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Head-On Truck Collisions

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff, Truck Accident Lawyer

Head-on collisions across the country are responsible for more than 10 percent of all fatal accidents, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs also causes more than 10 percent of traffic accident deaths, and receives a great deal of justifiable attention as a serious public health and safety issue. Head-on truck crashes are equally dangerous, but are subject to far less of a spotlight.

This is partly because head-on crashes have many different causes. There is, for example, evidence that they are more frequent in rural areas than in urban areas. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 13 percent of head-on collisions occur in rural areas, while only 7 percent occur in urban ones. The reason may be that veering out of a single lane on a narrow, two-way road or trying to pass on a two-way road are two of the leading causes of head-on collisions. These roads are more common in rural areas than in urban ones.

Regardless of the cause of a truck accident, head-on collisions are one of the most dangerous truck accident types—especially when an 80,000-pound 18-wheeler slams directly into a car, motorcycle, or pedestrian. Catastrophic injuries are bound to result, especially at high speeds.

While vehicle occupants are somewhat protected by their front bumper, bumpers also crumple relatively easily if the crash occurs at high speeds. In addition, there is always someone sitting in the front seat: the driver. In a rear-end crash, by contrast, there may be no occupant in the back seat. But the driver and any front-seat passengers are always in a position to receive the brunt of a head-on collision.

Head-on truck collisions are also frightening, even traumatizing. All vehicle accidents, of course, are scary and stressful. But drivers in head-on collisions may see a massive vehicle bearing down on them; drivers in rear-end and side collisions may not see the other vehicle until the impact occurs. The sight of a big rig heading directly toward them may cause drivers to freeze and lessen the possibility that they can avoid the fast-approaching accident even if that is possible.

But many factors can cause head-on truck collisions. Let’s review some of the most common.

What Causes a Head-On Collision?

Driving the Wrong Way

Head on truck accidentOne of the chief causes of head-on collisions is a driver going the wrong way down a road or traffic lane. This can occur, as indicated above, if the truck driver is trying to pass another vehicle on a two-way road without checking sufficiently to see if another vehicle is coming or because they have underestimated the speed at which another vehicle is approaching. Truck drivers on two-way roads can also cross over the center line and be in the wrong lane as another car is approaching. Truck drivers may also drive the wrong way on exit and entrance ramps to freeways or make a wrong turn and head the wrong way on a multilane road or freeway.

Multiple factors can cause a truck driver to go the wrong way. It may be drowsiness or fatigue. A truck driver who nods off for even a few moments can veer into another lane without realizing it. Drowsy driving is a major factor in accidents across the country. The NHTSA estimates that up to 6,000 accidents annually may be caused by drowsy driving. Four percent of all drivers in one study reported that they had fallen asleep at the wheel in the previous 30 days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Alcohol or drug impairment can also make a truck driver inattentive enough to go the wrong way without realizing it. Another widespread problem in driving—distraction—can cause a truck driver to enter the wrong lane or drive the wrong way up a freeway on-ramp. Truck drivers distracted by anything for just five seconds while going 55 miles per hour cover the length of a football field without paying attention, according to the NHTSA.

While many people associate distracted driving with texting or smartphone use, anything that causes you to take your eyes or attention from the road is distracted driving. Reaching for food or a map or an old-fashioned CB radio can cause a truck driver to inadvertently enter the wrong lane or ramp.

Crossing the Centerline

No matter how many lanes there are on a given roadway, a centerline or divider usually separates opposite streams of traffic. Head-on collisions can occur any time truck drivers cross the centerline.

This type of crash can also occur if the truck driver is drowsy or asleep, driving while impaired, or driving distracted. But factors such as a medical emergency can also cause them. If a truck driver has a heart attack and loses consciousness, for example, they can lose control of their vehicle and veer over the centerline.

In some cases, lanes may not be demarcated properly or the demarcations might not be visible due to weather conditions, leading to a crossover.

Drivers may also swerve out of their own lane to avoid obstacles, such as large tire debris, other debris on the road, or even an animal. These swerves can cause head-on crashes.

Larger trucks may not fit in their lanes, either, especially on narrow roads or bridges, where they can collide head-on with oncoming traffic.

Improper Passing

As a general rule, truck drivers should not try to pass a vehicle on a two-lane road if they don’t have proper visibility of the opposite lane ahead. They should not, in other words, try to pass if a curve is coming up around which they can’t see, or a hill obscures the view, or the sun is in their eyes. Usually, curves and hills are demarcated with a double yellow line on the road, which means it is against the law to pass.

Traveling Too Fast

Truck drivers can also end up crossing the centerline or veering into the wrong lane if they are traveling above the speed limit or going too fast for conditions such as wet or poor visibility weather. While speed alone won’t make a truck driver go the wrong way, it can combine with other factors to make a driver unable to control the vehicle in enough time to stop their vehicle from crossing into the wrong lane or being forced into oncoming traffic by another collision.

What Kind of Injuries Stem from Head-On Collisions?

Head-on collisions can injure people in many different ways. The nature and extent of the injuries depend very much on the speed at which the truck crash occurs, the size of the vehicles, and where the person is sitting. Injuries are generally more severe if the crash occurs at a high speed. People in smaller vehicles may be hurt more seriously or even killed if they are hit by a much larger and heavier vehicle, such as a truck. People in the back seats are likely to be comparatively more cushioned from the impact than those in the front.

Injuries can include:

The severity of these injuries varies widely. As painful as lacerations from a broken windshield can be, they may eventually heal. But if glass from a broken windshield flies into someone’s eyes, it can permanently blind them. Back injuries could heal quickly, or instead may cause chronic, life-long mobility difficulties.

Injuries that result in irrevocable changes in a person’s life are referred to as “catastrophic.” After a catastrophic injury, the person may not see or walk, may require life-long medical care or daily assistance, or may have to reconfigure their home and their life to accommodate their injuries. They may need retraining for a different job than the ones they held before the accident, or seek disability payments because they can no longer work at all.

I Was Injured in a Head-On Truck Collision. Who Pays for My Injuries?

Injuries from head on truck accident All parties involved in a crash need to think about who should pay for treatment of their injuries and other harms. Victims of a head-on truck collision are no exception. Washington is a fault state when it comes to financial responsibility for truck accidents. This means the person who was at fault for causing the truck accident is also responsible for any damage resulting from the accident. As soon as possible, notify your insurance company of the accident and that you are making a claim.

Washington law allows accident victims to pursue compensation for injuries from at-fault parties. Note, however, that a liable party’s policy limits may not be sufficient if the accident caused you to sustain severe injuries.

The following injuries are just a few examples of severe injuries that can result in lifetime expenses significantly higher than minimum driver liability limits:

  • Significant disfigurement;
  • Spinal injury;
  • Brain injury
  • Permanently limited use of a body part or organ;
  • Significantly limited use of a body function or system; or
  • An injury causing substantial disability.

