Were You Injured Because Of Someone Else's Negligence? Browse Our FAQs
In addition to coping with a lot of stress and frustration, personal injury cases also come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions we hear the most at Max Meyers Law.
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Who is at fault in a head-on collision?
Who is at fault in a head-on collision depends on who crossed the centerline or violated a traffic law.
Who can be liable for a head-on collision?
Liability depends on the circumstances of the collision. There are quite a few things that can contribute to these accidents:
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving
- Confused driving (new or elderly drivers)
- Improperly turning or passing another vehicle
- Ignoring traffic signals or signs
- Driver loses control of vehicle
- Roadway design – left-turn lanes, “suicide” lanes, reversible lanes, lack of center median
Depending on the circumstances of the head-on crash, your liable party might be:
In almost every case, the driver who crossed over into oncoming traffic, violated a traffic law, or misread a sign will be liable.
Consider a few examples:
Alan is driving while under the influence of alcohol on a two-lane rural road. He is weaving from side to side in his traffic lane. When he crests a hill, he enters the lane for oncoming traffic and crashes in a tractor trailer that was driving in that lane.
Alan’s intoxication caused him to leave his lane of travel. He is liable for the head-on accident.
Beth is driving home after pulling a double shift. She nods off to sleep, and her car drifts into the path of oncoming traffic. Beth’s fatigued driving makes her liable for the head-on crash.
Carla is driving around her new city. Unfamiliar with the roads, she misses the “Wrong Way” sign and drives down a one-way road, where she crashes into another car.
Edie is late for work, and gets stuck behind a slow truck on a two-lane rural road. She pulls out into the oncoming traffic lane to pass the truck. She misjudges the speed of an oncoming vehicle and crashes into it. Edie is at fault in the head-on collision.
In some cases, the driver of the car that drifted into oncoming traffic might not be liable. This might occur if any of the following caused the driver to lose control of his vehicle:
- A sudden medical emergency;
- Tire blowout,
- Another problem with the vehicle,
- Swerving to avoid a pedestrian or another driver
Note: If the driver suddenly had a heart attack, for example, no one will be at fault, due to the sudden medical emergency defense.
Other Drivers or Pedestrians
If the driver lost control after swerving to avoid someone or something that unexpectedly entered his lane, whoever entered the lane will likely be at fault.
These cases can be difficult to prove as the negligent party likely left the scene. A car accident lawyer from Max Meyers Law, PLLC will examine surveillance video and interview eyewitnesses to determine whether anyone saw the accident happen and/or saw the negligent party’s license plate number.
A Government Entity
Many head-on crashes result from poor roadway design or maintenance. Left-turn lanes and reversible lanes are frequently the sites of head-on crashes. The lack of a center median also causes a number of head-on collisions.
The government entity responsible for the design and maintenance of the roadway may be responsible if you can prove unsafe design or maintenance caused the accident. For example, if the entity knew the paint on a turn lane was fading but did nothing to touch it up, it could be liable if a driver could not see the paint and was involved in a head-on collision in a turn lane.
The government might also be liable if a lack of signs made the road’s direction unclear (e.g., no wrong-way signs at the beginning of a one-way road).
If the accident resulted from a tire blowout or a defective part or vehicle, the manufacturer might be liable. For example, if Fred was navigating a turn when his power steering went out, he could hold the manufacturer liable if the power steering failure was due to a defect.
Get help from a Kirkland car accident lawyer.
These cases are complicated and sometimes involve many different parties. If you were injured in a head-on accident, call the office of Max Meyers Law, PLLC today at 425-399-7000 for help navigating your accident claim.
What happens if a pedestrian is at-fault for a car accident?
If a pedestrian is at-fault for a car accident, liability will depend on the specific facts of the accident.
When might a pedestrian be liable for an accident?
Per RCW § 46.61.261, people driving cars and bicycles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, but this does not mean pedestrians are allowed to just walk out into the path of oncoming traffic. It is illegal for pedestrians in Washington State to suddenly bolt out into the path of a vehicle when the vehicle is too close to be able to stop in time. Pedestrians must also obey all traffic control devices in Washington.
If they disobey any traffic laws, they could be liable for any accident and injuries that occur.
For example, Tom was walking on the sidewalk. He approached a crosswalk and walked into the intersection without looking both ways. He did not realize the pedestrian signal was a solid red hand and that the light was green for incoming traffic. A car proceeding through the intersection did not have time to stop and hit him. In this case, Tom will be liable for his own injuries and any injuries the driver or her passengers sustained.
Consider another example: John decided to cross the street outside of a crosswalk. He saw a car coming, but crossed anyway. The driver of the car did not have time to stop and hit John. John is liable for the accident because he was jaywalking and did not give the car enough time to stop.
These accidents can be complicated, especially when they occur in an intersection. If there is a question about liability in your accident, Max Meyers can investigate your accident to determine what party had the right of way when the accident occurred.
What if the pedestrian caused the accident but was not negligent?
It is possible to cause an accident without being negligent. Many accidents have multiple causes, not all of which necessarily involve someone being negligent.
If a pedestrian tripped over a hazard on the sidewalk and fell into traffic, both the pedestrian and the driver can hold the party that is responsible for sidewalk maintenance liable.
What if the pedestrian and the driver were both at fault?
Washington follows the rule of pure comparative fault, which means that a person’s fault reduces his damages. This is true regardless of how much the person was at fault.
For example, Jack was walking down the sidewalk talking on the phone. Without waiting for the walk signal, he stepped into the intersection. At the same time, Ron turned right on red and hit Jack.
The investigation found both Jack and Ron to be 50 percent at fault. Jack had serious injuries, with damages of $50,000. Ron was uninjured. Jack’s fault will reduce his $50,000 in damages to $25,000 to account for his responsibility for the accidents.
How will the pedestrian cover the costs of any injuries?
A pedestrian can use his personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay any of his own medical bills and replace any lost wages from the accident. PIP covers policyholders regardless of fault.
If the driver suffered injuries in the accident, he might need to sue the pedestrian to recover compensation for his medical bills and other accident-related costs.
Because recovering compensation can be complicated in these cases, you need a Kirkland pedestrian accident attorney to help you get the compensation you need.
A pedestrian accident attorney will investigate the accident to determine exactly how it happened. Evidence your attorney might gather includes:
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance video
- Red light camera footage
- Accident reconstruction testimony
Call Max Meyers for help recovering compensation today.
