If you were involved in an accident with a commercial truck that was caused by someone else, and you suffered injuries, you should contact the Bellevue personal injury attorneys of Tamaki Law for legal guidance and representation. We can review the details of the incident to determine whether someone else was at fault and should be held liable. If we take on your case, we will fight hard to pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
Motor vehicle crashes can disrupt the victim’s life. The aftermath can also extend to the victim’s job, family, and routine. The impact can be particularly devastating if the accident involves a large truck, such as a tractor-trailer. Commercial trucks can cause massive property damage, severe injuries, and death. They’re more massive in size and weight than passenger vehicles. When there’s a collision, the occupants of small cars often suffer more debilitating injuries than the truck driver.
It’s no surprise that out of the 4,119 truck-related fatalities in 2019, 67 percent were small vehicle occupants, and only 16 percent were the occupants of large trucks. The violent force a person’s body is subjected to during a collision is enough to instantly break bones, cause whiplash, and knock them unconscious. Many people die in these accidents, while others suffer life-threatening injuries requiring emergency medical care.
At Tamaki Law, our Bellevue truck accident attorneys will dedicate our time and efforts to every legal aspect of your case to try to reach a favorable outcome for you. You deserve to hold the at-fault truck driver accountable for their misconduct, and we’re here to help. Call us for a free consultation today at (425) 679-6421.
Common Types of Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks
Tamaki Law has the necessary resources and experience to handle various truck accident cases. The type of crash that occurs depends on the circumstances involved. Large trucks are more susceptible to rolling over during collisions due to their high center of gravity. In some situations, a distracted driver may change lanes without checking their blind spots, sideswiping another vehicle.
The most common types of truck accidents we take are:
Tailgating is one of the more common factors that result in rear-end accidents. A trucker might follow another vehicle too closely because they’re in a hurry to deliver their cargo. If the driver ahead suddenly slows down or stops, the truck driver likely won’t have enough time to react and avoid crashing into the back of the car.
An override accident happens when the front of a large truck ends up running over the back of a small car. Distracted driving and tailgating are examples of why this type of accident occurs.
Truckers must know how to brake when they’re approaching a red light or sharp turn. Slamming on their brakes will likely cause them to lose control of the vehicle. They must prepare well in advance for a stop, so drivers behind them know what to expect. If they stop without warning, the front of someone’s car could crash into the back of the trailer and become pinned underneath.
Many large trucks, such as tractor-trailers, have a front cab and back trailer. Turning or stopping too quickly, unevenly distributed cargo, and other factors can cause these parts to swing towards each other at a 90-degree angle. The truck could crash into any car in its path as it’s sliding across the pavement.
Turning right or left requires accuracy and precision. The truck driver must swing the vehicle out just enough distance to avoid jumping the curb or ending up in the opposite lane of traffic. Undershooting or overshooting a turn could result in an accident with nearby vehicles.
Head-on accidents involving large trucks are some of the most deadly. If the trucker exceeds the speed limit, the impact of a crash could instantly kill the driver and passenger of another vehicle.
The tires on an 18-wheeler can only handle a certain amount of pressure. If the vehicle exceeds the maximum allowed weight limits, it can place too much pressure on the tires, causing them to explode.
Securement devices are necessary to keep items firmly in place during transport. If the driver uses a defective part or doesn’t strap down the cargo correctly, they could shift and throw the whole vehicle off-balance. The shift in momentum could cause the driver to lose control and crash.
Large trucks have a higher center of gravity than most vehicles. It’s easier for them to tip over during a collision with a car, curb, or stationary object.
If you were injured in any of these or another type of truck accident, contact Tamaki Law so we can investigate. Cases like this can be challenging to prove and require extensive knowledge of state laws and legal procedures.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Bellevue
Residents travel on congested highways, such as Interstate 5, every day. The amount of vehicles on a busy road increases the chance of accidents. When you’re traveling alongside other vehicles, you could end up in the path of someone behaving recklessly.
It’s nearly impossible to prevent a collision with a commercial truck. Truck drivers face daily pressure to stay on schedule and meet delivery deadlines. They might speed to get the job done faster or drive beyond the maximum allowed driving hours to complete their duties. This can lead to a range of problems that put other people at risk of harm.
