Car Accident Scenarios Who is at Fault

Personal Injury Attorney Tatiana Boohoff
Tatiana Boohoff, Auto Accident Attorney

After any car accident, one of the first questions asked is: Whose fault was it? We place importance on that question, in part, because our legal system uses fault (or something equivalent to it) as the measuring stick for who-pays-who for damages inflicted by the accident.

The answer to that question is not always straightforward. Opinions may differ as to who caused a particular accident. And there is never a single answer that is correct for every situation. Every accident has its own unique facts and circumstances, after all.

In this blog post, we take a look at a variety of car accident scenarios and explore who may bear fault for purposes of gauging legal liability. If you have questions about who was at fault in a car accident that injured you, contact an experienced car accident attorney.

Defining Fault

Before we dive into different types of car accidents, it helps to pause and consider what we mean by the word fault. In the context of car accident law, fault is shorthand for someone having acted, or failed to act, in such a way as to breach a duty of care to others, which caused the accident and/or injuries. A duty of care is an obligation we owe to each other has citizens not to act in a way that is reasonably likely to cause someone else harm.

When someone drives drunk or runs a red light, for example, that person violates a duty of care not to put others on the road in danger. If an accident happens and someone else gets hurt, we say the driver who violated a duty of care is at fault and should pay damages to the injured parties.

Lawyers look for a variety of at fault parties in any car accident scenario, focusing on who has fault not just for causing an accident, but also for the injuries that result from it. Sometimes, the party most able to pay damages has no fault for how the accident happened, but bears all of the fault for injuries. For example, an auto manufacturer may bear fault for injuries that defective safety features—such as faulty airbags—failed to prevent.

Fault in Various Car Accident Scenarios

So, who might have fault for a car accident? The simple, if not particularly satisfying, answer, is: it depends. The facts of each particular accident will determine who has fault for it. Without knowing specific details, no one can assign fault with any certainty.

But, we can make some generalized observations about fault in some typical car accident situations. Here are some examples.

Fault in Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end accidents are some of the most common accidents on American roads. They most commonly occur when the front end of one car collides with the tail end of a slower-moving or stopped car traveling in the same direction. Because of the particular mechanics of that sort of rear-end collision, we tend to assume fault lies with the driver of the trailing vehicle. After all, drivers have an obligation to operate at a speed that allows them to stop in time to avoid a collision with anything in front of them.

While the trailing driver is probably the most common at-fault party in a rear-end collision, he is not the only possible party with fault. First, the driver of the lead vehicle may have fault if, for example, she intentionally slammed her brakes to frighten the trailing driver or to induce a collision. (The lead driver could also have fault if the accident happened in reverse—that is, if she backed into the trailing driver.)

Parties other than drivers could also have fault for a rear-end collision. Take, for example, the manufacturer of the brakes on the trailing vehicle. If the brakes have a defect that causes them to fail when the driver steps on them, then the manufacturer could be at fault. Or suppose the road surface is especially slippery because a construction crew failed to clean up a load of sand. In that case the road contractor may have legal liability.

Fault in T-Bone Accidents

T-bone (or broadside or angular) collisions occur when the front end of one vehicle collides with the side of another. They occur most commonly at intersections and in other driving scenarios in which traffic crosses at right angles. They are some of the most deadly accidents on Washington roads, particularly for occupants of the vehicle hit on its side, who have little in the way of protection from a violent impact.

In a typical two-car T-bone collision, either driver, or both of them, could have fault. These accidents often happen when one or more driver ignores a stop sign or red light. They can also happen when one driver makes an aggressive decision, such as turning across a lane of oncoming traffic, that the other driver fails to anticipate or is driving too fast to avoid.

Like rear-end collisions, other parties could also share fault for a t-bone collision. A municipal government that designs a dangerous intersection or fails to maintain adequate or working traffic control signals could have fault for an accident, for example.

Fault in Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions, as the name suggests, happen when two vehicles collide front-to-front, most often when one vehicle drifts or departs from its lane of travel into oncoming traffic. Though they are relatively rare as traffic accidents go, head-on collisions frequently result in catastrophic injuries and loss of life because of the violent forces involved.

Fault for head-on collisions typically falls to one of the two drivers, usually the driver whose car enters a travel lane heading in the wrong direction. This can happen when a driver dozes-off behind the wheel or drives drunk, and veers into an oncoming lane. It can also happen when a driver makes an ill-advised decision to pass someone on a two-lane road with one lane in each direction, and collides with a vehicle in the oncoming lane before returning to his travel lane. And sometimes it happens when a motorist drives the wrong way on a one-way street or on a closed highway. In all such circumstances, the driver whose car entered an opposing lane of traffic generally has fault for the accident.

But not always. There are circumstances where the car coming in the opposing direction should yield to the other car, such as when cars must yield to left-turning traffic at an intersection with a left-turn arrow. Head on collisions can also be the fault of auto manufacturers if, say, a vehicle defect makes a car difficult to control and causes it to veer into an oncoming travel lane.

Fault in Single-Car Accidents

Single-car accidents occur when a motorist loses control of a vehicle rolls over, drives off the road, or collides with a stationary object. On the surface, one might assume single-car accidents are always the fault of the driver. But that isn’t the case. Drivers in single-car accidents too-often blame themselves for a crash. In fact, as often as not, fault for single-car accidents lies elsewhere.

To begin, even without a collision there can still be another motorist who causes a single-car accident. Take, for example, the common scenario in which a car swerves and crashes into a tree or road barrier in reaction to erratic driving by a second vehicle that goes unharmed. In that case, the driver of the second vehicle has fault, even though he wasn’t technically involved in the accident.

Similar to other scenarios above, automotive manufacturers and municipal road contractors may also have fault for single car accidents if their actions create unsafe conditions leading to a crash. Another party who could have fault for a single-vehicle accident is a drug manufacturer, if it markets a medication with dangerous side-effects without warning about them, leading a driver to fall asleep or to become disoriented behind the wheel.

How Attorneys and Others Determine Fault for Car Accidents

As we said at the outset, fault forms the core of the inquiry into who has legal liability for a car accident and the damage it inflicts on innocent victims. Accordingly, lawyers, insurance adjusters, judges, and juries focus a significant amount of effort on determining fault in car accident cases.

Finding fault means investigating facts in detail. An attorney representing a client injured in a car accident will usually try to collect as much evidence as possible about the accident, and then (sometimes with the help of forensic experts) will piece that evidence together to form a picture of whose actions led to the collision or single-car accident. In performing this task, lawyers pursue the facts as far as they go until there is no longer a provable, reasonably foreseeable connection between someone’s actions and the accident and injuries.