People injured in an accident caused by a truck driver or another party can pursue compensation for damages. They can start by filing claims with both the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier and the trucking company that hired the driver. The claim may proceed to a personal injury lawsuit in civil court if settlement negotiations don’t yield a reasonable offer.

If your injuries are severe, you may well need future medical care and continue to lose income from missing work. The law allows accident victims to pursue compensation for prospective medical bills, including rehabilitative therapy and care, as well as prospective lost wages. Expert testimony may be required to determine the appropriate amount of these future damages.

Another party must be at fault for the accident for you to pursue these types of damages. A driver or other party must have violated their duty of care to you by driving unsafely or breaking the law. Your injuries must also stem directly from the accident itself, and not some other cause.

To pursue a personal injury lawsuit for damages in the state of Washington, you must file your lawsuit within three years of the date of your injury or the date the injury became apparent. This time limit is known as the “statute of limitations,” after which a court is highly unlikely to accept your claim.

What If My Loved One Died in a Head-on Collision?

In Washington, certain family members are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim if their loved one could have filed a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit had they lived. In other words, another party needs to have been at fault for the accident, and the death must have been directly related to injuries or other harm sustained in the accident.

Wrongful death lawsuits need to be filed by a representative of the deceased person’s estate. If the deceased person did not leave a will, or an estate representative was not named in an existing will, family members can bring a lawsuit if they are directly related and received support and companionship from the deceased person.

Washington law allows the following parties to file a wrongful death claim:

  • The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
  • The spouse or state registered domestic partner of the deceased person, and
  • The child, children, or stepchildren of the deceased person.

If the deceased person had no spouse, state registered domestic partner, children, or stepchildren, the deceased person’s parents, sisters, or brothers may file a wrongful death claim.

Under state law, the damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit depend on the relationship between the deceased person and the family member bringing the lawsuit, but can include medical expenses for bills incurred before death, funeral expenses, and compensation for loss of companionship, loss of support, and mental pain and suffering. Only parties who paid the medical or funeral expenses are entitled to be compensated for them. In Washington, wrongful death lawsuits need to be filed within three years of the date of the accident.

If you need more information or assistance, an experienced truck accident attorney can answer your questions and provide the guidance you need to make decisions about your path forward.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Case

If someone you loved died due to an accident, one of the first questions you’ll want to ask a wrongful death lawyer is: What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit?

The statute of limitations is the period of time within which an injured party can file a legal case. To understand the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases, it’s helpful to understand what “wrongful death” means under the law and who can bring such a case. We’ll discuss wrongful death first, and then review the statute of limitations.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff Wrongful Death Lawyer

In personal injury law, an injured person can bring a legal claim for damages if someone else’s negligence caused their injury. Damages are intended to compensate victims for the costs associated with their injury.

Damages can be economic, such as payment of medical bills related to the injury or wages lost from work due to the injury. In some cases, they can also be noneconomic, such as compensation for pain and suffering.

But what happens when an injury causes the injured person’s death, since the victim is no longer around to seek just compensation?

The short answer is a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death can be understood as a type of personal injury lawsuit in which the person has died rather than having simply been injured. The law states: “when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person, his or her personal representative may maintain an action against the person causing the death for the economic and noneconomic damages sustained by the beneficiaries.”

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Under Washington law, only certain people can bring a lawsuit for wrongful death. They must have a specific relationship with the deceased person. If the deceased person was an adult, a lawsuit can be brought by:

  • The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate;
  • The deceased person’s spouse or state registered domestic partner;
  • The deceased person’s child, children, or stepchildren; or
  • If the deceased person had no spouse, state registered domestic partner, child(ren) or stepchildren, the deceased person’s parents or siblings.

If the deceased person was a child under 18 and had no spouse, state registered domestic partner, or children, the deceased child’s parents or legal guardian can bring a wrongful death claim. However, a parent needs to have regularly contributed to supporting the child and been involved in the child’s life to do so. It does not matter whether or not the deceased child’s parents are divorced, separated, or were never legally married, only their relationship to the child matters.

Either parent may file a wrongful death claim. If one parent files a claim, they must serve the other parent with a copy of the complaint within 20 days of filing it in a state court in Washington. The other parent may join in the wrongful death lawsuit if they choose.

The Statute of Limitations

A wrongful death lawsuit must be brought within three years of the date of death. Note that this may be different than the date of injury. While the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is three years from the date of injury, the wrongful death statute of limitations begins on the date of death instead. This can be days or even years after the injury, as long as the injury was the proximate cause of death.

If you try to bring a wrongful death claim after the statute of limitations has elapsed, the court is likely to refuse to hear your case.

What Compensation Can Be Obtained in Wrongful Death Cases?

Damages in a Washington wrongful death case can include compensation for the following:

  • The deceased person’s medical bills related to the injury that caused their death;
  • Lost wages from work and other income the deceased person would likely have earned if they had not died;
  • Pain and suffering the deceased person experienced stemming from their final injury and death;
  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • Damaged property; and
  • Loss of care, companionship, and other noneconomic benefits suffered by the deceased person’s family.

The specific damages depend upon the plaintiff’s relationship with the deceased. While spouses, domestic partners, and children may receive compensation for loss of care and companionship, the personal representative of the estate may not.

What Is the Relationship Between a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and a Criminal Charge?

Wrongful Death AttorneyWhat if the death arguably resulted from a crime? Often, we think of a death caused by someone else’s actions as murder or manslaughter. If someone died at the hands of a drunk driver, for instance, the driver could face charges of vehicular manslaughter in Washington state, which is a Class A felony. What if the other person’s negligence was gross enough to arguably constitute murder or manslaughter?

A wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal charge such as vehicular manslaughter vary significantly.

First, wrongful death lawsuits are civil lawsuits. They are argued in civil, not criminal, courts. Murder and manslaughter charges, and all felonies, are argued in criminal courts. The two court systems are separate.

Second, wrongful death lawsuits must be brought by a party seeking redress for the wrongful death. As described above, they must have a specific relationship with the deceased. They are “plaintiffs” in the case, while the party accused of negligence is the “defendant.”

Criminal court cases, on the other hand, are never brought by parties with a relationship to the deceased. They are brought by the state on behalf of the public. The state attorney’s office decides whether someone’s actions are a crime. If the state attorney determines a crime has likely been committed, it is their duty to charge the accused party with that crime. State attorneys prosecute the case, rather than a civil wrongful death attorney.

Third, wrongful death lawsuits seek financial compensation for the plaintiffs. Criminal cases seek to determine the accused person’s guilt or innocence.

Fourth, plaintiffs in wrongful death lawsuits, if successful, are awarded compensation either from the negligent party’s insurance company or their personal assets. In a criminal case, if the defendant is found guilty, the state will impose appropriate penalties according to the law, which can be a prison sentence, fines, and more.

