Proven Seattle Truck Accident Attorneys Ready To Assist You
A multitude of highways run through the Seattle area, including Interstate 90, Interstate 5, Interstate 405, Interstate 705, and SR 520, among others. Although these freeways offer great convenience to motorists, they also present significant dangers – in part because these highways serve as major thoroughfares for big-rig trucks passing through the area.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, big-rig truck accidents account for nearly 10 percent of all traffic fatalities, despite the fact that they amount to only about three percent of all injury crashes. In other words, truck accidents are a lot more likely to kill someone than other types of road accidents. In 2012, nearly 4,000 people were killed in big rig truck accidents throughout the nation, while more than 100,000 people were injured.
These grim statistics are not particularly surprising, at least when you consider that a truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. This much weight greatly increases stopping distances, thereby increasing the risk of an accident. Once a collision occurs, the momentum generated by such a heavyweight means that any accident that does occur is likely to be more serious than a collision with a smaller vehicle. A truck can throw an average automobile around like a rag doll. Our Seattle truck accident lawyer and our legal team will help you in your case.
When an Accident Happens
The odds say that you will probably never become a truck accident victim. But the odds no longer matter once an accident has already occurred. And hardly a day goes by in the Seattle area without at least one big-rig truck accident. For many truck accident victims, life will never be the same again. You are likely to be facing serious injuries and a long recovery period – and you may be grieving the sudden death of a loved one.
The occasion of a serious accident is the worst time to have to fight for your right to fair compensation. But if the accident that harmed you was someone else’s fault, you are going to have to fight. Fear not. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, fighting for the rights of our clients is what we do – and it’s what we’ve been doing for nearly 50 years now. All told, we have brought home over $100,000,000 in compensation for or clients.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
The following are some of the most common causes of truck accidents:
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving, such as texting while driving, is involved in about a quarter of all traffic accidents – not far behind drunk driving. Although activities such as texting while driving are illegal in Washington, they are not considered automatically negligent. Nevertheless, the illegal nature of a behavior that caused an accident is strongly persuasive to courts.
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicant: Intoxicated driving is responsible for about 30 percent of all accidents, and not every case involves alcohol. An accident may be caused, for example, by “stoned” driving, driving while under the influence of a recreational drug, or even driving while under the influence of a drug for which the driver has a valid prescription.
- Driver fatigue: Driver fatigue causes a disproportionately large amount of commercial truck accidents, because a minority of truckers stay on the road even while drowsy in order to meet delivery schedules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates truckers’ sleep schedules, and the violation of an FMCSA regulation can be used as persuasive evidence in court and at the settlement table.
- Mechanical malfunction: In this case, it is possible that neither the driver or the trucking company were at fault for the accident. If the accident was caused by a manufacturing or design defect in one of its parts (brake drums, for instance), it is possible to sue the manufacturer of the part, or to sue even a wholesaler or a retailer who sold the defective part, without even having to prove that the defendant was at fault for the defect.
- Poor Truck Maintenance: In many cases, only an investigation can reveal whether the cause of the accident is a defective part or simply poor vehicle maintenance on the part of the vehicle owner or a third-party vehicle maintenance service. One way of gathering evidence is to take advantage of the regulation requiring all vehicle maintenance checks to be documented.
- Inadequate driver training: Inadequate driver training is especially likely to be the culprit if the accident was caused by the truck driver, because trucks are difficult to drive. If the cause of the accident is traced back to a freshman mistake made by the driver, and it turns out that the driver was inadequately trained, the organization responsible for ensuring that the driver was properly trained can be held jointly liable for accident compensation.
- Overloading: Federal regulations govern the maximum amount of cargo that a truck is permitted to carry. Failure to follow these regulations can lead to elongated stopping distances, tire blowouts, and jackknife accidents.
Let a knowledgeable Seattle truck accident lawyer answer all your questions.
Our Most Frequent Practice Areas
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, truck accidents aren’t the only type of personal injury claim we handle. The following is an incomplete list of the types of claims that we frequently pursue:
- Wrongful Death: A personal injury claim arises when someone is injured due to the misconduct of someone else. If the victim dies from his injuries, his claim does not die with him. Instead, it becomes a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death compensation awards can be quite substantial.