If you were injured in a pedestrian accident in Washington State — either as a pedestrian or a driver — Max Meyers Law can help you recover the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free consultation.
How much will my car insurance increase after an accident in Washington?
How much your car insurance will increase after an accident in Washington depends on whether you were at-fault, what company you have insurance with, where you live, and how severe the accident was. Below, we discuss when your insurance might increase and why.
Why would my insurance increase after a Washington car crash?
The logic behind this is simple — an insurer views a driver as a greater risk if he causes an accident. Charging that driver more means an insurance company will lose less money if there is another crash, and it reminds the driver to remain safe behind the wheel.
How much will my insurance increase if I am at-fault for an accident in Washington?
How much the insurance rate will go up after a crash in the Seattle area depends on the insurer. A 2015 study from InsuranceQuotes.com found that policyholders who file just one claim pay, on average, 41 percent more for their insurance. However, according the Insurance Services Office, a private research firm, most increases are between 20 and 40 percent.
The accident’s severity will also tie in to the increase. A larger increase is more likely to occur after a more severe accident.
Unfortunately for the motorist, there is not much consistency to premium hikes. Each insurer will have its own “surcharge schedule” that outlines cost increases for each accident. In some cases, an insurance company will allow a one-time exception as sort of a free pass, but there is no requirement that they do so. We highly recommend that you ask about a surcharge schedule before agreeing to the terms of a policy.
Like most states, Washington has an at-fault system for determining who caused the accident. If you are at fault, the other driver can pursue compensation by filing a claim with his or her own insurer or by pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.
If the other driver files a claim against your insurer, your premiums are likely to increase. In fact, according to a NerdWallet.com analysis, Washington State drivers paid $322 more than the national average after an at-fault accident.
What types of insurance will increase if I am at-fault for an accident?
Obviously, your liability coverage will increase if you are at-fault for a collision because your insurer will need to cover the other driver’s injuries and property damage. However, if you need to use your other insurance to cover your own injuries and property damage, you could see an increase in your premiums.
If you use your personal injury protection (PIP) policy to cover your medical bills and lost wages after an accident, you may see an increase but only if you were at-fault for the accident.
This rule also applies to other types of insurance that might kick in after an accident, such as underinsured motorist and uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). This protects a driver in the event of an accident caused by a motorist who has insufficient coverage or no insurance at all.
Will my insurance increase if I am not at-fault for a Washington State accident?
No. In many states, drivers will see a rate increase even if they were not at-fault for an accident, reports a nationwide study released in February 2017 by the Consumer Federation of America.
However, Washington state law prevents insurers from raising premiums after an accident “unless the policyholder was determined to be at fault.”
Call Max Meyers Law PLLC for help after an accident.
The rules about different kinds of insurance compensation can be complicated. Since the aftermath of a car accident is already a stressful time, the help of an accident attorney with Max Meyers Law can ease the process. We can answer any questions you may have about insurance premiums and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We can also help defend you against any accusations of fault to your insurer from raising your rates. Call 425-399-7000 to arrange a free consultation with Max and his team today.
Can I sue for a concussion from car accident?
Yes, you can sue for a concussion from a car accident. However, this is often quite complicated. Because concussions are not always apparent for hours or even days after the collision, one of the most difficult things to do is prove that your concussion is related to the accident.
How can I sue for a concussion from a car accident?
To sue someone for your concussion, that person must have been at fault for the accident. For example, Don was stopped at a red light, waiting for the light to turn green. Amy, who was reaching for something in the back seat of her car, did not see traffic stopped and rear-ended Don. Don suffered a concussion from the accident. He can sue Amy for his injuries.
If, on the other hand, the facts are the same, except Amy was the one who suffered the concussion instead of Don, Amy cannot sue Don for her concussion. Amy was the driver at fault, so Don does not have to pay for Amy’s injuries.
You must also prove that your concussion was caused by the car accident. Your proof will likely be the police report and your medical records.
What if I did not know I had a concussion at the scene of the accident?
People often do not know the extent of their injuries at the scene of an accident. You may feel only a slight headache or soreness on your head at the point of impact, while you are still at the scene.
However, all head injuries need medical attention. A concussion can have serious, long-lasting effects. You cannot see what is going on inside your skull. You may have a brain bleed or other serious condition that could be life-threatening if not treated professionally.
If you did not think at the time that you were seriously hurt, the police report may say there were no injuries. You can bet the other driver will then deny liability for your concussion, and claim that you are faking your injuries.
You can fight this accusation with medical records from an evaluation at a later date. If you received medical attention at a later date, proving the relation between the accident and the concussion can be difficult. A lawyer can help.
What if I contributed to the accident?
If you contributed to the accident or your injuries, the other party’s insurer might attempt to reduce your settlement. For example, if you were speeding at the time of collision, the other driver’s insurer might argue that this contributed to the accident (e.g., if you were driving slower, the accident might not have happened) or your injury (e.g., your speed amplified the impact). While contributing to the actual accident can lessen your settlement, certain contributions to your injuries will not.
For example, if you were not wearing your seat belt when the accident occurred, the other driver will likely argue that your injuries were more severe than they would have been if you had been wearing a seat belt. However, Washington’s seat belt law disallows the reduction of an injury claim for not wearing a seat belt.
Regardless of how you contributed to your injuries, you can recover some sort of compensation so long as you were less than 100 percent responsible for your accident. It is important to note that, per Washington’s comparative negligence laws, your percentage of fault will reduce your potential settlement amount.
If you were injured in a car accident, our car accident team can help. Call Max Meyers Law today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free consultation.
Why are truck accidents different than car accidents?
Truck accidents are different from car accidents for multiple reasons. Trucks are cars on a much bigger scale, which means all of the issues that come along with a truck accident are usually bigger as well. These issues include:
Truck Accidents are Often More Severe
While car accidents are much more common than truck accidents, truck accidents are more often catastrophic or deadly. According to 2012 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for each occupant of a large truck who died in a crash, six other people outside of the truck were killed.
Truck accidents often result in:
- Traumatic brain injuries/skull fractures
- Spinal cord injuries
- Crushing injuries
- Broken bones
With more severe injuries comes higher medical bills and weeks or months of lost wages. In some cases, victims are never able to return to work and require long-term care.
