You don’t need to be a highway safety expert to understand the risks large trucks pose on Washington roadways. Anyone who has driven a tractor trailer or shared the road with one knows the size, weight, and typical speed of these vehicles means they need more time and distance to stop or avoid road hazards, have large blind spots, and cause enormous damage to other, smaller vehicles in a collision.
Statistics from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) bear this out. In 2018, there were 162 reported crashes on Washington roads involving heavy trucks that resulted in 138 serious injuries and 57 deaths. That’s an average of a one heavy truck-related serious injury or death every other day in our state. More than 10 percent of those crashes occurred in Seattle.
If you sustained injuries or lost a loved one in a Seattle-area truck accident, you may have the right to substantial compensation. Contact the experienced, dedicated truck accident attorneys at Boohoff law today to learn more.
Why You Want Boohoff Law’s Truck Accident Attorneys on Your Side
Attorney Tatiana Boohoff and her colleagues at Boohoff Law have years of combined experience representing victims of truck accidents and their families. Together, they bring a wealth of practical skill, legal knowledge, and Tatiana’s reputation as a star personal injury litigator with a track record of success and a commitment to client service.
A graduate of the top-ranked Boston University School of Law, Tatiana Boohoff focuses her law practice entirely on helping personal injury victims recover the compensation they deserve. Accidents involving heavy trucks are one of her core areas of focus.
Truck accidents inflict catastrophic damage, as anyone who has watched an evening news report about one probably knows. Still, seeing images of the aftermath on television and experiencing the violence of a large truck accident firsthand do not compare. Survivors of these accidents feel lucky to escape them with their lives, because many victims do not. Even those who cheat death in a truck accident often contend with devastating and disabling injuries that can cause a lifetime of pain and distress.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Like any form of motor vehicle accident, truck accidents have a variety of root causes. Though some merely amount to freak occurrences that no one could have predicted, a far greater number can be tied back to someone’s poor decisions or lack of care. Here are some common human-related causes of truck accidents on Washington roads.
Truck driver fatigue. Truck drivers work long hours and irregular shifts. According to IIHS, truck driver fatigue is a known crash risk. Although federal and state regulations dictate the number of hours a trucker can spend behind the wheel, and require careful reporting and record-keeping to prove compliance, trucking is still an exhausting profession. Even when they comply with hours of service requirements (which isn’t always the case), truck drivers have to contend with the monotony of seemingly endless roads and the sleep-disruptive effects of driving at night and catching shut-eye at odd hours. Fatigue can have the same effect on a trucker’s driving abilities as being over the legal drunk driving limit, or can result in drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
Speed. We have all been on the road with a truck that seems to be driving way too fast for the road conditions. It’s scary. What’s worse, trucks have a longer stopping distance than smaller vehicles. A truck traveling at an inappropriately high speed will need an even greater distance to slow down or avoid road hazards.
Unbalanced/unsecured loads. Large trucks frequently haul heavy loads. The distribution of a load can affect how a truck handles. If the weight distribution of a load shifts while the truck is moving, truck drivers can—and often do—lose control. Even if the load is secure, it can affect the truck’s center of gravity. Unbalanced loads can cause truck rollovers, particularly on highway ramps or other sharp curves.
Blind spots. Tractor trailers have large blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle. Vehicles riding in those blind spots increase the risk for a collision substantially.
Operating under the influence. Truck drivers tend to drive drunk less often than other drivers on the road. But, that does not mean they pose a lower risk of operating under the influence. Some truck drivers have been known to rely on illegal drugs to keep them alert, which only increases their crash risk. Truck drivers with health problems (not uncommon because of their sedentary lifestyle) also run risks when they take the wheel under the influence of prescription medications.
These are just a few of the more common ways truck accidents can happen. There are many more. Because every truck accident has its own unique facts and circumstances, it is important for anyone injured in an accident to retain the services of an experienced truck accident attorney familiar with the particular challenges of investigating a truck accident injury.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accidents result in frequent fatalities. Even when no one dies, however, a truck accident can inflict a wide range of catastrophic injuries. The people particularly vulnerable in truck accidents are occupants of smaller vehicles. The vast difference in size and weight between a car and a fully-loaded truck can destroy a passenger vehicle while leaving a truck relatively intact. Some of the most common, and devastating, injuries victims of truck accidents sustain include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis;
- Crushed or traumatically amputated limbs;
- Burns and disfiguring scarring;
- Broken bones and orthopedic injuries; and
- Severe internal and soft tissue damage.
Some of the injuries above heal in time, but many do not. In seeking damages for injuries sustained in a truck accident, one important task for a Seattle truck accident attorney is to determine the likely medical needs of a truck accident victim into the future, so as to ensure the victim receives adequate compensation from the parties with legal liability.
