During this difficult time, Boohoff Law will remain committed to the people of Florida & Washington. We are still available 7 days a week to injured victims who need our help, and we offer FREE PHONE CONSULTATIONS and Electronic Sign-Ups.

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

The Dangers of Unqualified Truck Drivers

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Truck Accident Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

Commercial trucks are some of the most intimidating vehicles on the road. Their size alone can make any driver sharing the road with a semi-truck a bit nervous. Large trucks are even more threatening when there is an unqualified driver behind the wheel. And the scariest thing is that you don’t know that a driver is unqualified until they wreak havoc on the road.

Read on to understand the training, licensing, and other state and federal requirements for commercial truck drivers, the damage that can result from putting unqualified drivers behind the wheel, and what to do if you have been injured at the hands of an unqualified truck driver. Learn from the skilled attorneys who have dealt with cases like this, schedule a free consultation with Boohoff Law to discuss your case.

Requirements for Driving a Truck in Washington

State and federal laws detail the licensing requirements for commercial truck drivers, impose limitations on the size and weight of commercial vehicles, and set parameters for the number of hours a driver can be on the road at one stretch.

Securing a Commercial Driver’s License

Not just anyone can legally get behind the wheel of a commercial truck in Washington. Under federal and Washington law, many vehicles require that the driver secure a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) before operating that vehicle.

The following types of trucks require the driver to carry a CDL:

  • A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 26,000 pounds;
  • A combination vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of over 26,000 as long as the GVWR of the towed vehicle exceeds 10,000 pounds; and
  • Any vehicle hauling cargo that requires a hazardous material placard or carrying certain toxic substances.

To get a CDL in Washington, a driver must:

  • Under Qualified Truck Drivers Be at least 18 years old;
  • Have a valid Washington state driver’s license;
  • Provide a valid Social Security number or demonstrate lawful permanent residency;
  • Disclose the states where they have had a driver’s license in the last ten years;
  • Indicate the type of commercial vehicle they expect to operate;
  • Pass required knowledge tests that are based on the type of vehicle they will be driving;
  • Pass vehicle inspection, basic vehicle control, and on-road driving skills tests; and
  • Pay required fees.

A driver can hold a Commercial Learner’s Permit based on the above qualifications. This permit is valid for 180 days, and can be renewed once. Before the permit holder can secure a CDL, they must complete a commercial driver training program. Two options will satisfy the training requirement:

  1. Completing a certified course at a commercial driver training school that has been approved by the Department of Licensing (DOL); OR
  2. Completing a commercial driving training course through an employer if the employer is registered with DOL.

Several circumstances will disqualify a driver from securing a CDL or cause revocation of the CDL for a period of time depending on the severity or frequency of the offense. These include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol. A driver will have their CDL revoked if law enforcement discovers that the driver’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.04 percent or more while operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) or they are found to be driving a CMV while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance. Refusing to perform blood alcohol testing is also cause for revocation.
  • Criminal behavior. If a CMV driver leaves the scene of an accident, commits a felony involving a CMV, drives a CMV with a suspended license, or causes a fatality through the negligent operation of a CMV they will have their CDL revoked.
  • Traffic violations. If a driver commits two serious traffic violations within three years in any vehicle, they will have their CDL revoked.

If an individual drives a commercial truck without the appropriate permit or license, they violate state and federal law. These laws are in place because any driver who fails to comply with proper training and licensing requirements is much more likely to cause an accident.

Vehicle Requirements

Washington limits the size and weight of commercial trucks. These rules are enforced by requiring vehicles to stop at open weigh stations for weighing and inspection. The state patrol and local law enforcement are also empowered to pull over commercial vehicles for inspection.

  • Length: for single vehicles or vehicles with trailers, the maximum legal length is 53 feet. Double-trailer combinations cannot exceed 61 feet. Truck and trailer combinations cannot exceed 75 feet. There are some exceptions to these maximums but they are quite limited. In addition to limitations on the length of the vehicle and trailer, a load cannot extend for more than 15 feet behind the center of the rear axle or three feet past the front bumper.
  • Width: no vehicle may be more than 8.5 feet wide.
  • Height: no vehicle may be more than 14 feet high, including the load the vehicle is carrying.
  • Weight: a CMV’s allowable weight depends on the truck’s size and number of axles. The maximum legal weight for combination vehicles is 80,000 pounds. A permit is necessary to exceed the maximum weight requirements for any category of vehicle.

In addition to size and weight, Washington requires that commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds carry tire chains from November 1 to April 1, or whenever they traverse a mountain pass. Heavy vehicles must also travel in the right lane unless preparing to turn left or to pass another vehicle, and if slower speed limits are posted for trucks, truck drivers must observe those limits.