Fifth, the burden of proof in a criminal court is different than in a civil court. Criminal convictions rely on the court finding that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil courts rely on a preponderance of evidence to prove negligence, which means that the court must decide that the defendant was more likely negligent than not, for the plaintiff to secure compensation.

Under Washington state law, the outcome of a related criminal case does not affect a plaintiff’s ability to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In other words, you can still bring a wrongful death lawsuit if a crime has been charged and a trial is ongoing, or even if the accused is found innocent.

Who Can Be Liable for Wrongful Death?

The outcome of a wrongful death case depends on proving the defendant’s negligence, just as personal injury cases do. “Negligence” means that the defendant failed to exercise the ordinary standard of care that a prudent person would have exercised in the circumstances. If the defendant’s negligence caused the fatal injury, the defendant can be found liable for the death.

Almost any person or entity who negligently causes a fatal injury or harm that leads to death could be liable for wrongful death. Some examples include:

  • A driver who had too much to drink and hit another car head-on, killing two passengers.
  • A driver in a parked car who opened his car door directly a motorcyclist’s path, causing the motorcyclist to go flying over his handlebars and die as a result of his ensuing head injury.
  • A homeowner who didn’t supervise neighborhood children hanging around her swimming pool, one of whom drowned.
  • A homeowner who left pesticides outside his garage, where they were ingested by a four-year-old neighbor, who ultimately died.
  • A trucking company that failed to hire qualified and licensed drivers, one of whom caused a fatal accident.
  • A construction company that failed to provide safe working conditions, causing a worker to be crushed by a falling load of concrete on the job.
  • A dog owner whose dog bit an invited neighbor, who contracted a fatal infection.
  • A doctor who failed to properly diagnose her patient’s sepsis, leading to the patient’s death.
  • A landlord who chronically lets lights burn out in the stairwell, and whose tenant fell down the stairs and broke her neck.
  • A theater owner whose show pyrotechnics malfunctioned, causing two audience members to suffer fatal burns.
  • A toy manufacturer whose products exploded in children’s hands, causing fatal injuries.
  • A car manufacturer that marketed vehicles with faulty brakes, the failure of which caused a fatal accident.
  • A nursing home where staff left an elderly resident unattended for 3 hours during a field trip, after which she died of hypothermia.
  • An assisted living facility where staff mixed up medications for its patients, causing one to die.

How Can Someone Prove Wrongful Death?

As you can see from the above examples, each wrongful death case is unique, with a unique set of actors, circumstances, and events. In all of them, however, proving wrongful death requires evidence.

In some instances, evidence can be obtained from the police. All kinds of fatal vehicle accidents—car, truck, bicycle, and motorcycle—are initially investigated by the police. They will talk to surviving victims and make observations about the likely cause of the accident by looking at the accident scene, the vehicles, and the environment. They then issue a police report, which can be used as evidence. Eyewitnesses can also describe how a vehicle accident happened.

If the police have cause to think a driver is under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances, they can take appropriate steps to determine whether they are and arrest the person if so.

In all types of wrongful death cases, eyewitnesses can provide testimony. Were other parents around a swimming pool where a child drowned, for example? They can be asked whether the child was being supervised. Workers on a construction site can be asked what happened.

People familiar with the situation can also be asked about ongoing or chronic situations, even if they weren’t eyewitnesses. Does a landlord habitually leave light bulbs unchanged, for instance? Other tenants can be asked. Is a nursing home chronically understaffed, leading patients to be neglected or left unattended for long periods of time? Are staff under-trained or are conditions chaotic, leading to medical errors? Is a neighbor’s dog always aggressive?

Many cases, however, may rely on a loved one’s actions and suspicions. Finding out about instances of medical malpractice, for example, can be difficult. Doctors and the places that employ them, such as clinics and hospitals, may conceal or simply fail to acknowledge medical malpractice. If you feel that a loved one died unexpectedly or in unusual circumstances, or wasn’t treated correctly for their illness, you may have to ask for a copy of their death certificate to see the cause of death.

Similarly, cases of nursing home abuse may not be apparent unless loved ones are vigilant. While medical staff should report these cases, they may feel intense pressure not to report them accurately. It’s a sad fact, but a true one. If you suspect that the nursing home staff where your loved one lived were not well-trained or adequately competent, or a loved one’s death in a nursing home was unexpected or seemed odd, you may have to ask some hard questions.

In instances of product liability, evidence can sometimes be gleaned from public records. Adverse effects of medications, for example, are generally publicly reported (and widespread problems can make their way into the news). Cars with known and repeated defects may be subject to recall.

Ultimately, it may be wise to consult a wrongful death attorney with your concerns. Attorneys work with investigative teams and experts. In many cases, an investigation into your loved one’s cause of death and the circumstances surrounding their death may be needed. Experts may need to testify about your loved one’s likely causes of death.

If you need further assistance, contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer today.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

Seven Reasons Tractor-Trailers Cause Worse Injuries Than Cars in an Accident

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff Truck Accident Attorney

Sharing the road with tractor-trailers makes many drivers nervous, especially down long, winding mountain roads. You might find yourself falling back to avoid sharing the road with a tractor-trailer or passing very carefully, since you do not want to risk getting caught between a tractor-trailer and a guard rail or a steep drop.

Unfortunately, many drivers are nervous about the potential for tractor-trailer accidents with good reason. Tractor-trailers can substantially increase not only accident risk on the road, but also the risk of severe injuries in an accident. If you or a loved one has already been a victim of a truck accident and is struggling with recovery schedule a free consultation with Boohoff Law.

1. Tractor-Trailers Have Considerably More Mass Than Passenger Vehicles

A tractor-trailer is a common truck on the road that can can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Typically, the cab/trailer combination weighs in at around 35,000 pounds, while most loads weigh in at around 40,000 pounds, leaving trucks with an average weight of 75,000 pounds.

By comparison, the average passenger vehicle weighs only 4,009 pounds. The lightest passenger vehicle on the road could come in at just 1,808 pounds. While modern cars contain safety features designed to protect passengers in an accident, including frames designed to withstand a great deal of pressure before crumpling, a semi-truck’s larger mass can cause a passenger vehicle’s frame to collapse, often leaving the vehicle’s occupants with substantial injuries—multiple broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations, for example.

2. Tractor-Trailers May Hit at Higher Speeds

As a driver, if you see an accident coming, you may slam on your brakes to reduce your speed and, ultimately, reduce the force behind the impact. Truck drivers often make the same decision, slamming on their brakes to help reduce collision impact. Unfortunately, trucks take much longer to stop than passenger vehicles. At 55 miles per hour, you may need 121 feet to bring a passenger vehicle to a complete stop. A semi-truck, on the other hand, needs approximately 370 feet—more than the length of a football field—to come to a full stop.

Several factors can increase the time needed to slow or stop a semi-truck: the speed the vehicle is going, the load the vehicle carries, and weather conditions. In wet or icy conditions, for example, it may take much longer to bring any vehicle to a full stop, and semi-truck drivers struggle even more with these types of conditions. A heavy load or one that loaders failed to secure properly, causing cargo shifting, can also make a semi-truck harder to stop or otherwise control.

