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Dominating the freight industry since the 1960s, truck driving is seen by many as one of the most important jobs in America. The food we eat, the vehicles we drive, even the technologies we use every day are credited to the millions of semis delivering goods around Washington annually. With such a large population of big rigs comes an even larger threat of truck accidents.
In 2015 alone, commercial vehicles such as heavy trucks and semis were involved in thousands of vehicle collisions, of which many were fatal, and even more left one or more occupants with serious bodily injuries. Those involved in a serious accident involving large trucks should retain a dedicated truck accident lawyer in SeaTac, WA for help recovering the compensation that they deserve.
One major reason truck accidents happen in Washington stems from a truck driver’s desire to drive longer hours than allowed by law. Currently, truck drivers are permitted to drive only 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty, although other rules do apply.
Because time is money across all trucking industries, drivers are often pushed beyond their limits, which causes mental fatigue. Add SeaTac’s massive highway infrastructure traversed by millions each week, and the perfect storm for truck accidents is created.
Truckers who are distracted can cause a bevy of undesirable road conditions for innocent drivers, too. Checking their device for upcoming loads, or attempting to turn around to get something to drink is more than enough to cause passenger vehicles to fall victim to a trucker’s overcorrection.
In rare cases, truckers are found to be driving while intoxicated, which not only comes in criminal charges but may lead to a ban from truckers ever driving commercially again. Many documented cases exist where intoxicated truckers caused multi car pile-ups and serious bodily injury, or even death.
Commercially licensed drivers are always held to a higher standard in terms of following traffic laws. Because gross vehicle weights (GVWs) can amass 100,000 pounds when fully loaded, trucks will hit smaller cars with heavier force than other passenger cars of similar weight. Whereas two cars hitting each other at 35 mph may only cause whiplash injuries, semis who hit cars going 35 mph while fully loaded can lead cause paralysis or death to occupants.
If you manage to survive an accident caused by negligent truck driving, it is necessary to follow certain steps immediately thereafter. It’s important at this point to remove yourself from the vehicle, if possible, and help others may be injured. Avoid confrontation with the truck driver unless it’s to help them. And, if you haven’t done so already, reach out to law enforcement immediately.
Once law enforcement finishes their reporting and collects witness information, seek immediate medical attention, even if you don’t feel ill or injured. This technicality will help your claim later on.
At your earliest possible convenience, phone a competent SeaTac, WA truck accident lawyer. Doing so not only helps keep the insurance companies from intimidating or threatening you, but helps expedite the often lengthy claims process which means you, the victim, get compensated quicker.
Once a truck accident attorney has been invited to work on your case, they’ll look over the facts surrounding your accident to determine if enough evidence substantiates taking your case to trial. Although most negligent parties and their insurers are quick to settle cases, an experienced injury attorney will still be prepared to go to trial, if necessary.
One common practice in this type of case involves sending a pre-settlement demand letter to the insurer’s counsel. In that demand letter, facts surrounding your injury and state law regarding your right to compensation will accompany a settlement amount. Many times, this number will be shot down, forcing the attorney to file suit in court. Once filed, an attorney may entertain digging deeper into the claim to find evidence to strengthen their client’s case. The stronger the case, the more likely the insurer will settle fairly before court.
Trucking companies are involved, too, especially if the accident case exceeds what their liability coverage pays out. Drivers themselves are also involved, yet it’s safe to say some who are found willfully negligent – or intoxicated – will be suspended immediately after the accident.
After numerous phone calls, emails and faxes, truck accident attorneys may reach settlement terms favorable to all parties. Before signing off, the victim’s attorney will request the approval from the victim; once they’ve signed off, the paper gets sent back to the insurer’s attorney. After several weeks or months, that long-awaited settlement check finally arrives.
Any settlements imposed by jury may go through an appeals process, which will delay the disbursement of compensation. Jury awarded settlements will oftentimes mirror what the victim’s attorney was seeking anyway, while others may be slightly lower (or higher if accident led to wrongful death). Instead of gambling with juries, settling out of court is often in everyone’s best interest.
Once a victim’s case is settled, the trucking company, insurer, and all parties adjoined to them are relieved from future financial responsibility. This means that victims cannot later sue trucking companies for something else unless the company was involved in an isolated incident with the victim in an unrelated manner.
Truck accidents may cause life-changing events for families living in Seattle, Tacoma and surrounding cities. Due to their size, it takes mere seconds for a truck driver’s negligent operation of their semi to turn casual commutes into tragedy.
Your serious truck accident merits teaming up with an aggressive law firm who holds trucking companies, their insurers and drivers accountable. Every SeaTac, WA truck accident lawyer approaches cases differently, but make no mistake: you’ll need one if you’re interested in getting every cent your accident is worth.