Evidence pointing to fault in a car accident can come from a wide variety of sources, including eyewitness accounts, photographs and video of the accident scene, police reports, and forensic examinations of the vehicles involved. Anyone involved in an accident should, if possible, try and collect and preserve as much of this evidence as possible. These days, virtually everyone carries a smartphone they can use to snap pictures and take video at an accident scene. Shooting as many images of the accident scene as possible can make a large difference when it comes time for your lawyer to prove fault.

What Happens After an Attorney Identifies at Fault Parties?

After evaluating the evidence and deciding whose fault it points to, an attorney typically discusses a strategy with his or her client for recovering the compensation the client deserves. One common approach is to identify those at-fault parties with the ability to pay (either through insurance and/or their own assets) and to send them a demand letter asking for compensation. That typically opens a round of negotiations over a potential settlement of the injured person’s claim.

Most car accident matters get resolved through a negotiated settlement. But not all of them. Sometimes, a lawyer and her client must take a case all the way to trial to prove fault by showing a jury the evidence and asking them to award damages. A jury hears the evidence and decides whether the attorney has proved fault by a preponderance of the evidence (which basically means “more likely than not”). If so, then the jury decides the amount of damages to award to the accident victim.

Finding the Best Attorney for Proving Fault

Proving fault for a car accident is not always easy. It takes persistence in exploring the evidence, attention to detail, and a willingness to follow the facts wherever they lead. How do you know if your attorney has what it takes? Here are some tips for deciding on the best attorney for proving fault in your car accident case:

  • Choose an attorney with years of experience. Your life and livelihood are too important to trust to an attorney who has not spent her career fighting on behalf of victims of car accidents.
  • Pick a lawyer with a track record of success. There are no guarantees in car accident claims. But you can trust that an attorney who can point to significant successes on behalf of other clients knows what it takes to recover all the compensation you deserve.
  • Select a law firm with resources to pursue a case to the fullest extent necessary. Some firms can end up in over their heads on a case when it turns out there are more parties at fault than first anticipated. Choose a firm that has enough staffing and funds to prevent that from happening.

Remember, there is no single answer for who has fault for a car accident. An experienced Washington car accident lawyer can help evaluate who has fault for the accident that injured you. Contact a skilled car accident lawyer today to schedule a consultation and to learn more about who might have fault for your car accident.

Phone: (877) 659-2417
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121

All About Rollover Accidents

A woman was killed after being trapped under an SUV in a rollover crash. The Tuesday morning crash occurred at an intersection in South Seattle, and involved the SUV getting struck by another vehicle. The collision caused the SUV to roll, trapping the woman—who was a pedestrian near the scene—between the car and the pavement. Medics attempted to revive the woman, but she ultimately was declared dead at the scene. A witness to the accident said that, shortly before the collision, the traffic signals at the intersection had changed from normal to flashing red. Police were still working to determine the exact cause of the accident at the time the report was published.

If were injured in a rollover accident caused by another person’s carelessness or recklessness, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. An experienced car accident attorney can explain the process to you.

Rollover Accidents Explained

A rollover accident is one that involves a vehicle tipping over onto its side or rolling completely over until it is upside down. In some cases, the car may roll over multiple times before it comes to rest. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), rollover accidents are relatively rare—accounting for only about 2 percent of all traffic crashes in the United States. However, they are a particularly deadly type of accident, accounting for nearly 35 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. Rollover accidents may involve a single vehicle, or they made involve multiple vehicles, and they result in the loss of more than 7,000 lives a year.

There are two types of rollover accidents:

  • Tripped rollovers, which account for 95 percent of single-car rollover accidents. A tripped rollover occurs when the vehicle leaves the roadway and something trips it to cause it to roll over. The trip may be soft soil that the tires dig into, or it may be something such as a curb, median, or guardrail.
  • Untripped rollovers are the more rare of the two types of rollovers, accounting for only about 5 percent. This type of rollover generally involves a top-heavy vehicle and a high-speed collision avoidance maneuver, such as swerving to avoid rear-ending a vehicle that turned onto the roadway without having an ample gap in traffic.

What Causes a Vehicle to Rollover?

Any vehicle is capable of rolling over if the circumstances are right, including:

  • The type of vehicle involved. Vehicles with a high center of gravity or those that are top-heavy are most likely to experience a rollover, particularly an untripped rollover involving speed and a collision avoidance maneuver or even a sharp curve in the road. Some of the common culprits in rollover accidents are SUVs, pickup trucks, vans, and commercial trucks.
  • Speeding, which makes it harder to control one’s vehicle and reduces the reaction time that one has between perceiving a hazard and coming to a safe stop. This reduced time to react can result in an over-correction or a sudden swerve that can cause the vehicle to roll. Speeding is a factor in approximately 40 percent of all rollover accidents. A Seattle rollover accident caused a car to virtually disintegrate and its driver to suffer severe injuries due to excessive speed. The driver suffered an apparent medical emergency before the crash, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
  • Too much tire grip, which can lead to excessive sideways forces. This is particularly relevant for SUVs and pickup trucks outfitted with sporty aftermarket tires that provide more grip than the tires that the vehicle had on it when it was first purchased.
  • Not enough tire grip due to excessively worn tires. This can reduce the car’s ability to grip the road, resulting in skidding.
  • Where the accident occurs. Rollover accidents are more common on rural roadways in which there is only one lane per direction of travel and a higher posted speed limit. A 70-year-old man was killed in a rollover crash on State Route 162 after he failed to negotiate a curve. His vehicle rolled over into a ditch and was discovered partially submerged in the water.
  • Overloading the vehicle, which places strain on the tires, makes the vehicle harder to maneuver, and can cause top-heavy vehicles to tip over if the load is unbalanced or shifts during transport.
  • Alcohol. Nearly half of all rollover crashes involve an impaired driver. Alcohol impairment reduces many of the skills needed for the safe operation of a motor vehicle, including speed control and the ability to perceive and respond to hazards on the roadway. A woman suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol abandoned her vehicle after a rollover accident, leaving behind her injured twin sister in the wreckage. The rollover occurred when the vehicle that the woman was driving allegedly left the roadway for an unknown reason.
  • Curved roads or exit ramps, in combination with excessive speed and a top-heavy vehicle, can greatly increase one’s risk of being involved in a rollover crash.
  • An accident in which one vehicle serves as a “trip” to another vehicle, resulting in a rollover. A hotel shuttle bus near SeaTac Airport rolled over after allegedly being struck head on by a passenger vehicle that had crossed the median into oncoming traffic. One person died and several more were injured.
  • Fatigue, which can cause a driver to drift off of the road, increasing the chance that the vehicle will roll over.
  • Icy or wet roads. A charter bus full of University of Washington band members lost control on an ice-covered stretch of Interstate 90 and rolled over on its side. The crash resulted in injuries to nearly 40 people 120 miles southeast of Seattle.

