At Premier Law Group, our Seattle truck accident lawyers are aggressive and attentive advocates for injured victims. We have the skills, knowledge, and tenacity to help you hold negligent trucking companies and their insurance carriers accountable under the law. The mission of our legal practice is to provide effective representation to individuals and families when they need it the most—not to protect the profit margins of large insurance companies. To speak directly to an experienced Washington truck accident lawyer, please call our Seattle law office today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Why Do Truck Accidents Occur?
Commercial truck accidents can happen for a wide variety of different reasons. Indeed, these are among the most complex types of motor vehicle accident claims. Sorting out a crash may take a detailed investigation. Still, most trucking accident claims share one important fact in common: the crash could have been prevented had all parties taken adequate safety precautions. The leading causes of truck accidents in Washington are as follows:
- Fatigued truck drivers;
- Truck driver speeding;
- Untrained or undertrained truckers;
- Unsafe lane changes by truckers;
- Intoxicated drivers;
- Truck tire blowouts;
- Inadequate truck maintenance;
- Negligent loading of trailers; and
- Negligent truck manufacturers.
If your truck accident was caused by the reckless or careless conduct of another party, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Do not assume that you are prevented from recovering compensation for your damages. Every truck accident should be investigated by an experienced professional.
What Types of Truck Accidents Are There?
There are many types of trucks across the country. We most often see and own pickup trucks. But other trucks are more commonly known for being involved in horrific accidents. The types of truck accidents one can be involved in can vary. The most commonly seen truck accidents in Washington State are:
- Rollover Accidents
- Underride Accidents
- T-bone Accidents
- Hydroplane Accidents
- Rear-end Accidents
- Jackknife Accidents
Laws on Maintaining Trucks
Truck companies and their drivers are required to comply with federal and state laws on truck maintenance.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program specifically for this purpose. It’s a “scoring system” to regulate truck company vehicle maintenance.
The program’s intention is good. But the system is underfunded so there’s a strong lack of consistent enforcement. Long-haul truckers cross many state lines. Intrastate truckers use city, county, and highway roadways.
Sadly, poorly maintained trucks are often on the nation’s roads.
What Does the Failure of Maintenance on Trucks Cause?
Data shows that most serious injury and fatality truck accidents are caused by the following maintenance issues:
- Brake Failure: When brakes fail, big rigs cannot stop. Their weight, bulk, and loads cause devastating crashes with other vehicles. These include rear-end collisions, T-bone accidents, and head-on crashes. Side-swipes push other vehicles into the path of oncoming traffic. Failure to maintain parking brakes cause trucks to roll into other vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.
- Tire Blowouts: Tire blowouts typically happen when trucks are traveling at high speeds in heavy traffic. Truckers lose control of their vehicle. They can roll over, jackknife, and swing into other lanes, crushing passenger vehicles.
- Tie Rods and Axle Failures: Failure to maintain tie rods and axles causes truck wheels to “fall off.” The truck driver loses control of the big rig. The ensuing accident is catastrophic — for the trucker and all other drivers on the roadway.
- Burnt-Out Truck Lights: Trucks with burnt-out lights cannot be seen. The driving public has no way to know if the truck is turning, braking, reversing, etc. Truckers cannot see roadways without burnt-out headlights and fog lights, particularly in bad weather.
Failure to properly maintain trucks leads to life-changing injury accidents. Trucking companies know the dangers, yet continue to cut corners. Profits over people’s lives seem to be their motto.
Drug and Alcohol-Related Truck Accidents in Washington State
Washington State has the same regulations as the federal government when it comes to drug and alcohol use by truckers. For example, there are Hours of Service (HOS) limiting the consecutive hours a driver can be on the road at one time.
And there are strong regulations about blood alcohol content (BAC). The limit for truck drivers is 0.04%. This limit was set to prevent drunk truck driving accidents and ensure that drivers are able to safely operate their vehicles.
As for drugs – Washington State’s commercial driving license (CDL) requires drivers to submit to random, unscheduled testing throughout the year. In addition to these random tests, police officers can order a test if a truck driver is involved in a serious injury or fatality accident.
Any driver who tests positive for drugs or alcohol faces stiff fines and penalties including loss of the CDL license. Any trucking company that allows a driver who tested positive for substance abuse to operate a vehicle also faces fines and penalties.
Even with this, trucking companies continue to skirt the regulations. And drivers are desperate to stay awake, make on-time deliveries, and be paid bonuses. Statistical data shows this is a vicious cycle with many consequences.
Statistics of Drug and Alcohol Truck Accidents
Recent truck driver drug and alcohol use studies have been compiled by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). The goal was to identify how prevalent the problems are and figure out ways to prevent them.
The federal government uses urine samples to test truck drivers for drug use. Their test results showed that:
- 7% of truckers tested positive for drug use in random tests
- 8% of truckers tested positive for drug use prior to being hired
- 8% of truckers tested positive for drug use following an accident
- One in every 50 truck accidents is due to drug/alcohol abuse
But drug and alcohol use can be tested in two ways: 1) urine samples; and 2) hair samples. Hair sample tests provide far more reliable data about a driver’s substance use. So an industry watchdog group, the Trucking Alliance, ran comparison tests, using urine and hair samples. The findings were astounding!
- Urine samples only showed a 1% positive rate.
- Hair tests showed an 8.6% drug use positive rate
Clearly, lots more truck drivers are driving while under the influence. The Trucking Alliance says: “Our testing results clearly show thousands of habitual drug users are skirting a system designed to prohibit truck drivers’ drug use. The federal testing errors are literally a “public health and safety threat.”