Common Parties With Legal Liability for Truck Accidents
Figuring out what caused a truck accident is only the beginning of the job an experienced Seattle truck accident attorney does for injured clients. Equally important is figuring out who may have legal liability to the accident victims. The cause of an accident can give clues to who may have liability for it, but it’s not the only piece to the puzzle. Below are some of the most common parties with liability for truck accident injuries:
Truck (or other) drivers. Obviously, all drivers on the road may have legal liability if their actions or decisions led to a crash. Truck drivers may especially face liability if they drove fatigued or under the influence.
Trucking companies. Trucking companies that employ truck drivers may have liability for driver decisions if they knew or should have known drivers operated unsafely. These companies may also have liability for failing to maintain safe trucking equipment.
Shippers and warehousers. If a shift or imbalance in truck cargo leads to a crash, the party who loaded the truck could face legal liability. Often, this party is a company that ships or stores goods.
Government entities. Local and state governments have an obligation to design and maintain safe roads. Some road design and maintenance decisions create dangers that can particularly impact large trucks, putting governments at risk of legal liability.
Truck equipment manufacturers. A manufacturer that produces a product that is unreasonably dangerous may have liability to anyone harmed by that product.
As we noted above, every truck accident is different. That includes who may have legal liability to victims of a truck accident. The best way to determine who has liability for injuries you or a loved one sustained in a Seattle truck accident is to retain the services of an experienced truck accident attorney.
Common Damages for Truck Accident Injuries
In Washington, truck accident victims and the survivors of those killed in truck accidents often have the right to pursue compensatory damages from parties with legal liability. Lawyers generally classify these damages in two categories: economic (or special) damages, and non-economic (or general) damages.
Economic damages reimburse out-of-pocket costs associated with the accident and injuries the victim sustained in it. They commonly include:
- Un-reimbursed medical bills
- Chronic or long-term care costs
- Assistive medical devices and home modifications
- Physical therapy
- Lost wages from time off from work while recovering
- Lost income or employment opportunity due to injuries
In some cases, the party with legal liability for a truck accident victim’s injuries may be allowed to make periodic payments of economic damages, rather than a lump sum payment.
Non-economic damages cover subjective injuries sustained by truck accident victims. These injuries are more difficult to quantify, and include:
- Pain and suffering
- Damage to personal relationships (a.k.a. loss of consortium/companionship/parent-child relationship)
- Negative impacts on quality of life
In Washington, non-economic damages cannot exceed 43 percent of the average annual wage in Washington multiplied by the plaintiff’s life expectancy at the time of the accident (which can be no less than 15 years). Unlike most states, Washington law generally does not permit a court to award punitive damages.
Start Working With a Truck Accident Attorney Right Away
In the aftermath of a truck accident, life can feel extremely challenging and even hopeless for anyone injured or mourning a loved one. Truck accident victims have to contend with painful injuries, financial strain, and unfamiliar interactions with doctors, law enforcement, and insurance adjusters, to name just a few.
At Boohoff Law, we understand how hiring a lawyer might be the last thing on a truck accident victim’s mind. But, the fact is, the sooner truck accident victims consult with an attorney about their accident, the better their chances of recovering the compensation they deserve. Here’s why.
For starters, the general statute of limitations on personal injury claims in Washington is three years. That may seem like a long time, but for lawyers, it’s not. Investigating a truck accident takes time. Plus, the more time that passes before beginning an accident investigation, the more likely it is that crucial evidence will disappear and witnesses’ memories will dim. The best time to collect evidence and start building a case for damages is right away.
Another reason to get an attorney involved in a truck accident case right away is that insurance companies don’t waste any time. When an insurer knows an accident may result in liability for the person or company it insures, it will begin investigating immediately. An insurance company’s goal in this investigation is not so much a pursuit of truth as it is an effort to limit the insurance company’s financial exposure. To that end, insurance adjusters may try to interview accident victims before victims understand their legal rights, hoping the victims will make statements detrimental to any legal claim. Adjusters may also dangle settlement offers for unreasonably low amounts of money, hoping accident victims will take the offer without thinking through its consequences. Having an experienced truck accident attorney on your side can protect you from these insurance company tactics.
Call Boohoff Law’s Seattle Truck Accident Lawyers 24/7
Boohoff Law is a team of experienced, diligent legal professionals who focus all of their work on serving the interests and protecting the rights of victims of personal injury. We understand the difficulties our clients confront after truck accidents turn their lives upside-down. Our mission is to give our clients the best possible chance of recovering every dollar of compensation the law allows.
If you sustained a serious injury or lost a loved one in a Seattle-area truck accident, dial (877) 999-9999 or contact Tatiana Boohoff and her colleagues at Boohoff Law to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation. We cannot guarantee you will recover compensation, but we can promise to treat you with dignity, respect, and compassion in this difficult time.
“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. Tracey and Maria are super sweet. They made me feel right at home. I absolutely recommend Boohooff Law and will use them again in the future if I am ever in a similar situation. Thank you all at Boohooff who helped me with my case. 10/10 stars hands down!”
– Brandy K.