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Seattle Truck Accident Lawyer
The more you know about trucking accidents in Seattle, the better you can protect yourself while navigating the streets. Learning the facts on the trucking industry and wrecks in Seattle can help you stay away from high-risk areas, avoid common causes of accidents, and know your rights if you do get into a crash with a big rig. The attorneys at Colburn Law are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your recent trucking accident in Seattle. Colburn Law cares about bettering the community, the first steps to doing that are having those who are responsible for negligence be held accountable.
Seattle Trucking Industry Statistics and Accident Statistics
The state of Washington is a hotspot for the trucking industry. It is home to hundreds of trucking companies, fuel stations, repair centers, and leasing companies that fall under the umbrella of trucking. Trucks move about 70% of all the nation’s freight – around 10.5 billion tons per year. There are 31.4 million trucks registered in the United States. Thousands of trucks move through Washington on their way to other parts of the country.
In the state of Washington, there were 3,161 reported heavy truck collisions in one year alone. Nineteen of these accidents were fatal. The city of Seattle saw 361 truck wrecks the same year. Trucking accidents can easily cause catastrophic and fatal injuries to those involved. Truck drivers are less likely to be the most injured in these collisions. Instead, the passengers in smaller vehicles bear the brunt of damages. With hundreds of people going to hospitals for truck-accident-related injuries in Seattle, learn the causes to prevent becoming a statistic.
Determining Who Is At Fault
If you’ve been in an accident with a commercial vehicle such as a semi, big rig, or delivery truck, your personal injury claim is likely to be more complicated than a simple motor vehicle collision because there are varying people or companies who could be at fault – for more information on the steps to take after a wreck, speak to a car accident attorney. The first part of filing a trucking suit is determining fault and to what degree each party is culpable and often the most complicated. Here is a list of possible candidates:
- The truck driver. Many truckers own their trucks and work as independent contractors.
- The trucking company who employed the driver. Often, this is the better route for a lawsuit since truck drivers typically don’t have the funds to pay out a claim. A trucking company might be responsible if they negligently hired the truck driver (for example, if they didn’t run appropriate background checks that would have revealed their driver had DUIs on his or her record). A trucking company may also be responsible for failing to maintain the truck properly.
- The manufacturer of the truck. When an inherent product defect leads to a crash, it’s the manufacturer who is responsible.
- The shipper. In cases where improper loading plays a role in the accident, the shipper is likely to blame.
One of these entities may shoulder all the blame for an accident, or fault may be distributed among several parties. These trucking cases can become complicated and require the assistance of a knowledgeable Seattle injury lawyer.
Types of Truck Wrecks
When a heavy truck gets into a collision or other adverse traffic event, it tends to crash in a few distinct ways. The size, weight, and structure of big rigs makes them crash differently than smaller, lighter vehicles. A few common types of truck accidents are jackknifes, rear-end collisions, and blind-spot collisions. A jackknife crash is one in which the trailer skids out to the side, forming an “L,” or jackknife shape with the cab. This can happen when the driver incorrectly uses the brakes on a decline or sharp turn. A driver cannot control the truck when it’s in jackknife position.
It’s common for trucks to rear-end other vehicles, because they do not possess the same stopping power as smaller cars. The immense weight of big rigs (they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, including loads) puts great stress on the braking system during stops. Trucks need more room and time to come to a complete stop. Passenger vehicle drivers can forget this and cut trucks off on the highway, leading to rear-end collisions. Drivers may also be at fault for following too closely or not paying attention to the road.
Blind-spot collisions occur frequently due to the significant blind spots that truckers experience. The length of 18-wheelers makes it impossible for truck drivers to see every side of the vehicle. The common stickers on the backs of trucks that state, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you,” are accurate. Blind-spot collisions may occur when smaller cars stay in a truck’s danger zone, or the side of the truck. The trucker might merge lanes on top of the other vehicle without being able to see.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Trucking Wrecks?
Trucking accidents can occur due to all the same causes as regular motor vehicle accidents. Driver distraction, driving under the influence, disobeying roadway rules – all can lead to a truck driver causing a collision. Yet truckers also have several concerns and risk factors that typical drivers lack. For example, truckers drive long hours on the roads by themselves. This can increase the risk of drowsy driving and related collisions. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which governs commercial trucks, these are the two most common factors in collisions involving large trucks:
- Driver Error. By far, driver error is the leading cause of truck collisions. In fact, truck drivers are ten times more likely to be responsible for a collision than any other factor such as road condition, vehicle performance, and weather. The FMCSA found that drivers were the critical element in almost 90% of truck crashes. Truck drivers are under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines and stay on the road for hours on end. These pressures can lead to hazards like drivers under the influence and sleep-deprived drivers. Fatigue, use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, speeding, and inattention are among the most common factors that contribute to driver error. Drivers may run out of the travel lane, lose control of vehicles, follow too closely, speed, fall asleep, overcompensate, or drive distracted. Trucking companies are vicariously liable for actions of on-duty truck drivers.
- Equipment Failure. The next most common cause of trucking wrecks is malfunctioning equipment. The majority of mechanical causes of truck collisions is failure to maintain the truck itself. Failing to maintain the front brakes, for example, can lead to jackknifing. An improperly inspected truck may have tire issues that cause dangerous blowouts. Parts failure may point to an issue with the item itself, not its maintenance. If a truck part had a defect at the time of installation, the parts manufacturer or distributor may be liable for subsequent accidents. For example, brake failure because of a defective part could point to issues on the manufacturer’s end. It is possible to hold more than one party liable for your trucking accident, in certain situations.
- Ignoring Federal Laws. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has hundreds of regulations in place to improve the safety of big rigs around the country. The FMCSA sets standards for trucker hiring and training, fleet maintenance, driving techniques, cargo loading, sleep schedules, and more. Breaking any of these rules can increase the risk of an accident and lead to trucking company liability.
- Trucking Company Negligence. If a truck has problems with equipment, parts failure, load shifting, lost loads, or maintenance, the trucking company may be liable for resultant accidents. It is a trucking company’s job to ensure the safety and performance of drivers and fleet vehicles. Cutting corners and pressuring drivers can make the industry more dangerous than it has to be.
What Should I Do After a Truck Collision?
If you or a loved one has been involved in a collision involving a truck, your mind is likely reeling with questions. How will you pay your medical bills? How will you provide for your family if you have to miss work? Will you ever recover and feel “normal” again? You may even feel angry at the driver who caused your injuries.
These feelings and worries are normal. A personal injury settlement will help provide financial security so you can focus on healing. While we can’t speed the healing process for you, we can help take one less worry off your plate.
A personal injury settlement will pay for your medical expenses and provide financial recourse for your pain and suffering. Hiring a personal injury attorney soon after your accident is essential.
Find a Truck Injury Attorney to Fight for You
Your road to recovery begins with a call to Colburn Law. We’re committed to helping Seattle families recover compensation for their injuries, and we work hard to get the best outcome possible for your case. To schedule your free initial consultation, please contact us.
Let Greg Colburn fight for you the way he fought for himself when a roofing subcontractor negligently installed a material that caused him to fall more than 20 feet. You can read Greg Colburn’s journey to practicing personal injury law here.
Greg guided me through a stressful process involving a car accident and the insurance company. Not only did he put me at ease, but he was truly an advocate for me and my family. I am truly thankful for his help, and would highly recommend him to any of my friends or family.