What to Do After a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault

For most of us, driving is an everyday occurrence, and we all know that car crashes happen with appalling regularity. We often see them by the side of the road as we are driving along. Odds are, you will be involved in an accident at some point. Insurance industry experts estimate that the average driver will be in a collision about once every 17.9 years. So at some point, no matter how careful you are, instead of observing a crash as you pass it, you will be involved.

In the United States, there were more than 37,150 car accident fatalities in 2017. In King County, the most populous county in Washington, approximately 16 percent of all fatalities in the state are related to car accidents. Many of these accidents happen in Seattle. It can be challenging to drive in Seattle, with its hills, bridges, tunnels, narrow roads, and rain. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, in 2017 there were 10,959 motor vehicle collisions in Seattle. Of those, 187 caused serious or fatal injuries. In 2018 that number rose to 212 serious or fatal crashes.

Nobody ever expects an accident. Even if you were not at fault, an accident can be harrowing and leave you feeling unsure what to do next. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, you might be entitled to compensation from those at fault. You need to consult the experienced Seattle car accident attorneys at Boohoff Law to discuss your legal options.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident When You’re Not to Blame

Assess the situation. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone is injured, call for help or ask someone to do so for you. Remember that injuries may not become apparent until after the accident, so it is always a good idea to get medical attention.

Move to a safe area. If you can, move to the side of the road or another safe place. If you are unable to move the car, leave it, and take yourself and others to safety. Turn on your hazard lights and place warning devices around the accident scene, if possible. Don’t drive off. Fleeing an accident scene is against the law in every state. Even if the other driver leaves the scene after a crash, stay and report the incident yourself.

Call the police immediately. Even if it was a minor accident or the other party does not want you to report the accident, call 911. The police report will be helpful for an insurance claim or future legal action, especially if the accident was not your fault. When the police arrive, simply tell the officer exactly what happened, to the best of your ability. If you are not sure of something, say you don’t know.

Report the car accident. If you have an accident that causes a death, injury, or property damage of $700 or more, you must report the accident, within four days, unless a police officer already filed an accident report. Failure to file a report may result in the suspension of your driver’s license.

Exchange information. Everyone involved in the accident should exchange information, including:

  • Names, addresses, phone numbers;
  • Driver license numbers;
  • License plate numbers;
  • Vehicle makes, models, and years;
  • Car insurance information;
  • Location of the accident.

Gather evidence. Gather as much evidence as possible. Ask witnesses for their contact information. Take photos of the accident scene, including any signs, traffic signals, or debris in the area. Nearby businesses may have video cameras that may have captured footage of the accident.

Avoid talking about fault. People tend to become very upset and emotional following a car accident. In the excitement, they may apologize or accept blame, even if they are blameless. Avoid discussing fault when talking with others at the scene or in conversation with an insurance provider. Saying things like “It’s all my fault” or even apologizing may be used against you by insurance companies who want to minimize their claim or other parties if there is a lawsuit. The police and insurance claims representatives will investigate the case and determine fault.

Consult a Seattle personal injury attorney. Talk to an attorney before discussing the accident with representatives of an insurance company, or signing any papers or release forms.

Financial Responsibility for an Accident

Washington requires drivers to have auto insurance. Minimum coverage requirements to register your vehicle are:

  • $25,000 for injury or death to one person
  • $50,000 for injury to more than one person
  • $10,000 for damage to property

Whether or not you can recover damages from your own insurance company depends on what kind of insurance you have. Washington allows no-fault coverage, so if you have no-fault coverage, your policy will cover your accident up to your policy maximums, no matter who was at fault. However, if you have a traditional policy, you have to file a claim with the insurance company for the driver who was at fault, or you may need to file a lawsuit against the driver who was at fault.

Fault is a key issue in car accident cases. The police report will play a big role in determining who was at fault. For example, if someone was cited at the scene, or the report mentions other indications of blame. Witness testimony is also very important. In some cases, more than one person or entity may be at fault.

For some accidents, fault may be fairly simple. For example, because you are always supposed to leave a safe distance between cars, if someone rear-ends you, it is usually determined to be their fault. However, there are circumstances in which blame may be shared, such as when the car in front had brake lights that were not operating.

Left turns are also a common cause of accidents. Drivers are required to yield when making a left turn, so if someone making a left turn hits you, it may be determined that they were making an unsafe turn. Distracted drivers cause many accidents. Washington law forbids the use of electronic devices such as phones, tablets, computers, or gaming equipment while behind the wheel.

The Basics of Car Accident Lawsuits

If you can prove that another person’s negligence caused your accident and the injuries you suffered, you may recover compensation under personal injury law. Negligence is commonly defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” If you are filing a lawsuit based on someone’s negligence, you need to establish that:

  1. The person at fault owed you a duty of care
  2. That person breached their duty of care
  3. The breach of duty resulted in your injuries
  4. Your damages were a result of your injuries

Washington lawsuits claiming $50,000 or less in damages are subject to the requirements of a mandatory arbitration program.

Injuries

Many car accidents are fatal. However, even those who survive car accidents may face severe or permanent injuries, requiring medical care far into the future. Victims may suffer severe injuries such as:

  1. Brain injuries. There is a range of brain injuries, such as concussions, skull fractures, hematomas, and more. Because the brain controls so much of your body, recovery is often limited. Not all symptoms of a brain injury appear right away. Some signs of a brain injury may show up hours or days after a car accident.
  2. Spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord injury damages any part of the spinal cord itself or the nerves involved with the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries are extremely serious and often cause permanent physical limitations. A person’s limitations after a spinal cord injury depend upon the location of the injury and how severe it is.
  3. Soft tissue damage. The force of a collision can cause sudden forceful movements which may injure organs, joints, discs, or the neck. Probably the most well-known injury is whiplash.
  4. Burn injuries. Severe burns are extremely painful and usually require a long recovery period. Even with the best burn treatments, these injuries often result in permanent scarring.
  5. Scars. Burns or lacerations may result in severe scarring, which can cause psychological and emotional problems.
  6. Compound fractures. These are often caused by a piece of bone that breaks through the skin. Injuries to the legs, arms, hands, and feet are very common. They may require surgery and sometimes leave the victim disabled.
  7. Amputations.
  8. Death.

Damages

Compensation is based on the facts of the case and the severity of your injuries. Some states place limits, called damage caps, on the amount of compensation you can receive for certain injuries. Washington does not have such limits, and in fact, Washington courts have held that damage caps are unconstitutional.

