Involved in a truck accident? A personal injury attorney experienced in Tacoma area truck and car accidents can fight for your rights and can ensure the best possible outcome for your truck accident case. Contact Terry E. Lumsden, Attorney at Law to schedule a no-obligation assessment. Of course, in addition to seeking out legal representation, there are quite a few things that you should know regarding truck accidents and the situation in which you now find yourself.
Truck Accidents Are Not like Car Accidents
It is tempting to think that a truck accident is pretty similar to a car accident. However, that’s not really the case. First, there is a much higher chance of severe injury in truck accidents than in car accidents, and there’s a greater chance of fatalities. Truck accidents have also been increasing across the country – new legislation limiting driving time is aimed at reducing factors that have led to the increase of truck accidents across the U. S.
There are other differences that a personal injury attorney experienced in the handling of truck accident cases can explain to you during a consultation.
Rules: Where drivers of passenger cars are required to follow state rules and regulations, truck drivers must follow federal laws and guidelines. These rules cover a wide range of areas, including:
- How much can be hauled
- How much driving can be done in a specific amount of time
- How long a driver can take to get to a destination
- Trucking companies and drivers must be registered with the FMCSA and DOT
Insurance: Trucks and their loads are more valuable than passenger cars. They’re also inherently more dangerous. Because of these reasons, trucking companies and solo drivers are required to carry more insurance. These policies are worth a great deal and insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying, including offering low-ball, out-of-court settlements.
Evidence: Another difference you’ll find when working with a personal injury attorney is that the evidence in a truck accident is different from what’s gathered in passenger car accidents. This will include evidence about the cargo the truck was carrying, evidence related to the vehicle and its condition, and evidence related to the driver, such as intoxication, exhaustion, distracted driving, and more.
The Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
When it comes to truck accidents, your “truck accident”, Tacoma personal injury attorney, Terry E. Lumsden, Attorney at Law will be able to explain some of the most common causes. These fall into two broad categories – accidents caused by truck drivers, and those caused by the drivers of passenger vehicles. Both are common and becoming more so as more and more vehicles take to the highway. We will break these causes down to help you understand the situation.
Passenger Car Driver At Fault:
- Not moving a disabled vehicle out of the lanes of travel
- Driving in the truck driver’s blind spots
- Cutting the truck driver off
- Being on the right side of a truck trying to turn right
- Passing too close to a truck and being affected by turbulence generated by the trailer/wheels
- Turning in front of a truck while improperly judging its speed
- Driving between two large trucks (and thus invisible to either driver)
- Not accelerating from an on ramp enough to accommodate the speed of an oncoming truck
Truck Driver At Fault:
- Inadequate safety and operation training
- Inadequate defensive driving training
- Distracted driving
The Trucking Accident Claim
When you work with a personal injury attorney to represent you in the event of a truck accident, the case will be structured differently than if you were to go to court over an accident involving passenger vehicles. For instance, in a passenger vehicle collision, the parties involved in the claim usually only include you and your insurance company, and the other driver and their insurance company. With a truck accident, the list of parties that may be involved is much longer. It includes the obvious, such as the driver, the trucking company, and the insurance company, but there are others, including:
- The truck driver’s employer (possibly not the trucking company)
- Cargo manufacturer
- Cargo shipper
- Truck manufacturer
- Truck component manufacturer (in the event of equipment failure)
Note that each entity in the claim will usually have their own insurance company to represent their interests. As you can see, the situation becomes very complex, very quickly.
Who Is Liable?
The first thing your personal injury attorney will need to do is establish who is liable for the accident. You might be more familiar with the term “at fault”. However, that idea is misleading because it makes it seem like things are black and white when in reality, there are many shades of gray.
Liability must be established to determine what each party’s responsibility was in the accident. It is not a zero-sum situation. You could have any degree of liability, from 100% to 50% to 0%. Your degree of liability will affect the case and will have a significant impact on your ability to recover damages.
The laws in the state where the accident took place will also play a role, as there are no unified laws governing accident liability. Some states take the stance that if you had any degree of responsibility in the accident, you cannot recover damages. Others base your damages on the degree of responsibility in the accident. For instance, if you were 30% at fault, you could recover 70% damages.
You should also understand that there are two situations in which you may not be liable, but the truck driver will probably not be held liable, either.
● Turning: Trucks require a lot of room to turn, often two lanes when turning right. In turning accidents, chances are good that the truck driver will not be held liable. There’s even a chance that liability will fall on you. However, there is a chance that if the truck was turning from an inside lane, the liability will fall on the driver.
● Jackknifed Trailer: Truck drivers must be prepared to take immediate action to avoid hazards on the road, such as stalled cars, and sometimes slick driving conditions can make driving hazardous. If either of these situations causes the trailer to jackknife, and that jackknifing causes an accident, the driver will likely not be found liable.
As a note, mitigating circumstances can change these situations. For instance, if the truck driver didn’t have the proper license, it can turn the case on its ear. Other situations that will have a serious impact on the outcome of your case include:
- Did the driver have sufficient rest? Did the trucking company encourage longer driving periods and “cook” the books to hide that fact?
- Did the truck/trailer exceed its maximum weight limit?
- Was the truck properly maintained, including all safety systems/equipment?
When to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Being involved in a truck accident can be a terrifying, traumatizing experience, particularly if there were serious injuries as a result. However, it is vital that you hire a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The other parties involved will waste no time in putting their attorneys to work on the case, and you must do the same.
If you have been involved in a truck accident, contact Terry E. Lumsden, Attorney at Law to schedule a no-obligation consultation. This is the first step toward moving forward with your life and putting the accident behind you.