly, but the forward momentum of the trailer does not stop as quickly, forcing it to swing around. It is very difficult for a trucker to maintain control of the tractor-trailer when it jackknifes, leading to vehicle accidents.
A rollover crash in a truck is very similar to a rollover in a passenger vehicle. However, big rig rollovers are generally more severe simply because of the size of the vehicles involved. Rollovers occur because of a motorist trying to take a turn too quickly.
A head-on collision occurs when a truck hits another vehicle in the front, usually because the vehicles are traveling in the opposite direction but in the same path. Sometimes, this occurs because one vehicle crosses the center line or drives in the wrong direction. These crashes can be extremely serious when they involve large, heavy trucks.
Serious Injuries You Can Sustain From a Truck Accident in Washington
When you are involved in an accident with a truck, you are more likely to be injured and sustain serious injuries than the truck drivers. In fact, truck accidents often leave the other driver and passengers in bad shape after a crash. They can also result in wrongful death and fatal injuries. Below are just a few injuries that commonly occur because of a truck crash.
- Internal bleeding occurs when internal damage arises, such as to the ribs, organs, or brain.
- Crush injuries appear whenever a body part becomes stuck between two forces, such as between internal parts of a vehicle.
- Broken bones can occur any time excessive pressure is applied to one area of the body. Truck accidents are common causes of broken bones.
- Neck injuries can occur because of the sudden stop of a vehicle while it is moving. One of the most common neck injuries is called “whiplash.” It occurs when the tendons and ligaments in the neck suddenly and quickly contract and stretch.
- Spine injuries caused by truck collisions can be extremely severe. They can lead to long-lasting pain and trouble with movement and feeling.
Who is Liable for a Truck Accident in Washington?
Truck accidents are often more complicated than the average passenger vehicle or motor vehicle crash because they can involve several parties. Determining liability among these parties in a commercial trucking accident can be difficult because more than one company or individual can be to blame. Examples of parties that might be involved include:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- The company that owns the cargo
- The receiving company
- The shipping company
- The company that loaded the cargo
- The company that maintains the cargo or the fleet
- The broker who connected the trucking company with the shipper and receiver
In fact, because Washington is so close to Canada and Mexico, you may have to deal with a truck driver or trucking company that originates in Canada and/or Mexico, making the case even more complicated (for instance, service of foreign companies must comply with the Hague Convention on Service Abroad). NAFTA allows for favorable trade agreements with Canada and Mexico, so trucks going between Canada, Mexico, and Washington are very common.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Washington Truck Accident?
Washington State has a time limitation by which you must assert your legal claim after a truck crash. This time limit is called the “statute of limitations.” The statute of limitations in the State of Washington is based on Washington Code 4.16.080, which states that a person has up to three years from the date of the accident to start legal action, usually using a law firm that works in truck accident cases and truck accident claims.
What Compensation Can I Receive From a Truck Accident?
You may be able to receive compensation after a Washington truck accident. This compensation is designed to put you and your family members back where you would have been if the accident had not occurred. Generally, this compensation, called “damages,” is divided into two types for personal injury claims: economic and non-economic.
- Medical bills and related medical expenses
- Lost wages or lost time from work
- Lost future wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Negative effects on personal relationships
Contact a Washington truck accident lawyer to learn more. Schedule a free consultation with the personal injury attorneys at McPartland Law Offices today.
Benefits of Hiring a Washington Truck Accident Attorney
If you are involved in a trucking accident, your situation can quickly become complicated. The various parties involved in the case will all likely have insurance companies working on their behalf, and these companies have extensive experience dealing with truck accidents and injury cases. Having an experienced injury lawyer on your side can be extremely beneficial.
A Washington truck accident attorney can help with:
- Investigating and preserving evidence
- Obtaining medical records, including those from surgery or physical therapy
- Retaining necessary experts to prove your case and show that the truck driver or trucking company did not follow federal or state laws
- Identify the players who might be involved or who are to blame for the accident
- Getting public record information from state, federal, and local agencies
Remember, Washington truck crashes are not car accidents. These serious accidents almost always involve catastrophic injuries. Seeking justice and proper compensation requires a different level of investigation and attention to detail.
Schedule a Free Consultation in Moses Lake, or Spokane, WA
During your free consultation at McPartland Law Offices, you can discuss your situation and demands with an experienced truck accident lawyer. Our diligent team will provide the guidance you need. Call 509-495-1247 today to make an appointment.
Were You or a Loved One Injured in a Truck Accident?
McPartland Law has extensive experience with large truck accidents, and our Washington truck accident lawyers actively engage in truck crash-specific training to enhance the representation of people injured in truck crashes. If you were injured in a truck accident in Eastern Washington, call our legal team today for a free consultation.