Injuries Associated With Rollover Accidents

Rollovers are particularly violent accidents that often result in serious or catastrophic injuries. The severity of the injuries one suffers often depends on whether or not the vehicle’s occupants were wearing their seat belts at the time of the collision, as failure to do so places one at risk of being ejected from the vehicle. Some of the injuries often suffered by the victims of rollover accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries, either from being ejected from the vehicle or from striking one’s head on an object inside of the vehicle as it is rolling over. Traumatic brain injuries can be life-altering, producing deficits such as an inability to walk, communicate, or recall events. Many individuals suffering this type of injury require round-the-clock care as they are no longer able to accomplish routine daily tasks on their own.
  • Spinal cord injuries, which can be life-threatening and may result in full or partial paralysis of the limbs or even tetraplegia, which is the loss of sensation and function in all of the limbs, the torso, and the pelvis.
  • Broken bones, often caused by ejection, striking the body against objects within the vehicle as it is rolling, or even getting limbs crushed beneath the vehicle.
  • Internal damage, such as punctured lungs resulting from broken ribs, or other damaged organs due to the force of the collision or from striking external objects after being ejected from the vehicle.

How to Avoid a Rollover Accident

While it is impossible to control the actions of other drivers that may result in an accident, there are some things you can do to avoid a rollover, or to survive it if you experience one:

  • Always wear a seat belt, even if you’re only going for a short drive. Seat belts allow you to remain inside the vehicle during the accident, which is typically your best opportunity to avoid serious injury or even death due to being ejected. According to the NHTSA, nearly half of all the people killed in traffic-related crashes in the United States in one recent year weren’t wearing their seat belts. Seat belt use reduces your risk of death by up to 45 percent.
  • When shopping for a vehicle, look for a newer car that has the benefit of improved safety equipment, including electronic stability control and side curtain airbags.
  • Also look for a vehicle that is lower to the ground. Remember that vehicles with a higher center of gravity and a narrow base—such as SUVs, pickup trucks, or vans—have a higher risk of rolling over as well.
  • Check the pressure on your tires. Under-inflated tires tend to run hotter than properly inflated tires, increasing the chance of a blowout that will make maneuvering your car very difficult. Over-inflated tires, while providing some degree of additional stability for the vehicle, are prone to severe damage by potholes and other irregularities in the road which could lead to loss of vehicle control.
  • Watch your speed. The faster you’re going, the less time you have to respond appropriately to hazards in the roadway and the harder it is to maintain control of your vehicle.
  • Don’t consume alcohol if you’re going to be driving, as impairment substantially increases your risk of any type of motor vehicle accident. By the same token, don’t drive if you’re overly tired. Fatigue produces similar symptoms as alcohol impairment in that it impacts your response time and your ability to control your speed.
  • Be cautious when traveling on rural roadways that feature a lot of curves, few options for overtaking other vehicles, and a higher posted speed limit. Be alert for other drivers who may also be traveling the same roadway while not exercising the same measure of caution.
  • Slow down for curves in the road. One of the primary causes of rollover accidents is loss of vehicle control due to excessive speed.
  • Be aware of the conditions of the road. Wet roads reduce the traction that your vehicle’s tires can provide, sometimes resulting in a sideways skid that can be a precursor to a rollover.
  • Allow enough space between your car and others on the roadway that you can stop for hazards without taking collision avoidance maneuvers that increase your risk of a rollover.

If You Were Injured in a Rollover, a Car Accident Lawyer Might Help You

If you were injured in a rollover accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may seek compensation by filing a third-party insurance claim with the liable party’s insurance carrier or via a personal injury lawsuit. Washington residents generally have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. A car accident attorney can explain each of these options to you and help with your case, including:

  • Personal Injury Attorney Tatiana Boohoff
    Tatiana Boohoff, Auto Accident Attorney

    Estimating the value of damages involved in your case based on the severity of the injuries you’ve suffered, the medical expenses you’ve incurred, and the impacts that your injury has had on your life and will have in the future.

  • Examining the facts of your case to determine all sources of liability and all potential insurance resources that could be used to compensate you.
  • Aggressively negotiating with the insurance company in an attempt to get you the highest settlement possible.
  • Providing extensive knowledge of the legal process and your case so that you can make the most informed decision possible regarding accepting a proposed settlement or pursuing a lawsuit.
  • Consulting with your doctors and other medical experts to provide an insurance company, a judge, or a jury with a valid glimpse as to your injuries and your prognosis.
  • Representing you in court, including a timely filing of your lawsuit, adherence to all requirements involved in filing your claim, attendance at all pre-trial conferences and hearings, the presentation of your case, assistance in collecting any award you receive, and representation in an appeal, should one be filed.

Speaking with a skilled auto accident attorney can answer any other questions you may have regarding your car accident case but to learn more we also recommend reviewing some car accident statistics and FAQs.

Boohoff Law
Phone: (877) 659-2417
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121

What Happens After Suffering a Brain Injury From a Motorcycle Accident?

Personal Injury Attorney Tatiana Boohoff
Tatiana Boohoff, Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Riding a motorcycle involves an inevitable tradeoff between risk and reward. Riders get the exhilaration of wind in their faces and a sense of freedom, but must accept the danger of injury inherent in a motorcycle wreck. One of the biggest dangers in a motorcycle accident is the risk of a brain injury. Even when riders wear helmets, they face a far-higher likelihood of brain injury in an accident than occupants of passenger vehicles. Unhelmeted motorcycle riders face extreme risk of brain injury, including fatal injuries.

At Boohoff Law, our team routinely represents motorcyclists who have sustained brain injuries in traffic accidents. These are difficult cases. Injured motorcyclists and their families often struggle to cope with the uncertainty of treating and recovering from a brain injury. They also frequently struggle financially, particularly when brain injuries keep the injured biker hospitalized and out of work.

An experienced motorcycle accident brain injury attorney can help you learn more about your legal rights after a motorcycle accident. Meanwhile, in this blog post, we discuss the life challenges, financial burdens, and legal options for motorcyclists who sustain brain injuries in traffic accidents.

Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury Risks

It is no secret that motorcycle riders risk brain injuries in accidents. For years, researchers have studied ways to reduce those risks, principally through the use of helmets. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, “[t]he effectiveness of motorcycle helmets in preventing or lessening head injuries among motorcyclists is now widely considered a settled matter by researchers.” The short version of their findings: helmets substantially reduce the risk of brain injury but they cannot eliminate it.

