Accidents involving commercial trucks are often much more severe than accidents that involve only smaller vehicles. Trucks are much heavier than the average car, and they are capable of causing significant damage. Depending on the nature of the accident, victims may be severely injured or even killed. In addition, truck accidents typically cause serious damage to the other vehicles involved.
According to figures from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the persons most likely to be killed or injured in a trucking accidents are the drivers and passengers of the other vehicles involved in the crash. In 98% of truck accidents that result in a fatality, the victim was an occupant of the passenger car or vehicle involved in the wreck, not the driver of the truck.
Here in the Spokane area, we experience a high volume of trucking traffic on nearby highways. Truck accidents are also most likely to occur on our major roads and interstate highways between the hours of 6am and 4pm.
If you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
Truck Accidents Cause Catastrophic Harm
Commercial trucks weigh as much as 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle, and they can cause devastating damage during a crash. Their heavy weight and high speed makes it difficult to stop quickly while their expansive size means they do not maneuver well when faced with a crisis. Rain or poor weather makes it even more difficult for these big vehicles to share the road safely.
In fact, one in ten vehicle-related deaths occurs in a crash that involves a large truck. Most of these deaths are the occupants of passenger vehicles. In 2014 alone, 3,660 people died in crashes involving large trucks. Nearly 70 percent of these individuals were passengers or drivers of smaller vehicles involved in the crash. Even more people were gravely injured in truck crashes during this year.
According to figures from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, big trucks cause about 3% of the nation’s accidents – but those accidents are devastating to the individuals involved. Once an accident occurs, the occupants of the smaller vehicle can be left with catastrophic injuries and be facing months of medical treatment and care. If the truck accident was caused by driver or company negligence it is even more difficult to deal with – the senseless tragedy could have been avoided if more care was taken.
Federal trucking safety laws are designed to control the way trucks are used and driven and the amount of time drivers can spend on the road each day and week. If these rules are not followed, the driver or business could be ticketed or fined and held responsible for any accidents that occur because of their negligence.
Who is to Blame?
If the truck driver or business has behaved negligently, either by failing to follow regulations, failing to maintain the vehicle or even driving in an unsafe manner, they could be held responsible for your injuries. In addition to the extreme injuries caused by truck accidents, you’ll likely miss work, have high medical bills and potentially cope with a lifelong disability or condition. It is essential to speak with a truck accident attorney as soon as you can to talk about your case and your options after your accident.
What Causes a Truck Accident?
While some truck accidents are a result of the same things that cause car accidents – texting, driving under the influence and distracted driving, other causes are directly related to the truck itself or the driver’s ability to handle such a large vehicle. Truck drivers must undergo specific training to safely handle such a large vehicle and follow specific rules. If the driver is not properly trained or the company or driver fail to comply with laws, an accident could occur. Some of the most common causes for truck accidents include:
The amount of time a driver can be on the road each week is limited by Federal law to help reduce the risk of fatigue. Since trucks can travel hundreds or even thousands of miles a week, fatigue can lead to slower reflexes and a lack of attention to the road, resulting in an accident. Even when rules are followed, it is easy for even an experienced truck driver to become too tired to operate the vehicle safely.
Rushing to get to the next destination can result in a terrible accident; a truck traveling above the speed limit is a dangerous vehicle more prone to accidents.
The company that owns the truck is responsible for properly maintaining their fleet and for ensuring that the truck is safe enough to be on the road. Regular maintenance checks are required; a company that fails to adequately maintain its trucks could put others at risk. A blown tire or bad breaks could easily cause a truck accident on the highway.
While drivers are supposed to be fully trained, some companies rush to hire and end up with less experienced or trained drivers, becoming a hazard for everyone on the roadway.
From switching lanes to driving too closely to other vehicles and even episodes of road rage, poor driving habits become even more dangerous when a big truck is involved.
A loaded truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds; a business trying to save money could place too much cargo inside. Even though there are regulations about the amount of weight a truck can carry, companies can and do overload their vehicles. From improperly secured freight to maneuverability problems, an overloaded truck is a moving hazard.
Road Conditions and Weather
Construction or even other, minor accidents can lead to trucking accidents; these big vehicles just can’t stop as quickly as smaller passenger cars. Bad weather is also more dangerous for trucks than for other vehicles, since they take longer to stop and may have more difficulties maneuvering in the rain or snow.
Washington Truck Accident Laws
Each state has different laws that govern personal injury claims filed after truck accidents. In the state of Washington, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the party responsible. The state of Washington uses pure comparative fault rules in these situations, which means that you can collect compensation after a truck accident even if you were partly at fault for what happened. For example, if the court determines that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident and that the defendant was 80 percent at fault, the defendant will typically be required to pay 80 percent of your expenses.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an accident that involved a commercial truck, you may be able to recover compensation by filing a lawsuit. However, in order to recover compensation in this manner, you must be able to show that the truck driver, his employer or another third party was responsible for the accident. Specifically, you may win by:
- Showing that the defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care in order to avoid causing injury.
- Showing that the defendant failed to exercise this reasonable care.
- Showing that the defendant’s actions caused the injury you suffered.
- You experienced some type of damage to your property or an injury to yourself.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive?
Every accident is different, and the amount of compensation you may receive will vary considerably. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may receive compensation to cover:
- Medical Bills
- Damage to your vehicle and personal property
- Lost wages
- Cost of ongoing medical treatment
- Punitive damages for pain and suffering
Contact an Experienced Spokane Truck Accident Attorney
A truck accident can have major consequences for the victim, from devastating injuries to high medical bills, loss of work and more. A truck accident attorney can help you learn more about your options and ensure you are treated fairly by the insurance company, trucking business and other parties involved. Contact us to learn more about your options and to talk about your specific case; we understand just how much of an impact this kind of case can have on your life and stand ready to fight for fair compensation for you and your family.