3. Tractor-Trailer Drivers Spend Many More Hours on the Road

Tractor Trailer AccidentsEach day, a commercial truck driver is legally permitted to put in 11 hours on the road during a 14-hour shift. After a 10-hour break, most commercial drivers head right back out on the road again, especially during busy, high-volume times of the year. While this means they often have a substantial amount of experience behind the wheel of their truck, it can also cause difficulties for truck drivers, which can increase the risk of accidents as well as the severity of an accident if it occurs. These issues can include:

Inattention. Savvy truck drivers know not to allow themselves to become distracted behind the wheel. Unfortunately, after hours in the cab of a truck, road haze often sets in. Truck drivers may lose track of what is happening on the road around them, including failing to pay attention to vehicles driving in their blind spots. In some cases, truck driver inattention can prove fatal to others on the road around them.

Distraction. With so many hours spent in the cab of a truck each week, many truck drivers become increasingly comfortable with distractions. Even talking on the phone can be a potent distraction, while texting or checking GPS directions can take a truck drivers’ eyes off the road for dangerously long periods of time. Cell phone use, however, is not the only distraction many drivers face on the road. Truck drivers may also:

  • Eat and drink in the cab of the truck, especially when trying to make up for lost time.
  • Shift position to get more comfortable, taking their hands and eyes off the road.
  • Reach for items in the vehicle.
  • Fiddle with the radio, including books on tape or an app that plays music.

Inebriation. Truck drivers spend many long, lonely hours on the road. Many drivers are separated from their friends and family members throughout most of an average week, going home only on the weekends. In one study, 12.5 percent of American truck drivers tested positive for alcohol use. Unfortunately, some of those truck drivers hit the road with alcohol still in their bloodstream. Alcohol can:

  • Slow a driver’s reaction time, making it more difficult for the truck driver to react to potential problems on the road or to avoid accidents.
  • Decrease decision-making capacity, which can make it more difficult for a truck driver to decide what to do when a hazard presents itself.
  • Compromise a driver’s motor skills.
  • Cause visual difficulties such as tunnel vision and blurred vision, which can make it difficult for a truck driver from seeing what is happening around them.

In addition to alcohol use, some medications can cause truck drivers to drive while under the influence, often unintentionally. Many prescription pain medications, for example, cause effects similar to those caused by alcohol. Even over-the-counter cold medications may cause drowsiness and dizziness as well as interfering with the user’s problem-solving capacity.

Drowsiness. Drowsy drivers can pose just as much of a danger as inebriated ones. Drowsy truck drivers may fail to pay full attention to everything going on around them. As a result, they may struggle to keep the truck in its lane or even drift off to sleep, losing control of the vehicle and causing an accident.

Truck drivers are prone to higher rates of distraction, inattention, inebriation, and drowsiness than other drivers due primarily to the long hours they spend on the road each week. Unfortunately, all of these challenges can lead to decreased attention and reaction times and, therefore, increase the severity of accidents when they occur.

4. Inadequate Training Can Make Big Trucks Very Difficult to Handle

To obtain a commercial driver’s license necessary to drive a big truck, a truck driver must undergo special training. Unfortunately, that training generally involves a fairly limited number of hours actually on the road, often in a tractor-trailer with a minimal load behind it. As a result, when a newly licensed truck driver heads out on a job for the first time, they may not have the preparation and skills they need to handle the truck they are driving. leading to an unqualified driver potentially causing serious damage.

Most courses also do not expose drivers directly to accident risks: for example, truck drivers may never have the opportunity to learn how to pull a truck out of a jackknife during training. While some advanced courses do use simulators, many truck drivers gain their experience the hard way: out on the road, one load at a time. As a result, new truck drivers may struggle to manage their vehicles in poor weather conditions or when something does go wrong out on the road.

5. Tractor-Trailers Have Large Blind Spots

Most passenger vehicles have at least some blind spots: areas where the driver cannot see another vehicle when it pulls up next to them, or cannot see people or objects directly in front of or behind the vehicle. Larger passenger vehicles, including SUVs and vans, may even have large enough blind spots to make it possible to lose track of smaller cars. Motorcycles and pedestrians face even greater risks when driving or walking next to a large passenger vehicle.

Tractor-trailers, on the other hand, have massive blind spots: areas the driver cannot see that are large enough that the driver can lose track of a smaller truck or a passenger vehicle of any size that is in one of those blind spots.

Most truck drivers carefully keep track of other vehicles around them before attempting to change lanes or make a turn. Even the best driver, however, cannot perfectly track the behavior of every other driver on the road. As a result, when a smaller passenger vehicle sits in a truck’s blind spot, that smaller vehicle may be in substantial danger. In some cases, tractor-trailer drivers may not even notice the presence of that vehicle until they have already caused a great deal of damage to both the vehicle and its occupants.

6. Trucks Put in a Lot of Miles on the Road

Just as truck drivers spend a lot of hours on the road each day, their trucks travel long distances each day. Some trucks, in fact, see more use than their drivers spend in them: privately-owned trucks or those on long hauls, for example, may have multiple drivers who swap out after each one completes their assigned shift, keeping the truck rolling and the load moving toward its destination.

Most trucking companies have careful policies and procedures in place designed to help reduce maintenance issues that could cause accidents on the road. Many drivers, for example, must go over their vehicles when they bring them in after each trip, identifying any problems they noticed during the drive and ensuring that the truck receives the proper maintenance. Other companies require maintenance professionals to inspect the truck after each trip.

That does not mean, however, that mechanical failures never occur.

Big trucks have more moving parts than passenger vehicles, and failure of any one part can cause catastrophic damage. In spite of regular inspections and maintenance, big trucks may be subject to increased risk of mechanical failure, especially during busy seasons when even the most careful mechanic may not note every problem with a vehicle. Mechanical failure of any truck component can cause a dangerous accident, including:

  • Blown out headlights;
  • Blown out signal lights;
  • Improperly hooked up trailers;
  • Tire problems;
  • Engine problems;
  • Windshield wiper failures; and
  • Transmission problems.

A truck driver who notices a mechanical problem will usually pull their truck off the road as soon as possible. Unfortunately, not every problem makes itself known ahead of time—and when a mechanical failure sends a truck spinning out of control, the driver may be unable to do anything to avoid a collision.

7. Many Truck Drivers Drive Faster Than They Should

Big trucks require more room to stop and more room to maneuver than passenger vehicles. Unfortunately, that does not always stop truck drivers from speeding. Many truck drivers get paid by the mile, which means that they must travel a certain number of miles each day to get the paycheck they expect. Others may have their pay docked if they fail to make a delivery on time, even if that late delivery occurs due to factors beyond the driver’s control, including traffic jams or accidents. As a result, truck drivers may attempt to rush to make up the time difference.