Driving Restrictions

Not Being Certified Truck Driver

Washington and federal laws place restrictions on the number of hours a driver is permitted to work. For vehicles that carry property (rather than passengers), drivers:

  • May only drive a maximum of 11 hours and after ten consecutive hours off duty;
  • Cannot drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty;
  • Must not drive after 60 hours on duty in seven consecutive days or 70 hours on duty in eight consecutive days. A driver may restart a seven or eight consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off; and
  • Drivers utilizing a sleeper berth must spend at least eight consecutive hours in the sleeper berth plus two hours either in the berth or off duty.

To ensure compliance with these requirements, the driver must record every 24-hour period on duty in a driver’s logbook. The logbook must be available for inspection any time the driver is on duty, and law enforcement officers may request to view a driver’s logbook.

Consequences of Unqualified Driving

As you can see, commercial truck drivers must comply with requirements and restrictions intended to ensure that they are qualified to drive behind the wheel of a semi-truck. Failure to comply with any of these obligations can significantly increase the risk of an accident involving a large truck.

Large Truck Accident Statistics

Accidents with large trucks are particularly dangerous, and avoidable factors are an unfortunate component of many truck crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration performed a large truck crash causation study. The study found factors related to how the driver contributes to crashes, including:

  • Driving too fast for conditions;
  • Over-the-counter drug use;
  • Fatigue; and
  • Inattention and distractions.

In one recent year, nearly 5,000 large vehicles (trucks and buses) were in fatal crashes. This was a 9 percent increase from 2016. The rate of involvement for large trucks increased by 6 percent. There was also a 5 percent increase in the number of large trucks involved in crashes that caused injuries, with a total of 107,000 crashes resulting in injuries. The data shows that large truck accidents due to driver error are unfortunately common.

Injuries in Truck Accidents

Collisions can occur with commercial trucks through a direct collision with the vehicle, striking cargo that the semi-truck has spilled on the roadway, or colliding with another vehicle that is trying to avoid a semi-truck that has jackknifed or rolled over.

Regardless of what type of truck accident you encounter severe injuries can result such as:

  • Traumatic head and brain injuries: If you are struck by a commercial truck with significant force, you may suffer head or brain injuries, including skull fractures, lacerations, and brain injuries. These injuries can have lifelong impacts.
  • Spinal cord injuries: If your body is thrown around or twisted during the accident, you may suffer from a spinal cord injury.
  • Neck injuries: As in many vehicle crashes, vehicle occupants may experience whiplash, herniated discs, slipped discs, and nerve damage in a truck accident.
  • Broken bones: As occupants brace themselves or come into contact with objects in the vehicle during a crash, they may suffer broken bones. Depending on its severity, a break may require multiple surgeries.
  • Cuts, bruises, and soft tissue injuries: Vehicle occupants’ bodies are often beat up during a car accident, which can result in torn ligaments and pulled muscles.

In addition to the plethora of injuries that may result from an accident, your vehicle may sustain damage during any accident with a truck. While your injuries should be the first thing on your mind, you will also deserve to secure a financial recovery for property damage.

Pursing Recovery After a Truck Accident

If you have been involved in an accident with a truck where the driver was unqualified or failed to comply with any state or federal laws or regulations, you are entitled to financial recovery. The first thing you should do is ensure that you and any other vehicle occupants receive immediate medical attention. Even if you do not believe you are seriously injured, you should seek a medical evaluation soon after the accident. Adrenaline may hide pain. Additionally, failure to seek timely medical attention may limit your ability to recover compensation for the full extent of your injuries.

You will also need to gather evidence to prove that the truck driver was unqualified or improperly licensed, or violated a law or regulation, and that this lack of qualification or violation contributed to the accident. One important piece of evidence will be a police report. The police will document the scene, collect witness information, and issue citations for any driving infractions.

If a citation is issued to the truck driver, this will help establish a case against the driver. Gathering additional information will require collecting data on the driver’s training, certifications, prior traffic infractions, driver log, and their state of mind at the time of the accident.

You will want to consider whether the truck driver’s employer contributed to permitting a driver on the road despite the driver’s inadequate training or qualifications. If the employer failed to ensure that the driver was properly licensed, forced them to drive more than the maximum number of allowable hours, or outfitted them with a truck that did not comply with the legal size requirements, the employer may also be at fault.

Even with all of the above information, it can still be complicated to seek recovery after a truck accident. There may be several insurance companies involved and the many parties who might be at fault. Additionally, you will need to navigate the complex web of state and federal laws relating to licensing and competency requirements for truck drivers. An attorney can help you prepare your case against any negligent parties.

