Truck accidents frequently result in catastrophic outcomes, including severe injuries, substantial property damage, and, occasionally, fatalities. Understanding your legal rights and options is crucial if you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident in Washington. Getting legal help from a Washington auto accident lawyer can help you file a claim and attempt to achieve fair compensation for your losses.

How to File a Truck Accident Claim

Filing a truck accident claim in Washington involves several important steps. The first step is to seek medical attention for any injuries and notify law enforcement of the accident. Collect evidence at the scene, including photos of the damage, witness contact information, and the truck driver’s insurance and employer details. Contact your insurance company to report the accident, but refrain from admitting fault or accepting any settlement offers without consulting a lawyer.

One of your first steps should be to contact a truck accident lawyer who can guide you through the claims process. Your semi-truck accident attorney will investigate the accident, request a collision report, gather additional evidence, and communicate with insurance companies on your behalf. They will also help you determine the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage.

Common Types of Truck Accidents

Truck accidents can occur in various ways, each presenting unique challenges and potential liable parties. Understanding the different types of truck accidents can help you better prepare for the claims process and ensure that all negligent parties are held accountable.

Jackknife Accidents

A jackknife incident refers to a situation where the trailer of a truck veers sideways, creating a right angle with the driver’s cabin. This typically occurs when the truck operator applies the brakes abruptly, leading to the trailer sliding and collapsing onto itself.

Several factors can contribute to jackknife accidents, including:

  • Improper braking technique
  • Slippery road conditions
  • Excessive speed
  • Improper loading or overloading of cargo

Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents occur when a truck tips onto its roof or side These accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Speeding, particularly around curves or on- and off-ramps
  • Overloading or improperly securing cargo
  • Sudden steering maneuvers to avoid obstacles
  • High winds or other adverse weather conditions

Rollover accidents can be incredibly destructive because of the size of commercial trucks. They often result in severe injuries or fatalities for both truck occupants and other vehicle occupants involved in the crash.

Rear-End Collisions

A rear-end collision involving trucks can be catastrophic because of the force generated by the truck’s weight and size. These accidents often occur when a truck driver:

  • Follows too closely behind another vehicle
  • Fails to brake in time because of distracted driving
  • Experiences brake failure because of improper maintenance

When you are involved in a rear-end truck collision, you may suffer severe whiplash injuries, spinal cord damage, and traumatic brain injuries.

Blind Spot Accidents

The blind spots on commercial trucks are significantly larger than those on passenger cars, referring to the areas around the truck where the driver’s view is restricted or non-existent. If a truck operator neglects to inspect these blind spots before switching lanes or merging, it can lead to collisions with vehicles present in those areas. Blind spot accidents are common when:

  • Truck drivers fail to use their mirrors properly
  • Trucking companies neglect to install blind spot mirrors or warning systems
  • Passenger vehicle drivers linger in a truck’s blind spots

To avoid blind spot accidents, passenger vehicle drivers should be aware of a truck’s “no-zones” and avoid lingering in these areas.

Wide Turn Accidents

Trucks need a larger area to take turns than passenger cars, frequently needing to veer broadly to maneuver around sharp bends. Wide turn accidents can occur when:

  • Truck drivers fail to signal their intention to turn
  • Passenger vehicle drivers attempt to pass a turning truck on the right
  • Truck drivers misjudge the space needed to complete a turn and collide with nearby vehicles or pedestrians

These accidents can be particularly dangerous in urban areas with heavy foot traffic and crowded intersections.

Typical Injuries from a Truck Crash

The substantial size and weight of commercial trucks frequently lead to serious injuries for the occupants of smaller vehicles in the event of an accident. Some common injuries associated with truck crashes include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Internal organ damage
  • Lacerations and burns
  • Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries
  • Psychological trauma, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

These injuries can lead to extensive medical treatment, long-term rehabilitation, and significant financial burdens for victims and their families.

Possible Compensation Options

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may be eligible for various forms of potential compensation. The specific damages you can recover will depend on the unique circumstances of your case, the severity of your injuries, and the impact the accident has had on your life.

Medical Expenses

One of the primary forms of compensation in a truck accident claim is reimbursement for medical expenses. This includes all costs related to treating your injuries, such as:

  • Emergency room visits
  • Hospitalizations
  • Surgeries
  • Medications
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Medical equipment and devices
  • In-home care services

Your compensation should cover both current medical bills and anticipated future expenses related to ongoing treatment or long-term care needs.

Lost Wages

If your injuries have forced you to miss work, you may be entitled to compensation for the income you have lost. This includes wages, salaries, bonuses, and other forms of income you would have earned had you not been injured.

To prove lost wages, you will typically need to provide documentation such as pay stubs, tax returns, and a letter from your employer confirming your absence and regular earnings.