Over a long day, the miles slipping by all look the same, and truck drivers may also simply fail to realize that they have picked up speed. Truck drivers may also fail to safely decrease their speed when moving through dangerous or congested areas.

Unfortunately, with increased speed comes increased accident risk—and increased injury risk for both the truck driver and others who may become involved in the accident. The faster a vehicle collides with something else, the more force goes into the collision, and therefore the greater the likelihood of catastrophic injuries for those involved.

Big trucks benefit America, including through the transportation of vitally necessary goods and materials across the country. Unfortunately, they bring along with them substantially increased accident risks—and increased risks of injury when accidents do occur.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a truck accident, calling a truck accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible can begin the process of filing your personal injury claim to seek compensation for your expenses, including medical bills, lost time at work, and compensation for your pain and suffering.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

When Tow Trucks Get Into Accidents

We see tow trucks as the helper vehicles on the road. They show up after a wreck and safely remove the cars involved in the accident, then transport them to places where they can be repaired. And that’s exactly what they are, most of the time. But what happens when they are involved in an accident—when a helper vehicle causes a wreck rather than cleaning up after one?

How an Experienced Tow Truck Accident Attorney Can Help

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff, Truck Accident Attorney

If you were seriously injured in a tow truck accident, you may find yourself buried under medical bills and feeling like you might crumble from the stress—to say nothing of the physical pain your injuries may have left you with. Even if you have auto or health insurance, you may reach the benefit limits of your policy or be faced with paying a large deductible or coinsurance amount. And you aren’t alone. Sadly, medical bills are the number one reason that people in the U.S. file for bankruptcy.

But you don’t have to be one of those people. Washington law allows you to seek monetary damages from the person who caused your accident in the form of a personal injury lawsuit. Under Washington law, you have three years from the date of your accident to file your lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations.

While three years may seem like a long time, it can pass quickly when you are focused on healing. As soon as you are able, contact an experienced tow truck accident attorney who can provide an evaluation of your case and advise you on how to properly proceed so you don’t miss the filing deadline. Filing your lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired will likely result in your lawsuit being dismissed by a judge in its entirety, leaving you with no way to pursue compensation for the losses you’ve suffered.

Filing Your Lawsuit

After finding a good attorney, the work of preparing your lawsuit begins. The first, and one of the most important decisions you and your attorney will make in your case, is who the defendants (the people you will make your claim against) should be in your lawsuit.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s a decision that can be quite complicated. Certainly the truck driver will be a defendant. It may also be appropriate to include the driver’s employer, the employer’s insurance company, the driver’s insurance company, or perhaps even the local government where your accident happened if the road was improperly maintained or the government failed in its responsibility to mitigate other hazards.

A party who feels it has been improperly sued can ask the court to dismiss the lawsuit against it. If the court grants that request, you will then have to go back to the drawing board, potentially causing you to run up against the statute of limitations.

Negotiation, Negotiation, Negotiation

The vast majority of personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court and never make it before a jury. A competent tow truck accident attorney will understand the importance of engaging in meaningful negotiations.

You may receive a settlement offer fairly soon after filing your suit. It’s unlikely that this offer will be the best one to come your way. As your case progresses and your attorney’s team of professionals dive into investigating your case, new information will almost certainly come to light concerning how the accident happened and who was at fault. Your attorney can use this information to go back to the defendants and seek a better offer.

Settlement talks can occur all the way up until the jury receives your case for deliberation. That’s why negotiation is such an important part of any personal injury lawsuit. It’s also why you and your attorney must always keep the door open to future negotiations.

Taking Your Case to Trial

While your case may never make it to trial, you still need an attorney with experience taking cases all the way to a jury. Litigation requires skills that not all attorneys possess. It requires practice and experience. Your attorney’s ability to select and speak to jurors, question witnesses in an effective way, and break down complicated medical issues into language that jurors can understand can seriously affect the outcome of your case.

Make sure you choose an attorney who not only has trial experience, but who has tried personal injury cases. Attorneys develop focus areas and just as you wouldn’t want a podiatrist to treat your brain injury, you wouldn’t want to retain a criminal defense attorney to represent you in your tow truck lawsuit.

What Causes Tow Truck Accidents?

Tow Truck Accidents Tow truck drivers are susceptible to making the same types of errors as other drivers on the road. The problem is that because of tow trucks’ size and the heavy loads they carry when transporting other vehicles, tow truck accidents can result in more serious injuries and more extensive property damage than accidents involving only passenger vehicles.

Tow truck accidents are usually caused either by driver error or by an improperly maintained tow truck. Common driver mistakes include:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving after having consumed alcohol or drugs is always a bad idea. Intoxication slows a driver’s reaction time, limits their ability to fully appreciate their surroundings, and impairs a driver’s judgment overall. Disregarding speed limits, not allowing enough time to stop at intersections, and swerving from lane to lane are common behaviors in someone who is intoxicated.
  • Drowsy driving. Being sleep-deprived affects the body in much the same way as intoxication does—it slows reaction time and prevents a driver from appreciating the dangers around them or reacting to their surroundings safely. Beyond that, a drowsy driver may actually fall asleep at the wheel, which can have devastating consequences.
  • Distracted driving. Driving while distracted has become an ever-increasing problem. In a world in which most people have smartphones within arms-reach at nearly all times, it is tempting to reach for the phone and answer a message, respond to an email, or check notifications. Looking away from the road, even for a few seconds, limits a driver’s ability to recognize and respond to circumstances or hazards on the road.

In addition to driver error, failing to properly maintain a tow truck can lead to accidents. Faulty brakes can cause an accident by making it harder to stop the truck. Improper tire pressure can cause a tire to blow out and explode, creating obstacles for other drivers and making the truck harder to control. Testing and inspecting mechanical equipment (chains, hooks, hydraulics, etc.) on a tow truck is important so that the driver knows that their truck is in proper working order. Regular inspection is a must to ensure that the tow truck is road-ready.

What to Do After a Tow Truck Accident

Tow truck accidents can lead to horrific injuries that come with lifelong consequences and extreme financial burdens. At the scene of your accident, if you are able, you should take the steps detailed below.

You may be too seriously injured to do so anyway, but never leave the scene of a tow truck accident. Regardless of the severity of the accident, someone at the scene should call 911. Medical professionals will be dispatched and law enforcement officials will arrive and conduct a preliminary investigation. It is a good idea to take photos of the accident scene, including where the vehicles ended up, damage to all involved cars, and injuries. Remember while taking photos to stay out of oncoming traffic and remain in a safe area.

Law enforcement officers will also document the scene through photographs and possibly video. In addition, they will talk to any available witnesses and interview those involved in the accident if those people can communicate well enough to provide information. You should do the same. Take contact information, including the names and phone numbers of anyone who observed the accident. They could be witnesses in a future lawsuit or help you in pursuing other remedies available to you. And always exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers involved in the accident.