However, in Washington, non-economic damages cannot exceed 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington multiplied by the victim’s life expectancy at the time of the accident (minimum 15 years). Washington law also does not usually permit a court to award punitive damages for a car accident. If you were in a car accident that was not your fault, you have a legal right to seek compensation for losses such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Physical therapy and similar services
  • Lost wages from missing work
  • General pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Temporary and permanent disability
  • Funeral and burial expenses (if you lost a family member in the accident)
  • Any other costs that are directly connected to the accident

How a Seattle Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming. If you are unsure whether you need the services of an attorney, consider what the attorney can do for you in this difficult time, such as:

  • Thoroughly investigate the crash;
  • Based on the facts, analyze legal issues such as fault and liability;
  • Gather and preserve evidence, including crash reports, eyewitness accounts, photos and video, medical records, additional documentation, and an accident reconstructionist’s report;
  • Handle the insurance claim process, including communications with the insurance company;
  • Work with your medical providers to manage medical bills;
  • Determine a monetary figure for your damages;
  • Arrange for any necessary experts. These may include accident reconstructionists to prove fault, medical experts to prove your injuries, economic experts to establish your damages and other expert witnesses;
  • Work to obtain fair compensation from the insurer;
  • When necessary, file a personal injury lawsuit;
  • Handle depositions and other forms of discovery;
  • Participate in pre-trial settlement negotiations;
  • Appear for pre-trial motions;
  • When a pre-trial settlement is not reached, represent you at trial.

You Have a Limited Time to Take Action

A “statute of limitations” is a law which determines how long you have to file a lawsuit after an accident. In Washington, the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits, including car accidents, is three years, but you should discuss all time limits with your attorney. The statute of limitations does not apply to a car insurance claim. Insurance companies usually require you to make a claim or within a reasonable time after the accident, so it is important to act promptly.

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident that was not your fault, an experienced Seattle personal injury attorney can help answer your questions, understand the claims process, and ensure you understand your best possible options for moving forward.

The Dangerous Impact of Truck Rollovers

With proper training, most truck drivers are capable of maintaining control of a vehicle that is not only heavier but more difficult to stop than a passenger vehicle. When a truck driver loses control of their semi-truck or tanker truck, the results are devastating for those around them. In the case of a truck rollover accident, the results are often catastrophic injuries and sometimes death. If you or a loved one was seriously injured due to the reckless actions of a distracted, fatigued, or speeding truck driver, contact a Washington truck accident lawyer for information regarding your options.

What Causes a Truck Rollover?

Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows that 78 percent of truck rollover accidents involve some kind of driver error. The data also shows that a “first event”—a dangerous event that occurs before the rollover—is typically prevalent in more than 98 percent of rollover accidents.

Large trucks are at greater risk for rollover accidents due to a high center of gravity and unstable loads. When a semi-truck with a trailer travels a curved path, centrifugal force causes the trailer to lean away from the direction of the curve. A leaning trailer shifts materials, resulting in an unbalanced load and the potential for a rollover.

The FMCSA conducted a Large Truck Crash Causation Study of 239 accidents in which a truck rolled over. The study found that almost half of the accidents were the result of the following:

  • Failing to adjust the truck speed to a curve in the road, specifically entrance and exit ramps
  • Top-heavy, badly distributed or unsecured loads
  • The poor condition of the brakes, suspension, or under-inflated tires

Other contributing factors to truck rollover crashes involving driver error include:

Driver inattention – Distracted driving is a big issue for all drivers, regardless of age and vehicle type. A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers talking on a cellphone are up to four times more likely to crash. The study also found that those texting while behind the wheel are up to eight times more likely to crash.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists the three main types of distraction:

  • Visual: Taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: Taking your mind off driving

Texting, according to the CDC, involves all three types of distraction. For truck drivers, distracted driving can involve smartphone use, navigational systems, eating, or reaching for a drink. By the time they refocus on driving and the road, it is often too late. Truck drivers who run off the shoulder of the road often overcorrect their steering, resulting in an accident.

A fully loaded tractor-trailer traveling at 65 miles per hour under ideal conditions requires 525 feet to stop. That is almost equivalent to the distance of two football fields. A failure to promptly come to a complete stop can also result in a truck driver swerving, therefore shifting the load and possibly rolling over.

Fatigue – The FMCSA sets mandatory hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers. The regulations set the limits for the hours and the breaks required for commercial truck drivers. The electronic logging device (ELD) makes it easier for truck drivers to track, share, and manage records of duty data (ROD). An ELD automatically syncs with a truck’s engine to accurately record driving time.

Despite this improvement in tracking driver hours, truck drivers remain at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel. Monotonous highways, a lack of comfortable sleeping arrangements, and an undiagnosed sleeping disorder create drowsy truck drivers. The National Sleep Foundation claims drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving due to the lack of reaction time and inability to process information.

Drunk driving – When it comes to drunk driving and commercial motor vehicles in Washington, the law is very clear. While the state blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for drivers age 21 and older is .08 percent, the level is lower—.04 percent—for those with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

For a first incident, a truck driver faces losing their CDL for one year. If the driver was transporting hazardous materials when charged, they face a license suspension of three years. In Washington, a second conviction results in the suspension of a CDL for life.

In a state where recreational marijuana use is legal, strict laws remain in effect to deter driving under the influence (DUI). Washington law makes it illegal to drive with more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Truck drivers found with any measurable amount of THC face suspension of their CDL. The disqualification is in place until they successfully complete a drug and alcohol assessment by a substance abuse professional.

Speeding – One common problem involving trucks and rollovers are drivers who are in a hurry. The majority of truck drivers on the nation’s highways are paid per mile and not per hour. The more miles they drive, the better the paycheck. Speeding to get to their destination sooner causes drivers to misjudge distances and curves.

Most posted speed limits are too high for a fully loaded tractor-trailer to navigate successfully. The FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation Study discovered that in 26 rollovers, accidents involved loads that were too heavy and insecurely fastened. Combined with speeding and road curves such as entrance and exit ramps, improperly loaded trailers were more prone to rolling over.

Complacency – The FMCSA warns against complacency among experienced drivers. Research by the FMCSA shows:

  • Sixty-six percent of rollovers involve drivers with more than 10 years of experience
  • Most rollovers occur among drivers between the ages of 25 and 55

Truck rollover accidents can occur anytime, anywhere, and to any driver, no matter how experienced. Becoming too comfortable with a route and the load they haul can have tragic consequences when a driver fails to pay attention to changes in roads or carries new freight.

Cargo Tank Rollovers

According to the FMCSA, more than 1,300 cargo tank rollovers are reported each year. This equates to an average of nearly four rollover accidents every day. Cargo tank rollover accidents are especially dangerous due to the hazardous material they carry.

Trucks transport thousands of shipments containing such hazardous materials as gasoline, crude oil, and flammable gases. A cargo tank rollover can cause serious harm to other drivers and endanger the environment. The FMCSA reports that 90 percent of cargo tank rollovers occur when the tank is partially full. This is due to what the industry refers to as “slosh and surge” of the liquid material.

The slosh and surge of the liquid in the tank is what presents the most danger for a potential rollover accident. The slosh refers to the liquid running up the sides of the tanker. The surge refers to the liquid shifting from back to front, then front to back due to sudden maneuvers or braking.

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) developed specific classes for hazardous material with a specific warning label for each class. There are nine classes, with categories for such hazardous materials as explosives, gasses, poisons, and corrosives. Hazmat training for first responders is essential for them to respond in a way that allows them to reach accident victims quickly and safely.