A Truck Accident Attorney Can Help You

Dealing with injuries after a car accident is stressful, made even more so if the injuries are the fault of an unqualified commercial truck driver. A truck accident attorney can help you analyze your situation and determine what steps you need to take. They can assist you in requesting documents from the driver and the driver’s employer and communicating with insurance companies. Most importantly, an attorney can help you prepare the best strategy for recovering damages to compensate you for your injuries.

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

Mechanical Failure and Truck Accidents

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff, Truck Accident Attorney

Mechanical failure: even the words create a sinking sense of dread in your gut. Mechanical failures often mean costly repair bills, not to mention time without your vehicle.

When it comes to big trucks, however, mechanical failures can have even more serious repercussions. Big trucks take up more room on the road and have more mass than smaller passenger vehicles. When they suffer mechanical failures, the results can cause damage to other vehicles and catastrophic injuries to passengers. If you have recently been involved in a truck accident speak with the truck accident attorneys at Boohoff Law to discuss your options for compensation.

Common Mechanical Failures That Lead to Accidents

Mechanical failures can occur at any moment. It takes a lot of parts to keep a big truck running smoothly on the roads, and any problems with those parts can cause the truck to stop running as efficiently or contribute to any type of truck accident. Some mechanical problems, however, crop up more often than others in accident reports.

Tire Blowouts

Tires have a hefty job to do, especially those attached to big trucks. Tires carry the full weight of the vehicle and help keep the truck running smoothly down the road. When a tire blows out, it can cause the truck to pull heavily to one side, making it very difficult for the driver to control the vehicle.

Tire blowouts can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Truck Accidents Caused by Mechanical Issues Worn out tires. In a passenger vehicle, worn down tread may indicate that the tire is beyond its useful lifespan. Many people use the penny test to check the tread level of their tires and ensure that the tire can still safely carry them to their destination. Unfortunately, on a big truck, the penny test does not adequately measure wear and tear on a tire. Failing to change a truck’s tires regularly and keep an eye out for signs of wear can quickly lead to a blowout when the driver least expects it.
  • Road hazards. Most drivers will do their best to avoid potential hazards in the road, including potholes and debris. Unfortunately, big truck drivers do not always have adequate time to react to these hazards, which can increase the risk of running over objects in the road that can cause a blowout.
  • Overloading the truck. Even big trucks can only carry so much weight, and their tires can only take so much pressure. When a big truck gets loaded too heavily for its tires, this can put undue pressure on those tires, increasing the risk of a blowout accident.
  • Inadequate inflation. In addition to other mechanical checks after each run, truck drivers should make sure that they inflate their tires to the proper level. Inadequate inflation—or, conversely, over-inflation—can substantially increase the risk of a tire blowout.

Engine Problems

Any time the truck’s engine has a problem, the truck may stop functioning properly. Abrupt engine failure may leave the truck driver struggling to safely maneuver the truck over to the side of the road and out of the way of other vehicles. In some cases, engine failure can set the vehicle on fire, which may cause even more damage to the truck, the driver, and others with whom that truck is sharing the road.

Trailer Concerns

In a big truck, more than just the truck itself can cause serious problems. The trailer, including its connection to the truck, can also pose a serious hazard if mechanical issues crop up. When the team connects a trailer improperly, it can detach from the truck or swing out of control, often leading to a serious accident.

The team that loads the trailer must also exercise care. Big trucks often carry heavy loads across the country, frequently at high rates of speed. When those loads are secured improperly, they can shift and move as the truck drives. In some cases, shifting loads can cause enough trouble to make the trailer jackknife or to make the trailer lean over, sometimes sending it rolling off the road.

Light Issues

Truck Visability Issues Big trucks, more than any vehicle, need to provide a high level of visibility to their drivers at night or in other low-visibility situations. Because they need more room to maneuver their large vehicles than the drivers of small passenger vehicles require, truck drivers need their lights to be in perfect working order when they hit the road at night. Lighting issues, including broken headlights, tail lights, and signal lights, can cause serious problems for truck drivers, including:

  • Difficulty seeing at night. When a truck’s lights go out, the driver may struggle to see everything around them, especially on long stretches of poorly-lit road. A lack of visibility can cause a driver to run off the road or into smaller vehicles, especially if those smaller vehicles also lack adequate lights.
  • Difficulty signaling their intentions. While truck drivers can communicate with one another via the radios in their cabs, they cannot communicate with other drivers on the road. Most of the time, signal lights, including brake lights and flashing signal lights, provide the only form of communication a trucker has with other drivers on the road. When those lights malfunction, truck drivers may struggle to let other drivers know they need to turn or change lanes. Missing brake lights can also confuse other drivers who do not know that the truck intends to stop or slow down, sometimes leading to a collision.

Brake Failure

Big trucks need more stopping room than other vehicles even in ideal conditions. On a clear day, traveling at 60 miles per hour, a big truck may need to slow down over the distance of a football field to come to a complete stop. When a big truck’s brakes fail, the driver may have no ability to stop the truck at all until it runs out of steam or crashes into something—usually the latter.