Truck Accidents Can Have Several Different Liable Parties
When you are in a car accident, you or the other driver are typically the only potentially liable parties. However, in an accident involving a large truck, there might be two or three different liable parties.
First, the trucking company is likely to be the liable party, even if the truck driver is 100 percent responsible for the collision. This is because, under the doctrine of vicarious liability, employers are responsible for their employees’ actions, so long as the employee acted within the scope of his employment. This is true in almost every case, unless the driver was an independent contractor or was acting outside of his employment (e.g., took his truck to the bar after work and caused an accident coming home).
The trucking company can also be directly liable for negligent maintenance or negligent hiring. In some cases, a truck part manufacturer or the truck’s maintenance team might also be responsible.
The Investigation Process is Different
After a truck accident, there will be multiple investigations. In addition to the usual accident report filed by law enforcement, there might also be an investigation by the trucking company and by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
This can become confusing if all three investigations come to separate conclusions. We can also work with an accident investigator to establish exactly how the accident occurred.
The Trucking Company Has the Evidence You Need
Truck accidents are often more difficult because the trucking company has much of the evidence you need to prove fault, including:
- Hours of service logs
- Data from the truck’s electronic data recorder
- Drug and alcohol test results
- The driver’s personnel file
- The truck’s maintenance records
- The truck itself
And it only gets more difficult from here. Federal laws allow trucking companies to destroy evidence after a certain period of time. This means that unless you discuss your case with a truck accident lawyer immediately, the trucking company could destroy evidence critical to your case.
Trucks Have Different Regulations than Cars
Trucks have different licensing and registration requirements than passenger cars. A different class of driver’s license and specific training is required to drive a large commercial vehicle. Trucking companies and their drivers are subject to multiple federal regulations as well as state laws. Some of these regulations include:
- Only being able to drive for a certain number of hours
- How often trucking companies and drivers need to inspect their vehicles and cargo loads
- A much lower blood alcohol content limit (0.04 vs. 0.08)/drug and alcohol testing after certain accidents
- Handheld cell phone ban
A violation of almost any of these regulations can increase the likelihood of an accident. If we find that a rule violation caused or contributed to your accident, we can use it as proof of negligence.
Higher Potential Payouts
Per 49 CFR § 387.303, the insurance requirements for commercial trucks are:
- Public liability insurance for such claims as bodily injury, property damage and environmental restoration: $750,000 to $5,000,000 based on the weight of the truck and whether the cargo is hazardous;
- Commercial vehicles transporting passengers: $1,500,000 to $5,000,000
This is much higher than Washington’s minimum requirement of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.
In addition to the higher policy limits, there may be multiple parties and companies who can also be liable for your injuries, and they may each have their own insurance coverage.
While the many potential liable parties and higher policy limits in a truck accident mean you can recover a higher insurance payout, it also means you will be facing an uphill battle. The commercial insurance company and the trucking company will have lawyers on standby at all times, ready to jump in to defend against accident claims. This can be intimidating to a person who was injured in an accident involving a large truck.
Get help from a Seattle truck accident attorney.
The investigations and claims processes are different in truck accidents. This is a complex, sophisticated area of law, and the cards are stacked against you if you try to handle your truck accident injury claim on your own without a lawyer. The other side will have teams of lawyers ready to jump in and vigorously defend against your claim. At Max Meyers Law, PLLC, we will handle the investigators, the insurance companies, and the defense lawyers for you.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 for your free, no-obligation consultation with our truck accident lawyer.
Does it affect a car accident claim if both drivers have the same insurance?
If you have been in a car accident where both drivers have the same insurance, you may have several questions:
- Does having the same auto insurance as the other driver make my claim easier or quicker?
- Does having the same insurance company make it more difficult or complicated?
- Will I get less money for my claim if I have the same insurance company as the other driver?
The short answer to all these questions is no. Having the same insurance company as the other driver does not tend to change anything. The claim will likely proceed as normal. The insurance company will follow the same process it uses for any other accident case.
Does having the same auto insurance as the other driver make my claim easier and quicker?
No. It might seem logical that the insurance company would assign one claims adjuster to handle the accident, and that adjuster would take statements from both drivers, make a decision, and wrap up the case. There would be no back and forth between companies or claims adjusters, which would make the process quicker and much simpler.
However, because this can create a kind of conflict of interest, the insurer will assign two different adjusters to the claim to work with each driver separately. The adjusters will each make an independent assessment of who was at fault in the accident. If they are in agreement as to fault, the insurer can resolve the claim relatively quickly. If they disagree as to fault, however, they will each fight for their position.
The difference is in how they resolve these disputes. When there is disagreement as to fault and the drivers have different insurance companies, it may result in litigation to determine fault. When the drivers have the same insurance, the claims adjusters have to work it out amongst themselves.
Does having the same insurance company make it more difficult or complicated?
Not likely. If anything, it can make it a little simpler. This is because the insurance company will not pursue litigation against itself to solve a disagreement over fault.
Will I get less money for my claim if I have the same insurance company as the other driver?
Maybe. A claims adjuster may be more hesitant to assess a high degree of fault when the adjuster knows the money will be coming out of his boss’ pocket. It is much easier to say the other driver is at fault when the money for the claim will be paid by a different insurance company.
On the other hand, if your claim is not a high dollar amount, the insurance company might waive your deductible when the other driver has the same insurance company.
Get help from a Kirkland car accident lawyer.
Regardless of whether you are dealing with your own insurer or another driver’s insurer, chances are you will be fighting an uphill battle. Every insurer is looking out for its bottom line and, as such, will be looking to pay you as little as possible. In many cases, this means taking advantage of injured victims — even if they are the insurer’s own policyholders.
We can help. A car accident lawyer at Max Meyers Law PLLC will evaluate your claim and handle the hassle for you, so you can focus on getting your life back.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free, no obligation consultation.
Why do insurance companies deny car accident claims?
While some tricky car insurance companies will deny your claim for dishonest reasons, there are five main reasons why insurance companies deny valid car accident claims:
1) You waited too long to file a claim.
Insurance companies like to be notified immediately when there has been an accident involving one of their insureds. Insurance companies write their own policies, which often includes how long a person has to file a claim. If you are filing a claim against the other driver, who has a different insurance company than you, you may not know that company’s internal deadline.