The materials transported by cargo tank are essential to the economy, such as gasoline and agricultural products like fertilizer. When driver error results in a cargo tank rollover, it can change cause explosions, fires, and the leaking of toxic poisons.

Types of Possible Serious Injuries

The sheer size of a semi-truck with a trailer is enough to cause serious injuries to other drivers. When a rollover accident occurs, passenger vehicles and their occupants face a force of 18,000 pounds and 73 feet landing near—or worse—on top of them. The crushing impact, along with the possibility of fire can make one or more of the following injuries a life-changing experience:

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – The CDC defines a TBI as a bump, blow, jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. A severe TBI can change a victim’s life forever due to the damaging effects of the following:

  • Cognitive function – Memory and attention
  • Motor function – Impaired coordination and balance
  • Sensation – Hearing, vision, and touch
  • Behavior – Depression and anxiety

A severe TBI often requires extensive therapy and a need for life-long personal care. The victim may never return to the person you once knew.

Spinal cord injury – The spinal cord coordinates movement and sensation by communicating with the brain. When the spinal cord injury becomes injured due to trauma, the injury results in total or partial paralysis. Victims of spinal cord injuries require expensive modifications to their home and transportation, as well as power chairs for mobility.

Burns – When a cargo tank carrying flammable material overturns, there is a real risk of fire. Suffering severe burns in addition to other serious injuries compounds the tragedy. Accident victims with severe burns often require treatment at specialized burn centers.

Broken bones – With more than 200 bones in the human body, one can expect at least one, or more of them to break in an accident. The forceful impact of a truck rollover can not only break bones—they can possibly crush them. Even a broken arm and/or leg can delay your recovery, require surgery and physical therapy, and make daily tasks difficult.

Internal injuries – Severe injuries that are not visible to the naked eye are why seeking medical attention is imperative—even if you don’t feel pain or see any injury. It takes a trained medical professional to properly diagnosis, and to treat, an internal injury such as internal bleeding.

A truck rollover is a danger motorists face every day on highways in Washington and throughout the nation. When a truck rollover occurs, there are traumatic consequences for innocent drivers. No one should experience a lifetime of physical, financial, and emotional stress due to the negligence of a commercial truck driver.

Insurance companies will attempt to speak with you regarding a settlement. While their initial offer may appear as a large amount of money, it most likely will not cover your future medical needs. Do not speak with them but rather with a licensed attorney instead.

Take Action and Demand Justice

A simple trip to the store or your commute home from work can turn tragic in an instant. No matter how defensively you drive, dangerous drivers surround you every day. When the dangerous driver next you is behind the wheel of a large truck, you have an increased risk of potential harm.

If you find yourself in a truck rollover accident, seek medical attention immediately. If possible, take pictures and collect the contact information for witnesses. If this is not possible, ask a witness to do these important steps for you. Should you decide to pursue litigation, the information collected at the scene can serve as a valuable resource later.

Catastrophic injuries may result in never returning to a career you love and the injuries can greatly affect your relationships. It is a time of turmoil, pain, and stress, all due to a truck driver who was in a hurry or distracted. Their failure to share the road affects more than their CDL—it affects the lives of innocent drivers with cars carrying children and loved ones.

Aggressive insurance companies are not looking out for you. Their primary goal is to settle the case quickly. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck rollover accident, don’t settle for less than you deserve. While each case is different, you may be entitled to financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A truck rollover accident is a serious matter and you deserve justice for your injuries.

Time is of the essence due to the statute of limitations, so don’t delay. The sooner you seek legal representation, the sooner they can evaluate your case and determine the best course of action for you. If you have additional questions regarding a truck rollover accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your options.

Safely Sharing Washington’s Roads and Highways with Semi-Trucks

Recent news reports have highlighted the fact that in 2019, Washington is on pace to have the deadliest year on record regarding crashes which involve semi-trucks. The Washington Department of Transportation reports more than 3,400 traffic collisions involving heavy trucks have occurred on Washington’s roads and highways from the beginning of 2019, until mid-August. This includes almost 700 crashes resulting in injury and 50 fatal crashes. Tractor-trailer crashes can occur for a variety of reasons. As someone who shares the road with semi-trucks, you cannot control the truck driver’s actions, but you can take some steps to avoid a truck accident.

Below you will find tips recommended by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to safely share Washington’s roads and highways with semi-trucks, and guidance on what you should do if you are involved in a truck accident.

Avoid “No Zones” Around Semis

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), about 33 percent of traffic collisions which occur between semi-trucks and smaller motor vehicles are a result of motorists riding in a semi-truck’s no zones. More commonly referred to as blind spots, no zones are the areas around a semi which truck drivers cannot see or have difficulty seeing when they are traveling down the road. A semi-truck’s blind spots include the following four areas:

  • Immediately in front of the cab of a semi extending approximately 20 feet forward
  • Immediately behind the trailer of a semi extending backward about 30 feet
  • Under the driver’s window, extending backward
  • Almost the complete passenger side of the cab and trailer

All motor vehicles have blind spots, but the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spots. Not only do tractor-trailers have large blind spots, but they don’t have rear windows or rearview mirrors to easily clear their blind spots. Some trucks have extra mirrors mounted on the front of the cab to give them better visuals, but for your own safety, you should assume they a semi driver cannot see you when you are close to them. Although you might not have much control over your position during heavy traffic, you should make your best attempt to drive past semi-trucks quickly and not linger in their no zones.

Pass Semi-Trucks With Care

For a passenger vehicle to safely share the road with a semi-truck, they must pass quickly and avoid lingering in their blind spots. When you choose to pass a semi-truck, you should look at a driver’s side mirror. If you cannot see the driver in his mirror, he cannot see you. Make sure to use your turn signal to notify other vehicles of your intention to change lanes; pass the semi-truck safely and quickly. Do not return to your original lane in front of the truck until you see the entire semi in your rearview mirror. This will allow enough space so you aren’t in the blind spot in front of the cab.

It’s also in your best interest to avoid passing a semi on the right when you are on an interstate or a divided highway; it’s highly unlikely the driver will be able to see you. If they suddenly move back over to the right lane, they might run you off the road.

Sometimes you might find it tempting to pass a truck when going down a hill, especially because you have great visibility. This, however, can be dangerous. Heavy trucks pick up speed when traveling on a downgrade. Passing them will require speeding excessively and might result in a fatal accident. If you notice a truck has pulled over to the side of the road because of a mechanical breakdown or other reason, you should move to the left and pass by. You could possibly hit the truck or the driver.

Don’t Cut off Semi-Trucks

A loaded semi-truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, and most passenger vehicles weight somewhere between 3,500 and 4,500 pounds. Cutting in front of another vehicle is dangerous and might lead to a serious accident, but cutting off a semi-truck is flirting with death. Heavy trucks need more distance and time to react to sudden movements. When you cut off a semi-truck, your vehicle will be in the blind spot which extends out from the front of the cab.