- Car Accidents: Car accidents are perhaps the most common source of personal injury claims. Believe it or not, it is possible to recover damages even if the accident was partly your fault. To win your claim, however, you are going to have to deal with an insurance company that will seize upon any excuse to deny your claim. We can help you fight back.
- Motorcycle Accidents: Because of their high speeds combined with a lack of frame protection, motorcycles are probably the most vulnerable vehicles on the road. As a consequence, catastrophic injuries are common and claim amounts tend to be large. We can help you negotiate with the insurance company or, if necessary, win a jury verdict.
- DUI Accidents: It is both terrifying and infuriating to face a serious injury because someone else chose to drive while intoxicated. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we know exactly how to hold intoxicated drivers and their insurance companies liable for what they have done to you.
- Bicycle Accidents: A bicycle is no match for an automobile in an accident. Unfortunately, most motorists are not watching out for bicycles – and a bicycle can easily be swallowed up by a motorist’s blind spot. We can help you navigate through Washington’s personal injury claims’ maze to receive full compensation.
- Pedestrian Accidents: In a vehicle accident, a pedestrian may suffer catastrophic consequences such as traumatic brain injury, paralysis and, all too often, death. When someone else is responsible for such a disaster, you owe it to yourself to fight back.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): The brain is the executive command and control center of the body, and a traumatic brain injury can result in a multitude of serious and long-lasting symptoms. In many cases, victims are simply unable to return to a normal life. Compensation in such cases can far exceed mere reimbursement for medical expenses.
- Medical Malpractice: Medical malpractice is the nation’s third-leading cause of death – at least according to the American Medical Association. Naturally, injuries caused by medical malpractice are even more common. An investigation may be required to determine whether you have a claim – but if you do, you owe it to yourself to seek justice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Have you been involved in a truck accident? If so, you may be in a state of shock, and you may feel overwhelmed. You may find yourself feeling strained by the mounting pressure of medical bills and the loss of your ability to work. You may be struggling with many questions. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we understand these feelings, and we also understand the need to find answers to those questions that arise following a truck accident. Here are a few of the most common questions we receive:
What are the main differences between a typical car accident case and a typical truck accident case?
The obvious difference is that truck accident tend to be more serious, and the likelihood of death is much greater. From a legal standpoint, the main difference is that truck accident cases tend to be more complex due to the extensive web of regulations that truck drivers are subject to – the violation of which can be used as evidence of liability.
What actions should I take after a truck accident?
The most important actions to take after a truck accident are:
- Seek medical treatment immediately for both medical and legal reasons. In other words, call 911 to summon both an ambulance and the police.
- Obtain the name, home address, phone number, driver’s license number, and insurance details from the truck driver. Get the name of the trucking company that hired him, if possible.
- Get contact details from any eyewitnesses.
- Photograph the scene of the accident.
How much liability insurance is commercial truckers required to carry?
Under both state and federal law, a commercial truck is required to carry anywhere between $300,00 and $5,000,000 in liability insurance, depending on the weight of the truck and how dangerous its cargo is. The heavier the truck and the more dangerous the cargo, the higher the minimum insurance coverage limits.
What exactly is a “commercial truck?”
A commercial truck is a vehicle used in business or for the transport of commercial goods. “Eighteen-wheelers” are a good example, but not the only example. These trucks require a commercial driver’s license to operate, and their operation is heavily regulated at both the state and federal level.
Where are a truck’s “blind spots”?
A truck’s blind spots are at the left rear quarter, the right rear quarter, and directly behind the truck at close range. A good rule of thumb to observe is that, if you can’t see the driver in his mirrors, then he can’t see you.
Who should I sue in a truck accident lawsuit?
The driver is the obvious first choice (in effect, you will be suing the driver’s insurance company). Other possible defendants include:
- The owner of the trucking company if it was negligent itself or if the trucker was its employee;
- The employer of the driver, even if it is not the trucking company;
- The manufacturer of the truck or any component of the truck if the accident was caused by a mechanical malfunction;
- A third-party maintenance company if the accident was caused by faulty maintenance;
- A local government that contributed to the accident through dangerous or unmarked road conditions.
What are some examples of trucking regulations that might be relevant to my claim?