In a typical motorcycle accident, the rider gets thrown from the motorcycle and lands on the road surface or collides with an object. Even at low speeds, the motorcyclist risks a severe blow to his head. Though a helmet can lessen the severity of the blow, there is only so much the helmet can do. Any rapid deceleration of a rider’s head, brought on by an impact with a road surface or object, will likely lead to injury to the brain.

How a Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury Can Derail Your Life

A brain injury occurs when the brain sustains direct or indirect damage from a violent blow. The impact itself can inflict harm directly to brain tissue, such as by fracturing the skull or “rattling” the brain within the skull and damaging nerve cells (known as “axons”). An impact can also lead to bleeding and swelling inside the skull, which can put pressure on the brain that damages tissue and nerve endings.

The resulting brain injury can inflict a wide variety of symptoms depending upon what part of the brain is affected. Our brains are the control system for our bodies, and the center of consciousness, emotion, and our sense of self. Damage to brain tissue can interfere with any of these functions. As a result, brain injury victims may experience:

  • Loss of consciousness, including coma and permanent semi-conscious states;
  • Motor deficits, such as paralysis, numbness, weakness, and an impaired ability to perform certain gestures or movements, including functions as critical as swallowing or chewing;
  • Speech and language deficits, including an inability to form words, slurred or slowed speech, loss of the ability to read or to understand speech;
  • Cognitive deficits, such as long-term memory loss, forgetfulness, reduced ability to reason or organize thoughts, and the loss of understanding of numbers or other abstract concepts;
  • Emotional deficits, including mood swings, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, and uncontrolled temper; and
  • Other functional deficits, such as insomnia, fatigue, persistent headaches, social isolation, and an inability to recognize and respond appropriately to social cues.

These are just some of the myriad ways a brain injury can interfere with a motorcycle accident victim’s daily life. Others close to the victim also feel the impact of these symptoms. Brain injuries frequently cause emotional strain within families and close relationships. It is difficult for everyone who cares about the victim to adapt to the setbacks the injury caused.

The Costs of Living With a Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury

The difficulties a motorcycle accident brain injury inflicts on victims and their families do not stop at emotional, cognitive, and functional challenges. Brain injuries also impose significant financial burdens on everyone affected. Research from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the average cost of motorcycle accident injuries suggests that severe but non-fatal injuries can cost victims and their families millions of dollars in economic damage and harm to quality of life. Here are a few of the ways the costs of a motorcycle accident brain injury can pile up.

Medical and Rehab Costs

Motorcycle accident victims, particularly those who have suffered brain injuries, typically need emergency medical care. All but the most minor brain injuries will require hospitalization, and severe injuries frequently result in lengthy stays in intensive care units. Even if insurance covers some of these costs, it rarely covers all of them. Bills from medical care can quickly climb to the tens of thousands of dollars or more.

And that is just the cost of medical care in the immediate aftermath of a motorcycle accident. Recovering from a brain injury frequently involves significant long-term treatment and a variety of physical, emotional, and occupational therapies. Victims may require assistive devices and technologies to help them get around and to communicate with others. All of this therapy and equipment costs money—lots and lots of money. Insurance typically only covers some of it.

Loss of Present and Future Income

Motorcycle accident victims who suffer a brain injury frequently miss months (or more) of work while they struggle to recover. Family members caring for those victims also often take time off from work to help care for the victim. Every day out of work costs money. The loss of regular income the brain injury victim contributed to a family’s budget can lead to a financial spiral.

The financial pain extends into the future as well. Motorcycle accident brain injury victims not only miss work, but also often find their ability to perform their job diminished by the effects of the injury. Many brain injury victims cannot return to work at all. Some can return to work, but in a significantly-reduced capacity, both in terms of the amount of time they can spend working and the types of work tasks they can perform. Brain injuries frequently cause fatigue that limits hours at work. Other common deficits associated with brain injuries interfere with complex decision-making required at a job. Family members, too, may find they will have to work less to care for their injured loved one.

Quality of Life Costs

There are measurable, dollars-and-cents, costs of a brain injury, represented by the two categories above. And then there are the intangible harms a motorcycle accident brain injury inflicts on victims and their loved ones. A brain injury can, quite literally, seem to change a person by affecting how the person feels about, perceives, and responds to others. Those changes are often profoundly upsetting for the brain injury victim. They also cause immense strain on family members and friends.

Beyond the harm a brain injury can do to relationships, there are still more costs. Brain injuries often prevent victims from engaging in life activities they used to enjoy. Many can never return to riding a motorcycle, for instance, or to playing sports or engaging in hobbies. Motorcycle accident brain injury victims can suffer from deep depression brought on by the radical changes in lifestyle the injury causes. Some even become suicidal.

It is difficult to measure the cost of these intangible injuries. But the NHTSA research above suggests it is multiples of the economic costs inflicted by an accident in some cases.

Addressing the Challenges of Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury

Motorcycle accident brain injury victims need substantial support as they recover from their trauma and move forward with their lives. This help comes in a variety of forms. First and foremost, they need appropriate medical care and therapy. Without these supports, brain injury victims cannot hope to make a healthy, sustained recovery.

Then there are other kinds of help. Brain injury victims sometimes need around-the-clock assistance with basic life activities. And they need assistance returning to work, school, and everyday pursuits. But this help costs money. Many motorcycle accident brain injury victims struggle to afford basic medical care, let alone the extra support necessary to make a full recovery.

That is why it is also essential for motorcycle accident brain injury victims to find a third type of support: skilled legal help. An experienced Washington State motorcycle accident brain injury lawyer’s job is to help motorcycle accident victims and their families obtain compensation to help them pay for their recovery. Here is how a motorcycle accident brain injury lawyer typically approaches that task:

  • Investigation. The first order of business for an attorney representing a motorcycle accident brain injury victim or family member is to investigate the facts and circumstances of the accident to determine how the accident happened, who is at fault for it, and who can pay damages to the injured client. Attorneys accomplish this through investigation—collecting evidence, speaking with witnesses, and engaging forensic experts. The goal is to identify as many parties as possible who have potential legal liability for damages to the injured motorcyclist.
  • Negotiation. After identifying potentially-liable parties, the lawyer’s next order of business is to demand compensation from those parties and their insurance companies on her client’s behalf. Ideally, the parties will recognize their legal obligations and offer to settle the client’s motorcycle accident injury claims. But brain injuries are expensive. It is common for parties to resist paying the full amount of compensation that a motorcycle accident injury victim deserves. It takes a skilled negotiator armed with all of the important facts about her client’s motorcycle accident, brain injury, and financial needs to bring them to a sensible resolution.
  • Litigation. Sometimes, despite her best efforts, an attorney cannot convince the legally-liable parties to make a fair settlement offer to compensate her client’s for a brain injury. In that case, the attorney and her client may decide to take the case to Washington courts and trust a judge and jury to determine a fair and just outcome. Not many motorcycle accident brain injury cases go to trial, but when they do, it is important to have an attorney who has years of experience and plenty of trials under her belt.