Although the driver might see you and make every effort to slow their truck, they simply may not be able to. This can lead to a severe, potentially fatal rear-end collision. You can avoid this situation by making sure you look carefully and allow enough space before moving into the same lane as a semi. The semi driver may flash his lights when he sees you, signaling that it’s okay to move over.

Allow Plenty of Space Between Your Car and a Semi-truck

The FMSCA recommends leaving a four-second gap between you and the trailer of a semi. This allows you enough space and time to react if the semi makes a rapid stop or slows down quickly. Maintaining a four-second gap might sound tricky, but it’s actually pretty easy if you follow these steps:

  • Pick a fixed object ahead of the semi you are following, such as a sign, a tree, a streetlight, or any other large object.
  • Wait for the truck’s trailer to pass the object and start counting.
  • Count until you reach four.
  • If you passed the object before waiting four seconds, you are two close. If you passed the object when you reached four or after, you are at a safe following distance.

Allowing space also means keeping away from the sides of a semi-truck. If the truck has mechanical issues, such as brake failure or a blown out tire, you can avoid the accident if the driver loses control of the semi-truck.

Don’t Use Your Brights When Following a Semi

When traveling on a divided highway or interstate when it’s dark, you might be tempted to use your brights if there isn’t much traffic around. Some people mistakenly assume that because semis sight up higher and don’t have rearview mirrors, they can keep their high beams on when following one. This can be a dangerous assumption. High beams can reflect off the large side mirrors of a semi-truck, causing the truck driver two or more seconds of secondary blindness. Even in that short amount of time a trucker might lose control of the semi, swerve into another lane, and/or cause a severe crash. If you are within one-fourth of a mile from the back of the truck, you should refrain from switching to your high beams.

Always Use Your Turn Signals

Using your turn signals to notify others of your intentions for turning or changing lanes is the law. Yet, sometimes we get lazy and don’t use our signals, especially when changing lanes. As previously mentioned, semi-trucks need time and distance to react to other drivers. When you don’t use your turn signals, you can cause an accident. One of the best ways to safely share Washington’s roads and highways with semi-trucks is to turn on your signal at least three to four seconds before making a turn or changing lanes.

Allow Room for Wide Turns

Semi-trucks cannot make tight turns because of the way the tractor is connected to the trailer. This typically doesn’t cause an issue when a truck driver has to make a left turn; however, right-hand turns typically require the driver to swing wide to the left to make a turn. If drivers cannot make a wide turn, they might go off the road or hit something on their right side. Whenever you find yourself at an intersection with a tractor-trailer, make sure to allow the driver enough space to swing wide and make a safe turn. If you follow too closely or you don’t give enough space on the left side of the semi-truck, you risk being involved in a collision.

Don’t Drive While Impaired

Drinking and driving is not only illegal, but it’s dangerous, especially when sharing the road with semi-trucks. When your senses are impaired by alcohol or drugs, legal or illegal, you aren’t able to judge time and distance accurately. Depending on the extent of your impairment, you might swerve into oncoming traffic or another lane, cutting off a semi-truck.

Remember that truck drivers need ample time and distance to react, so they may not be able to avoid a collision if you make sudden movements. Also, those who are driving under the influence might find it difficult to avoid a semi-truck stalled on the side of the road because of a mechanical issue. Keep in mind that the side effects of some medications can also impair your senses, especially if you combine them with alcohol. Make sure to discuss side effects with your physician, and adjust to medications which don’t affect your driving ability.

Don’t Be a Distracted Driver

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has long prohibited cell phone use for truck drivers which doesn’t utilize hands-free features of the device, and Washington drivers have the same restriction. Many other states only address cell phones and texting as a distraction, but Washington has cracked down on all driving distractions.

If law enforcement sees a driver putting on makeup, adjusting the radio, eating, or engaging in any other distracting behavior, they can issue a citation. In some ways, distracted driving can be more dangerous than driving under the influence. When a driver’s hands, eyes, and/or mind strays from the road, severe accidents can occur. When a collision occurs between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck, it’s the occupants of the vehicle who typically die or suffer severe injuries. Driving without distractions might save your life.

Only Drive When You Are Well-rested

Driving while fatigued occurs far too often on the nation’s roads and highways. You might not realize that drowsy driving can impair your senses like alcohol. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 18 hours without rest affects a person the same as a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration.

Truck drivers are especially susceptible to drowsy driving because of their demanding schedules and unrealistic performance standards of their employers, which sometimes include driving at night. Safely sharing Washington’s roads with semi-trucks means you need to have adequate rest before you drive. Not only will you be more alert as you drive and maneuver your vehicle, but if you encounter a fatigued driver in a truck or other vehicle, your alertness might help you avoid a severe accident.

What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?

An accident still might occur even if you follow all of the previously mentioned safety tips. After a truck accident, you need to complete as many of the following tasks as possible, depending on your physical capability. If not, friends and family members can also help you.

  • Go to the doctor ASAP if you didn’t ride to the emergency room in an ambulance. Some injuries might not show symptoms, so get checked out and make sure any injuries have been documented in your medical record.
  • File a police report. Law enforcement probably came to the scene of your accident because even minor truck accidents can block traffic and cause injury. If they did not, you need to call them to the scene or immediately file a report.
  • File an insurance claim. Even though you believe the truck driver is at fault for the accident, you need to file a claim with your carrier. Most insurance companies require policyholders to file a claim where their coverage might apply. This will prevent cancellation of your policy, but also document the accident and link it with the associated police report.

Consult a skilled Seattle personal injury attorney. Semi-truck accidents are serious events which can devastate victims and their families. A qualified attorney can help investigate the accident and gather relevant documents, evidence, and information. Additionally, personal injury lawyers with truck accident experience know how to deal with the large insurance policies, increased property damage, and more severe injuries often associated with semi-trucks. They will handle communication and negotiation with relevant parties, while you focus on recovery.

Misdiagnosis Could Leave You Worse Off

You trust your doctor. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t go see them. Whether you’re going to your primary care physician for a routine checkup or you’re going to see a specialist, you trust that the doctor you’re seeing is giving you a thorough exam and an accurate diagnosis.

But sometimes, doctors make mistakes. This is called a medical misdiagnosis. According to the United States National Institutes of Health, doctors misdiagnose about 12 million people each year. While that only equates to about 5 percent of all medical diagnoses in a year, that is still many people who could have potentially life-threatening misdiagnoses.

If you or a loved one has been misdiagnosed by a medical professional, it could cost you lots of time, money, and pain. A trusted medical malpractice lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve to help you treat your real illness and recover from the wrong medical diagnosis. Dealing with serious health issues and getting treatment for the wrong ailment can lead to many complications. Let us help you get back on the right track.

Medical Misdiagnosis

A medical misdiagnosis is when a medical professional misdiagnosis or does not diagnose a disease or illness. Some types of medical misdiagnoses are fatal, others are not as severe. A misdiagnosis can lead to your death, unnecessary pain, undue stress, additional medical complications, and anxiety. Besides your physical suffering, misdiagnosis can lead to wasted time, money, and medical procedures.