- Maintenance schedules;
- Weight limits;
- The number of hours a driver can work per day;
- Minimum driver training;
- Permissible blood alcohol levels, which are significantly lower for drivers holding a commercial license than for other drivers; and
- Hundreds of other restrictions, some of which apply only under specific circumstances.
How does a truck accident legal team conduct a truck accident investigation?
We take the following actions in a typical truck accident case:
- Request the driver qualification file (DQF) from the trucking company. This document is a legal requirement, and it includes the driver’s driving history, medical test results, and other information.
- Examine the truck’s event data recorder (“black box”) for relevant data;
- Collect eyewitness testimony;
- Review police reports;
- Examine the scene of the accident;
- Inspect the truck;
- Take other actions as circumstances demand.
Who is held responsible for a trucking accident – the driver or the trucking company?
There can actually be multiple parties held responsible for a trucking accident, depending upon the results of the accident investigation. Certainly, the driver of a large truck may have a responsibility in an accident for any number of reasons. He or she may have broken the law, may have consumed illegal substances, may have been driving recklessly or engaged in any other number of behaviors that would merit being held liable for the accident. In other cases, the trucking company which hired the driver might be found to be the responsible party. Issues that may merit that finding of responsibility can include cutting corners on safety, unrealistic expectations that push the drivers beyond what is healthy, and more. In still other instances, the accident may involve a defect in the truck itself. In those instances, the manufacturers of the parts of the truck that failed may be held responsible. A Seattle truck accident attorney will be able to advise you best as to the potentially liable parties in your particular set of circumstances.
How much is my particular truck accident claim worth?
Certainly, each case is unique with its own particular set of circumstances. As a result, it can be difficult to determine the exact amount of compensation. Many factors, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages will go into a determination of what should be awarded as compensation. Consulting with a legal team as to what compensation you may be entitled to in your particular case is always a wise decision.
The insurance company has made me an offer. Should I just accept it?
It is not at all uncommon for a trucking company’s insurer to quickly offer a settlement to an accident victim. Unfortunately, however, insurance companies often offer what they feel is the lowest reasonable amount. While it may be tempting to accept that offer in the midst of financial stress, it ultimately ends up failing to be enough to cover all of the expenses associated with your accident. It is always best to retain a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer to advise you of your rights prior to accepting any offers.
At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we are thankful for the opportunity to answer these questions and any others you may have about your truck accident and any potential claim. Call us today. We look forward to speaking with you soon.
Doug is seriously injured when an 18-wheeler truck plows into him on the highway. An investigation reveals that the truck driver’s driving record is abysmal and that he is underinsured. Doug ignores the uninsured driver for the time being and opens settlement negotiations with the trucking company that hired the driver. The results are unsatisfactory.
Doug files a lawsuit against both the trucking company and the driver so that he can subpoena records from the trucking company and third parties using the discovery process. Doug gains access to cell phone records that way, and he and discovers that the driver was texting his girlfriend at the time of the accident. He also discovered that the trucking company loaded the truck with more weight than federal trucking regulations allow.
At trial, Doug claims that (i) the trucking company negligently hired the truck driver in the first place, (ii) the overloading of the truck increased its stopping distance, thereby contributing to the accident, (iii) the driver’s texting also slowed reaction time and thereby contributed to the accident, and (iv) the trucking company is responsible for the trucker’s negligence because the driver was the trucking company’s employee.
The court dismisses Doug’s claim (iv) on the reasoning that the truck driver was an independent contractor, not an employee. The court finds both the truck driver and the trucking company liable for negligence, however, and Doug is awarded a substantial sum.
If We Don’t Win Your Case, You Don’t Have to Pay Us
When you win 97 percent of your cases as we do, you know you’re not going to go bankrupt offering free legal services to the three percent of clients who don’t receive compensation. And that is exactly what we do; if we don’t win your case, you won’t owe us anything. If you are among the 97 percent who win, your bill will not come due until your compensation has already been paid. In other words, you needn’t worry that you can’t afford us – you can.
Contact Us Today
If you were injured in a truck accident in metro Seattle, or if your loved one was killed that way, and if you even suspect that the fault lies with someone else, contact a skilled Seattle truck accident attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner immediately. We can be reached by phone or online by filling out our client contact form. Contact us today so that we can schedule you a free consultation. We serve clients in Ballard, Beacon Hill, Lake Forest Park, and elsewhere in Seattle.