Motorcycle accident brain injury victims and their families should start looking for skilled legal help right away. There is only a narrow window of time to take legal action, and the earlier a lawyer can start investigating a case the better her chances of achieving the most favorable outcome available for her client.

Victims and their families should also not have to fret about added costs when hiring an attorney. That is why most motorcycle accident brain injury attorneys  offer free consultations and take cases on a contingency fee basis, in which the client pays no money upfront and the lawyer gets paid only a percentage of any settlement or jury verdict recovered on the client’s behalf.

There Is Hope After a Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury

Brain injuries leave victims and their families feeling confused and hopeless. But there is hope after a motorcycle accident brain injury. Washington State has broad resources to help brain injury victims and their families. And even if bills start to pile up, skilled motorcycle cycle accident injury attorneys stand at the ready to help victims and families recover the compensation they deserve from those who did them harm. With some luck and persistence, motorcycle accident brain injury victims can recover and lead productive, joyful, meaningful lives.

Boohoff Law
Phone: (877) 659-2417
2200 6th Avenue, Suite 768
Seattle, WA 98121

What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident

Advice, the saying goes, is cheap. And there is no shortage of advice on the internet about what to do after you get into a motor vehicle accident. You’ll find some of that type of advice here on our blog, in fact.

A significant amount of the advice you’ll find by Googling “what should I do after an accident?” recites a basic formula: call 911, see a doctor, be wary of insurance adjusters, consult with an attorney, and so on. And, in fairness, that is usually pretty solid advice. But when it comes to a motorcycle accident, it’s also perhaps a tad simplistic.

In this blog post, we aim to dive deeper into the post-accident-advice-giving genre and walk you, step by step, through some of the significant decisions you might face after a motorcycle accident disrupts your life. We will focus specifically on steps you can take as someone whose loved one suffered serious injuries in this type of accident, because the reality is that motorcycle accidents often put motorcycle riders and passengers out of commission and unable to tackle many of the tasks below.

A Common Motorcycle Accident Scenario

Your loved one was riding his motorcycle on the road next to a busy shopping center on a clear day, observing the 35 miles per hour speed limit in that part of town. Without warning, a car driven by a teenager who was texting violated his right of way by turning left across his path toward the shopping center entrance. Your loved one applied his brakes but he couldn’t avoid colliding with the side of the car. The accident is 100 percent the teen driver’s fault. Fortunately, her parents carry ample insurance.

The force of the collision threw your loved one over the roof of the car and onto the street. Luckily he was wearing his helmet or he would have been killed instantly. As it is, he suffered a severe concussion. But that’s not the worst of his injuries. He landed extremely awkwardly on the road. The impact with the road surface shattered his pelvis and broke his arm in multiple places. He has lacerations and abrasions, and when he’s admitted to the hospital doctors discover damage to his liver and spleen that are causing internal bleeding. These are typical motorcycle accident injuries.

The medical team stabilizes him, but they tell you he faces a long stay in the hospital and an extremely painful and lengthy course of rehabilitation. He’ll be out of his job as a roofer for months, and may never recover the mobility and balance he needs to navigate ladders and rooftops safely. He was relatively healthy until now, so he carried minimal health insurance with a high deductible to save money. The collision more or less destroyed his motorcycle.

The accident is going to cause your loved one and your family extreme physical, emotional, and financial pain. What should you do?

Get Appropriate Medical Care

The first piece of advice you see in any blog post like this is one we are going to repeat, because it’s indisputably accurate. The first thing your loved one should do, and that you should do for your loved one, is to ensure he gets appropriate medical care. For now, let the hospital deal with billing your health insurance company. Just make sure your loved one is stabilized and on the path to recovery. Nothing is more important for him, for you, or for your family than to do everything you can to give him the best chance of making a “full” recovery, however long that might take.

Preserve the Motorcycle

We’re still talking about what to do in the first hours after an accident, here. The next thing it is absolutely essential for you to do, right away, is to figure out where your loved one’s motorcycle is and to take possession of it. Do this as soon as possible. Do not let a towing company or clean up crew throw the bike away. Do not let someone try to fix it, and don’t try to fix it yourself. Collect the bike and (if possible) any parts that came off of it in the accident, no matter how small, and put all of them in a dry, safe place, like a garage. Then, do not touch them.

At every phase of this process, take pictures with your phone to document the exact condition of the bike and what you are doing with it. Imagine you are a character on one of those crime scene investigation TV shows. Take a picture of everything.

Why is this so important? Well, just like the characters on TV, you are preserving one of the most critical pieces of evidence of your loved one’s accident. What happens to the other vehicle—the car he collided with—is out of your control for the moment. But by preserving his bike and its parts in exactly the condition it was after the accident you can help him and (eventually) his lawyer eliminate the chance that someone will claim the accident was your loved one’s fault.

Contact Your Insurance Companies to Give Them a Head’s Up

It is usually a good idea to call your insurance companies (motorcycle and health) soon after an accident to let them know what has happened. If your loved one carries long-term disability insurance, like AFLAC, call that company, too. In these phone calls, do not try to characterize fault in the accident or go into detail about what you think happened. Just giving them a head’s up is all you typically need to do to fulfill your obligations as a policyholder (or as the representative of the policyholder). Do not agree to any interviews or to share any evidence with the insurance company, at least not yet. If they press you about this, tell them you are going to need to talk to a lawyer first and set a date to follow up with them.

Call Your Loved One’s Employer/Coworkers

Someone will need to tell your loved one’s employer and/or co-workers about the accident. Treat this conversation like the call with the insurance companies. Let them know what happened, but do not share more detail than is necessary to cover for your loved one until he is well enough to speak with them himself. If you need to make arrangements to make sure someone fills in for your loved one on a job, do that right away. The goal is to try to minimize the impact on others so that people remember those efforts when your loved one is ready to return to work.

Do a Quick Review of Your Finances

Figure out what the expected period of time your loved one will not be not working is going to cost your family. Identify how much money you need every month to stay afloat financially. Determine whether anyone can help pick up the loss of his income, whether by getting another job or seeking a loan from family or friends. Your aim should be to have as clear a picture as possible of how long you can hold out without your loved one’s income. This information is important. It helps you focus on what you need to accomplish to avoid the worst financial damage. And it can help your attorney to plan a legal strategy and to calculate potential damages you might recover.

Set up a File for Records

You are going to start receiving lots of records from insurance companies and medical providers. Try to keep all of them together in a file so that when anyone asks for them—especially your lawyer—you have them all on hand. These records document the precise nature and extent of your loved one’s injuries, and the out-of-pocket medical costs you have incurred. They will be critical to proving the amount of damages your loved one can seek to recover.