After they leave the scene of your accident, the responding officers will prepare an accident report detailing their observations. Be sure you request and receive a copy of it. The information it contains may prove valuable to you if you file a lawsuit down the road.

Even if you do not require transportation by emergency services to a medical treatment facility, it’s a good idea to have an EMT on the scene check you over for injuries or visit an urgent care facility or your doctor as soon as possible. You may be in shock and not realize how seriously you were injured, but a medical professional may recognize something you don’t feel because your body is flooded with adrenaline.

Kinds of Tow Trucks

Different cars require different types of trucks. All of them are large and all can cause significant property damage when involved in collisions with other vehicles. Their size also means that passenger vehicle occupants involved in crashes with tow trucks are more likely to sustain injuries and that those injuries are more likely to be serious. When a tow truck is loaded with another vehicle, the increased weight can make the accident even more catastrophic. There are four common types of tow trucks you will see on the road.

Flatbed Tow Trucks

When you think of a tow truck, the image of a flatbed truck probably pops into your head. They are the most common kinds of tow trucks on the road. Also known as side or rollback trucks, flatbeds are composed of a truck cab attached to a long flat truck bed. The flatbed moves vertically to allow vehicles to be safely loaded onto it. Lowering the bed allows the car to be driven or pulled up onto it. Widely seen as the best method for towing cars, they are most often used to recover vehicles that are broken down or that have been in accidents.

Integrated Tow Trucks

When busses or other large vehicles break down, integrated tow trucks come to the rescue. Because their loads are so much larger than those carried by other types of tow trucks, they have a greater number of axles. In addition, an integrated tow truck’s arm, used lift vehicles onto the truck, is mounted at its center rather than being mounted at the back, as on other types of tow trucks.

Hook and Chain Tow Trucks

These days, hook and chain tow trucks are seen less frequently than in the past. As their name indicates, this kind of tow truck utilizes chains and hooks to lift the front end of the towed vehicle while leaving its rear wheels on the ground. The vehicle is then essentially dragged to its destination. Although effective in getting cars from one place to another, hook and chain trucks often damage the cars they tow by loosening their bumpers and causing scratches. They also put extreme strain on the car’s frame. Cars equipped with four-wheel drive can sustain damage to their drivetrains. Because of these drawbacks, hook and chain tow trucks are now primarily used to transport cars to junkyards, rather than to repair shops.

Wheel-Lift Tow Trucks

Wheel-lift tow trucks operate similarly to their hook and chain counterparts by lifting one end of the car and dragging it with its rear wheels on the ground. The benefit to a wheel-lift system is that it uses a metal yoke to attach hooks under the front wheel. This causes less strain and damage to the car than a hook and chain system. Wheel-lift trucks are used in much the same way as flatbed tow trucks—for roadside breakdowns and to transport vehicles to repair shops.

A Truck Accident Attorney Can Answer Your Questions

Don’t face lifelong physical effects and mounting medical bills alone after an accident. A truck accident lawyer with a proven track record of recovery for clients can bring experience, a competent support team, in-depth knowledge of the law, and compassion to your case, and help you decide what to do next.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

What to Do After an Auto Accident Injury

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff Car Accident Lawyer

After a car accident, you may have serious injuries. At the least, you may feel confused as to what to do. Depending on your injuries, you should take steps to secure the scene of the accident. In many cases, the Department of Transportation recommends moving vehicles to the side of the road if they are running. Of course, you must take care that other drivers, especially rubber-neckers, do not hit you or the vehicles involved and cause more damage.

If you have already been in an accident don’t hesitate to contact an auto accident attorney to discuss injuries and damages of your case. At Boohoff Law we have been assisting people after car crashes for years with a history of getting their clients favorable results.

If You Can Safely Move

If your injuries are such that you can move safely, first call 911, then check on the other driver and your passengers. Set up emergency cones or flares if you have them. Always be aware of other drivers. They will look to see what happened instead of paying attention to what is in front of them.

Get Contact Information and Photos

Get the other driver’s contact, insurance, and registration information. Also, write down the other driver’s license plate number and the color and make of their vehicle. Give the other driver the same information for yourself. Take pictures of the accident scene. While the police or accident investigators will also take pictures, it is better if you have your own documentation.

When you take pictures:

  • Get distance pictures showing skid marks;
  • Get pictures showing both vehicles from multiple angles;
  • Take close-up pictures of the damage to your vehicle; and
  • Take close-up pictures of the damage to the other vehicle.

While you are taking close-up pictures, don’t take them so close that others can’t tell what they are looking at. Photos need contexts. For example, when you take a picture of a dent in a fender, take it far enough away to show the entire fender, yet close enough to show the damage. Once you take pictures, if the vehicles are movable, move them out of traffic if you can do it safely. If your vehicle moves but the other driver’s vehicle will not move, leave both vehicles where they are.

Get Additional Documentation

If you can get the following documentation, it could help your case down the line:

  • All of the police officers’ names and badge numbers, even those you did not speak with. If you need to file an accident injury lawsuit, your attorney may call the police officers as witnesses. Getting their information helps save time when an attorney locates witnesses to help you.
  • Find out where you get a copy of the police report. Insurance companies use police reports to determine fault, but so do courts and attorneys. Accident attorneys also review police reports to help create a picture of what might have caused the accident and may not come to the same conclusions as the insurance company or the police.
  • Speak with witnesses to the accident. Because an accident happens unexpectedly and often quickly, you may not see everything that happened or may not remember it. Witnesses often fill in the blanks. Write down what witnesses have to say, including their names and phone numbers.

Always Get Medical Attention

Even if you believe you are not injured, it is advisable to get checked out by the emergency room or your doctor. Because of the adrenaline surge and other factors, injuries may not show up for hours or even days later. In some cases, such as concussions, symptoms may not show up for days, weeks or months.

Notify Your Insurance Company

What to do after a Car Accident Washington is a fault state when it comes to financial responsibility for car accidents. This means the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for any damage resulting from the accident. As soon as possible, notify your insurance company of the accident and that you are making a claim. If you can’t notify your insurance company, a loved one may notify it. However, only give the insurance company your name, policy number, the location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information. If the other driver’s insurance company or attorney contact you, refer them to your attorney.

An insurance company is in business to make money. Even your own insurance company may not have your best interests in mind—it has its bottom line in mind. An insurance company will often pay you just enough to make you “go away.” That amount may not cover all of your medical bills that are related to the accident or all of the repairs needed to your vehicle—or its replacement value.

If you get an attorney involved in the claim, the insurance company is more likely to give you a better settlement offer, since the likelihood of going to court is higher than if you were to try to settle with the insurance company yourself. If the other driver’s coverage is not enough to cover all of the damages you are entitled to, the other driver did not carry insurance, or your supplemental underinsured motorist coverage is insufficient, you may need to file a lawsuit against the other driver to collect full compensation for your damages.