It’s not just the truckers that must behave responsibly to avoid a crash. Just because they’re the ones operating the tractor-trailer doesn’t necessarily mean they’re liable for causing injuries to other people. For example, their employer could be at fault for negligently hiring an inexperienced driver. Other parties that could be liable are:
- Owner of the trailer or cab
- Maintenance and repair companies
- Parts manufacturers
- Cargo loading companies
- Governmental entities
- Other drivers
The most common causes of truck accidents are:
- Defective vehicle and parts
- Poor maintenance and repairs
- Driver distractions
- Failure to check blind spots
- Negligent hiring practices
- Overloaded or improperly loaded cargo
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
- Inadequate training
- Distracted driving
- Failure to inspect the vehicle
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Any of these factors could lead to a serious and life-threatening collision. A commercial truck’s significant size and weight can total a small car and cause debilitating injuries to the occupants. If someone dies in a truck accident, family members could seek compensation for their losses. If you survived the crash, you likely require medical treatment to heal your injuries. You shouldn’t be forced to pay for any of these costs when someone else’s negligent actions are to blame.
Common Injuries from Truck Accidents
Commercial trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds with cargo. Small cars don’t stand much of a chance when they’re on a collision course with these massive vehicles. Many accident victims end up with permanent damage and emotional issues requiring long-term ongoing treatment. Disabilities could develop, causing a loss of mobility and the inability to perform routine tasks.
It’s an upsetting and stressful situation to find yourself in and one that the truck driver or trucking company could have avoided if they were more responsible. With months or years of rehabilitation, surgeries, and prescription medications ahead, you might worry about how to afford these bills. You shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of someone else’s wrongdoing. They should be financially responsible for all your accident-associated expenses.
The most common injuries truck accidents can cause are:
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Loss of limb or amputation
- Crush injuries
- Concussion or traumatic brain injury
- Psychological damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Chronic pain
- Torn ligament or tendon
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
- Physical or mental disability
The lifelong impact of a catastrophic accident can alter your entire life. If you can’t return to work, you can’t earn the income you need to pay for treatment. The financial burden of medical costs and daily living expenses can lead to crushing debt. You can count on the Bellevue truck accident attorneys of Tamaki Law to fight for the maximum compensation available so you can avoid paying for anything out of pocket.
How to Handle a Truck Accident Case
Your actions immediately after the crash and during the months and years that follow could significantly affect the outcome of your case if you choose to seek legal action against the at-fault party. The steps you take following an accident involving a commercial truck can mean the difference between securing an adequate insurance settlement and walking away with nothing.
Truck accidents often cause severe or debilitating injuries. You probably can’t safely walk around to gather evidence from the scene or exchange insurance information with the trucker. It’s more important that you focus on your recovery during this time. An ambulance can transport you to a hospital so a physician can evaluate your condition. They might recommend surgery, physical therapy, and other types of treatment to heal your injuries.
You should never decide on your own treatment plan. It’s understandable if you want to get a second opinion, but you should ultimately follow your doctor’s orders. You should attend all appointments and don’t make a habit out of skipping them or allowing too much time to pass in between. Insurance companies often look at gaps in treatment as evidence that an injury doesn’t exist or isn’t too serious. They could use this information to deny your insurance claim or offer a lowball settlement.
While you’re getting treatment for your injuries, you should also hire an experienced Bellevue truck accident attorney. Tamaki Law can take on the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on recovering. You won’t have to face the burden of investigating the accident, locating crucial evidence, or communicating with the insurance company. We can deal with all of that on your behalf, so there are fewer tasks for you to handle.
Besides completing these steps after a truck accident, there are also some things you should avoid doing. Certain actions could negatively affect your case and result in much less compensation than you deserve. Common pitfalls accident victims are susceptible to that lead to denied insurance claims and dismissed lawsuits are:
- Speaking to the insurance adjuster. The at-fault party’s insurance company will try to reach out to you to discuss the crash. You might think it’s an innocent conversation, but they’re likely fishing for details that could shift liability to you or another party so they can avoid a settlement payout. Let Tamaki Law handle all communications about the case, so you don’t say something that the adjuster can use against you.
- Admitting partial fault for the accident. Washington’s pure comparative negligence statute could diminish your financial award during a lawsuit. If the jury determines that your actions contributed to your injuries, they could reduce your compensation by your percentage of shared fault.