Unfortunately, a big truck’s brakes often see more wear and tear than breaks in other types of vehicles, which means the brakes need more regular maintenance to prevent problems. When a truck’s brakes fail, the truck driver can crash into another vehicle or off the side of the road with nothing the driver can do to prevent the accident.

Steering Failure

A truck’s steering system allows the driver to safely control the vehicle, navigating around turns and maneuvering the vehicle safely through traffic. When a truck’s steering fails, it often goes abruptly, leaving the driver unexpectedly unable to control the vehicle. Sometimes the power steering fails, which means the truck driver may have to wrestle an unresponsive vehicle to the side of the road. Other times, a truck’s steering may go out entirely. When steering problems arise, truck drivers may have no way to prevent an accident.

Windshield Wiper Malfunctions

The windshield wipers seem, on the surface, like a relatively small part of the system that keeps big trucks running smoothly. Those windshield wipers, however, serve a vital function: they keep the truck’s windshield free of dirt, water, and snow. In bad weather, the windshield wipers provide the primary line of defense in keeping the truck’s windshield clean so that a driver can see out and around the truck.

As windshield wipers wear down, visibility may decrease substantially for the truck driver. Worse, the truck driver may have no means to clear the windshield until they have the chance to put replacement blades in place, which can mean a long ride with decreased visibility. That lack of visibility can cause truck drivers to miss the presence of other vehicles around them, especially when the drivers of those vehicles fail to adequately signal or have their lights turned off.

Rear Guard Problems

Many big trucks have rear guards designed to prevent smaller cars from running under the truck, causing serious injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle. These accidents, called underride accidents, occur when the smaller vehicle slips under the tailgate of the truck, often because that vehicle’s driver was too close behind the truck and could not stop in time. Rear guards catch the grill of the smaller vehicle, preventing the entire car from sliding under the big truck’s tailgate.

Unfortunately, mechanics sometimes fail to install these rear guards properly. This can cause the rear guard to smash the smaller vehicle’s windshield, rather than catching the bumper or grill as intended. Other times, improperly-installed rear guards can detach from the truck, causing serious damage to the vehicle behind the truck when it falls.

Transmission Failure

Like the engine, a big truck’s transmission carries a heavy load. Big truck transmissions have the power to haul heavy loads with less strain. Excess or improperly loaded cargo, however, can still put excessive strain on a truck’s transmission. While most fleets receive regular transmission maintenance, an improperly loaded truck can experience transmission failure without warning. In the case of transmission failure, the truck driver may struggle to get the truck safely off the road.

Who Bears Responsibility When Mechanical Failures Cause Truck Accidents?

Most trucking companies have a system in place designed to help prevent mechanical failures throughout the fleet. Not only do trucks receive regular maintenance, but both driver and mechanic must conduct regular checks of the vehicle and sign off on those checks. Unfortunately, mechanical failures still occur. When they do, what caused the truck accident and who bears responsibility?

The Truck Driver

Ultimately, a truck driver bears responsibility for any decision they make while on the road. Most truck drivers carry insurance that covers any accidents, including mechanical failures. In many cases, the trucking company also provides the insurance that covers the entire fleet of vehicles. The driver may bear specific personal liability if they ignored signs of a pending mechanical failure or signed off on a vehicle as safe despite knowing about potential mechanical problems.

The Trucking Company

Most trucking companies have policies specifically designed to decrease the likelihood of mechanical failures. But, unfortunately, not all companies have the right procedures in place to keep their vehicles safe out on the road. If the trucking company authorizes unethical repairs or sends out trucks known to have mechanical problems, the trucking company may bear liability for any accidents that occur as a result of that negligence.

The trucking company may also be liable if it has policies that require drivers and mechanics to overlook potential mechanical issues or require a truck driver to drive a truck even if it needs repairs.

The Manufacturer

Each component of a truck, from the windshield wipers to the tires, matters. In some cases, a manufacturer may allow parts that have an increased risk of mechanical failure to leave the factory: tires, for example, that blow out more often than they should. When manufacturer error increases the risk of mechanical failure, the manufacturer may share liability for accidents caused by those failures.

If a high percentage of a particular part leads to mechanical failure, which in turn leads to accidents, the manufacturer must notify users of those parts and, in some cases, issue a recall. Failure to follow these procedures can mean that the manufacturer is liable for any accidents.

The Mechanic

Many trucking companies employ mechanics who take care of the entire fleet, conducting the regular maintenance required to keep trucks rolling smoothly down the road. Mechanics bear a special duty of care when it comes to those vehicles. First and foremost, mechanics must carefully inspect each truck to identify any potential problems. When a mechanic identifies a problem, they must repair the problem fully before sending the truck back out on the road.