Conditions Commonly Misdiagnosed

Every case and client is different. But there are some illnesses which are more commonly misdiagnosed.

  • Cancer – According to the American Cancer Society, over half a million people were expected to die from cancer in 2015. That is an alarming number of people. But what’s more disturbing is the rate with which doctors misdiagnose cancer. The BMJ Quality and Safety Journal estimates that 28 percent of cancer cases are misdiagnosed.
  • Infections – Whether it’s an ear infection or an infection from a cut, infections are commonly misdiagnosed. This means you could take medicine for an infection that you don’t have. Not only could this lead to other illnesses, you’re also not getting your actual infection treated.
  • Heart issues – The heart is a complex muscle and issues related to your heart can be misdiagnosed. When a misdiagnosis or even a failure to diagnose occurs, you could be at greater risk of a heart attack because your underlying issue isn’t getting resolved.
  • Depression – Depression can be confused with other mental health conditions because of similar symptoms. But this is no excuse for a medical professional to misidentify depression.
  • Stroke – Symptoms of a stroke are often similar to those of vertigo, migraine headaches, and even intoxication. A doctor owes a duty of care to patients to conduct a thorough examination and determine the actual cause. Failing to correctly diagnose a stroke can have dire consequences.

Regardless of the type of illness you were misdiagnosed with, it can cause serious, life-long complications requiring long-term care for you. When you face such dire circumstances, you need to have an advocate on your side who will aggressively fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you need to get better.

Types of Misdiagnosis

All illnesses are subject to potential misdiagnosis. Common types of misdiagnosis are:

  • The wrong disease is diagnosed
  • No disease is diagnosed
  • Current condition is diagnosed but the underlying cause is not identified and treated
  • Side effects of medication are mistaken for an illness

If you or a loved one suffered pain from a worsening medical condition or death because of a misdiagnosis, your claim must be brought forward to hold the responsible parties accountable. Let a medical malpractice attorney give you a full case evaluation to determine the specific circumstances surrounding your misdiagnosis.

A medical malpractice attorney can investigate, review medical records, take depositions, deal with insurance companies, all to help you get better. Law firms that take medical malpractice cases typically do all of this at no cost to you. They only get paid if you recover compensation.

Misdiagnosis as Medical Malpractice

For a misdiagnosis to meet the medical malpractice threshold, certain components must be met. These include:

  1. You were seeing the physician for a condition or treatment at the time of the misdiagnosis
  2. A doctor made a wrong diagnosis about your condition
  3. The physician’s misdiagnosis caused you additional injury or harm

You may be unsure if your situation meets these qualifications. That’s why it’s so important to speak with a skilled and trusted medical practice attorney. Medical malpractice is a complex and time-consuming area of the law. A regular personal injury lawyer may not have the experience you need to give you the best chance of recovery. Using the services of a seasoned medical malpractice lawyer in Orlando gives you the best chance of recovering what you need to make a full physical recovery.

Dangers of Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis poses many dangers to you. Even if your misdiagnosis is for an infection or other seemingly minor illness, you could take medication meant for another condition. This could lead to complications from the medication besides not treating your actual condition. With a misdiagnosis, you could face:

  • Complications from medicine
  • Unnecessary procedures
  • Longer recovery
  • Lasting effects
  • Death

Many times, a misdiagnosis means you could face unnecessary medical procedures, including surgery. If you are diagnosed with a condition requiring surgery, you may end up going through with that surgery and the painful recovery process, all without reason. When this happens, it creates frustration, but also fear, because you don’t really know what your illness is and how to get better.

Your ability to recover from your illness hinges on your doctor’s ability to accurately determine your illness. When a doctor fails in this duty to you, you could end up much worse off both physically and financially. But it’s important to remember that you did not force your doctor to make a wrong diagnosis so you should not have to pay any of the bills associated with your recovery.

Steps to Take After a Misdiagnosis

If you think you or a loved one has been given a misdiagnosis, there are certain steps you need to take right away.

  1. Get medical attention. You may need to see another doctor as soon as possible. This other doctor will be able to give you a second opinion on your first doctor’s diagnosis. This is important because it allows you to express your concerns and have a different physician review your medical records and your previous diagnosis. By having a record of your illness and new diagnosis, your medical malpractice lawyer has a better chance to get you the full value of your claim to make sure you don’t have to pay out of pocket for any of your recovery.
  2. Don’t speak with the insurance company. Don’t give them a statement until you’ve spoken with a trusted medical malpractice attorney. The insurance company will try to make you seem at fault for your illness so they don’t have to pay out your claim. Even saying something seemingly innocent like “I let this go on too long” could lead the insurance company to fight your claim tooth and nail making it more challenging for you to make a complete recovery.
  3. Keep a journal. As you progress through your recovery process, it’s important to keep a journal of how you feel, what improvements you make, and any setbacks that occur. Keep note of how you’re feeling and why you think your doctor misdiagnosed you. Keeping this journal makes certain that you forget nothing. By keeping a record of your medical progress day to day, your medical malpractice attorney can better see your progress, or lack thereof, and help to get you the compensation you need to get better. If you don’t keep a journal, you may not remember the incredibly painful days or the smaller setbacks you suffered. These are all important to your claim.
  4. Call a medical malpractice law firm. Making sure you have trusted legal representation can go a long way to lifting the burden off your shoulders. You deserve the peace of mind knowing your attorney has your best interests at heart.

Insurance Company Tactics

When you file a medical malpractice claim, the insurance company of the doctor will contact you. They will offer you a settlement knowing you are out of work and facing a pile of medical bills on your kitchen table. This offer from the insurance company will be a low ball offer and you should not take it until you speak with a skilled and seasoned medical malpractice attorney.

The insurance company knows you need fast cash. That’s why they offer you the low ball settlement. Insurance companies are in the business of making money and they don’t make money if they pay the full value of your claim. Their initial offer will only cover the bills you have in front of you, nothing more.

When you’ve been misdiagnosed, you’re suffering. You need help. You need guidance. You need to treat your actual ailment. When you work with us, we’ll give you a full case evaluation and create an accurate estimate of your future costs. You shouldn’t get compensation for just those bills sitting on your kitchen table. You need to have all of your bills covered, from the existing bills you’ve been paying for your misdiagnosis as well as the future medical costs to treat your original condition.

We will help you create an accurate estimate of your future costs so you aren’t shortchanged. While your future medical costs may be hard to calculate, we’ve helped many clients just like you determine what they’ll need to continue living their life as best they can. We will also work with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement offer. But we’ll never settle unless it’s right for you. While it’s true that most medical malpractice cases settle out of court, if your case needs to go to trial, we are fully prepared and experienced to guide you through that process.

Damages to Fight For

When you or a loved one was misdiagnosed or a doctor has failed to diagnose you, place your sole focus on your recovery. Depending on your circumstances, a medical malpractice attorney can fight to get you compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Medical bills
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of companionship

Your injury directly results from your doctor failing to diagnose your condition correctly. That should not go unresolved. To make sure you get the compensation you deserve to make a full recovery, you need to work with a medical malpractice attorney who has the skill, the experience, and the aggressive determination to help you get better by giving you the best chance of recovering for your injuries.

A Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help Answer Your Questions

Meeting with an experienced team of medical malpractice attorneys is your first step toward making a recovery and getting your life back on track. Your attorney can review your claim, investigate your case, negotiate with the insurance company, advise on settlement offers, and, if necessary, guide you through trial.

These services should come at no cost to you. Most medical malpractice attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means they only get paid if they help you to obtain compensation through a negotiated settlement or trial.

It’s your life and you deserve the best chance of making a complete recovery. To do that, you need to have an attorney on your side you trust to advise you correctly and have your best interests at heart. The first step is understanding what medical misdiagnosis is, and what to do next if you think you’ve been a victim of a medical misdiagnosis. If you have further questions, contact an experienced Seattle medical malpractice attorney to help you understand your options.

Road Rage Causes Serious Accidents

Most drivers have experienced feelings of anger while driving, particularly in traffic. However, some people choose to act on those feelings by driving aggressively or—even worse—with road rage.

Seattle is currently the sixth worst place in the nation when it comes to traffic, and adding to the congestion caused by a reported 60,000 people spending an average of 90 minutes on the road trying to get to work each day, there is also road construction to contend with. The “Seattle Squeeze” construction project is the busiest in the nation, and is expected to cause traffic tie-ups until 2024.

According to the Washington State Patrol, aggressive driving-related fatalities were up by 21 percent, with the three highways seeing the most aggressive driving deaths being I-5, I-90, and State Route 18. So, what is aggressive driving? When does aggressive driving become road rage? How can you protect yourself from falling victim to someone else’s road rage? Read on to learn more.

Aggressive Driving or Road Rage: What’s the Difference?

The terms “aggressive driving” and “road rage” are often used interchangeably. However, while road rage contains many of the same features as aggressive driving, the differences between the two terms lies in the intent, according to Safe Motorist.

  • Aggressive driving is the commission of one or more traffic offenses, often while the driver is in a hurry.
  • Road rage is the commission of these traffic offenses with the intent to endanger other persons or property or assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon while as a driver or a passenger of one motor vehicle on the driver or passenger of another motor vehicle.

Road rage is considered a societal condition in which a motorist loses his or her temper, generally in response to a traffic condition. The term road rage was coined by a Los Angeles news station in response to a series of roadside shootings that were occurring on freeways throughout the city.

Some of the traffic offenses that are considered aggressive driving and may also be a symptom of road rage include:

  • Tailgating
  • Improper lane changing
  • Illegally passing on the shoulder of the road, the sidewalk, or the median
  • Passing where prohibited
  • Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Failing to signal
  • Racing
  • Making improper turns
  • Using headlights or brakes to “punish” other drivers

Additional examples of road rage, as revealed in a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study include:

  • Yelling at another driver
  • Honking to show anger or annoyance
  • Making angry gestures
  • Attempting to prevent another vehicle from changing lanes
  • Deliberately cutting off another driver
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver
  • Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose
  • Brandishing a firearm toward another driver

KOMO News reported that the following incidents of road rage have occurred in Washington recently:

  • In April 2019, a driver of a Honda sedan fired a shot at the driver of a Mini Cooper on Highway 99 in Lynnwood. The driver of the sedan then fled the scene but was captured a short time later after a witness provided footage from a dashboard camera to police.
  • In May, a motorcyclist had the driver of a car try to force him off the road. Before that happened, the driver reportedly sped around the motorcyclist, brake-checked him, and began throwing things at him from the car’s window and sunroof.
  • In April 2018, a man and his pregnant wife were driving to work in Tacoma at about 6 AM when an angry driver cut him off on I-5. The driver then slammed on his brakes, pulled out a gun, and fired it twice at the couple’s vehicle. The man suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, and the angry driver was never located by the police.
  • In February 2018, a female motorcyclist shot and killed a 60-year-old man on I-5 in Tacoma after he became upset about how she was driving. The two fought on the side of the roadway and the man slammed the woman’s head against a barrier before she shot him in the chest after he climbed on top of her. No charges were filed.

What Causes Road Rage?

While traffic congestion and work zones are frequent causes of road rage, there are several others, including:

  • The driving behaviors of others, including those talking on cell phones while driving or following too closely.
  • Lack of sleep or hot temperatures which can make you irritable.
  • Consumption of alcohol, which can cause rage behavior even if you are below the legal limit.
  • Stress at work or in your personal life.
  • The inability to release anger or stress in healthy ways.
  • Taking the actions of others personally, such as deciding when a driver cut you off that they did it on purpose.
  • Being the recipient of aggressive driving behaviors such as being tailgated, being cut off, being momentarily blinded by someone else’s headlights, or being the object of someone else’s angry honks or rude gestures.
  • Anonymity when in the car, which makes some people behave in ways they normally wouldn’t around people they know.
  • Believing that you are in control, due to your superior driving or skill.

The Startling Statistics About Road Rage

Some of the most startling statistics to be found regarding road rage come from the 2016 AAA study regarding the road rage behaviors that drivers are committing and how many of the drivers are committing them. The study was based on analysis of online surveys completed by 2,705 nationally representative drivers aged 16 and over in the United States. The findings reveal that an estimated number of drivers across the nation have engaged in the following behaviors in the past year:

  • Purposefully tailgating: About 51 percent, or 104 million drivers
  • Yelling at another driver: About 47 percent, or 95 million drivers
  • Honking out of anger or annoyance: 45 percent, or 91 million drivers
  • Making angry gestures: 33 percent, or 67 million drivers
  • Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent, or 49 million drivers
  • Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent, or 24 million drivers
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent, or 8 million drivers
  • Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent, or 6 million drivers

The study also revealed that nearly 80 percent of drivers on U.S. roadways state that they expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year.

Additional facts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show:

  • Sixty-six percent of traffic deaths in the United States are caused by aggressive driving
  • Of those fatalities, more than a third involved the use of a firearm
  • Two percent of drivers admit to trying to run another vehicle off the road
  • The drivers most likely to commit road rage behaviors are males under the age of 19
  • Half of the drivers, when faced with road rage behaviors from other drivers such as honking, a rude gesture, or purposeful tailgating admit to retaliating against that driver with aggressive behavior of their own
  • In seven years’ time, road rage led to more than 200 murders and more than 12,000 injuries. It is estimated that about 30 murders a year take place in the United States due to road rage, including those involving deliberately-caused traffic accidents, firearms, or even violence at someone’s residence after an angry driver follows them home.

How to Prevent Road Rage

Have you been guilty of aggressive driving or road rage behaviors while behind the wheel? Safe Motorist offers the following questions to ask yourself when examining whether you could be endangering others with road rage behaviors:

  • Do you regularly commit traffic offenses such as speeding or running red lights because you’re in a hurry?
  • Do you tailgate or flash your headlights at drivers when you feel that they are moving too slowly?
  • Do you frequently honk your horn out of anger or to “make a point” to other drivers?
  • Do you use gestures or other forms of angry communication toward other drivers?