Note: Even though, per R.C.W. § 4.16.080, Washington State’s statute of limitations is three years, that does not matter. If you do not file your claim by the insurer’s deadline, you cannot recover compensation. Call Max Meyers to explore your options.
2) You did not call the police to the scene.
Some insurers refuse to honor insurance claims that do not have a police report. If you did call the police to the scene, you might have a report that incorrectly designates you at-fault.
If you did not get a police report or if the police report is incorrect, call Max Meyers Law PLLC. Our team can investigate what occurred and help clear up any inaccuracies with the report.
3) You stated you were uninjured after the accident.
Injuries are not always apparent at the scene of the accident. Some soft tissue injuries take time to develop. Internal bleeding and damages to internal organs may have no immediate symptoms. For these reasons, it is vital that you never say you are uninjured. Instead, go to the doctor to determine whether you have any invisible injuries.
You might also receive a denial if:
- You do not have medical records that show an injury.
- Your injury seems to be a preexisting condition.
- Your injuries do not match the emergency room records or the police report.
4) You agreed to a recorded statement.
Insurance adjusters receive special training to lull injured victims into a false sense of security during which the victim might say something the adjuster can twist into an admission of fault. Even saying something as innocuous as “I’m sorry” or “I’m okay” can jeopardize your case.
You should never give a recorded statement to an insurance company after a car accident without first talking with your lawyer.
5) You admitted fault at the scene.
You may have apologized to someone at the scene out of politeness and concern for their injuries, not intending this to be an admission on fault. That person or an insurance company may try to twist your words and use them as evidence of an admission of fault. This is one of the reasons why you should be extremely careful about what you say at the scene of an accident. Expect that someone may try to use your words out of context.
Speak to law enforcement and medical personnel, but do not admit fault, even if you suspect you might have been at fault. Things are not always as they initially appear. You may find out later that the accident was actually the result of the other driver texting, running a red light, or being impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Get help from a Kirkland car accident attorney today.
Insurance companies say in their television commercials that they are there to help you when you have suffered an injury or a loss. In reality, that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to minimize the amount they pay out in claims. If insurance companies paid out every claim they receive, they would be out of business within a week. They have to weed out the false and frivolous claims; unfortunately, this means they also deny many valid claims.
When an insurance company denies your claim, it must notify you of the denial and the reason. You can then appeal the decision. A car accident lawyer from Max Meyers Law PLLC can help.
Our car accident team will deal directly with the insurance company for you. We know the reasons claims tend to get denied, and we know how to avoid many of these denials. We will fight hard to get you all the compensation you deserve.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 for your free consultation. We never charge a fee unless you get a recovery.
- You do not have medical records that show an injury.
Does insurance cover hit and run accidents?
Whether insurance covers a hit and run depends on the policies you have.
How can I recover compensation after an accident with a hit and run driver?
The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance
In some cases, police are able to locate the at-fault driver in a hit and run collision. In those instances, that driver’s insurance — if he has coverage — should provide you with compensation for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.
While all drivers in Washington State are required to maintain a minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance, even if located, the at-fault driver may not have had insurance or may have insufficient insurance to cover your damages.
Until or unless officers locate that driver, you will be left facing a mounting stack of bills and feeling overwhelmed. You do, however, have options to help you with your expenses, depending on what insurance you carry.
Depending on your situation, you might be able to cover your accident expenses with the following:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is an optional type of insurance coverage designed to protect drivers against collisions with uninsured motorists, and to cover any gaps between the at-fault driver’s coverage and your costs for medical bills and lost wages.
In the event of a hit and run collision, this type of insurance will provide you coverage to:
- Fix your vehicle
- Cover the cost of medical expenses
- Help with lost wages
- Compensate you for other damage, from permanent disability to pain and suffering
It is important to note that there are two different types of UM coverage — bodily injury and property damage. To have your injuries and your property damage covered, you must have both.
Personal Injury Protection Coverage
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is another type of optional insurance that covers the costs of medical bills, lost wages, and other damages that you and your passengers may face after a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. In Washington State, most policies have caps that range from $10,000 to $35,000 per incident.
While the law in Washington State does not require motorists to carry PIP, insurance companies must offer this coverage to their policyholders, who can (but should not) opt out of this coverage in writing. PIP insurance helps you with many types of protection, including:
- Help with the costs of medical bills
- Coverage for lost wages
- Coverage for injuries suffered by passengers in your vehicle, regardless of who was at fault for the accident
Washington Crime Victims Program
The Washington Crime Victims Program offers crime victims help with a range of expenses. If the state approves your claim, you may get help with medical benefits, lost wages, travel expenses for medical treatment, or death benefits. The state can deny your claim if you did not file a police report, if your application was incomplete, or if the accident occurred outside of Washington State.
I have been involved in a hit and run accident. What should I do?
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, the shock and distress of a regular accident can be compounded by the sense of anger at the other driver fleeing the scene. It is important to remember that a driver who is fleeing the scene of an accident is likely doing so because they are concerned about facing charges for more serious issues — from driving under the influence to avoiding prosecution for another crime. Avoid the temptation to chase the driver, and instead call 911 and wait for police and medical personnel to arrive.
Once you have addressed any pressing medical issues, you should take the following steps to help with later insurance claims or legal cases, should officers be able to locate the driver:
- Take photos of the accident scene and surrounding areas, focusing on any shots that may show that the other driver did not have the right of way, for example.
- Speak with any witnesses at the scene, and get their contact information if you need to get their statements later. Ask them to give their statements to police, if they are willing.
- Get a medical examination from any emergency responders, and get a copy of the police report and responding officers’ cards or contact information.
You can get a complete list of the steps that you should take following a hit and run accident here. Also be sure to read through our checklist of compensation options after an accident with an uninsured driver.
Do not deal with a hit and run accident alone. The attorneys at Max Meyers Law can evaluate your case and help pursue the most effective options to help you get compensation for your losses. Call us at 425-399-7000 for a free case evaluation.
Can I sue the truck company for an accident caused by a poorly trained driver?
In most instances, yes, you can sue the truck company for an accident caused by a poorly trained driver. This is because under Washington State and federal law, carriers have a legal duty to only put capable, safe drivers on the road.
Ensuring their drivers are properly trained to operate a commercial truck and fit for the rigors of driving is part of a trucking company’s responsibilities. When its drivers’ training is subpar, victims can hold the company accountable for any resulting harm they sustain.
