How Does a Truck Accident Differ from a Typical Auto Accident in or Near Tacoma?
For traffic accident victims, questions about what caused an accident and who was at-fault are much more complicated when an accident involves a truck. If you’re injured in a truck accident in or near Tacoma, discuss your rights at once with a Tacoma truck accident attorney.
The legal complications aren’t the only differences between car-on-car accidents and accidents that involve trucks. If you become an injured truck accident victim, what are your rights? How can your recover compensation? Who may be liable for your medical expenses and other losses?
If you’ll keep reading this brief discussion of truck accidents and your rights in the State of Washington, these questions will be answered, and you will learn what steps you can take to receive the compensation that victims of negligence are entitled to by law in this state.
How Are Truck Crashes Different?
An accident that involves a truck is different from and more complicated than a car-on-car accident in at least three ways:
- Statistically, truck crashes are the most devastating traffic accidents. Tractor-trailers and semis may weigh up to thirty times as much as the average car. With their size, weight, speed, and momentum, trucks can cause catastrophic damages, injuries, and fatalities.
- Parties other than the driver – the truck owner, a cargo loading company, or a parts manufacturer – may have been negligent, may have partial liability for a truck accident, and may have to compensate an injured truck accident victim.
- Commercial tractor-trailers and semis are subject to a number of both state and federal regulations. Drivers and trucking companies not compliant with federal and state regulations are subject to fines and are often at-fault for the most serious truck accidents.
What Steps Should You Take After a Truck Accident?
If you’re injured in an accident that involves a truck, summon medical attention for yourself and for anyone else injured in the accident. That’s the first priority.
Then take these steps:
- Call the police. When police officers arrive, ask how and when you will be able to obtain a copy of the written police accident report. That report will become evidence if you file a personal injury claim.
- Get the truck driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, the insurance company’s name, phone number, and if possible, the insurance policy number. If the driver is not the truck owner, get the owner’s name and contact information.
- Take photos of the crash location, the damages to the vehicles, and your own injuries. If there were witnesses to the accident, try to get their names and phone numbers. Photos and eyewitness statements may provide powerful support for a personal injury claim.
Why Is a Medical Exam So Important After a Truck Accident?
After a truck accident, if you are not taken to the hospital or treated at the scene, and even if you don’t think that you’ve been injured, obtain a medical exam within twenty-four hours if possible.
It’s a step that will protect you both legally and medically.
If you’ve suffered a latent injury and it goes undetected, that injury may rapidly – or in some cases, slowly – develop into a serious medical condition.
Furthermore, an immediate medical exam creates the medical documentation you will need if you take legal action later. Without that exam, you may be unable to tie your injury to the truck accident that injured you, and recovering compensation will be difficult or impossible.
When Should You Contact a Truck Accident Attorney?
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in or near the Tacoma area, contact a Tacoma truck accident lawyer immediately after you’ve been examined and/or treated by a health care professional.
Your attorney will explain your rights, including your right to compensation, and review your options, which may include filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you bring a lawsuit, your attorney should see the evidence while it’s fresh and question any witnesses before their memories fade.
The statute of limitations in Washington – the deadline for taking legal action – is three years from the date of the accident, but don’t wait even three weeks to schedule a consultation with a Tacoma truck accident attorney. Do it at once.
However, if you were injured in a truck accident more than three years ago, and you never spoke to an attorney, you should still schedule a consultation. You may qualify for one of the narrow legal exceptions to the three-year deadline.
Can You Take Steps to Avoid a Truck Accident?
When you drive, keep as much space as possible between your own vehicle and any trucks on the road, and keep these suggestions in mind:
- Do not underestimate a truck’s size or speed. Big trucks are usually larger and moving more rapidly than they first appear.
- Never cut in front of a truck. When two lanes merge into a single lane, do not race the truck, but lower your speed and fall in behind it.
- If you pass a truck, do it quickly while remaining safe. Always pass trucks on their left side, because the right side is almost entirely blind spots.
- If a truck is turning, keep as much distance as possible. When a truck driver turns right, the driver will swing first to the left. Don’t move to the truck’s right side because it’s going to swing back. The same rule applies to left turns, but in reverse.
What Else Should You Know About Truck Accidents?
As mentioned previously, you should contact a Tacoma truck accident lawyer immediately after a medical professional has examined and/or treated you.
An insurance company may contact you just days after you’ve been injured, and you need to refer all of that company’s questions and inquiries to your attorney.
Don’t make any statement to an insurance company, sign any document from the company, or accept any settlement offer from the company. Your attorney will do the talking and will negotiate aggressively for the best possible settlement offer.
Will Your Truck Accident Case Go to Trial?
Most personal injury claims arising from truck accidents in the State of Washington are resolved when the lawyers for both sides meet to negotiate privately.
However, if your injury claim is contested, or if no reasonable settlement offer is made, your lawyer may take the case to trial and explain to a jury how you were injured and the extent of your injuries. Your lawyer will then ask the jurors to order the payment of your compensation.
Every case is different. If you are injured by negligence in a truck accident in this state, you must have an attorney’s personalized legal advice. If you’ve been injured because another party was negligent, and if you and your attorney can prove it, the law will be on your side.