Loss of Earning Capacity

In some cases, truck accident injuries can have a long-term impact on your ability to work and earn a living. If your injuries result in a permanent disability or limit your job prospects, you may be compensated for the loss of future earning capacity.

The calculation of loss of earning capacity is a complex process that often necessitates testimony from economic and vocational experts. These professionals evaluate an individual’s unique situation to estimate the financial impact of injuries over the course of a lifetime.

Pain and Suffering

Damages involving pain and suffering are intended to compensate you for the physical pain, emotional strain, and mental anguish that was a result of the accident and your injuries. These non-economic damages can be difficult to quantify but may include compensation for:

  • Physical discomfort and chronic pain
  • Emotional trauma and mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium (damage to familial relationships)

The amount of pain and suffering damages you may receive will depend on factors such as the severity of your injuries, the length of your recovery, and the overall impact on your quality of life.

Property Damage

If your vehicle or other personal property was damaged in the truck accident, you might be entitled to compensation for repair or replacement costs. This may include:

  • Vehicle repair or replacement
  • Damage to personal items inside the vehicle, such as electronics or clothing
  • Damage to other property, such as a fence or building, if the accident occurred on your property

In some cases, you may also be compensated for the diminished value of your vehicle, even after repairs have been made.

Punitive Damages

In rare instances, the court may award you with punitive damages if the other party’s actions were egregious, intentional, or reckless. Punitive damages are designed to penalize the party at fault and discourage such conduct in the future.

Examples of situations that may warrant punitive damages include:

  • A truck driver operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • A trucking company knowingly allowing an unqualified or dangerous driver to operate a vehicle
  • A manufacturer intentionally concealing known defects in a truck or its components

How to Prove Negligence

To successfully pursue a truck accident claim, your 18-wheeler accident attorneys must prove that another party’s negligence caused the accident and your resulting injuries. Negligence occurs when a person or entity fails to exercise the care that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. You and your 18-wheeler accident lawyer must demonstrate four important elements to prove negligence in a truck accident case. 

First, you must show that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care to act in a manner that would not cause harm. You must also prove that the at-fault party did not follow this duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way. Third, you must establish causation, meaning the breach of duty directly caused the accident and your injuries. 

You must demonstrate that you suffered actual damages, such as physical injuries or property damage, as a result of the accident. Evidence that can help prove negligence may include police reports, witness statements, expert testimony, and data from the truck’s electronic logging device (ELD) or black box.

What if You Were Partially to Blame For the Truck Accident?

In some cases, you may share some responsibility for the truck accident. However, this does not necessarily mean that you are ineligible for compensation. Washington follows a comparative negligence rule, which means that your compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.

For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident and your total damages are $100,000, your compensation would be reduced by 20%, resulting in a final award of $80,000. However, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault, you may be barred from recovering any compensation.

It is important to note that determining fault in a truck accident can be complex, as multiple parties may share responsibility, including the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loader, or vehicle manufacturer. A trucking accident lawyer in Washington can help you with your case and fight for the compensation you are trying to get, even if you bear some responsibility for the accident.

The Importance of Hiring a Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer Quickly

Contacting a Washington truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident is crucial for several reasons. Your lawyer can help secure critical evidence before it is lost or destroyed, such as truck maintenance records, driver logbooks, and surveillance footage. 

Keep in mind that Washington has strict deadlines for filing personal injury claims, known as the statute of limitations. Failure to meet these deadlines can result in your case being dismissed, regardless of its merits. Your tractor-trailer accident attorneys will not let this happen.

Insurance adjusters may try to pressure you into accepting a low settlement offer or trick you into admitting fault, which can harm your ability to recover fair compensation. Your big rig accident lawyer can handle these negotiations on your behalf, protecting your rights and fighting for a settlement that adequately addresses your damages. Hiring skilled semi-truck accident lawyers quickly gives them the best opportunity to build a compelling case on your behalf.

Washington Timeframes for Truck Accidents

In Washington, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims, which includes truck accidents, is three years from the accident date. This means your big rig accident attorneys must file your lawsuit within three years or risk losing your right to pursue compensation.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if your accident involved a government-owned truck, you may need to file a notice of claim within a much shorter timeframe. It’s essential to consult with a knowledgeable tractor-trailer accident lawyer who can ensure you meet all applicable deadlines.

Do Not Let Legal Challenges Overwhelm You

Even though the legal road ahead can seem overwhelming, you should never put it off. Our team of dedicated 18-wheeler accident lawyers at Calbom & Schwab Law Group is here to help you through this challenging time and fight for the potential compensation you desire. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our trucking accident attorneys are eager to put your mind at ease.