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Bellingham Truck Accident Lawyer
Due to their sheer size and weight, a collision with a large truck can lead to devastating consequences. If you are in an accident with a truck, you can suffer from severe, debilitating injuries, miss weeks or even months of work, and grapple with the emotional aftermath. If the truck driver was at-fault for your accident, the impact of these consequences can heighten.
Through a personal injury lawsuit, you can claim the compensation you need to recover from your truck accident — and Colburn Law can help. Residents of Bellingham have trusted us to represent their truck accident and car accident claims for years, securing millions of dollars in compensatory damages.
- Colburn Law understands that legal representation can seem inaccessible. Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning that if we do not secure a settlement on your behalf, you do not have to pay legal fees.
- We value taking the time to understand your story to build a compelling case on your behalf. Our attorneys will maintain a consistent and open line of communication with you from consultation to settlement.
- We understand that travel after a serious accident can be extremely difficult. We will gladly meet with you at your home, hospital room, or another location that is convenient for you.
What Damages Are Available in a Truck Accident Case?
Truck accidents can lead to devastating amounts of damages that can lead to significant physical, emotional, and financial hardship. Through an insurance claim or lawsuit, you can claim compensation to help you recover from your losses. To be eligible for this compensation, you will need to prove that the truck driver was responsible for the accident.
There are two main types of damages you can claim.
- Economic damages, which include the tangible financial losses that you suffered in the accident, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages
- Non-economic damages, which include all of the intangible or emotional losses that you suffered from as a result of the accident, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety
Unlike other states, which impose caps on the amount of non-economic damages you can collect, Washington state does not limit the amount of compensation you can receive in personal injury cases. Washington courts deem these limits unconstitutional.
How Do You Determine Fault in a Truck Accident?
To successfully secure a settlement in a truck accident lawsuit, you will need to prove that the at-fault party in your claim committed an act of negligence. Proving negligence requires you and your attorney to present evidence to prove the at-fault party breached a certain duty of care, leading to your injuries.
You will need to establish the presence of the following elements to prove your claim.
- Duty: The at-fault party or parties in your claim must owe you a duty of care at the time of the accident. Of course, all truck drivers must adhere to traffic laws, and both drivers and companies have a duty to adhere to federal regulations for truckers. If you are holding a third-party manufacturer liable, these entities must ensure their products are free of defects.
- Breach: After you establish the duty of care, you will need to prove that the at-fault party breached their duty in some way. Proving this element will often require your attorney to investigate the cause of the accident, presenting evidence such as surveillance footage, trucking logs, or witness testimony.
- Causation: Once you establish the breach, you will need to establish that the breach directly caused your accident. The evidence you present will depend on the cause of the accident; for example, you may use medical records, records from the trucking company, and expert testimony from physicians and accident reconstruction specialists.
- Damages: Finally, you will need to prove you sustained damages as a result of the accident you can recover compensation for in your lawsuit. You can prove your damages with evidence such as medical records, repair invoices, paystubs, and more.
Establishing negligence requires a great deal of investigation and access to specialized resources. The truck injury attorneys at Colburn Law will utilize the full power of our firm to identify the cause of your crash and collect the evidence necessary to prove your right to compensation.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in Trucking Wrecks?
Because of their high size and weight, commercial trucks have the potential to cause serious damage to motor vehicles and their occupants. Trucking wrecks can lead to serious, often permanent injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries: From concussions to hemorrhages, any blow or penetration to the head can have serious consequences. Damage to the brain can result in permanent disability, a loss of function, and coma.
- Internal organ damage: Trucks can crush motor vehicles, and you may suffer organ damage due to these crushing injuries. You may experience an injury to your kidneys, liver, pancreas, lungs, and other important organs.
- Spinal cord injuries: You may sustain damage to your spinal cord during a truck accident, which can have lasting consequences. Your spinal cord is responsible for carrying messages between your brain and body, and damage to this area can lead to paralysis or a loss of function or feeling below the injury site.
- Burn injuries: Trucks have fuel tanks that can rupture during an accident, since collisions involving these large vehicles have a more severe impact. If the fuel tanks rupture and catch of fire, you can suffer from severe burn injuries.
- Back and neck injuries: The impact of a truck accident can harm the sensitive bones and ligaments in your back and neck, and may cause injuries like whiplash. Back and neck injuries often lead to severe pain and other complications.
These injuries often require intensive treatment and require ongoing care. Through a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim, you can receive the funds you need to pay for this medical treatment for as long as you need it.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Trucking Wrecks?
Truck accidents can occur for a number of reasons, from negligent driving behaviors to mechanical failures and a lack of proper maintenance. Identifying the cause of your accident is important to determine who to hold liable and where to begin your case’s investigation.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include the following.
- Fatigued driving: Truck drivers often have to drive long distances over long hours. Federal law requires truckers to take a break after driving a certain number of hours, but some drivers and companies ignore these regulations. As a result, a driver can experience poor concentration and may fall asleep at the wheel — which can be highly dangerous.