AAA offers the following suggestions for toning down the rage while driving:

  • Forget about winning. Driving isn’t a competition. Leave a little earlier to reach your destination on time without feeling like you need to race the clock or other drivers.
  • Listen to soothing music or a book on tape during your commute, or practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.
  • Don’t take the driving skills of others personally. Try to put yourself in their shoes and realize that they’re simply trying to reach their destination just as you are and that they have their own reasons for driving as they do.
  • Avoid making rude or obscene gestures at other drivers. This does nothing to help the situation, and it is likely not going to allow you to reach your destination any faster. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes facing forward.
  • Seek help through anger management courses or self-help books about anger management or how to reduce stress.

Other suggestions include:

  • Be sure you’re getting enough sleep at night, as being tired can make you more irritable.
  • Be aware of stressful situations in your life and how they may affect your driving. For example, if you just argued with your spouse, give yourself plenty of time to cool down before getting behind the wheel, where you could take out your stress and anger on other drivers.
  • If you’re stuck in a traffic jam, stay calm and realize that you’re going to be late. Being late is not the end of the world, but getting into a scuffle with another driver or causing an accident could be.
  • Keep in mind the old saying that “80 percent of people believe that their driving is above average.” It is a statistical improbability. If you can remember that you have made mistakes while driving, it is perhaps a little easier to remember that others do as well.
  • Remember to give yourself positive self-talk. Instead of becoming angry with another driver after a close call, assure yourself that you’re all right and that you handled the situation.

How to Avoid Someone Else’s Road Rage

Just as you want to check your behaviors for road rage symptoms, you want to use care when driving to avoid provoking the road rage of others. Here are some tips as to how to do this:

  • Avoid distractions such as talking on a phone that may cause you to lose focus on your own good driving skills.
  • Don’t offend. Be a courteous driver. This means always using your turn signal when changing lanes or turning, allowing an acceptable amount of space between your vehicle and the one in front of it, and not driving too slowly in the left-hand lane.
  • Don’t retaliate. If you find yourself being the recipient of aggressive driving, it is important to remain calm and not respond in-kind.
  • Change lanes if necessary to steer clear from an aggressive driver.
  • Honk your horn only as a means of defensive driving to avoid an accident. Don’t use your horn as a means to convey your irritation about sitting in traffic.
  • Don’t make eye contact when confronted by an aggressive driver. Don’t get out of your car to confront them, either.
  • Get help if you need it. If you have a cell phone, use it to call the police. Otherwise, stop in a public place where there are plenty of people around and use your horn to get someone’s attention, as this will generally scare off the aggressor. Whatever you do, don’t go home if it appears that an angry driver is following you.

If you were injured in an accident that someone else’s aggressive driving behaviors or road rage caused, you may be eligible to receive compensation. An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand the legal options that are available to you, or answer any questions you may have regarding a road rage incident.

Common Trucks on the Road and the Injuries They Can Cause

Trucks are everywhere you go. Every day, truck drivers pick up, transport, and deliver the goods and materials Washington residents need to live their lives. Trucks haul disabled cars and pick up garbage. Workers rely on trucks to perform critical jobs and transport tools, materials, and equipment. Trucks are necessary, but sometimes they present unavoidable hazards. When truck drivers cause traffic accidents, they leave behind serious property damage, injuries, and fatalities. The 2018 statistics from the Washington State Crash Data Portal documents 552 potential truck-accident related injuries and 11 fatalities in King County alone.

A truck’s durability, bulk, and engine size make them useful and powerful. They need these features to meet daily work challenges but they also increase the damages and injuries when a truck is involved in an accident. Small cars have stronger reinforcement structures, seat belts, child safety seats, and airbags. These provide limited protection when a truck driver loses control. As car manufacturers shrink and redesign some car models to generate better gas mileage, there’s little a vehicle owner can do to withstand a damaging truck collision.

Commercial Drivers Are Highly Trained to Meet CDL License Requirements

Every commercial truck operator undergoes rigorous training. Washington State provides a Commercial Driver Guide with the rules and standards each commercial driver must follow. State and local CDL guidelines mirror and enhance Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Training standards. Depending on the type of truck a driver chooses to operate, he or she must train and test to comply with specific Commercial Driver’s License categories and driving privileges.

  • Class A: May operate “…any combination of vehicles…” with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, including a towed unit weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B: Any single vehicle with a 26,001-pound GVWR or any vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR under 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C: A single or combination of vehicles (not described in Class A or B) used to transport 16 or more passengers or hazardous materials.

Commercial Learner’s Permit operators have additional driving restrictions while they learn to navigate the highways. CDL holders must test and/or demonstrate specific skills to qualify for the following endorsements: T, Double or triple trailer; P, Passenger; N, Tanker; H, Hazardous materials; X, Tank and hazardous endorsement, and S, School Bus.

Common Trucks on the Road

It’s easy to stereotype heavy trucks as long haul “big rigs” with a burly guy behind the wheel. There are plenty of those big rigs are out there, some with male drivers others with savvy lady operators in charge. The driving demographic has changed but the job remains the same. Large trucks deliver the goods and materials consumers and manufacturers need. Trucks transport over 64 percent of the nation’s freight but tractor-trailers are just one of the types of trucks you’ll see on Washington’s roadways.

The Federal Highway Administration assigns categories for non-private passenger vehicles based on weight and class. The agency further classifies them based on light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy. These guidelines describe the common types of trucks you’ll likely encounter each day.

Large Trucks

The U.S. Department of Transportation defines a large truck as a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds. When they’re pulling a loaded trailer they often far exceed that total. Tractors are big enough to pull densely-packed single and sometimes double or triple trailers. Powerful engines give them the energy they need to haul large loads. When a crash occurs, a truck’s size and power contribute to heavy damage and catastrophic injuries. The USDOT found several distinctive concerns about large trucks on the road.

  • Nationally, large trucks involved in fatal accidents had a GVWR in excess of 26,000 pounds.
  • While large trucks comprise only 4 percent of vehicles registered nationally, they’re involved in over 9 percent of fatal accidents.
  • 72 percent of those fatally injured in truck accidents were in the other vehicle.

The FMCSA’s Large Truck Causation Study found that one of three critical operator events often preceded large truck-involved accidents.

  • Running into another lane or off the road, 32 percent
  • Loss of control due to speed, cargo shift, vehicle failure, road conditions, and other issues, 29 percent
  • Rear-ending another vehicle, 22 percent

All Large Trucks Are Not the Same

A trucking company changes a truck’s configuration depending on the shipper’s requirements. Sometimes a trucker bobtails, driving only the tractor to pick up a shipper’s load or pre-packed trailer. At other times, a trucker travels deadhead after delivering a load or dropping off a full trailer. Until a truck delivers its cargo, it has a physical and legal connection to the shipper or freight owner. The trucker, shipper, or freight owner reconfigures the truck with the trailer or equipment that meets its current requirements.