Take Care of Yourself

It is incredibly stressful to deal with the sudden shock of a loved one getting seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. To survive this moment of your life, it is important to care for yourself when you can. Do simple things like taking a daily vitamin and trying to exercise. Eat healthy foods. It might be hard to sleep, but do your best to get some rest. Let friends and family who care about you do their part to help out. Remember: being strong for your loved one as he recovers does not mean hurting yourself in the process.

Sit Down With an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Motorcycle Accident Lawyers WAOnce your loved one’s health has stabilized and you have a reasonable sense of his outlook for recovery, and you have taken the other steps above to stabilize your own situation, schedule a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. If possible, bring your injured loved one along, or schedule the meeting at the hospital. The purpose of this meeting is to start the ball rolling on protecting your loved one’s, and your own, legal rights to compensation from the teen driver’s insurance, and potentially from others.

Think of a lawyer as a person who can take some of the burden off of your shoulders. You and your injured loved one need to focus on getting his health back and returning to living a “normal” life. Your lawyer helps you do that by taking over the process of gathering information and using it to convince insurance companies and others to pay your loved one the damages he deserves.

In a nutshell, an attorney can:

  • Gather any additional evidence that’s available to help understand and explain how the accident happened and who was at fault;
  • Identify all parties who have potential “legal liability” to your loved one for damages. In the scenario above, this will certainly include the teen driver’s parents’ insurance. But it is always possible that there are others whose actions may have contributed to the accident. Your lawyer’s goal is to find as many potential sources of payment for your loved one’s injuries as possible, to give him the best chance of recovering every penny he deserves.
  • “Demand” payment from those parties, and engage in negotiations with them or their attorneys to try to achieve a “settlement” that pays your loved one an appropriate amount of money.
  • Take legal action if those negotiations do not bear fruit, which may include taking your loved one’s case to trial in Washington State courts.

The sooner you reach out to an attorney, the better your attorney’s opportunity will be to make the most of these steps and to obtain the maximum recovery available under Washington law.

Focus on the Positive

While your attorney works, try to focus on the positives of your situation. Your loved one survived a type of accident that many do not. By choosing the right attorney, you are in good hands. Life is going to get back to “normal.” It’s going to be okay.

Do Your Part to Educate Others

Finally, here at Boohoff Law we are constantly amazed and inspired by our clients when they use their own personal difficulties and tragedies as a way to help others avoid the same outcomes. People like you who have been through trials and tribulations can do an enormous amount of good by helping others understand how to stay safe on the roads.

Of course, none of us can predict if or when a disaster may strike while we’re out riding a motorcycle. The scenario above is one of a host of typical ways a motorcycle accident can happen. But even though we can’t avoid random accidents, we can educate ourselves and others about riding safely and about how to respond if the worst happens. The knowledge and insight we gain by doing so gives us the best possible chance of coming away from a frightening, potentially devastating experience with our lives renewed.

To learn more about your rights after a Washington State motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.

What Happens in a Tire Blowout Accident?

Tire blowouts often happen in the blink of an eye. One moment, you are cruising calmly down the road, surrounded by other drivers equally committed to reaching their destinations. The next, a car spins out of control. With one tire missing, the vehicle might swing wildly through traffic and cause a car crash, difficult or even impossible to control, especially in the hands of an inexperienced driver.

Common Causes of Tire Blowout Accidents

Blowouts can happen to any tire. However, several common causes can add up to increased odds of a tire blowout, including:

  • Impact damage. Running over something on the road, even if you do not notice it at the time, can cause a tire to blow out. Sometimes, the blowout occurs immediately, as your tire strikes debris in the road. Other times, you may bump over an item in the road and think the vehicle suffered no damage, only to discover a mile or two down the road that your vehicle suffered more serious damage than you initially thought.
  • Old, worn out tires. Tires, like every other part of your vehicle, wear down. Your tires take a lot of abuse from the road. Over time, the rubber wears down, which means it can no longer expand and contract appropriately when temperature and pressure change. Worn tires have a much higher risk of blowout than new, fresh tires with deep treads and no damage.
  • Small punctures. Sometimes small punctures, including those from nails or rocks, can create a serious risk of tire blowout. These small punctures can cause air to drain out of the tire, often so slowly that the driver fails to notice it. When the driver hits higher rates of speed on the road, this can lead to a buildup of pressure that in turn leads to a blowout.
  • Overloaded vehicles. Vehicles carrying too much weight have an increased risk of a tire blowout. This includes vehicles carrying both too much passenger weight and too much cargo. Drivers of small pickup trucks, for example, may choose to overload their vehicles to transport cargo in the truck bed, which can put too much pressure on the tires, especially if the driver has allowed the tires to wear down.
  • Potholes. Like other hazards on the road, potholes can cause serious damage to a vehicle’s tires. Driving over a pothole can cause the tire to expand and contract rapidly, which can increase the risk of a blowout.

What Happens During a Tire Blowout?

During a tire blowout, the vehicle may slow abruptly, since the blown-out tire cannot continue rolling normally. Many drivers find that the vehicle pulls strongly to one side depending on which tire burst. In larger vehicles or vehicles carrying substantial weight, drivers may have particular difficulty moving the vehicle safely off the road. The driver may also struggle to control the vehicle, since steering will change as a result of the accident.

Tire blowouts may cause single-car accidents as the driver struggles to move the vehicle safely off the road, or they may cause multi-car accidents, especially on busy roads or at high speeds. Often, the driver with the blowout will struggle to safely maneuver the car. A driver following too closely behind that vehicle may be unable to stop fast enough to avoid a collision. In other cases, the driver with the blown-out tire may strike another vehicle while struggling to control their car.

What Does an Insurance Company Cover in a Tire Blowout Accident?

Traffic Accident Attorneys SeattleTypically, insurance companies will not pay to have a tire replaced after a blowout accident. Most insurance companies consider tire maintenance a normal part of maintaining a car. If your tire blows out on the road, your insurance company likely will not pay to fix it. Your insurance company may, however, pay for several other things related to the accident, such as:

  • Towing services. Many insurance companies offer payment for towing services, which will make it possible for you to take your car somewhere to repair the tire. Towing your car can prevent you from having to replace the tire on the side of the road. In some cases, the car has suffered additional damage that needs repairing, as well.
  • Damage to other parties’ vehicles. If your tire blowout causes an accident with another vehicle, your liability coverage will cover any damage to the other party’s vehicle. This coverage will fall within the normal limits of your policy. In Washington, this means a minimum of $10,000 of coverage for property damage in a single accident.
  • Injuries to other parties. Tire blowout accidents can cause serious injuries to other parties who share the road with you. As your vehicle spins out of control, you may accidentally strike pedestrians, cyclists, bikers, or other vehicles. When you cause serious injury, your car insurance company will usually cover those injuries to another party. This includes a minimum of $25,000 of coverage for a single individual injured in an accident, or, according to Washington law, a minimum of $50,000 of coverage for all parties injured in an accident.
  • Damage to your vehicle. Do you carry comprehensive insurance coverage on your vehicle? If so, your insurance company may cover any damage sustained to your vehicle in the accident. While your insurance company will not pay to replace the tire itself, it may offer coverage that will help take care of, for example, damage from your vehicle striking a telephone pole or guard rail that you collided with after your tire blew out. Comprehensive coverage can help you repair any damage your vehicle suffers outside the damage to the tire itself.