Mechanics who do not properly fix a vehicle, or who fail to identify problems with a vehicle that they should note during an inspection, may bear responsibility for the accident. Mechanics may also bear responsibility for accidents caused by mechanical failure if they caused damage to the vehicle during their inspections or repairs.

Contacting a Truck Accident Attorney

Any time you suffer injuries in a truck accident, including when mechanical failure causes an accident, you may need an attorney to help you file your claim and seek the full compensation you deserve. A truck accident attorney can make it easier to identify and collect evidence concerning the accident, including how mechanical failure may have contributed to your injuries.

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

Dealing With PTSD After a Car Accident

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Tatiana Boohoff, car accident attorney

Crashing metal, a spinning vehicle, and pain: car accidents cause a great deal of trauma in the space of a few short seconds. Worse, you may find yourself trapped in the vehicle after the accident, unable to move due to your injuries or the damage to your vehicle. Unsurprisingly, many people suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after car accidents. The more severe type of accident, the greater the likelihood of emotional trauma. After even a minor car accident, however, you may find yourself living with symptoms of PTSD.

Learn what a skilled legal expert at Boohoff Law with years of experience in dealing with these types of cases can do for you.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD occurs when you experience or witness a highly traumatic event. Following that trauma, you may experience a wide range of symptoms, from revisiting the event over and over again in your mind to suffering heightened levels of anxiety in your everyday life, even when you go nowhere near a vehicle or the scene of the accident. PTSD not only causes severe emotional disturbances and damage relationships with friends and family members.

Car accidents often prove highly traumatic both for people in the vehicle and people who witness the accident. During a car accident, you may experience extreme pain and fear. The vehicle may move unpredictably, causing you to wonder whether you will survive. Some victims of car accidents experience extreme injuries that change their lives completely: traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, or amputations, for example. Even minor injuries, however, can leave a lasting emotional impression on the victim.

PTSD: The Symptoms

Symptoms of PTSD PTSD has a wide range of symptoms that may vary from one person to the next. The absence of some of the symptoms of PTSD does not necessarily indicate that an individual is not suffering from PTSD. However, the following common symptoms could indicate that an individual is struggling with PTSD.


An individual with PTSD may struggle with anger, both related and unrelated to the event. Anything that triggers the feelings of helplessness or pain associated with the accident can also trigger anger along with it. The individual suffering from PTSD can lash out unexpectedly or grow angry as a result of triggers completely unrelated to the accident.

Intrusive Thoughts and Feelings

When suffering from PTSD after a car accident, the victim may struggle with intrusive thoughts. Most people naturally have intrusive thoughts: thoughts that get stuck in the mind in spite of their unpleasant nature. For individuals with PTSD, those intrusive thoughts may grow much more severe and get much harder to eliminate. Intrusive thoughts and feelings can leave the victim feeling helpless, uncomfortable, or increasingly angry.

Reliving the Accident and Flashbacks

In some severe cases of PTSD, the victim may struggle to get thoughts of the accident out of his head. He may find himself thinking about the incident over and over again, reliving it. He may look for ways that he could have avoided the accident or could prevent future accidents, or he might try to figure out who to blame for the accident. Many individuals with PTSD become obsessed with their accidents, talking about them constantly or reviewing them repeatedly.

Flashbacks take that revisiting to the next level. Instead of simply remembering or going over the details of the accident, during a flashback, the victim may feel as though he or she is right back at the scene of the accident. Visual stimulus, hearing, and even touch can all go back to the accident itself. Sometimes, flashbacks trigger because of outside stimuli: a smell, sound, or sight that reminds the victim of the car accident. Other times, flashbacks may have no apparent stimulus, coming on instead due to internal stimuli.


Following an accident with serious injuries, many people fall into depression. Sometimes, however, that depression can represent a greater symptom of PTSD. When depression interferes with everyday life, including making it difficult to function normally, the individual may need counseling or even medication to help pull out of that spiral.


Anxiety can exist alongside depression or in isolation. Individuals with PTSD after a car accident may struggle with increased anxiety over getting into a vehicle, whether driving or as a passenger. Driving past the location of the accident may increase that anxiety. Others may have a generalized increase in overall anxiety, including feeling anxious about unfamiliar situations, going out in public, or interacting with people. These anxiety symptoms may obviously relate to the accident, or the overall increase in anxiety may seem to have little to do with the accident itself.

Increased Isolation

While some people with PTSD reach out to loved ones to help them through this difficult period, others isolate themselves, deliberately pulling back from contact with others. These victims may feel that others do not understand what the victims must deal with after their accidents. Victims may not want to burden others with such negative feelings. As PTSD symptoms increase, the victim may withdraw further and further from even close friends and family members.

