Commercial trucks are a force on the road. When mishandled, big rigs, 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and semi-trucks are rolling disasters waiting to happen. Truck accidents often cause serious injuries or the death of passenger car occupants, pedestrians, and bike riders. According to an analysis of federal crash data completed by Road Safe America, nearly all U.S. States had an increase in semi-truck crash deaths between 2009 and 2017. Unfortunately, Washington State experienced 62% more semi-truck crashes during this time period, the biggest percentage increase nationwide. The cause of these truck accidents is almost always negligence of some form. In these tragic circumstances, persons who have suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident may be entitled to compensation.
When it comes to reputable truck accident lawyers in Seattle, WA, Sharpe Law Firm is among the best. For over forty years, we’ve served clients with sincerity, honesty, and a deep understanding of Washington personal injury law. If you or a loved one are suffering the consequences of a truck accident or car accident, our firm is here to defend your right to just compensation. Schedule a free consultation today.
Compensation for Truck Crash Victims – How Much Will You Get? What is Fair?
The amount of money awarded in trucking accident cases varies considerably based on the circumstances of each case. While a truck accident case resulting in minor injuries might pay $3,000 to $10,000, a case involving severe injuries or death could be worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. One method truck accident attorneys use to calculate a possible settlement range after a semi-truck accident is to examine the minimum FMCSA insurance requirements of the defending party. Some minimum standards include:
- A minimum coverage of $300,000 for trucks carrying 10,000 pounds or less of non-hazardous cargo.
- A minimum coverage of $750,000 for trucks carrying 10,000 pounds or more of non-hazardous cargo.
- A minimum coverage of $1,000,000 for private tankers carrying oil.
- A minimum coverage of $5,000,000 for private carriers transporting hazardous cargo.
If you received serious truck accident injuries and the truck collision was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Likewise, if you lost a family member in a trucking accident caused by negligence, the estate’s personal representative may be able to file a wrongful death action. Injured passengers have good cases. These lawsuits provide compensation for specific beneficiaries of the deceased person. In either circumstance, a good truck accident personal injury attorney can help plaintiffs recover the following damages:
- Medical bills and hospital costs
- Future medical treatment costs
- Pain and suffering, and inconvenience
- Lost income and earning capacity
- Permanent injuries and disability
- Medical costs and pain and suffering before death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Beneficiary compensation for lost financial support, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship and care
Who Pays For A Truck Accident – Who is at Fault?
Figuring out all the persons and companies responsible for a truck accident can be complicated, which is why working with experienced truck accident attorneys is recommended. In many cases, trucking companies are located out of state, and more than one giant insurance company is involved. Often multiple parties are legally liable in a commercial truck accident, doctors want their bills paid now, medical payers want to get repaid via subrogation, and many other issues can arise and delay or prevent you from receiving fair compensation.
State and federal government safety regulations are crucial in these matters. If a trucker or trucking company violates any regulation, that violation can provide the basis for liability. Violations are determined through detailed investigation and analysis in cooperation with the Department of Transportation. Once an investigation is completed, compensation may be available from one or more of the following parties:
- Truck driver
- Truck driver’s employer
- The truck owner or leasing company
- Maintenance or repair company
- Truck or equipment manufacturer
- Cargo loading company
Settling Your Truck Accident Case
Securing fair payment for a truck accident can be a challenge, and insurance companies are big players in almost all trucking injuries. Trucker insurance companies are full of battle-ready seasoned investigators and aggressive lawyers who have no plans to pay you what you deserve. If an adjuster calls you, choose your words carefully or tell that person to talk with your Seattle truck accident lawyer.
What Are The Primary Causes of Truck Accidents?