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), 2020 Biennial Transportation Report list the following data, that explains why commercial trucks accidents are on the rise:
- Increased big truck transportation vehicles – city, county, state, federal
- Increased road transportation delays on all major highways and roadways
- Rising number of commercial truck crashes with injuries and fatalities
- 1 million total personal and commercial vehicles registered in Washington State – an increase of 100,000 vehicles over 2019’s number
Drug and alcohol truck accidents are clear and present dangers to the driving public.
Who is Responsible for a Commercial Trucking Accident?
After a trucking accident, one of the challenges is ensuring that you have identified all possible defendants. Many different parties could potentially be responsible for a truck accident. The full scope of negligence that contributed to the crash is not always obvious in the immediate aftermath. You may be able to bring a truck accident claim against any of the following defendants:
- The truck driver;
- The driver’s employer;
- The trucking company;
- The company that leased the truck;
- Truck manufacturers; and
- Third-party motorists.
What Is a Commercial Delivery Truck?
Delivery trucks typically fall under the category of commercial vehicles because commercial vehicles are used for business purposes. Vehicles that are designed to carry more than 15 passengers are also considered commercial vehicles.
Vehicles that are commonly insured as “commercial” include:
- Company-owned automobile or fleet car
- Passenger vans
- Passenger buses
- Agricultural trucks & tractors
- Box trucks
- Cargo vans
- Dump trucks
- Taxis, Ubers, etc.
- Shuttle buses
- Concrete mixers
- Car carriers
- Tow trucks
- Flatbed trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Tanker trucks
If you feel that you may have been involved in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, it is important that you contact an attorney with experience handling those types of accident claims.
Tanker Truck Accident Statistics
The truth is, tanker truck accidents are on the rise across the United States. Particularly in tankers that haul hazardous materials.
Consider the latest data from 2017:
- 5,733 crashes involved tanker trucks
- 372 of these crashes were fatality accidents
- 3% of the tanker trucks were carrying Hazardous Materials
- 16% of the Hazardous Materials cargo were leaked during the crashes
- 63% of the Hazardous Materials released from the tanker holds were flammable liquids (fuel oil, gasoline, etc.)
In fact, tanker truck accidents are predicted to be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States in five years.
Dump Truck Crash Statistics
Serious dump truck crashes are on the rise. Safety experts and federal entities are seeking to reduce these numbers. They hope to limit driver fatigue and use technology to keep a closer tab on what happens on the road.
- Dump truck crashes resulting in the vehicle being towed away rose 9%, hitting 8,206 in 2016.
- The number of dump truck crashes involving injuries rose 7%, to 5,483, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA).
- Dump truck crashes that caused injuries increased by 3.8%.
- Ready-mix concrete trucks (considered dump trucks as well) also saw an increase in fatal accidents, from 33 in 2015 to 38 in 2016.
What Are the Liability Policies of Delivery Companies?
Liability policies will vary depending on the company and the services the delivery truck company is using to complete orders. Companies like FedEx and UPS use their own fleet of delivery drivers to handle orders.
However, Amazon contracts its network to companies across the state of Washington. Additionally, they use the Amazon Flex program to use local drivers. Each kind of driver operates under a different policy. This undoubtedly will impact how you pursue a claim. This is why it is important for you to have an experienced delivery truck accident attorney on your side.
Financial Compensation for a Trucking Accident
Once liability is clear, trucking companies and their insurers re-focus their tactics toward limiting the value of settlement offers/trial verdicts. To recover the full financial compensation that you justly deserve under Washington law, your damages must be well-documented and you must be ready to go up against the insurance company. At Premier Law Group, our Seattle truck accident lawyers have a long record of helping injury victims recover the full financial support that they deserve. You may be able to get compensation for:
- Emergency medical expenses;
- Other medical/healthcare bills;
- Rehabilitative services;
- Lost wages;
- Diminished earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering;
- Permanent scarring;
- Long-term disability; and
- Wrongful death damages.
How Our Seattle, WA Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help
It is normal to be confused and overwhelmed after a serious trucking accident. Our law firm is here as a resource to help you navigate the process. To start, we will tell you if you can benefit from hiring an attorney at all. There are some cases in which injured victims are able to handle the matter on their own. Still, if you or your loved one suffered a serious injury, you need an experienced Seattle trucking accident attorney on your side. We are ready to take immediate action to hold companies accountable and help you recover the maximum available financial compensation. Among other things, our legal team will:
- Conduct a no-fee, no-obligation review of your truck accident claim;
- Answer your questions and explain your legal options;
- Investigate the truck crash—compiling the evidence needed to prove liability, including the truck’s black box record data and other records held by the company;
- Collect your medical records;
- Handle all correspondence with the insurance company; and
- Communicate effectively, ensuring that you always know exactly what is happening with your truck accident claim.
Our law firm is committed to providing personalized representation to truck accident victims. Although most commercial truck accident claims reach settlement, our law firm has deep experience with personal injury litigation. We are prepared to take your case wherever it needs to go to get you the full financial support that you deserve.
Call Our Seattle Truck Accident Lawyers Today
At Premier Law Group, our Seattle truck accident attorneys have the skills, training, and tenacity to go up against large trucking companies and their insurers. If you or your loved one was injured in a trucking accident, we are here to help. To set up a free, no obligation personal injury case evaluation, please contact us today at (206) 285-1743. We advocate for the rights and interests of injured truck accident victims in Seattle and throughout King County.