What training must truck drivers have?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets forth the rules and requirements for the trucking industry. This includes certain criteria that carriers must ensure their drivers meet.
Some of the training requirements truck companies must ensure its drivers have to lawfully operate a semi-truck on the road include:
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL): The company must ensure the driver has obtained his CDL from an instructional program that meets FMCSA standards to demonstrate proficiency in field knowledge and behind-the-wheel training on a driving range and on a public road. If the driver plans to haul multiple trailers, tanks, passengers, or hazardous materials, he must have the appropriate endorsements with his CDL and meet the appropriate safety requirements.
- Background check: Carriers must perform a background check on their drivers during the application process to obtain information such as details about previous employment and the applicant’s driving record in every state he has been licensed in.
- Technical skills: Carriers must make sure their drivers demonstrate the technical skills necessary to safely operate a commercial truck, e.g., maneuvering and braking techniques, proper securement, knowledge of FMCSA hours of service limits, how to spot mechanical issues, and how and when to perform safety checks.
- Medical clearance: Carriers must also ensure their drivers meet minimum health standards. Drivers must undergo a physical exam, pass a hearing and vision test, and be free from health and mental conditions that could interfere with driving such as epilepsy or alcoholism.
How can inadequate training contribute to truck accidents?
Truck drivers must have sufficient knowledge, skills, and practice to safely operate a large truck weighing up to 80,000 pounds. When they do not meet basic training standards, drivers may make errors that can wind up causing devastating accidents, such as:
- Improperly securing their loads
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Taking a corner or descent too fast
- Failing to perform a thorough enough safety check on their truck
How do I prove a poorly trained truck driver caused the accident?
Proving a poorly trained truck driver caused your accident will take considerable investigation. Our truck accident attorney at Max Meyers Law, PLLC can help.
We can take the necessary legal steps to obtain a copy of the truck driver’s employee file, driving record, and criminal record. We will scour the records for deficiencies in training, poor performance, or conduct reports, and any other information that could indicate inadequacy. We can also collect other evidence that may be useful to prove negligence such as the driver’s log book and truck maintenance records.
Unfortunately, even though the FMCSA requires carriers to keep information on file about their drivers and fleet for a certain period of time, carriers tend to “lose” or “accidentally destroy” records when they are facing a liability lawsuit. Acting swiftly can prevent the destruction of evidence you need to prove your truck accident claim.
Our team at Max Meyers Law, PLLC can send what is called a spoliation letter to the carrier that reminds it of its legal duty to preserve certain documents and of the penalties for altering or falsifying records, and requests it provide us with the files we need for your case. Time is of the essence when it comes to the preservation of evidence.
Contact a truck accident lawyer in Kirkland at Max Meyers Law, PLLC to discuss your case for free today: 425-399-7000.
Out-of-State Car Accident: In which state do I file my claim after an accident in Washington?
An out-of-state car accident can be incredibly confusing. Are you supposed to file in your home state or in the state where the accident occurred? When you are involved in an accident in Washington State, you file in Washington. This means you need to know and follow Washington State laws and procedures for filing a claim. Max Meyers of Max Meyers Law PLLC in Kirkland, Washington has handled countless accidents involving out-of-state drivers and can handle yours too.
Why should I have a Washington State car accident lawyer handle my case?
You need a lawyer who knows state laws and procedures.
Every state has its own state laws. While you might not think this will make a big difference, it can change your entire case. For example:
- Do you know how long you have to file a claim in Washington? No matter how good your car accident claim is, if you do not file your claim in time under the procedural rules of the state of Washington, your case is over.
- Do you know whether you can file a claim against the government in Washington or whether it has sovereign immunity?
- Do you know the process for filing a claim in Washington State?
- Did the other driver break a law? Because each state has its own state laws, something that is legal in your state might be illegal in Washington.
All of these things differ from state to state. Only a Washington State car accident lawyer will know all the intricacies of an accident case.
You need a lawyer who knows state insurance and fault laws.
Knowledge of Washington’s insurance laws is important in handling a car accident claim. Like every state, Washington has its own laws on auto insurance. There are required minimum amounts of insurance and optional amounts over the minimum amounts that are available. This will allow you determine how much you can recover.
Each state also has its own procedure for handling accidents. Washington is a fault-state which means you can recover compensation without turning to your own policy first. If you hire a lawyer from a no-fault state such as Florida, s/he might not know the process for filing a claim.
You also need an attorney who knows what fault laws the state follows. Washington State follows a pure comparative negligence law which means you can recover compensation even if you are 99 percent at fault. If your home state is a pure comparative fault state like Maryland or Virginia or a modified comparative fault state like Georgia, a lawyer might not realize that you are still entitled to compensation even if you were more than half at fault for the accident.
Where can I get help for my car accident claim in Washington?
If you have been injured in a car accident in the State of Washington, you need a Washington lawyer to handle your claim. At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we know the laws, procedural rules, and time limitations in Washington, and we have years of experience handling accident claims. We will sit down with you and evaluate your case for free. We are happy to work with out of state clients who have been injured in car accidents in Washington State.
We provide a wealth of information on our website. You can read about every member of our legal team, and see our photos so that you can put a face with the name of the person you are dealing with at our firm. Read and see what our clients are saying about us. With today’s technology, the miles can melt away so you can feel completely comfortable working with us, even if you are in another part of the country.
We will answer your questions and navigate you through the claims process in the State of Washington. We also do not charge a fee unless you get a recovery. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free consultation.
When is a car considered totaled in Washington State?
“Totaled” means a total loss. A car is considered totaled when damages from an accident are irreparable or would cost more to fix than what the vehicle is worth.
Who decides if a car is totaled?
An insurer will assess the car’s pre-accident value against the likely cost of repairs. Washington is a fault state, meaning that whoever caused an accident is responsible for covering the damages that occur. If you are at fault in an accident, your insurance company will handle appraisal and compensation according to the coverage in your policy. (Note: Your insurer will only cover your damage if you have collision coverage.) If the other driver was at fault in the accident, you will be dealing with his or her insurer.
The insurer will send an appraiser to determine both the vehicle’s pre-accident fair market value and the likely cost of repairs. Per WAC § 284-30-391, once the appraiser has determined a value for the vehicle, the insurer will either replace your vehicle or offer you a cash settlement based on the value of a comparable vehicle in the same area.
How does the insurer determine that value?
