We rely on semi trucks and tractor trailers to transport the goods we use every day. However, we also share the road with these massive vehicles that may weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Because of the size and mass of these trucks, truck drivers and trucking companies need to be extra safe when driving around other vehicles. When a truck driver or owner is negligently operating a vehicle in Washington, it could result in serious injury accidents or even cause death.
Accidents involving trucking companies are often more complicated than dealing with a regular car accident. The trucking company will be focused on finding any way possible to deny your claim or offer as little money as possible. However, if you have an experienced Clark County trucking accident lawyer on your side, you will have someone who understands how to deal with the trucking company and insurance company to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Truck Accident Injury and Death Statistics
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly 4,000 people were killed in large truck accidents in 2016. The vast majority of those killed were passenger vehicles occupants, pedestrians, motorcyclists, or bicyclists. Unlike a lot of other types of fatal accidents, semi-truck accidents have been on the increase in recent years.
In a report by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), there were more than 6,000 total vehicle collisions involving commercial vehicles or heavy trucks in 2015. This resulted in 76 fatal collisions and 406 serious injury collisions.
Clark County, Washington also sees a higher level of semi-truck accidents compared to many other areas of the country. The I-5 corridor runs right through Clark County, bringing millions of trucks through the area every year. The I-5 is among the deadliest stretches of highway in the state based on fatal accidents per mile.
Claims and Lawsuits Against Trucking Companies
Dealing with the insurance company after a car accident is far from a pleasant experience. However, it is nothing compared to dealing with a trucking company and the trucking company's insurance company. Trucking companies deal with accident claims all the time and they fight against each and every one of those claims.
The difficulties involved in a trucking accident claim often begin immediately after the accident. After an accident with an 18-wheeler, the truck driver may immediately start trying to blame the accident on the other driver. The truck driver may even get hostile, trying to get the other driver to admit fault for the accident. It is not up to the drivers to determine who was at fault for the accident. That should be for the courts to decide. If a truck driver is getting aggressive after an accident or does not want to cooperate with exchanging insurance information, you should let law enforcement deal with them.
Even if the truck driver tries to avoid calling law enforcement to investigate the accident, it may be a good idea to have the police or state patrol respond to the accident. Having an official police report of the accident can avoid the trucking company denying the accident or damages when you try and file a claim.
Like with other car accidents, after a collision with a truck, you should exchange information, including:
- Driver's name and driver's license information,
- Trucking company's contact information, and
- Insurance information.
You should also get the contact information of any witnesses or anyone else who may have seen the accident. It is also a good idea to take pictures or video of the accident scene and vehicle damage.
After an accident, you may be required to report the accident to your insurance company. However, when the trucking company's insurance representative tries to contact you, it is best to refer them to your lawyer. The insurance agent may seem apologetic or concerned but most likely they are fishing for statements or information they can use to deny your claim so they don't have to pay you anything.
Before you accept any settlement offer or give up on a denied claim, consider talking to an experienced Washington personal injury attorney about your case. Your lawyer understands how to deal with the insurance company so you can focus on your recovery.
Truck Driver Negligence and Trucking Company Negligence
Truck accidents are also unique because the crash could have been caused by the truck driver or the trucking company. The truck driver could have been breaking traffic laws, causing the accident. Examples of truck driver negligence in trucking accidents include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- Drowsy driving,
- Failing to obey traffic signals,
- Lane restriction violations, or
- Not maintaining a safe traveling distance.
The trucking company could also have been negligent by allowing an unsafe vehicle out on the road. Trucking company owners or managers could have been a cause of the accident by:
- Overloading the trailers,
- Not evenly loading the weight of the containers,
- Allowing drivers on the road in violation of maximum hour restrictions,
- Forging paperwork,
- Failing to keep vehicles in proper repair, or
- Negligent hiring or training.
Injuries and Damages in Truck Accidents
Accidents involving a semi-truck can be more dangerous than other vehicle accidents. This usually has to do with the size and the weight of the trucks. A small passenger car can be crushed under the weight of a 30,000-pound tractor trailer. This can lead to complications when an injured passenger is trapped inside the vehicle.
Trucking accident injuries can vary depending on the type of accident, speed, and accident location. Common truck accident injuries include:
- Head trauma,
- Neck or back injury,
- Broken bones,
- Severed limbs,
- Internal bleeding, and
- Burn injuries.
Under Washington's personal injury laws, an injury victim is entitled to compensation from those who were responsible for causing the accident. Damages in a trucking accident may depend on the seriousness of the accident but can include:
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages,
- Lost earning capacity,
- Property damage, and
- Pain and suffering.
Wrongful Death Claims in Semi-Truck Accidents
Under Washington's wrongful death laws, surviving family members can file a lawsuit to make sure those who were responsible for causing the accident are liable for their actions. Damages in a wrongful death claim can include funeral costs, burial expenses, and loss of the financial support the family member provided.
Spouses and children of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim in Washington. If there are no spouses or children, the parents or siblings of the deceased may be able to file a claim if they were dependent on the deceased. Talk to your Clark County truck accident attorney about your case to make sure those who caused the death are held accountable.
Clark County Truck Accident Attorney
After an accident with a commercial truck or semi, you need an experienced lawyer who understands how to deal with the trucking company to get you the full compensation you are entitled to under Washington personal injury laws. Quinn Posner at Posner Law Office, P.C. will watch out for you and your best interests and fight for your rights. Quinn Posner represents injured clients in Camas, Washougal, and Clark County. Call today for a free truck accident consultation.