Cattle carriers: A cattle carrier is essentially a trailer-sized cage that’s permanently mounted on a chassis. When a trucker connects it to his tractor for delivery, accidents sometimes occur along the way. An accident on February 6, 2019. on Highway 12, near Pasco, WA is just one example. A trucker hauling cattle swerved to avoid a stalled vehicle on the snow-slicked pavement. The truck and carrier went over an embankment, narrowly escaping a first-hand encounter with the Snake River. Some truckers carry cattle in stake body trucks. It’s basically a flatbed with a fence-like perimeter enclosure. They also use stake body trailers and trucks to haul goods and materials.

Flatbeds: Shippers use flatbed trucks and trailers to transport logs, vehicles, construction materials, construction equipment, and other heavy goods. They also use Lowboy, extendable, gooseneck, and other flatbed trailers for specialty cargo. When a flatbed load shifts or the driver loses control, improper load securement is often a factor.

U.S. Transportation codes §393.100 through §393.136 contain guidelines for proper load securement which helps minimize the risk of flatbed accidents. Like other tractor-trailer incidents, Washington has its share of flatbed crashes.

  • On April 16, 2019, a flatbed truck rear-ended a tractor-trailer on I-82 near Kennewick. An emergency crew had to free the flatbed driver from his cab.
  • In an accident on July 4, 2019, a flatbed driver lost control on I-90 near Medical Lake. The truck overturned and burned. The driver was uninjured and no other vehicles were involved.
  • In a June 18, 2019 accident, a flatbed hauling a backhoe flipped over and injured a 71-year old man using a walker.

Tankers: Tankers can be self-contained or designed as trailers to function with a tractor. Manufacturers design tankers to carry fuel, gas, chemicals, or hazardous substances, and sometimes dry goods. Food grade tanks carry milk, water, and other liquids. Tanker accidents occur occasionally, such as the one in which a tanker carrying oil overturned on I-5 in Centralia.

Dump Trucks

With ongoing construction projects transforming Seattle, it’s normal to see an occasional dump truck passing through the city. Dump trucks, cement mixers, refrigerated trucks, and other service equipment are Class 8 vehicles. They often weigh in at 33,001 pounds or more. When they’re in an accident, their weight contributes to serious damage and injuries.

  • On May 23, 2019, a pickup driver sustained fatal injuries after an accident with a dump truck near Brinnon. The dump truck overturned spilling a non-hazardous load.
  • On June 4, 2019, a motorcyclist died when a dump truck crossed into his lane on I-395 near Kettle Falls.
  • On July 22, 2019, a dump truck fatally injured a pedestrian in a Bellingham construction zone.

Garbage and Recycling Trucks

Garbage trucks travel throughout commercial and residential neighborhoods providing essential solid waste removal services. On service routes, they move slowly and make frequent stops, usually seeming heavy and oversized yet harmless. As Class 7 vehicles, garbage trucks fall within a 26,000 to 33,000-pound range GVWR. Recent accidents demonstrate how a garbage truck’s combined engine power, speed potential, and weight often causes serious damages and injuries.

  • A garbage truck struck and killed a pedestrian on June 30, 2019, on SR 166 in Port Orchard.
  • On January 23, 2019, a woman sustained fatal injuries when she crashed into a garbage truck on SR 12 in Morton.
  • A 51-year-old bicyclist died from injuries sustained in a collision on July 4, 2018, in Auburn.

Delivery and Service Trucks

Delivery trucks, step vans, and walk-in vans are light and medium-duty trucks weighing between 10,000 and 19,500 pounds. Accidents are not often as serious as crashes involving larger trucks, but they still cause significant damage and injuries. Delivery truck drivers often display risky driving behaviors in their effort to meet delivery commitments and deadlines.

  • On June 12, 2019, a FedEx semi delivery truck rolled over on I-5 near Olympia. Fortunately, the truck didn’t injure anyone but it scattered packages across the highway and caused a major traffic jam.
  • A FedEx driver sustained serious injuries on June 22, 2019, in Benton County. He was thrown from his vehicle as it left the roadway and came to a stop after rolling.
  • On January 9, 2019, a UPS truck collided with a disabled woman on a scooter causing fatal injuries. The accident occurred on a sidewalk in front of an Auburn business.

Rental Trucks

When you see a person loading up a rental truck, you probably don’t think about their driver’s license or training. You never consider any of the qualifications to which local and federal standards hold all commercial truck drivers. When anyone requires a rental truck, they need only meet age and basic licensing requirements. Then they put down a credit card deposit and drive away in a heavy truck. No Commercial Driver’s License required!

Rental agencies like UHaul lease a range of trucks. While some are as small as a delivery van, a licensed driver can lease a 10-foot truck with a 5,790 empty weight or a 26-foot, 12,990-pound truck with a gross vehicle weight capacity up to 25,999 pounds. When you consider the idea of putting a driver with no trucking experience behind the wheel of a heavy truck, it’s easy to recognize the potential for danger.

Lack of safety precautions is another rental truck issue. A 2017 report to Congress, Rental Truck “Safety Recall Remedy Report,” found that only four out of six rental vehicle companies had a plan for removing recalled vehicles from their rental fleets. They typically rented or sold recalled vehicles without notifying the consumer.

Pickup Trucks

Pickup trucks are the private passenger vehicle of choice for many Americans. They’re so common, it’s easy to forget that they also perform a dual role as work trucks. Depending on a pick-ups size, weight, and function, it’s subject to an official US Transportation Code designation as a non-passenger automobile, §523.5; a heavy-duty vehicle, §523.6; or a heavy-duty work truck, §523.7. Regardless of its use, a pick-up falls within the heavy-duty category once its gross vehicle weight rating reaches 8,501 pounds to 14,000 pounds and over.

Pick up trucks are multi-use vehicles found in many driving situations right alongside smaller private passenger vehicles. Because many pick-ups are bigger and heavier than an average small car, they cause significant damage when they’re involved in a crash. Here are a few examples.

  • On July 22, 2019, a speeding pickup truck caused a six-car pileup in Everett, Washington. Eight people were seriously injured and hospitalized for treatment.
  • On June 13, 2019, a pick-up driver lost control while hauling a boat. He struck a Bellevue bus shelter, trapping a woman in the rubble. The woman sustained injuries to her face, legs, and hands.
  • A motorcyclist sustained fatal injuries after a pick-up truck struck his motorcycle on Northeast 35th St. in Seattle. The accident occurred on June 16, 2019.

Trucks Are Everywhere

Wherever you go, you encounter tow trucks, furniture delivery trucks, refrigerated trucks, landscaping trucks, and many other truck types. It’s impossible to avoid them and the hazards they create. Truck crash scenarios are often complex with serious injuries. Each truck accident comes with a unique set of legal and liability issues. The responsible parties often include not only a truck driver but also an employer, truck or trailer owner, shipper, and loader.

If you or a family member have been injured in a truck accident, consult a Seattle truck accident lawyer; an attorney can help you better understand the necessary steps for preserving your legal rights and protecting your future.