Sleep Disturbances

Some individuals with PTSD find themselves sleeping more often, sometimes to avoid interactions that could trigger thoughts about the accident. Others may struggle to sleep at all. Nightmares, including both nightmares about the accident itself and nightmares about other situations that bring on anxiety, could make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

Difficulty Concentrating

Many people with PTSD struggle to concentrate on anything, especially if it does not involve their accidents. Victims may struggle to pay attention to work tasks or to complete everyday household chores. Worse, however, victims of PTSD may struggle to concentrate on movies, games, and other things that once brought pleasure.

Startling More Easily

Along with the increased anxiety that goes along with many cases of PTSD, many victims startle more easily than they did before their accidents. An individual with PTSD may slam on the brakes suddenly over a minor problem on the road or become startled when someone walks up behind him.


Following a serious car accident, many drivers will go out of their way to pay more attention to other vehicles around them to avoid the possibility of a future accident. Individuals with PTSD, however, may take it further: some sufferers may attempt to pay attention to everything going on around them on the road, while others may show increased jumpiness and need to pay attention to everything going on in other situations, as well. Hyper-vigilance may cause a PTSD sufferer to prefer to sit with his back to the wall, or to need to sit in the front passenger seat when not in control of the vehicle, since it makes the road more visible.


Many individuals with PTSD will avoid things that remind them of their car accidents. Some may struggle to get into a vehicle at all, especially the same vehicle that was involved in the accident. Others may avoid the scene of the accident, even if that means taking a much longer way around to avoid the scene. In some cases, the individual may attempt to avoid driving or even getting into a car if at all possible.


Dealing with injuries, including mental trauma, takes a great deal of energy. Many car accident victims find themselves fatigued more often, needing more rest to recover, or even avoiding previously-enjoyed activities due to heightened levels of fatigue. Victims with PTSD may show even more fatigue as they struggle to handle their mental and emotional symptoms.

Suicidal Thoughts

After a car accident, especially a car accident with serious injuries, individuals with PTSD may contemplate suicide or have suicidal thoughts and tendencies. If the individual caused the accident, particularly if the accident severely injured or killed another individual, he or she may feel that the world would be better off without him or her in it. Victims with PTSD may feel that family members are tired of providing care for them or that their families shouldn’t have to deal with the aftermath of the accident.

Coping With PTSD

Some people with PTSD find that symptoms disappear on their own over time. Others seek solace in religious communities or in friends and family. Victims of car accidents who suffer PTSD, however, should discuss their symptoms with a doctor to help determine whether further treatment could aid in a successful recovery. Coping with PTSD may include:

Cognitive Processing Therapy

In cognitive processing therapy, the therapist helps identify the negative thoughts and feelings caused by PTSD: “This was my fault,” “I don’t deserve to be here anymore,” or “These injuries are my punishment for X,” for example. Then, the therapist works with the individual to help rescript those thoughts into something more positive, sometimes eliminating them altogether.

By taking charge of thoughts, the theory states, victims can slowly change their emotions and the way they deal with the accident. Cognitive processing therapy can also help identify the roots of negative thoughts, allowing victims to understand and challenge where those thoughts arose.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

Many individuals with PTSD have thoughts and feelings about the traumatic incident rise up out of control, often at highly inconvenient and distressing moments. During prolonged exposure therapy, the therapist will work with the victim to bring up events related to the accident in a controlled way.

Over time, this helps decrease the patient’s emotional reaction and makes it easier to deal with the aftermath of those responses. The therapist can also work with the victim to help change perceptions of the trauma or to focus on some of the good that came out of it, rather than focusing on just the bad. This may include looking at the victim’s physical recovery and progress made throughout the recovery process, talking about how the accident could have been worse, or discussing the individuals who helped along the way.

In addition to one-on-one exposure therapy, many individuals with PTSD benefit from group therapy, in which they can safely discuss the car accident with others who have suffered similar accidents. In group therapy, individuals suffering from PTSD can open up about what they experienced with individuals who understand the experience. Group therapy also allows victims to talk about their accidents without having to worry about causing trauma to friends and loved ones, which can make it easier to speak openly about the events of the accident.


Medication cannot “cure” PTSD, but it can provide a stabilizing influence that will negate many of the symptoms associated with PTSD. Using the right medications under the care of a doctor experienced in dealing with PTSD can help victims sleep better, decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and handle situations that remind them of the accident. Often, short-term medication use can help jump-start the path to healing or make it easier for victims of PTSD to continue with their lives in spite of their symptoms. Over time, many individuals with PTSD can reduce or eliminate the need to take any medications.

Animal Therapy

In many areas of psychology, psychologists continue to experiment with animal therapy to learn more about how those interactions can help improve outcomes for patients. Animals offer a judgment-free listening ear to patients with PTSD, who often feel safer bonding and sharing with animals than with people.