If you suffered injuries in an accident due to someone else’s tire blowout, you may have the right to seek compensation for those injuries. The other person’s insurance company will likely cover damages to your vehicle as well as offering compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages at work.

You may, however, need to file a claim with the insurance company and if that fails to work, you may need to file a lawsuit. A motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you do both of those things. By hiring a lawyer to file the claim, you’ll make sure everything is correctly done, while the insurance company will know it can’t push you around and has to take your claim more seriously.

Decreasing Your Risk of a Tire Blowout

To keep yourself, your passengers, and others on the road with you safe, follow these steps to decrease your risk of a tire blowout accident:

  1. Replace your tires when needed. Check your tires regularly—every time you put gas in your vehicle, for example. Walk around your vehicle and check all four tires. A problem with your suspension or your car’s alignment can cause tires to wear unevenly, so the knowledge that one tire looks fine does not necessarily tell you that they have all worn out at the same rate. Try the penny trick: if you put a penny in the tread of the tire with Lincoln’s head pointing down, you should not see the top of Lincoln’s head. If the tread wears down further than that point, it is time to replace your tires.
  2. Follow the rules of the road. Pay particular attention to speed limits, especially when driving through unfamiliar areas. Drop your speed in residential areas and around construction, where increased hazards can cause problems for your vehicle’s tires. Slower rates of speed can help protect your tires, especially if you need to drive over potholes or around construction hazards.
  3. Get a good idea of what weight your vehicle can handle. Check your owner’s manual or contact your vehicle manufacturer, especially if you regularly use your vehicle to haul heavy loads. You want to have a good idea of exactly how much pressure your tires can handle before increasing blowout risk.
  4. Keep your tires properly inflated. Get in the habit of checking your tire pressure regularly, especially during changes in the weather, which can lead to underinflated or overinflated tires. Both under- and overinflation can increase the risk of a blowout. Check your owner’s manual to get a better idea of exactly what your tire pressure should be. Many facilities that offer oil changes will also check your tire pressure and air them up for free if needed. If you notice that you regularly need to reinflate your tires or that your tire pressure drops rapidly for no reason, you may want to check your tire for nails, small punctures, or leaks. Patch and repair your tire or, if needed, replace it as soon as possible. Slow pressure leaks can cause just as much danger as a quick puncture.
  5. Pay attention to the road around you. If you travel at a safe rate of speed and maintain an appropriate following distance from vehicles in front of you, even if you do suffer a tire blowout, you should have plenty of time to slow down and get your vehicle off the road safely. If you choose to travel at unsafe rates of speed or to weave in and out of traffic, on the other hand, a tire blowout can cause a catastrophic accident. Paying attention to the road can also help you avoid potholes and give you a good idea of where to stop your car in the event of an accident. Keeping your eyes on the road can help keep you safe even if you do suffer a tire blowout.

If you suffered injuries in a tire blowout accident, you may need an attorney to help negotiate with the other party’s insurance company on your behalf. Contact an attorney as soon after the accident as possible so that you can start seeking the help you need and the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Truckers Must Pay Attention to Their Blind Spots

Truck drivers operate large, ungainly vehicles. Of the many hazards that come with driving a big rig—and there are a lot of them—blind spots pose one of the toughest challenges for truckers. It takes constant vigilance to monitor vehicles of all sizes, from other large trucks to motorcyclists, passing through or riding in a big rig’s blind spots. Truckers know that one missed vehicle, one moment of inattention, can lead to tragedy.

But truckers are only human. The physical and mental demands of trucking take a toll on their attention and focus. They make mistakes and can cause trucking accidents with deadly consequences.

In this blog post, we explore the importance of truckers paying attention to their blind spots. We look at the dangers of truck blind spots, how truckers get educated about checking their blind spots, technologies available to assist truckers in avoiding blind spot accidents, and how anyone who shares the road with a big rig can protect themselves against blind spot accidents.

Truck Blind Spots: A Large and Constant Hazard

Let’s start by taking a look at the dimensions of the typical big rig’s blind spots, with help from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A Four-Sided Problem

Many people do not realize it, but big rigs have blind spots all around them, and they’re very difficult to monitor.

As drivers of ordinary passenger vehicles, we think of “blind spots” as that area you can check by glancing quickly over either shoulder before changing lanes. Not so on a big rig. The typical 18-wheeler with a single trailer has substantial blind spots on all four sides.

  • In front of the truck cab, the blind spot extends about 20 feet forward of the truck. If you drive (or walk) in this area, you are totally invisible to the truck driver. (Incidentally, the same applies to buses and other large, high-riding vehicles. It is why we teach school children to walk well in front of a school bus if they must cross the street before getting on or after getting off.)
  • Behind the standard-size trailer, the blind spot extends about 30 feet. Again, this area is totally invisible to the trucker without some sort of video-aided assistance.
  • At least half the length of the trailer on the driver’s side, extending about one lane-width from the door of the cab to at least the mid-point of the trailer. The driver’s mirrors may cover most of this area if they’re the right shape and configuration, but there is no guarantee and there is always likely to be at least some area the mirrors do not see, especially just behind and below the driver’s seat.
  • The length of the whole tractor-trailer on the passenger side, extending backward at a diagonal across two lane-widths. As above, the size, shape, and configuration of a truck’s mirrors will establish the exact dimensions of this blind spot, but it always exists.

The best defense against riding in a big rig’s blind spot is to follow the rule of thumb that if you cannot see the driver in their mirrors, then they cannot see you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you see the mirrors the driver sees you. If you can’t see the truck driver in their mirror, then you are out of their range of view.

A Turning Problem

The size and shape of blind spots change when a tractor-trailer turns, because the cab and trailer pivot at their junction point. While turning right at an intersection, for instance, a trucker’s view in the passenger-side mirrors is of the side of their truck. Any person or vehicle sitting in the right-hand lane next to the truck at that moment is, in effect, totally invisible to the driver.