- Signing documents from the insurance company. The at-fault party’s insurance company might send you forms to complete. They often contain confusing language that most people don’t understand. If you fill them out without consulting with a lawyer first, you could unknowingly waive your rights to the maximum available insurance coverage.
- Sharing information about the accident online. You might feel the need to discuss what happened with friends and family. However, most people don’t realize that insurance companies and defense attorneys look at an accident victim’s social media accounts for incriminating evidence. For example, you could lose your case if you claimed to have broken your leg but post a photo of yourself using that leg while participating in physical activity.
The Bellevue truck accident attorneys of Tamaki Law can guide you through the entire legal process so you know what you should and shouldn’t do. We can completely take over if necessary, so your only job will be to attend your doctor’s appointments and focus on healing your injuries. Let us handle the heavy lifting so you don’t make a mistake that leads to a dismissed case.
Compensation You Might Be Entitled to in an Insurance Claim
Washington is a fault state when it comes to motor vehicle accidents. That means the at-fault party becomes liable for the injured party’s medical bills, prescription drug costs, and other expenses resulting from the crash. Unlike insurance policies for non-commercial vehicles, the available coverage from trucking companies is significant.
Federal law requires trucking companies to buy and maintain liability insurance for their drivers with minimum limits based on the truck’s weight and type of cargo. For example, a tractor-trailer weighing over 10,000 pounds and carrying non-hazardous materials must have at least $750,000 in liability coverage.
When you file a liability claim, you can seek compensation to cover the losses you suffered, such as:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Past and future medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
The minimum liability limits are likely more than enough to compensate for the losses you suffered. However, just because there’s $750,000 in available insurance coverage doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the settlement amount you’ll receive. The monetary value of your case will depend on various factors.
When Tamaki Law reviews your case to determine the compensation you deserve, we might consider these contributing factors:
- Type and severity of the injury
- The emotional impact of the accident
- Liability insurance limits on the policy
- Length of reasonable and necessary medical treatment
- The total value of medical treatment and other expenses
- The estimated costs of essential future medical care
- Duration of the recovery period
- Time missed from work while treating the injuries
- Amount of evidence proving who was at fault
- Permanent impairment or disability resulting from the crash
Some people heal after a few weeks or months, while others suffer permanent physical or psychological damage. We will work hard to try to recover the highest possible settlement to cover your past and future losses.
Laws for Filing a Lawsuit in Washington
If you want to sue the truck driver, trucking company, or another negligent party for the injuries you sustained, you must follow a strict deadline known as a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases in Washington is three years. That means you have a three-year timeframe following the accident to file your lawsuit if you want to hold the at-fault party liable. If the statute expires, you could lose your right to pursue compensation through the court system.
Only two exceptions could potentially extend the deadline to give you more time to initiate the lawsuit:
- Nonresident or absent from the state – If the defendant isn’t a Washington resident or leaves the state temporarily, their absence would not count towards the three-year timeframe. The clock would not start to run until they return.
- Personal disability – If you were under a legal disability at the time of the crash, meaning you were of unsound mind or under 18 years old, the clock would pause. The statute wouldn’t begin to run again until you turn 18 or gain mental competency.
Delaying the statute of limitations is a complex process. It isn’t enough for one of these exceptions to apply to your situation. You must file a motion with the court requesting more time based on the extenuating circumstances. Tamaki Law can help you determine whether you deserve an extended deadline and file the legal documents on your behalf.
Speak with a Dedicated Bellevue Truck Accident Attorney Today
Tamaki Law has been representing accident victims in Bellevue since 1994. Our legal team has over 100 years of combined experience handling insurance claims and litigating cases in court. We know the strategies we need to use to meet our client’s interests and achieve the best possible results. When you hire us, we will aggressively pursue the maximum compensation you need so you can get back on your feet and move forward with your life.
Our Bellevue truck accident attorneys understand the economic strain of recovering from an injury. You shouldn’t have to worry about additional costs while you’re pursuing legal action against the negligent truck driver or trucking company. We take cases on contingency, so you’re not expected to pay upfront fees or costs. We won’t recover our legal fees unless we secure compensation for you. If we lose your case, we will never charge you for our services.
If you were involved in a truck accident due to someone else’s negligent or careless actions, call Tamaki Law at (425) 679-6421 for your free consultation.