Washington state regulations concerning tractor-trailers, tankers, and other large commercial vehicles are governed by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the Revised Code of Washington (RCWs), and the Washington Administrative Code (WACs). These laws cover things like training requirements for drivers, commercial driver’s license requirements, size/weight/load requirements, vehicle inspections, and other important rules. Most notably, the state of Washington has enacted “C.J.’s Law” which pertains to mirrors and backup devices. The law requires certain cube-style delivery trucks to have rear crossview mirrors or a backup device to alert the driver when someone or something is behind the vehicle.
The Washington State Patrol, Washington Department of Transportation, Washington State Department of Licensing, and the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission have published a very useful Washington State Commercial Vehicle Guide that summarizes many of the laws and regulations pertaining to the operation of a commercial vehicle in Washington.
The state of Washington sees its fair share of truck accidents. There are many different types of truck accidents, each with the potential to cause serious damage or injury. Trucks can cause accidents in blind spot situations (when the truck driver doesn’t see a driver in his blind spot and proceeds to change lanes), brake failure, tire blowouts, jackknifes, and rollovers. In addition, the load of a truck must be checked regularly so as to prevent it from suddenly detaching or otherwise falling off of the truck, damaging surrounding cars.
Accidents involving large commercial trucks or tractor-trailers can happen for several reasons:
Driver Error – Drivers can fall asleep at the wheel, they can run into another vehicle that they did not see in their blind spot, or they can hit something else on the road that ultimately leads to an accident. The “negligence” of the driver is perhaps the most common reason for a truck accident.
Company Error – If the driver is employed by a trucking company, then the company could be at fault if it failed to properly conduct a background check and allowed someone behind the wheel who should not have been.
Manufacturer Error – Not all trucks are built equal. Like all products, trucks can come with factory defects that result in a truck malfunctioning.
Poor Maintenance – Big rigs are required by law to be properly maintained. In the event a truck is taken to a repair shop for maintenance, and the repairman fails to properly perform that maintenance, then the repairman’s negligent behavior can be viewed as a cause for the accident.
Poor Weather Conditions – Mother Nature will always play a role in truck accidents. Rainy and snowy conditions can alter road conditions. Truck drivers still have deadlines to meet, disregard the weather conditions, and continue to operate trucks as if the roads were bone dry. An Act of God, however, may not be a legitimate excuse for a truck driver who may have caused an accident and they will still likely be found to have acted negligently.
Other Drivers – Roads and highways are filled with all kinds of vehicles and drivers. Reckless drivers who cut off a semi on the highway may cause serious danger to the driver of the truck as well as other drivers on the road. The identification of who is at fault will require a solid investigation of the facts and circumstances of each case.
Here is a list of items to keep in mind if you have been involved in a wreck with a semi:
Keep Calm. It is easy to blame others and lose one’s cool after being involved in a traumatizing event. It is important to remain calm and be thankful you are alive, even if you are injured.
Ensure Safety Others. Look around to see if anyone is hurt or injured. Call 911 if someone’s life is in danger.
Obtain a Police Report. The accident needs to be reported, and you will want to get a copy of a police report for your records.
Don’t Discuss Fault. Do not talk about who did what or who is to blame. Any of your statements regarding fault can be used against you in court as well as with insurance claims
Don’t Alter the Accident Scene. It is best to leave your car exactly where it is after the accident, unless you have to move it for safety reasons. Instruct the truck operator to do the same. Preservation of the accident scene is critical.
Gather Necessary Information. It is imperative that you collect as much information as possible relating to the incident, such as:
Commercial Driver’s License information, truck registration information, and insurance documentation
Contact information (personal or lawyer)
If the truck driver is an employee, get the employer’s information
Witness information (if any)
Take as many high-resolution pictures and videos of the accident scene
Medical Expenses. If you are injured, visit a doctor or the hospital immediately. Take pictures of any bruises, bumps, or cuts. Retain copies of medical bills, x-rays, and any other documents relating to medical treatment.
Mechanic Estimates. You’ll need to take your car (or tow) it to a mechanic to get an estimate. If feasible, shop around more than one mechanic. This can help with insurance claims.
If you have been involved in an auto accident with a big rig or other large commercial truck, it is critical that you seek out an attorney with experience in dealing with truck accidents. Truck accidents involve subtle complexities that an ordinary personal injury attorney may not be familiar with. For instance, these types of accidents can involve a number of parties and require a thorough investigation as to all the relevant facts. There are a number of different laws that can be implicated and multijurisdictional issues can arise. An experienced truck accident attorney is best suited to tackle these issues and most likely to see that those who are at fault pay for the damages caused by their actions.
We’ve all seen news stories about horrific truck accidents involving large semi-trucks, many of which were carrying cargo at the time of the crash. While dangerous, these are not the only types of trucks that can cause serious…READ MORE
Truck accident cases can be substantially more complicated and can require significantly more resources than other types of motor vehicle accident or personal injury cases. You always want to make sure that any attorney you hire has successfully handled cases that specifically involve large commercial trucks and the trucking industry. Your attorney should have a thorough understanding of trucking industry standards, FMCSA regulations, and truck accident reconstruction methods. At USTA, we focus specifically on truck accident cases and you can rest assured that we have the experience needed to successfully handle your case.GET STARTED
With their legal teams and insurance companies, trucking companies are known for fighting against liability whenever possible. They will often try to strong-arm injured individuals into accepting inadequate settlements by intimidating them with the idea of trial and the resources involved in litigation. Unfortunately, too many attorneys recommend settling cases too early in the process to avoid any further litigation. You need an attorney on your side who is not intimidated by trucking companies and who has the resources and willingness to take your case as far as necessary to obtain the full settlement or award you deserve. The attorneys at USTA will not back down and will do what is needed to fully protect your rights as a truck accident victim.GET STARTED
n order to best know if an attorney is the right one for you, you should meet with them in person or schedule a phone consultation. A positive attorney-client relationship is critical in a successful truck accident case so you should always ensure that you get a good feeling from an attorney before you decide to hire them. You want to stay apprised of new developments in your case and ensure your attorney is not too busy to address your questions or concerns as they arise. At USTA, we provide personalized and committed representation and invite anyone who believes they may have a truck accident claim to call and schedule a free consultation today.GET STARTED