Some service animals, including both dogs and horses, can receive specialized training to help identify the indications of a flashback or help victims get out of a bad situation. A new pet or service animal can also provide an incentive for an individual who struggles with getting out of bed in the morning or going outside the house: the dog must go for walks, get fed, and receive care from its master, which can help get the owner moving and prevent a slide into further depression.

If you suffer from PTSD after a car accident, regardless of whether you suffered other injuries in the accident, you may deserve compensation for your pain and suffering. A car accident lawyer can talk to you about the compensation you may deserve for your injuries.

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

Dealing With Chest Contusions from Car Accidents

Tatiana Boohoff Lawyer
Car Accident Attorney, Tatiana Boohoff

A car accident is a situation that everyone hopes to avoid. In addition to the hassles of coordinating car repairs and contacting insurance providers, car accidents often result in serious injuries. Injuries are unfortunately common in car accidents. A shocking 2.35 million individuals are injured or disabled in car crashes each year in the United States, and Americans collectively spend more than one million days in the hospital each year as a result of car crash injuries.

If you were in a car accident, you may have suffered a chest contusion or related chest injury, some of the most common car accident injuries. Chest contusions can result in medical conditions with serious and long-term effects. Read on to understand more about chest contusions, how they occur in car accidents, and what you should do after being injured in a car accident.

Understanding Chest Contusions

A chest contusion is an injury caused by a blow or external force that doesn’t break the skin but injures the blood vessels or tissues beneath the skin. A chest contusion may be complicated to diagnose and is likely to cause internal injuries. Chest contusions often require significant medical intervention and long periods of recovery.

Injuries Resulting From Chest Contusions

Given the number of organs located in the chest, injuries to the underlying organs as the result of a chest contusion are likely. A chest contusion can result simply in swelling and discomfort or can be so extreme that it affects the heart or lungs, sometimes so severely that it is fatal. The severity of the injury depends entirely on the amount of force applied to the chest during the car accident.

The injuries that may result from a chest contusion include:

  • Myocardial contusion: A myocardial contusion is a bruise on the heart. This type of injury can affect the heart’s nerve and muscle tissue, jeopardizing the heart’s ability to contract and pump blood throughout the body. If the impact is severe enough, the injured person might die immediately.
  • Pulmonary contusion: A pulmonary contusion affects the lungs and is particularly dangerous because the injured person may not immediately realize that they have been injured. Blood and fluid may build up in the lungs, reducing the amount of oxygen the body receives. Without proper treatment, bruised lungs can have life-threatening consequences.
  • Broken ribs: Significant blunt force on the chest may break one or more ribs. There is generally little that can be done to help heal broken ribs, and the process can take several months. A common complication associated with broken ribs is pneumonia. Broken ribs can also increase the likelihood of other injuries, such as punctured or collapsed lungs.
  • Pneumothorax: A pneumothorax is a collapsed lung. This occurs when air or fluid leaks into the space between the lung and chest cavity and often results from blunt chest injuries. The air or fluid puts pressure on the outside of the lung and causes it to collapse.
  • Hemothorax: A hemothorax refers to pooling blood between the chest wall and the lung and is most commonly caused by either a broken rib or a chest contusion. Often a hemothorax and pneumothorax will occur simultaneously.
  • Injuries to the abdominal organs: If the contusion also affects the abdominal region, it may cause injury to abdominal organs such as the spleen, liver, or small or large intestines.

Treatment of a chest contusion will depend on the associated injuries. Some injuries, such as a pneumothorax, may require surgery, while others may require the patient to simply live with the pain until the problem heals itself, as with a broken rib. Given the wide array of possible injuries, the exact effects of a chest contusion can be difficult to diagnose without extensive analysis.

Diagnosing a Chest Contusion

Diagnosing Chest Injury After Accident On its face, a chest contusion sounds simple: a bruise to the chest. It is, however, a particularly deceptive and troubling injury. Because the blunt force that causes the chest contusion does not break the skin, there is often no external indicator of the extent of the injury. In fact, an injured person might not immediately realize that they have suffered internal damage.

A wide range of symptoms are associated with chest injuries, such as pain in the chest, swelling, difficulty breathing, crunching sounds in the ribs, bruising, coughing up blood, pale and clammy skin, nausea, or extreme thirst.

