Truck Accidents Attorney in Issaquah, Washington

In 2020, there were 4,904 crashes involving commercial trucks in the state of Washington. The same year saw shelter-at-home restrictions help slow the volume of traffic on the state’s highways, but as 2021 unfolds and life returns more to normal, both driving miles and driving accidents can be expected to increase.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that indeed appears to be the case, at least nationwide. The NHTSA’s fatality report for the first quarter of the year shows 8,730 motor vehicle traffic crash fatalities in the first three months of 2021 — a 10.5% increase from the 7,900 fatalities the agency projected for the first quarter of 2020.

Though NHTSA’s study considered all types of vehicles, collisions with large trucks — commonly referred to as 18-wheelers, big rigs, tractor-trailers, or semi-trailers — can be particularly devastating. Some trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds compared to the average vehicle’s weight of 5,000 pounds or less.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision with a large truck in or around Pierce County, King County, Thurston County, Snohomish County, and throughout Washington, you should seek immediate legal counsel. Truck collisions often include more than one potentially liable party, unlike a simple crash involving two cars.

At The Pearson Law Firm, P.S., I will listen to your story, investigate the circumstances, assess liability, and guide you in the proper direction to pursue the compensation you deserve.

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Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Of course, the first place to turn when looking for someone to blame in a collision with a big rig is the driver of the truck. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers are often to blame for accidents. The FMCSA breaks down crash causes by categories and percentage of occurrence, including:

  • DECISION (38%): The driver is speeding, following too closely, or not paying attention to the speed of others on the road.
  • RECOGNITION (28%): The driver is inattentive or distracted.
  • NON-PERFORMANCE (12%): The driver fell asleep or suffered a physical problem, such as a heart attack, seizure, or other impairment.
  • VEHICLE (10%): Vehicle problems, such as brake failure, are to blame.
  • PERFORMANCE (9%): The driver panicked or exercised poor directional control.
  • ENVIRONMENT (3%): Heavy rain, fog, severe weather, or poor roadway conditions contributed to the crash.

Who Is Really Liable?

In addition to the driver, other parties may potentially be held responsible. Brake failure is among the main causes listed above. Sometimes, truck companies will even remove or depower the front brakes of a truck to reduce tire wear and brake costs, or maintenance people assigned to keep the truck in a safe operating condition simply don’t do their jobs.

Cargo loading can also be a factor. If the cargo load is off-balance, it can cause the truck’s center of gravity to shift, making it hard to maneuver. The load itself may even cause an accident if it is not secured properly and spills out into the highway or onto other vehicles.

The trucking company may be liable for not properly training the truck driver and rushing the person into service before they were ready. The parent company may also be forcing drivers to exceed the hours of service (HOS) limits set by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Not enough rest and too much time behind the wheel can lead to driver fatigue and accidents.

Drivers themselves may be using substances — even over-the-counter medications — that can cause them to be drowsy or inattentive, to say nothing of what happens if they abuse a substance that is illegal.

In other words, unlike a car crash involving two drivers, assessing liability in a collision with a large truck requires investigation and knowledge of applicable regulations. Experienced truck accident attorneys can assist in making a determination regarding what factors contributed to the crash.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

The first thing to note about seeking compensation through a personal injury lawsuit is that the statute of limitations in Washington is three years from the date of the accident. Exceeding this timeframe may prevent you from filing a lawsuit against the responsible party.

Another important aspect of a personal injury claim — whether through the courts or an insurance company — is what steps you take after you are in an accident with a large truck. You need to call the police to the scene to investigate and seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. You will need the documentation of your medical exam and treatment for your claim.

Remember, some injuries don’t show up until later, so even if you feel “okay” but shaken up, go get evaluated anyway.

Also, be careful in what you say to the police, an insurance claims adjuster, and anyone else — including the other driver. If you say something that sounds like you’re admitting fault, that can come back to haunt you. Even apologizing to the other driver can be construed as an admission of fault.

Finally, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A collision with a large truck is much more complex than a fender-bender with another car. An attorney can guide you in the proper direction and help you pursue your claim with the best chance of success.

Truck Accidents Attorney Serving Issaquah, Washington

For four decades, The Pearson Law Firm, P.S. has earned a reputation for helping people injured in highway accidents. I always represent the victim and never the insurance company. In other words, I am on your side. Contact me if you’re involved in a truck accident. I proudly serve clients in Pierce County, King County, Thurston County, Snohomish County, and throughout Washington.