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The Dangers of Unqualified Truck Drivers

Colburn Law

The Dangers of Unqualified Truck Drivers

Operating a commercial vehicle requires specialized training. These trucks are large and heavy, and drivers must adhere to several state and federal laws on cargo safety, driving hour limitations, and licensing to keep themselves and others safe on the road. Unqualified drivers can cause serious accidents, resulting in fatalities and life-altering injuries. If you have been injured in an accident, contact a Seattle truck accident lawyer today.

Requirements for Driving a Truck in Washington

Not all drivers are eligible to drive heavy-duty cargo trucks. Washington truck drivers must secure a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) before operating certain vehicles, such as trucks carrying hazardous materials, single vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds, or combination vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds with a load of at least 10,000 pounds.

To receive a CDL, drivers must first apply for a Commercial Learner’s Permit. Drivers are eligible for a permit if they meet the following requirements.

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Possess a valid, unexpired Washington driver’s license
  • Provide a Social Security or proof of permanent residency
  • List all the states they held a driver’s license within the last 10 years
  • Disclose the type of commercial vehicle they will operate
  • Pass vehicle knowledge, driving skills and basic vehicle control, and vehicle inspection exams.
  • Pay the required fees.

After receiving the permit, drivers can secure a CDL by completing a commercial training course. They must complete one of the following programs within 180 days of receiving their permit.

  • A course with a Department of Licensing-approved commercial driving training program
  • A certified course offered through a Department of Licensing-registered employer

Drivers who have a history of driving under the influence, certain criminal behavior, or at least two serious traffic violations within the next three years are not eligible for a CDL. The state may revoke a CDL if a driver commits any of these offenses.

Common Injuries in Truck Accidents

Because trucks are heavier and larger than passenger vehicles, collisions between a truck driver and a motorist often result in severe injuries. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and resulting physical or cognitive impairment can have lifelong impacts. Lacerations, broken bones, burn injuries, and permanent scarring are also common.

Many of these injuries occur due to truck driver negligence. A driver who does not hold a valid CDL does not have the required training to operate these vehicles safely. Drivers who drive more hours than federal limits allow can fall asleep at the wheel and cause serious accidents. Many other acts of negligence can contribute to these injuries, such as improperly loaded cargo, impaired driving, and failed inspections.

Compensation for a Truck Accident Injury in Washington

If you are in an accident with a truck driver and believe negligence is involved, you may qualify for compensation through a truck accident lawsuit. Civil lawsuits allow you to collect damages for your financial losses, such as medical expenses or property damage, as well as your physical and emotional pain and suffering.

To begin your case, contact a Bellevue truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will evaluate your claim and begin collecting evidence to determine whether negligence caused your accident. Your Seattle personal injury lawyer will also help you understand the damages you can claim, maximizing your potential claim and protecting your future interests.