Truck Accident Lawyer in Bellevue Representing Victims Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident
Semi-trucks, big rigs, or 18-wheelers are just a few of the names used to refer to a commercial truck that often weighs over 10,000 pounds and pulls heavy loads for long distances. Unfortunately, when a collision between a semi-truck and a smaller vehicle occurs, the occupants of the smaller vehicle are almost always the ones that are severely injured or killed. Filing a claim for a truck accident can be considerably more complex than an auto accident claim, and having the right legal representation can make all the difference. Learn how truck accident claims work in Washington and what you should do to protect your rights as a victim.
What Are Some of the Most Common Types of Truck Accidents, and Why Do They Happen?
Truck accidents can happen for various reasons – from poor road conditions to driver errors and anything in-between. The sheer size and weight of a semi-truck combined with its cargo often mean a truck needs more time and more distance to come to a complete stop without locking its brakes or causing the cargo to shift. When a truck driver slams the brakes suddenly in an attempt to come to a stop, the truck can jackknife and cause the trailer and the truck to swing outward from the cab at a 90-degree angle. This is known as a jackknife accident and can be extremely dangerous for the truck driver as well as for any smaller vehicles that could be struck as the trailer swings out.
Rollover accidents are also common and occur when a truck driver fails to slow down enough to take a curve or oversteers and causes the entire truck and trailer to flip on its side. This is dangerous to other surrounding vehicles as the truck cargo could be extremely heavy and hit passengers and drivers or expose others to hazardous chemicals.
Another common type of accident involving a semi-truck is an underride or override accident, which happens when another smaller vehicle slides under the truck’s trailer. Many trucks are equipped with guards to try and prevent this type of accident, but it still occurs and can leave victims with severe head injuries.
Accidents involving trucks can happen due to errors or reckless behavior of the truck driver, but many accidents are caused by passenger vehicles. Many car drivers underestimate the distance and time it takes for a truck to come to a complete stop or the space required for a truck to make a turn. In the event of an accident, a thorough investigation is needed to pinpoint who may be mostly at fault for the accident.
Is It True That Trucks Have a Black Box With Information About My Accident?
It may surprise many that trucks manufactured in the last decade or so come equipped with a device that records important information about the truck and how it was being operated before the accident. This device works very much like a ‘black box’ on an airplane, but it is actually called an EDR (Event Data Recorder). EDRs are not black boxes but complicated computer systems that record data onto one or more microchips, documenting the truck’s speed, angle, hard stops and brake application, tire pressure, steering wheel movements, and much more.
EDRs have been used to monitor trucks and their drivers for insurance and performance reasons since the 90s and can provide valuable information in the event of an accident. An experienced truck accident attorney may seek to obtain data from the truck’s EDR to help pinpoint what happened in the moments leading to the accident and whether the truck driver was operating the truck in a distracted or reckless manner. Trucking companies are aware of this, so taking prompt action following a truck accident is key to obtaining important evidence, such as EDR data.
Who Is Financially Liable for a Truck Accident?
Another aspect that makes a truck accident more complex than an accident involving two passenger vehicles is the determination of liability. A truck accident could have multiple responsible parties – the truck driver, the trucking company, the logistics company or party responsible for loading and securing the cargo, and even the truck or truck parts manufacturer.
Working with a seasoned truck accident attorney is important to properly determine who is liable for your accident. It is not uncommon for truck accident victims to have to file multiple insurance claims to receive compensation from all parties that share responsibility for the accident, which only increases the complexity of their case and makes it essential to rely on the help of a truck accident lawyer.
What Type of Damages May I Be Entitled to Receive for My Truck Accident?
A truck accident claim is a type of personal injury claim, meaning victims may seek reimbursement for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are financial or material losses resulting from the accident, such as property damage (e.g., the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle), medical bills, lost wages, and any other expense resulting from the accident or recovery process.
However, a truck accident is a traumatic event that can leave physical and emotional scars on a victim. Therefore, a truck accident victim may also seek compensation for non-economic damages, informally referred to as ‘pain and suffering.’ Pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life resulting from the accident and recovery process are just a few examples of non-economic damages.
How Much Time Do I Have to Initiate a Truck Accident Claim in Washington?
Every state has a hard legal deadline for personal injury victims to initiate a claim. This is called a statute of limitations, and in the state of Washington, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims (including truck accidents) is three years from the date when the accident occurred. There are very few exceptions to this rule; in most cases, waiting to initiate a claim can work against you. If you do not file a lawsuit in the appropriate court before the deadline, your case may be immediately dismissed after the defendant points out that the statute of limitations for your claim has expired.
Taking quick action is also important to collect important evidence for your case. For example, crucial EDR data may disappear after a while, making it harder for your attorney to get essential information about what happened in the moments leading to your accident.
This can happen because trucking companies wish to minimize their liability and make it harder for victims to recover high awards, or sometimes the truck involved in the accident is still being driven, and accident data from the EDR was erased to make room for new data. By acting quickly, you can increase your chances of accessing crucial evidence and giving your attorney proper time to build a strong case on your behalf.
What Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Do for Me?
Truck accidents are serious, traumatic events and surviving victims should be able to focus solely on their recovery and on spending time with loved ones rather than being on the phone with insurance adjusters. Furthermore, trucking companies understand that any truck accident can cause significant damages and result in expensive awards for victims. They are usually ready to fight back with a team of lawyers to protect their bottom line.
A truck accident lawyer is crucial to help you maximize your chances of receiving compensation. Your attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, obtaining key pieces of evidence and bringing forward expert witnesses to help reconstruct what happened and pinpoint who is responsible for your accident. Your attorney can handle all communications and paperwork related to your case and protect your rights as a truck accident victim.
At Cascade Injury Law, PLLC, truck accident victims in Bellevue, WA, and surrounding areas can get the knowledgeable, professional representation they need to win their case and get top compensation for their injuries after a truck accident. The legal team at Cascade Injury Law, PLLC is ready to fight for you – call 425-654-8121 and request a consultation to discuss your case and learn your options.