Speak With a Car Accident Attorney

Contact your car accident attorney to set up a consultation to discuss your vehicle accident. When you contact the attorney, let him or her know that your insurance company may be calling for information about the accident.

If you can’t contact your insurance company and attorney yourself, be sure a loved one contacts everyone for you. You must notify your insurance company as soon as possible, as some insurance companies give you very little time to file a claim.

Give your attorney’s contact information and your insurance company’s information to family members if you are injured badly enough that you cannot make these calls yourself. Don’t forget to remind family members to give minimal information to insurance companies, and to let your attorney give the insurance company detailed information so as not to implicate you in fault. Even if you are not at fault, the insurance company could twist what you or a family member says, just so it has an excuse to pay out less.

Obtain Medical Records

You will need copies of your medical records and invoices showing your injuries and the cost of your medical care. If you suffered serious injuries in an accident and you expect long-term or permanent injuries, you will need medical documentation showing that.

You might be entitled to more than reimbursement for past medical costs associated with the accident. Serious injuries often require additional medical care, including but not limited to physical, cognitive, occupational, and psychological therapy. Physical injuries that take a long time to heal or that never heal often cause depression and other psychological issues in injured people. Additionally, those who feel they are a burden on family members or friends may also suffer from anxiety and/or depression.

Additionally, you may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of a vehicle accident. PTSD could cause anxiety if you try to drive or even if you ride as a passenger in the car, among other issues. Some people may need extended therapy to help with those feelings of anxiety or depression.

If you have trouble getting medical records for all of your injuries, let your car accident lawyer know. He or she may help you get copies of your records.

If You Have Serious Injuries

If your injuries are too severe for you to move and you have another person with you that is not seriously injured, ask the other person to gather information. Do not allow anyone to move your vehicle. If you cannot safely move because of injuries and can talk, and a witness or the other driver checks on you, make sure someone calls 911 if you can’t do it yourself.

Always stay still if you believe you have broken bones or other internal injuries. You could do more damage if you try to move, especially if you injured your back, neck or head.

If You Are a Witness to an Accident

If you saw the accident happen and the drivers ask you what you saw, give the same account to anyone who asks. The police will also ask you what happened for the accident report, as they are required to write down witness information. Sometimes people cannot be “bothered” with giving a statement because they don’t want to get involved. However, your statement may help a driver get the compensation he or she is entitled to if both drivers have conflicting accounts.

Car Accident Injury and Fatality Statistics

Car Accident StatisticsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), collectively, Americans spend over 1 million days in the hospital because of injuries sustained in vehicle accidents. In 2012, the latest year the CDC has statistics available, medical costs totaled $18 billion. The CDC estimated that workers lost about $33 billion in wages because of car crash injuries in 2012.

The CDC also found that 2.5 million people in America went to the emergency department after a 2012 car crash, and of those, medical personnel admitted almost 200,000.

Safer America found that 40,3270 people died in car accidents in 2017 and that 38 percent of fatal accidents involved more than one motor vehicle. Forty percent of fatal accidents were with a fixed object such as a tree or because the vehicle rolled over.

Avoiding an Accident

Accidents are difficult to avoid, mostly because they are unexpected. Lower the chances of being in an accident by driving defensively. This means that you always pay attention to the road. If you notice another accident, slow down and turn your emergency flashers on. When other drivers see your emergency flashers, they know to slow down sooner than they otherwise would have slowed down. The flashers also alert other drivers that there is a problem ahead.

If you are distracted and you cause an accident, not only may the police charge you, but you could find yourself serving time in jail or even paying punitive damages to the person you injured. Paying attention not only helps you avoid accidents that already happened, but it also prevents you from being injured should you cause an accident. If you come upon an accident scene and are not watching in front of you, you could contribute to additional damage and injuries if you hit other vehicles involved in the accident, or you could cause additional injuries if you hit first responders.

Taking a defensive driving course is another way to help avoid accidents. The course will teach you how to avoid sudden accidents in front of you, objects in the road and other people whose actions may cause you to wreck. Some insurance companies offer a discount on your insurance if you take driving classes.

Prepare for an Accident

Being prepared for an accident may also save your or another person’s life. Always keep an extra blanket, a first-aid kit, flashlight, and water in your vehicle. If you should get into an accident and you suffer from minor injuries, you can clean and cover visible injuries to prevent open wounds from becoming infected. The extra blankets help those injured and are feeling cold because of shock, or because it’s cold outside. Even in the summer when it’s hot enough, you should always have an extra blanket with you.

You should also carry emergency triangles, cones, or flares to set out on the road after the accident. These bright orange devices warn people about an obstruction ahead and will hopefully keep them from running into you or your vehicle.

The first aid kit should contain supplies to clean minor cuts and bandages to cover minor wounds to prevent infection. If a piece of metal cut you, always go to the hospital for a tetanus shot unless you’ve recently had one.

If you have further questions following a car accident, ask a car accident lawyer for more information.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999

What Do Personal Injury Lawyers Do?

What Are the Types of Personal Injury Cases?

Nearly every type of interaction that could conceivably cause harm to a human being, either physical or emotional, can be the subject of a personal injury case. Personal injury cases can include:

Personal injury law is “An injury not to property, but to the body, mind, or emotions,” according to Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. In other words, if you are injured in a car accident and need legal assistance, you should call a personal injury lawyer.

Personal Injury Cases Rely on Negligence

Personal injury lawyers deal with injuries stemming from all kinds of accidents, from animal bites to doctor’s errors. But accidents covered by personal injury law have one thing in common: they must have been caused by someone else’s negligence. Negligence, according to the law, is a failure to exercise the duty of care a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in the same circumstances.

Negligence is perhaps best illustrated by specific examples. You and another driver are approaching an intersection. The other driver’s light is red, while yours is green. Nonetheless, the other car drives through the intersection, not even slowing down. Every driver owes other drivers on the road a duty of care. This duty of care consists of obeying all traffic laws and driving safely and prudently. Flagrantly disregarding one of the most elemental traffic laws—obeying a red stop light—is a breach of that duty of care. That driver behaved negligently.

What does a lawyer do

If you had driven through your green light, which you had a legal right to do, an accident could have happened. If you had been injured in that accident, the driver who ran the red light would have been liable for your injuries because her negligence caused the accident.

Let’s consider another example. A child drops a bottle of juice in a convenience store. The liquid spills all over the floor. The store’s staff neither clean up the spill nor place safety cones, warning tape, or any other type of warning to the public. A customer turns the corner and, unaware of the juice, slips in it. He falls and sprains his ankle.

A store owner’s duty of care is to ensure that their business is safe for the public at all times. If something occurs that makes the store unsafe, like a spill, the duty of care requires that the owner either repair the problem immediately or make the public aware of it, so that they can avoid the affected area. In this example, the staff should have immediately cleaned up the spill or placed warnings around it until it could be cleaned.

