If you have been seriously injured in a truck accident with a semi-truck, 18-wheeler or another commercial vehicle, you need to contact the Seattle truck accident attorneys at Emerald City Law Group right away. You may have handled minor car accident claims on your own in the past, but commercial truck accident claims are different.
When 80,000-pound tractor-trailers are traveling on the interstate like I-90 or I-405, you assume the vehicle is in safe, working condition, and that the truck driver behind the wheel knows what they are doing. You assume the semi travels from point A to point B without incident. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. For a variety of reasons, trucking accidents happen on a consistent basis, and these collisions can cause serious injuries and fatalities. If you have been hurt by a truck, you may benefit from having a Seattle truck accident lawyer to guide you through the claims process and fight for you to receive the compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
You may be affected by a commercial trucking accident because of:
- Negligent hiring – There are instances in which trucking companies hire operators who do not belong behind the wheel. The employee may not have the proper license or endorsement for the commercial vehicle, a history of driving violations, and/or accidents.
- Improperly trained drivers – It is not inherently negligent to hire a young or new trucker. However, a company is responsible for ensuring drivers receive adequate training before they set out on the road alone. Drivers who lack enough training put themselves and others at risk.
- Negligent maintenance – Motor carriers are responsible for keeping their commercial vehicles in road-safe conditions. Without consistent inspections and proper maintenance, trucks fall into disrepair and the risk of an accident increases dramatically. A truck could unexpectedly experience a mechanical or systems failure, a tire blowout, or brake failure.
- Truck defects – A commercial truck, or one of its many parts, could have a design or manufacturing defect. This could impact the safety of the vehicle while on the road.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving is as much a problem from truck drivers as other drivers. Truckers may be distracted by their cell phones, reading, eating, and trying to accomplish other tasks while driving.
- Fatigued driving – Truckers are often pushed to drive as far as they can for as long as they can. Some are even pushed to ignore hours of service regulations and falsify records. This leads to overly-tired individuals behind the wheel who are much more likely to make a mistake.
- Failing to maintain proper lookout – Driving a truck is challenging, which is why truckers must have proper training and a commercial driver’s license. One of the difficulties is consistently maintaining a proper lookout, including paying attention to all of the truck’s sizable blind spots.
- Impaired driving – Truck drivers may get behind the wheel after having too much to drink, taking an illegal drug, or becoming impaired due to a prescription or over-the-counter medication.
- Speeding/reckless driving – When truck drivers speed, following other vehicles too closely, take turns too fast, and overall drive recklessly, there is a significant risk of a crash.
If you have been injured by a truck driver engaging in any of the above actions, call our King County truck accident lawyers right away.
How Truck Accidents Differ from Car Accident Claims
It can be tempting to lump all auto accidents together. However, there are numerous material differences between car and truck accidents, which will impact your claim. Our Seattle truck accident attorneys can help you determine these differences, which include:
- More severe injuries – While there may be some car accidents that lead to more serious injuries than some other truck accidents, typically truck accidents cause more catastrophic injuries and fatalities. This is due to commercial trucks weighing up to 80,000 pounds, while sometimes moving at 65 mph or faster. Many car accidents occur between lighter vehicles and at slower speeds.
- Federal regulations – There are many laws that apply to driving vehicles on public roads. However, there are a number of federal regulations that apply directly to commercial vehicles such as semi-trucks. Whether a motor carrier or trucker was compliant with these federal regulations or not may matter a great deal to your case.
- Electronic data – With personal vehicle accidents, what happened is usually determined based on eye witness testimony. The matter becomes a bit more technical with commercial trucks. Most semi-trucks have high-tech equipment and systems that gather and store a great deal of data. In fact, modern trucks have the equivalent of an airplane’s “black box.” You may need to collect data from the actual truck to determine what happened and why.
- Liability – In most personal car accidents, the at-fault driver is responsible and legally liable for compensating you for your injuries (though there may be a more complicated situation). However, in truck accidents, the liable party may be someone different than who caused the accident, and who is liable may not be immediately obvious. If a defect is responsible for the crash, a manufacturer may be liable. If the trucker was responsible, their employer may be liable.
- Higher insurance policies – Commercial truck owners typically carry insurance policies with higher limits than personal auto insurance policies. This is good news for you after being injured or losing a loved one in a truck accident. You have a greater chance of receiving an appropriate insurance settlement.