To understand the extent of an individual’s injuries, doctors may use a variety of methods and technology for diagnosing the extent of a chest contusion, including:

  • X-Ray: A standard x-ray, which takes a static picture of the individual’s chest, can be very helpful in diagnosing chest contusion injuries such as clavicle fractures and rib fractures. X-rays are less accurate for injuries such as pneumothorax and hemothorax.
  • MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the inside of the body. It is considered a safer option than a CT scan due to the lack of radiation involved. An MRI is most commonly used to locate soft tissue injuries.
  • CT Scan: A CT Scan is most commonly used to diagnose lung issues resulting from a chest contusion. It is much faster than an MRI, but it does use radiation.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound is a non-invasive option for diagnosing lung complications resulting from a chest contusion. Unlike an X-Ray, which only provides a static image, ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to create a live image of what is happening in the body in real time.
  • Surgery: In some extreme circumstances, doctors need to perform surgery to diagnose the full extent of internal damage.

While it is important to accurately diagnose and treat chest contusions, they can be particularly costly given the expensive procedures required to diagnose the extent of the injury. Unfortunately, chest contusions are incredibly common car accident injuries.

How Chest Contusions Occur

Many factors in car accidents make chest contusions very common. First, car accidents generally involve an abrupt impact with another object. That other object could be another vehicle, a pole, a guard rail, or a building. No matter what the car collides with, the jarring strike is likely to jolt the driver and passengers, sometimes causing them to collide with objects inside the vehicle or parts of the vehicle itself.

Common points of impact include:

  • Seatbelts: Seatbelts keep you safe, but their design may cause one injury to prevent worse ones. For example, in an accident, a seatbelt should tighten against your body when the car brakes or comes to a sudden stop. This restraint keeps you from being thrown around inside or ejected from the vehicle. The seatbelt’s rapid and forceful tightening can, however, cause a chest contusion.
  • Airbags: Much like seatbelts, airbags are a safety feature with the potential to injure an individual to spare them from a greater injury. The force of an airbag as it deploys may cause a chest contusion. An airbag may also deploy inappropriately when there has been no accident or an accident that should not have been severe enough to trigger the airbag.
  • Steering wheels: Every driver has a preferred position in which they are most comfortable driving. However, this position isn’t always in accordance with the recommended distance between driver and steering wheel. If a driver is too close to the wheel, an accident’s impact may send the driver’s chest straight into the steering wheel, causing a chest contusion.

Anytime you are involved in a car accident, you are at risk of being battered and bruised. It is important to take care of yourself and understand the best way to proceed after the accident has occurred.

What to Do After a Car Accident

Chest injury AccidentThe important thing to do after an accident is to remain calm. The second most important thing to do after a car accident is to seek medical attention. While it is always important to put your well-being first, this step is particularly important in the case of chest contusions. Some of the resulting injuries from a chest contusion may not cause immediate pain, so you may not believe you need medical care. Prompt medical care will, however, ensure that these injuries are immediately diagnosed and treated, potentially avoiding costly and life threatening complications.

Prompt medical attention is also important to ensure that you seek full compensation for your injuries. In a lawsuit or in a claim against an insurer, the other party may argue that your failure to seek prompt medical attention should limit your ability to fully recover damages. They may try to argue that your delay worsened your injuries unnecessarily.

It is also important to secure a police report, which will compile information that may help prove fault. The police will catalog the names and contact information for witnesses, take photos of the accident scene, and issue citations against any party who violated a traffic law or regulation. Citations are a helpful element in showing that someone else was at fault.

In Washington, if you don’t secure a police report, you are still required to submit a collision report to Washington State Patrol if property damage exceeds $500 or any person was injured in the accident.

After securing a police report and tending to your medical needs, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the next steps in ensuring you receive a full recovery for your injuries. These steps include:

  • Determining whether another party was at fault for the accident. Other parties who may have contributed to the accident can include another driver who acted negligently, the car manufacturer if the car’s function contributed to the accident, or local government for failing to properly maintain the roadway.
  • Calculating the damages to which you are entitled as recovery for your injuries. This can include straightforward amounts, such as doctor’s bills, hospital bills, and loss of salary or wages. It can also include damages that are much more difficult to calculate, such as future lost earnings, future medical costs, pain and suffering, or emotional distress. Some of these damages may require input from experts such as medical professionals and accountants.
  • Developing a strategy for recovery. Each case is unique and requires its own case strategy. In some cases, it may make sense to seek recovery from an insurance provider. In others, the plan may be to take the case to a jury trial. Some cases may have the ultimate goal of reasonable settlement with one or more of the negligent parties. An appropriate strategy will need to account for all of the facts of your case.

One of the best ways to ensure that you thoroughly and tactically approach the steps above is to hire an experienced car accident attorney.

Do You Need Help or More Information?

A car accident injury produces enough stress to prevent many people from thinking beyond their immediate medical needs. If you were not responsible for the accident, you will need to think about how you will recover the damages you are due for your injuries. An attorney can help take the weight of these considerations off your shoulders and ensure that you cover all of your bases, giving you the time and mental relief to focus on your recovery.

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