What if the store owner isn’t present? That is immaterial. The owner’s duty of care includes making sure employees are sufficiently trained and equipped to exercise a reasonable duty of care. In other words, staff should know that the store must be safe for the public at all times, and know to clean up and place safety signs around the spill.

What if no one sees the spill except the customer who caused it? In that case, the law turns to a reasonable person standard. It is true that a danger can suddenly occur, and it may require some time for staff to notice and remedy the situation. It just can’t take an unreasonable amount of time.

The law requires that staff remedy a hazardous situation as soon as it knows, or that a person should reasonably expect it to know, about the situation. In some cases, it may take 10 or 15 minutes for staff to realize that liquid was spilled and to start to clean it up. But it shouldn’t take a day, or even an hour—that’s an unreasonable amount of time.

In all personal injury cases, if negligence causes an accident or harm and the accident or harm is the proximate cause of injuries, the negligent party can be liable for those injuries. In other words, they can be responsible for paying for the damages those injuries caused.

If there is no negligence, there are no grounds for a personal injury case. In other words, you might have been injured in a car accident, but if someone else did not cause the accident through negligence, you cannot bring a personal injury case. Another party, whether it’s a person or an organization, must have caused your injuries through their negligence to be liable to you for damages.

Injuries Covered by Personal Injury Cases

People can be injured almost every conceivable way by a negligent person or entity. Here is a brief overview of injuries that can occur in specific types of personal injury cases.

Traffic Accident Injuries

Injuries in traffic accidents of all types, including those involving cars, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, and pedestrians, can include but are not limited to:

  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations
  • Contusions
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Sprains
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Road rash
  • Burn injuries
  • Scars and disfigurement
  • Internal organ injuries

Injuries to Children

Children can be injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in many ways. Nearly 80 percent of playground injuries are caused by falls, for instance, according to the National Safety Council. Roughly 3,000 children are killed each year by falling out of windows. Children can be strangled by window shade cords if they are left unsupervised. Children can be poisoned if dangerous chemicals such as pesticides are not kept in childproof containers. Children can drown if they are unsupervised around swimming pools or other bodies of water. Children can suffer TBIs while playing unsafe or unsupervised sports.

Construction Accidents

Enough accidents happen on construction sites that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls the following the Fatal Four:

  • Electrocution
  • Falls
  • Struck-bys (workers being struck by objects, such as tools falling from heights)
  • Caught-betweens (workers being caught between a truck and wall, for instance)

Construction accidents like these and others can result from an employer or other entity’s negligent behavior, such as failure to maintain safe working conditions or provide adequate safety equipment.

Dog Bites

Washington state law holds that dog owners are liable if a dog bites someone who is either in a public place or lawfully on private property, as long as the bitten person didn’t provoke the dog. Dog bite injuries can cause lacerations, infections, scarring, disfigurement, and more.

Premises Liability

Premises liability is a subcategory of personal injury law under which property owners are responsible for maintaining safe premises for specific visitors. The law is complicated, and owner liability depends on whether you are a public or business guest, socially invited, a licensee, or a trespasser. Generally, if the property owner owed you a duty of care under the law and was negligent, the property owner can be liable for your injuries.

A slip and fall due to a hazard in a store or other place of business is a subcategory of premises liability. Slip and fall injuries can cause sprains, bruises, broken bones, TBIs, spinal cord injuries, and lacerations. Falling down a neglected flight of stairs in an apartment building can be fatal. Falling into an empty swimming pool can also be fatal. Nearly every type of injury is possible in a premises liability accident.

Product Liability

Product liability occurs when a product is dangerous or causes harm. Companies owe the public a duty of care to sell safe products and use safe ingredients. If they do not, they can be liable. In these cases, the party responsible is not a person, but one or more business entities, such as product manufacturers or component parts suppliers.

Product liability cases can be brought, for example, against drug manufacturers whose drugs caused harm. Some medications can cause strokes or cancer, for instance. Others have side effects that cause serious harm.

Lawsuits in these cases can allege not only that a product was unsafe and not tested properly, but that the company failed to warn the public and the medical community about the product’s dangers.

Medical Malpractice

Doctors take an oath that they will do no harm. If they harm someone by falling short of the expected standard of care, they are negligent. This is termed “medical malpractice.”

Washington statutes define the expected standard of care as “that degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent health care provider at that time in the profession or class to which he or she belongs, in the state of Washington, acting in the same or similar circumstances.”

Medical malpractice can cause a wide range of harms. A surgeon might operate on the wrong body part or leave a surgery implement inside the person’s body, causing harm. A doctor might fail to diagnose a person’s medical condition properly, causing further illness or even death.

Nursing Home Abuse

Nursing homes and other care facilities, such as assisted living centers, have a duty to their residents to render safe care and treatment. Unfortunately, abuse does occur in nursing homes.

In fact, elder abuse occurs throughout the country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as “an intentional act, or failure to act, by a caregiver or another person in a relationship involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult.”

Elder abuse can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect (failure to provide safe and clean conditions), abandonment, or exploitation.

Physical abuse can cause physical injuries, such as broken bones or burns. Emotional abuse can cause mental distress and social withdrawal. Sexual abuse can cause sexually transmitted diseases and mental distress. Abandonment can cause elderly adults to fall, get hypothermia, or contract some other illness. Exploitation is using an older person’s financial resources for personal gain.

What Kinds of Compensation Can Personal Injury Victims Recover?

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff, Personal Injury Attorney

Broadly speaking, personal injury victims can receive financial compensation for their injuries. This compensation is known as damages.

Economic damages compensate victims for economic harm, such as reimbursement for medical bills. Economic damages can also compensate victims for wages lost from work, if injuries required the victim to take time off from work or rendered the victim unable to return to work in their former occupation or at all.

Economic damages can be awarded both for economic harm already done and prospective economic damages. If your injuries are likely to require further medical care, for instance, a medical expert can estimate your likely future medical bills and a damages award will account for that amount. Similarly, if you can’t return to work in your former occupation or ever again, your damages will account for what you would likely have earned if you had not been injured.

Noneconomic damages are awarded for pain and suffering and related damages. Insurance companies apply a multiplier to economic damages to determine the appropriate compensation for your pain and suffering. Most multipliers are between 1.5 and five. People with injuries that will heal are awarded pain and suffering damages using a lower multiplier. People with catastrophic injuries—those that result in the victim losing the ability to work or perform the standard activities of daily living—are awarded pain and suffering damages using the highest multipliers.

Finally, the court can assess punitive damages in cases when the defendant exhibited particularly harmful or egregious behavior. A court may make a drug manufacturer that knew a medication was likely to cause harm but marketed it to patients and the medical community anyway pay punitive damages. Someone who drove a car recklessly while intoxicated may need to pay punitive damages. These damages punish defendants for their behavior.

If you need assistance with your personal injury claim, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today.

Boohoff Law
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121
(877) 999-9999