A Dynamic Problem

As we noted above, on the highway, smaller vehicles pass or ride in big rig blind spots all the time. It is a real and constant challenge for truckers to keep tabs on these smaller vehicles using only their mirrors and (in more modern trucks) blind spot warning systems. Any vehicle that disappears from view could be in the truck’s blind spot, could have dropped off behind the truck, or could have passed the truck without the driver taking notice.

Educating Truckers, and the Public, About Blind Spot Risks

Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyers WAEducation about big rig blind spots plays an important role in reducing the risk of blind spot accidents. Truckers who obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) must demonstrate proficiency in operating a big rig. This includes demonstrating awareness of and limiting the danger of their vehicles’ blind spots. Commercial truck driving schools emphasize the importance of learning about and managing blind spot risk. Trucker safety initiatives by the Washington State Department of Labor include reminders to monitor blind spots.

More than a decade ago, Washington State also recognized the critical role law enforcement plays in educating the public about the dangers of big rig blind spots and other unsafe driving behaviors around or involving big trucks. The Washington State Patrol’s Ticketing Aggressive Cars and Trucks (or TACT) program aims to crack down on aggressive driving behaviors by both truckers and passenger vehicle drivers who encounter trucks on the road. The goal of TACT is to educate and remind the public about blind spot risk through highly-visible enforcement and public outreach efforts by local and state police.

Another Washington State initiative aimed at reducing big rig blind spot accidents involves education in our public schools. The Washington Traffic Safety Education Association is an organization run by Washington State educators who aim to develop curricula and resources for educating student drivers about on-road hazards, including the blind spot “No-Zones” surrounding large trucks.

These are essential initiatives to keep new and veteran truckers, and the motorists with whom they share the road, informed about blind spots.

Tackling Underlying Causes of Blind Spot Inattention

While education and enforcement play critical roles in reducing blind spot accidents, tragedies will continue to happen if we do not address two underlying features of trucking culture that lead to blind spot inattention: trucker fatigue and trucker distraction.

Trucker Fatigue

Truckers who get behind the wheel of a big rig without adequate rest put themselves and others on the road in extreme danger. Truck driving while fatigued causes the same degree of impairment as driving while drunk. And, distressingly, it happens all the time.

In a nationwide survey of big rig drivers conducted in 2010 and published in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that at least one-third of truckers have nodded off behind the wheel of a big rig, and that about one in every fifteen long-haul truckers drives very drowsy every day. Truckers commonly feel fatigued for a host of reasons, but the two main reasons are that their irregular schedules make it difficult to get quality sleep, and that truckers represent an aging group of workers who are in relatively poor health compared to the general population.

Tired truckers lose focus, have slow reaction time, make poor decisions behind the wheel, and even “micro-sleep” (dozing off for a few seconds at a time). In that kind of condition, they lose the ability to keep constant track of other vehicles in their blind spots.

Nationwide initiatives to educate truckers about the dangers of drowsy truck driving, and regulations limiting the number of hours a trucker can spend behind the wheel, aim to reduce the number of tired truckers on the road. For now, however, tired truckers increase the danger of their own blind spots.

Trucker Distraction

Like all Americans, truckers are learning to adapt to a world dominated by mobile screens that draw their attention away from the road. Truckers who text, fiddle with a GPS, and otherwise interact with a screen while driving risk leaving their lanes and harming vehicles in their blind spots.

Truckers also conduct a significant portion of their lives “on the road.” The highway is their workplace and their truck cab is their “office.” Managing life while also managing a multi-ton truck can lead to inattention to the constantly-changing swirl of vehicles moving into, out of, and around a truck’s blind spots. Truckers must exercise vigilance not to become distracted by conversations, music, or thoughts that take their minds off of the complex task of driving safely.

Law enforcement crackdowns on distracted driving can help prevent big rig blind spot accidents. So can increased public awareness of the dangers of using screens behind the wheel.

Emerging Technologies Can Help, but Are Not Yet Widespread

Various technologies aimed at reducing large truck blind spot risks have emerged that will undoubtedly help to make Washington State roads safer. Similar to automated systems on upper-end passenger vehicles, these include lane-departure warning systems, blind spot awareness systems, and camera systems that make blind spots visible.

Unfortunately, these technologies are not yet widespread enough for motorists to count on. According to industry publication Fleet Owner, only about 40 percent of respondents to a 2018 survey of trucking fleet owners said they had so-called “advanced safety systems” installed on trucks in their fleet. Rates of adoption of these technologies will no doubt continue to improve, but for now drivers should not assume that a truck has these advanced systems or that a truck’s driver is familiar enough with the technology to make effective use of it.

Keeping Yourself Safe From Big Rig Blind Spot Risk

For now, following best practices around big rigs is the safest way for motorists to avoid blind spot inattention accidents. Here are some important tips for all drivers when sharing the road with long-haul truckers:

  • Avoid blind spots. This may sound like obvious advice—you can’t get into a big rig blind spot accident if you avoid truck blind spots. But in practice this advice is not so easy to follow. In heavier traffic conditions, drivers can find themselves effectively “stuck” next to a large truck, directly in the truck’s blind spot, if they do not take active avoidance measures. As a rule, drivers should spend as little time in a truck’s blind spot as possible. Do not pass trucks on the right. Pass quickly on the left. And keep plenty of distance between the front or back of your car and any truck in the same lane.
  • Be visible. The more visible your vehicle is, the better the chance a trucker will notice it. Use your daytime running lights, especially in less-than-ideal driving conditions. If you ride a motorcycle, wear bright colors. And of course, always remember: if you can’t see the trucker in their mirror, they can’t see you.
  • Respect the size and weight of trucks. Trucks take a lot longer to stop than other vehicles. Do not cut in front of them and into their front-end blind spot. Do not try to pass them on a downhill where they might need to change lanes quickly before they overtake a vehicle in front of them. In high-wind conditions, especially cross-winds, give trucks a wide berth and if you must pass, pick a moment when you can zip by as quickly as possible.
  • Check your own blind spots, too. Even a small car has blind spots. Be a responsible driver and always check yours. Practicing this basic safe driving technique keeps you and others out of harm’s way, and heightens your awareness of when you are riding in someone else’s blind spot.

Truckers Need to Check Blind Spots, but Do Your Part, Too

Truck blind spots will not disappear from Washington State roads anytime soon. Perhaps one day a perfect combination of technology, public health initiatives, education, and enforcement will bring us a drastic and lasting reduction in truck blind spot accidents. But until then, we should all exercise caution around trucks, give them a wide berth, and assume we share the road with a trucker who is at least as tired and potentially as distracted as we have all been at one time or another.

If you have questions about your rights after a truck accident involving a trucker who failed to check their blind spots, contact an experienced Washington truck accident attorney.