The sheer weight and size of big rigs are the reason semi-truck accidents are so devastating. Due to their heavy weight and big size, large trucks do not react well in emergencies and take much longer to stop than regular-sized vehicles. A panic stop can jackknife a truck. When large trucks are handled irresponsibly or negligently, they can lose control and cause mayhem on the road. The primary causes of truck accidents include:
Driver negligence is the leading cause of truck crashes. While this is true with all motor vehicle accidents, vehicle size and weight makes irresponsible truck drivers especially dangerous. Driver negligence comes in many different forms, both irresponsible and accidental, including:
- Driver fatigue and falling asleep behind the wheel
- Driver inattention and distraction
- Driver drug and alcohol use
- Careless driving, including speeding and following too closely
- Illegal truck maneuvers, including improper lane changes
- Improper loading
Mechanical failure is the next most common cause of accidents. Mechanical failure results from negligence and improper vehicle inspection, leading to defective and worn-out equipment, especially critical components such as brakes, tires and transmissions.
Trucking Company Negligence
It’s the trucking company’s job to ensure the safety and performance of drivers and fleet vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set hundreds of national safety regulations for commercial vehicles, which they expect trucking companies to uphold. However, the pressures of the commercial trucking industry can lead a negligent trucking company to cut corners, disregard regulations, neglect equipment, and pressure drivers in various ways. Examples of company negligence include:
- Inadequate training for truck drivers
- Improper fleet maintenance and repair
- Negligent hiring of the unqualified truck drivers
- Overaggressive deadlines and inadequate sleeping schedules
- Unsafe cargo loading
How Hiring Experienced Truck Accident Lawyers Will Benefit Your Case
Truck accidents are significantly more complicated than passenger vehicle accidents. Working with a Washington truck accident lawyer will benefit your claim for compensation in many ways. Not because lawyers are cheap but because insurance companies are cheap and don’t want to pay you for what you have lost. A personal injury attorney will help you recover compensation in the following ways:
- Accurately determine the total amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries or your family member’s death, both economic and non-economic
- Collect all the available information about the accident, including data from the truck’s “black box” and the driver’s logs
- Investigate and evaluate the accident and determine the causes, using expert witnesses when necessary
- Determine applicable federal and state laws and regulations
- Pinpoint all the violations of laws and regulations that occurred
- Identify all the potentially liable parties and where their operations are headquartered
- Compile information about the insurance companies that are involved
- Contact the insurance companies and claim on your behalf
- Negotiate aggressively with the lawyers for all the insurance companies
- Address insurance subrogation issues that arise
- File a lawsuit against the responsible parties if you are not offered a settlement that compensates you fairly for all your losses
Time Deadlines – The Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents
The Statute of Limitations is a deadline by which you must settle or file a lawsuit. Miss the deadline, and you lose your claim. Washington State has a three year Statute of Limitations for negligence. There are other deadlines for other situations. Consult with a truck accident lawyer about your deadlines. File or settle your case before it’s too late.
Serious Truck Accident Claims are Worth More with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Seattle
At Sharpe Law Firm, we understand that most of a good recovery is worth more than no recovery at all. When it comes to personal injury cases caused by truck accidents, we work with clients based on contingent fees. That makes it possible for anyone to access our Seattle truck accident attorney services. With more than forty years of experience, our team will help you recover the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one have sustained injuries due to a truck accident, contact us to schedule a free consultation and discuss the pursuit of your personal injury lawsuit.
Truck Accident Lawsuit FAQs
How common are truck accidents?
Truck accidents occur every day. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, approximately 4,842 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes in 2020 alone.
Types of truck accidents?
The types of trucking accidents are described by the cause of the accident or the way the collision occurred. Examples include:
- Tire blowout
- Wide turn
- Blind spot
- Lost load
What are the common causes of trucking accidents?
According to a study completed by the FMCSA, 90% of truck accidents are truck and truck driver errors. The most common causes of trucking accidents are mechanical and driver errors.
Mechanical causes of truck accidents include:
- Malfunctioning brakes
- Blind spot accidents
- Swinging turns
- Tire blowouts
- Overloaded cargo
- Falling debris
- Inadequate maintenance
Driver error causes of trucking accidents include:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Alcohol and drugs abuse
- Speeding and careless driving
- Poor training
What About Insurance Companies?
Securing fair payment for truck accident can be a challenge and insurance companies are big players in almost all trucking injuries. Trucker’s insurance companies are full of battle-ready seasoned investigators and aggressive lawyers who have no plans to pay you what you deserve. If an adjuster calls you, choose your words carefully or tell that person to talk with your Seattle truck accident lawyer.