State law [WAC § 390-05-235] defines “fair market value” as the amount a well-informed buyer under no obligation to purchase a vehicle would reasonably pay a well-informed owner who is not required to sell. The insurer bases this largely on sales data for comparable cars in your area, meaning those that are of similar make, model year, body type, condition, and mileage.
Washington State law requires insurers to calculate fair market value using at least one of the following methods:
- Examining prices on comparable vehicles in the surrounding area. The insurer may use a third-party service to acquire this data.
- Obtaining quotes on comparable vehicles from two or more licensed dealers within 150 miles of where your car is stored
- Checking prices on comparable vehicles advertised in local media
- Consulting computerized data on comparable nearby vehicles
Car owners can then request a “total loss valuation report” from the insurer, which will contain the data used in calculating the fair market value. Washington State law requires insurers to use a “total loss formula,” where the cost of repairs plus its probable value as scrap must equal the vehicle’s value pre-accident value for it to be a total loss.
How do I get my settlement?
If you agree with the assessed value of the car, the insurer will offer to replace your car with something similar in value that is available nearby or pay you a cash settlement, according to rules outlined in WAC 284-30-391. The settlement offer will include the following:
- The vehicle’s fair market value immediately prior to the accident
- Sales tax on the car’s fair market value
- Any other fees you would have paid if you purchased the vehicle immediately prior to the accident
What if I do not agree with the insurer about the value of my vehicle?
If it is your own insurer, you can hire an outside appraiser if your collision policy allows it. If the other driver was at fault, and you believe his or her insurer is incorrectly valuing your car, you can file a claim with your own insurance company, which will pay your settlement. Then, if it so chooses, your insurer will seek compensation from the at-fault driver's insurance company.
Can I keep my car even if it is totaled?
Yes. If you keep your totaled car, the insurer will then subtract the salvage value from the settlement. You or your insurer must then notify and report the totaled vehicle to the Washington State Department of Licensing. (Failure to do so within 15 days is a misdemeanor.)
Where can I get more help with this?
Dealing with the insurance company can be a hassle. For help navigating the claims process or understanding your insurance settlement offer, contact a car accident attorney at Max Meyers Law, PLLC in Kirkland today: 425-399-7000. The initial consultation is free and we do not charge a fee until you win a settlement.
Who is at fault if defective brakes cause a truck accident?
Defective brakes can cause deadly crashes, especially when those brakes are defective on large trucks. While Washington State law allows accident victims to recover compensation for any injuries they sustain at the hands of another party, determining who is at-fault for a defective brake crash can be difficult. We can help.
Who is responsible when defective brakes cause a truck crash?
The answer is not always easy to determine. Many different people can be responsible for the safe condition of truck brakes. If any of those parties fail in their duty, they can be responsible for a truck crash and any resulting injuries. The following parties can all be liable:
This is likely your first option. If a manufacturer of a product makes a defective product, the manufacturer is liable for any injuries that occur.
Taking on a manufacturer is quite a challenge though. Manufacturers have teams of lawyers who will try to wear down anyone who is trying to hold them responsible for their negligence. You need a tough, aggressive lawyer on your side, one who will stand up to the manufacturers and demand that they pay for the harm they caused.
Because holding a manufacturer liable is so difficult, you do not need to prove negligence. Instead, you need to prove the following:
- The manufacturer created an unreasonably dangerous product.
- The product injured you or someone else while you were using it in a way the manufacturer could have foreseen.
- The product was not changed substantially after being received.
Truck drivers must perform a daily safety check on their trucks, and write a report of all problems found. There are two ways in which a truck driver can be liable for defective brakes based upon the duty to inspect:
- If the truck driver failed to perform the required safety inspection of the vehicle or did an incomplete or inept inspection; and
- If the truck driver did an inspection but failed to report defective brakes on his report.
However, even if the truck driver is responsible, the liable party will be the trucking company under the laws of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability holds employers liable for their employees’ actions so long as the employees acted in the scope of their employment.
In addition to being vicariously liable for their drivers’ actions, trucking companies can also be directly liable if they do not inspect their trucks regularly or if they failed to repair defective or worn brakes.
Truck Maintenance/Repair Company
Many trucking companies hire other companies to perform needed repairs and to do the necessary maintenance to ensure safety on the roads. If the maintenance/repair company did not do its job correctly, it will be liable. A truck maintenance and repair company could be liable if it forgot to check the brakes during regular maintenance.
A truck maintenance/repair company can also be liable if it was negligent in performing required service on the brakes, or if it incorrectly installed the brakes. If the brakes failed and caused a collision, the maintenance company will be liable for any injuries that occurred.
How can I get help?
If you have been injured in an accident caused by defective truck brakes, you have an uphill battle. Holding a trucking company or manufacturer liable alone can be almost impossible.
You need a lawyer on your side who will take on the trucking company, the maintenance/repair company, the manufacturer, and anyone else who may be at fault in the accident.
The truck accident legal team at Max Meyers Law will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We will determine what evidence you need, send spoliation letters when necessary, gather all the necessary evidence, and negotiate with the at-fault parties to recover the compensation you need. And we do this without charging a fee until you win. Call us today at 425-399-7000 for your free consultation.
Who is at fault for a truck tire blowout accident in Washington State?
According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire problems are the “critical reason” for 35 percent of all crashes in resulting from vehicle issues. Tire blowouts are common and can cause severe accidents. This is especially true when a large truck causes a tire blowout accident. Victims can recover compensation for their injuries, but determining who is liable can be difficult.
Who is responsible for a crash caused by a truck tire blowout?
Quite a few parties might be responsible for a truck tire blowout accident:
The truck driver can be responsible for an accident involving a truck tire blowout if s/he was behaving negligently (e.g., was distracted and did not see debris in the roadway), failed to check the tires before a trip, or ignored a bald tire during an inspection.
Even if the truck driver is responsible for the accident, s/he will not be responsible for paying for your injuries. Instead, the trucking company will be liable under respondeat superior, or vicarious liability. This rule holds employers responsible for any actions their employees take within the scope of their employment.
In addition to being vicariously liable, the trucking company can also be directly liable for an accident. The trucking company has a responsibility to do as many safety checks as are necessary to always maintain their trucks in safe condition. If the trucking company could have detected the problem with the tire during a safety check, but did not conduct one, the trucking company can be liable.