Truck Accident Compensation
Personal Injury Cases
If you were injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler, semi-truck or other commercial truck, you need to speak with an experienced Seattle truck accident attorney as soon as possible. The compensation you are entitled to under the law depends on numerous factors, including the type and extent of your injuries. A lawyer from our personal injury law firm in Seattle will review your situation and calculate the value of your:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Decreased earning capacity
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Property damage
Some of these damages will be a definite sum based on your medical bills and pay history. However, other damages are not based on hard figures. Our truck accident attorneys can explain your options for translating a non-monetary experience into a sum. One option is to use a multiplier on your monetary damages. Another is to seek a certain amount of compensation per day. Whatever options you discuss with your lawyer, the end sum may be influenced by previous similar cases and regional expectations.
Wrongful Death Claims
If you lost a loved one in an 18-wheeler accident, semi-truck accident, or other commercial truck accident, then your compensation will differ than it would for your own injuries. In a wrongful death claim, you and your family members may pursue compensation for:
- The decedent’s final medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of decedent’s income
- Loss of decedent’s employee benefits
- Loss of decedent’s other financial contributions
- Loss of decedent’s love, support, companionship, and familial services
- Decedent’s pain and suffering experienced between the time of the accident and their passing
- You and your relatives’ mental anguish
How Do Truck Accident Claims Work?
After being hurt or losing a loved one in a commercial truck accident, you will benefit from an experienced Seattle truck accident lawyer guiding you through the claim process.
The first step is to have an initial consultation with a lawyer. You can tell your story and the attorney will ask questions essential to gathering information about your potential case. If it appears you have a valid claim, then your lawyer will guide you through the next stage: discovery. Your lawyer will focus on obtaining evidence regarding the crash. This phase of your claim typically takes the longest and may require you to file a lawsuit in court. The legal discovery process enables you to ask for documents and answers from the other party and require their testimony during depositions.
After these initial phases, the next step is to make an initial demand for compensation. In most situations, the liable party’s insurer will deny your demand. In response, they will make a lowball offer. At this point, if an insurer is not willing to negotiate, your Seattle truck accident lawyer will pursue the lawsuit, which will require a filing if you have not already done so, and your lawyer will prepare for trial.
While also preparing for trial, your lawyer may continue negotiations. You and the liable party may also agree to go through mediation. Whatever the structure of the negotiation, there may be a number of offers and counteroffers. If you and the insurer finally come to a mutually agreed upon sum, you may settle the case before trial. However, going to trial may be unavoidable. You and your truck accident may need to prove the other party’s negligence and recklessness, in addition to your injuries, before a jury.
Why You Need a Seattle Truck Accident Lawyer
You can benefit from a lawyer in a number of ways during a truck accident case. The Seattle truck accident attorneys from Emerald City Law Group have specific experience with trucking companies and the federal regulations that control them. They will be able to spot legal violations that impact your claim and potential compensation.
A Seattle semi truck accident lawyer will know how to gather evidence about your case, which may be essential in proving the other party’s liability. Without previous legal experience, you may not be able to fully utilize the discovery phase to your advantage.
Your Seattle truck accident attorney should also understand your rights and how to best protect them, particularly against large insurance and trucking companies who may each have their own team of lawyers. An experienced lawyer will know when you are being intimidated or subtly pushed to take a low settlement. They will spot when an insurer is acting in bad faith.
Additionally, you have a better chance of receiving a higher settlement or jury award with a lawyer on your side than handling the case yourself.
Let Our Seattle Truck Accident Attorneys Help You
After a truck accident, your focus should be on recovering from your injuries or grieving for your family. At Emerald City Law Group, we know you are dealing with a lot during the aftermath of your accident. You have a lot to do to get back to normal and to move forward with your life. Let us focus on your legal claim.
How a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
After any serious accident, there’s a lot to consider. But you don’t need to go through it alone.
At Emerald City Law Group, we know you are in pain and unsure about how to pay your bills. Even enjoying everyday activities can sometimes be taken away. This would be a lot for anyone and that’s why out personal injury attorneys are here to help with the burden you’re facing.
From dealing with insurance companies to helping determine liability, and all the way through a trial if necessary, we are prepared for whatever comes your way, so you get the financial security and peace of mind you need to properly recover. If you have been injured in an accident in King County, Washington or any surrounding area, you deserve justice and compensation. Contact Emerald City Law Group today at 206-973-0407.