- Distracted driving: A truck driver may take his or her hands, eyes, or mind off the road at any time, which can cause a serious accident. Distracted driving can come in a number of different forms, from talking on the phone, eating, finding a playlist or podcast, or even fiddling with the radio.
- Driving under the influence: Using alcohol or drugs while driving is extremely dangerous, especially in large commercial trucks. Drug use is shockingly high among truckers, with 30% of drivers admitting to taking amphetamines on the job. Alcohol and drugs impact concentration, coordination, reaction time, and more, and an accident can easily occur under these conditions.
- Lack of maintenance: Commercial trucks are subject to strict maintenance schedules prior to going out on the road. However, some trucking companies may fail to maintain or inspect their vehicles, leading to unnoticed defects and a high risk for accidents.
- Improper cargo loading: Each load of a truck’s cargo must adhere to specific size and safety regulations, especially for hazardous materials. If a driver or trucking company employee makes a mistake while loading cargo, the truck might tip over, the load may fall into the road, or another accident may occur.
What Steps Should Take After a Truck Accident in Bellingham?
After a truck accident, you may feel confused, scared, and disoriented. These emotions are normal, but it is also important to recognize that the moments after a collision are crucial to your future claim. Immediately after the accident, take the following steps to protect your safety and establish evidence.
- Call 911 to bring a police officer and emergency medical services to the scene. Speak to the officer and collect his or her badge number so you can find the accident report at a later date.
- Seek medical treatment immediately, either via ambulance or by visiting the emergency room. Save all documentation from your visits. You should visit the doctor even if you do not feel any pain — you may have internal injuries, or shock could be numbing your senses.
- Do not make any statements about your injuries or the cause of the accident — you may not know all of the facts at this moment in time. Admitting you do not have any injuries at the time of the accident, only to discover a severe injury later, can harm your chances at compensation.
- Contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options and next steps.
If you can move around the accident site safely and without pain or further injury, take additional steps to preserve evidence.
- Take pictures of the accident site, including all vehicles, license plates, and traffic signs and signals.
- Photograph any injuries you sustained, as well as specific damage to your vehicle.
- Exchange information with the truck driver, including contact information and insurance details.
- If there are any witnesses in the area, ask them if you can collect their contact information for use in your future claim.
In the days after the accident, continue to receive medical care if necessary. An insurance adjuster may attempt to contact you to collect a statement about the accident — do not speak with him or her before contacting an attorney at Colburn Law.
You may inadvertently compromise your claim if you make a premature statement, which may harm your chances at collecting compensation. Your attorney will advise you on how to best approach these conversations to avoid further harm, and can represent you in negotiations to obtain the settlement you need to recover.
Compensation Available in Truck Accident Lawsuits
You can endure a number of losses after a truck accident, from physical pain and suffering to mental anguish and heavy debt. Under Washington law, you have the right to collect compensation for any physical, emotional, and financial damages you suffer due to the negligence of another person or entity.
State law divides the damages you can collect into two categories: economic and non-economic. As mentioned before, economic damages refer to the financial losses you endure, while non-economic damages involve the intangible, emotional harm of the accident.
Specific damages truck accident victims often claim include the following.
- Surgeries, doctor’s visits, and hospitalizations
- Prescription medications
- Physical therapy and mental health counseling
- Disability accommodations, such as home modifications
- Transportation to and from medical appointments
- Property damage, such as vehicle repairs
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings
- Loss of quality of life
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement and scarring
For claims involving the death of a loved one, a truck accident lawsuit may qualify for funeral and burial expenses, emotional damages of the family members, and compensation for the loss of future income and benefits.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
It may seem simple to file an insurance claim or enter the lawsuit process by yourself after a truck accident. However, truck accidents can often involve corporate lawyers, government agencies, and the need to obtain certain pieces of evidence that can be inaccessible without an attorney on your side. Hiring a truck accident attorney from Colburn Law can provide numerous benefits for your case.
- Since truck drivers are subject to government regulations and corporate guidelines, you may need to face legal representatives from these large companies and agencies. Your attorney will have the skills and experience necessary to enter into negotiations with these entities to advocate for the settlement you need to recover.
- Truck accidents often involve high amounts of damages, including physical injuries, property destruction, and severe pain and suffering. Your attorney can help you collect the pieces of evidence necessary to prove your damages and determine which ones you may qualify for.
- Your case may require expert witnesses to validate your injuries, the logistics of the crash, and other crucial parts of your story. Your attorney will have access to a network of medical experts, accident reconstruction specialists, and more to help you build a compelling case in your favor.
Truck Accident in Bellingham? Colburn Law Can Help
If you are suffering from the aftermath of a truck accident in Bellingham, contact Colburn Law as soon as possible. Our attorneys will gladly meet with you at your home or hospital room to discuss your case and to begin the filing process. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and to plan your next steps.