Trucking companies can also be liable if they hire untrained drivers or those who do not observe safe driving practices. If a driver has a history of unsafe driving behavior, such as reckless driving or failure to observe prudent safety practices, and the trucking company does not perform a background check that would have uncovered this history, it can be liable.
Trucking companies can also be liable if they fail to establish safety protocols, train their drivers, or take corrective action when drivers exhibit unsafe behaviors if these failures contributed to the truck tire blowout.
Truck Maintenance/Repair Company
Many large trucking companies hire maintenance or repair companies to keep their truck fleet in good repair. If the maintenance or repair company was negligent in its duties, it can be liable for any accidents that occur.
If a manufacturer produced a defective tire that caused an accident, it can be liable for any injuries. Products liability claims are highly technical and complicated; however, Max Meyers can help you navigate the process.
Potholes are a frequent cause of tire blowouts. In some cases, you may be able to hold the entity responsible for road maintenance liable. However, in many cases, these are government entities and very difficult to sue.
The team at Max Meyers will investigate your case and determine whether you will be able to recover compensation for your accident injuries.
Other Negligent Parties
Other parties can be liable for accidents involving truck tire blowouts, if their negligence caused the truck to have the tire blowout.
For example, when another vehicle cuts right in front of a truck, the truck may have to swerve to avoid hitting the vehicle that cut in front of it. If a situation like this causes an accident, the driver of the vehicle who cut in front of the truck can be liable.
How can I get help?
If you have been injured in a wreck involving a truck tire blowout, you need to put your case in good hands. At Max Meyers Law, our truck accident legal team has handled many truck accident claims. We will investigate your claim, work with the necessary experts, and keep at it until we get you the compensation you deserve. And we never charge you for our fees until you get a recovery.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation.
How often must trucking companies inspect their trucks?
Section 396 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains federal laws that mandate how often trucking companies must inspect their trucks. If a trucking company fails to follow these regulations, it may be liable for any accidents that result.
What regulations must trucking companies follow?
Trucking Companies Must Perform Systematic Inspections
Per CFR § 396.3, trucking companies must “systematically inspect, repair, and maintain” all of their vehicles. It does not matter if they own or lease the vehicles. If the trucking company controls a vehicle for 30 consecutive days, the trucking company is responsible for complying with the inspection requirements.
There is no specific interval between inspections as “intervals are fleet specific and, in some instances, vehicle specific.” It is up to the trucking companies to determine their own inspection schedules. They must inspect as often as necessary in order to constantly keep the trucks in good operating condition.
Drivers Must Perform Daily Inspections
At the end of every driving day, the truck driver must inspect and prepare a written report on the following parts (if the motor carrier provides the equipment):
- Wheels and rims
- Emergency equipment
- Service brakes and trailer brake connections
- Parking brakes
- Windshield wipers
- Lights and reflectors
- Rearview mirrors
- Coupling devices
- Steering mechanism
According to CFR § 396.11, the driver’s report must include a list of all defects discovered in the daily inspection, as well as any defects the driver is aware of, if the defects would have an impact on the safe operation of the truck or if the defects could cause a mechanical breakdown. If the driver notes any such defects, the trucking company must repair the defects before anyone can operate the truck again.
Intermodal Equipment Providers and Drivers Must Follow Reporting Requirements
Motor carriers and drivers of intermodal (container) equipment providers must report all known defects and damage to intermodal equipment when returning the equipment to the provider or the provider’s agent. Per CFR § 396.9, these reports must include, at a minimum:
- Wheels, including the rims, lugs, and tires
- Lights, lamps, and markers
- Locking pins and similar devices
- Air line equipment
- King pin upper coupling devices
- Tie down equipment
- Sliding frame locks or sliders
- Support frames or rails
Providers must place any equipment that would “likely cause an accident or a breakdown” out-of-service.
Trucks Must Pass Periodic Inspections
Trucking companies cannot operate their vehicles unless each part of the vehicles passed inspection within the last 12 months, per CFR § 396.17. The documentation of these inspections must be inside the truck. While FMCSA does not tell trucking companies the dates on which they must inspect their trucks, they must perform sufficiently frequent periodic inspections in order to comply with the 12-month inspection requirement.
Trucking Companies Must Keep Records
Under CFR § 396.21, trucking companies must keep records of all the inspections on all their vehicles, for at least three months from the date of the report. In many cases, trucking companies need to hold records for a year and a half.
Does it matter if a trucking company does not inspect its trucks as required?
Yes. In the event of an accident, inspection records are vital. If the company knew of defects and did not promptly correct them, the company can be liable if those defects were a contributing factor in the accident. But what happens if the trucking company does not inspect its trucks as required by law, or does not maintain the required records?
A company cannot duck responsibility for unsafe trucks by failing to document the defects. The failure to inspect and maintain inspection records is, in itself, negligence. This negligence, in addition to operating unsafe trucks, can lead to higher damages assessed against the trucking company or intermodal equipment provider.
The adverse consequences for failure to inspect trucks do not end with liability for the accident. Federal law imposes financial penalties on trucking companies and intermodal equipment providers that do not comply with the inspection requirements. These companies can also face the loss of their operating licenses.
Where can I get help if a truck driver caused my accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, call Max Meyers Law, PLLC for help. Our truck accident legal team will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 425-399-7000 today for your free, no-obligation consultation.
What damages are recoverable in a truck accident case?
Truck accidents often lead to significant injuries and pain and suffering. While nothing will give you back what the accident took from you, you can recover several types of damages in a truck accident case.
For help with your case, call a truck accident attorney from Max Meyers Law PLLC: 425-399-7000.
What damages can I recover in a truck accident case?
Medical damages: Injuries from a truck accident are often severe. Truck accidents can cause traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, amputations, or internal injuries, all of which can cost thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You can recover compensation for all your medical expenses. This includes:
- Medical bills
- Costs of ongoing or future medical care
- At-home medical care/specialized care in a facility
- Any surgical costs
- Physical therapy appointments
Make sure you keep all receipts and all medical bills you receive.
Disability and disfigurement: Truck accidents often cause disabling or disfiguring injuries. You can recover compensation for any adaptations you needed to make. For example, if your accident left you in a wheelchair, you can recover compensation for any vehicle or home modifications you needed to make.
Be sure to keep the receipts from the mechanic, dealership, or contractor.
Lost wages: Truck accidents can result in severe injuries, often requiring surgery or physical therapy. This can lead to a lot of time off work. If you need to take time off to recover or attend physical therapy or doctor’s appointments, you can demand compensation for lost wages.
You might also be able to recover compensation if your injury made it impossible to work full days. Keep track of all the time you took off work; be sure to include half days or time off for appointments.
Loss of earning potential: The injuries from truck accidents can make it impossible for someone to return to the same position s/he had before. If your injuries required you to take a demotion, find a new job, or retire completely, you can recover compensation for loss of earning potential.
Pain and suffering: The mere payment of your medical bills does not begin to compensate you for what you went through — the pain of getting injured, the suffering involved in medical treatments and recuperation. Pain and suffering damages can be available to compensate you after a truck accident.
You can also recover compensation for mental anguish, lost quality of life, and the development of any mental disorders from the crash (e.g., some truck accident survivors develop anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder).
Miscellaneous Expenses: There are quite a few things that truck accident victims can recover that they never even thought of. If you were injured in an accident, you may be able to recover the following:
- Expenses for hiring help around the house (e.g., hiring a landscaper because you cannot mow the lawn, hiring a nanny to pick your kids up from school, hiring a housekeeper to clean your house, etc.)
- Costs of transportation to and from doctor’s appointments
- Parking fees at the doctor’s office or hospital
Wrongful death: Unfortunately, truck accidents often end in death. If you lost a loved one in a truck crash, you can recover compensation for:
- Funeral or burial expenses
- Loss of support
- Loss of services (e.g., child care, household chores, etc.)
- Loss of guidance and consortium
- Lost wages/lost earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
To determine exactly what you can recover, you need to have a truck accident lawyer look over your case.
Get Help from a Kirkland Truck Accident Lawyer Today
While you can recover quite a lot in a truck accident claim, the trucking company and its insurer will not make it easy for you. They will fight tooth and nail to ensure you do not get the compensation you deserve. Do not feel like you need to handle this on your own. You have a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer on your side.
Call Max Meyers today at 425-399-7000 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation and learn what you might be entitled to.
What constitutes aggressive truck driving in Washington State?
Aggressive driving is a problem everywhere. It is so problematic in Washington State that the Washington State Police (WSP) has spent the past few years cracking down on aggressive driving. All aggressive driving is dangerous, but aggressive truck driving can be deadly.
What is aggressive truck driving in Washington State?
Knowing what constitutes aggressive truck driving in Washington State is the best way to avoid it. All of the following are behaviors that comprise aggressive driving:
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Using the horn unnecessarily
- Cutting in closely on other vehicles when changing lanes
- Flashing headlights at oncoming traffic
- Pulling in front of a driver, only to slow down while in his/her path
- Slamming on the brakes to get rid of a tailgater
- Driving too fast for conditions
Why is aggressive driving so dangerous when operating a semi truck?
Aggressive truck driving is more dangerous than aggressive passenger car driving because trucks are much larger and heavier than passenger cars. Accidents that occur due to aggressive truck drivers are often much more severe than aggressive passenger car drivers.
- A truck can take almost 200 feet to come to a complete stop. If you slam on your brakes in front of a truck that is tailgating you, an override accident is sure to occur.
- If an aggressive truck driver cuts you off, s/he can cause an underride accident.
- If a truck is traveling too fast for conditions, s/he can cause a jackknife accident if s/he needs to brake quickly.
- If a driver makes an unsafe lane change, s/he can hit drivers in adjacent lanes or cause a squeeze play accident.
What can cause aggressive driving?
Truck drivers operate under deadlines. If they were stuck in traffic earlier in their route, they might have a hard time getting to their destination on time. This might make drivers speed, make unsafe lane changes, or tailgate to get their shipment to its destination on time.
A driver might also tailgate or drive aggressively if s/he is fatigued, intoxicated, or driving while distracted.
In some cases, an accident victim may have unintentionally caused the driver to become aggressive. For example, if you were driving slowly in the left lane or if you accidentally cut off a driver, that driver might decide to tailgate you or cut you off to scare you or get you to speed up.
What effect does aggressive driving have on my accident case?
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, it is important to evaluate whether aggressive driving was a factor. If you are able to establish aggressive driving caused or contributed to your accident, you can use this to hold the driver accountable for your injuries.
For example, if a truck rear-ends you, the driver might try to claim that you cut him/her off. However, if you can prove that you ensured you were a safe distance ahead of the truck and the driver, instead, sped up until s/he was on your tail, you can deflect liability and place it on the truck driver.
If you are involved in a squeeze play accident, the trucking company’s insurer might try to blame you for being in a truck’s blind spot. However, if you can prove that the driver’s speeding and unsafe lane changes did not give you enough time to change lanes, you might be able to hold the trucking company liable for the driver’s actions.
How can I prove aggressive truck driving?
Unfortunately, in an accident, it is always a "he said" "she said" situation. However, if you can provide evidence that proves your side of the story, you may be eligible to recover compensation.
The evidence you might need includes:
- Eyewitness testimony (an eyewitness can testify that the truck driver was tailgating you and behaving aggressively prior to the accident)
- Accident reconstruction expert testimony
- Surveillance video of the crash
How can I get help if I was injured in an accident with an aggressive truck driver?
At Max Meyers Law PLLC we will sit down and meet with you to discuss the details of your accident. If it appears that aggressive driving may have been a factor in the accident, we will investigate the facts and gather the evidence necessary to prove your claim. We have years of experience handling truck accident claims and we know how to tackle the unique issues they present.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 for your free, no obligation consultation with a Kirkland truck accident lawyer.
Who is responsible for my truck accident: the truck driver or truck company?
Liability is much more complicated in truck accident cases than with auto accident cases. In a passenger car traffic accident, you typically only deal with the other motorist and his/her insurer. However, liability for truck accidents can extend beyond the truck driver to include numerous parties, all of which are interested in protecting themselves against liability.
For this reason, it is imperative that you speak with a Kirkland truck accident attorney as soon as possible to preserve your right to compensation: 425-399-7000.
Who is liable for my truck accident?
In most car accident cases, if the driver’s negligence causes an accident, the driver will be your liable party. However, in most cases, you will not hold the truck driver liable for your damages. If the truck driver’s negligence caused the accident, then you would typically file a claim against the trucking company, not the driver directly. This is because of a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, a law that provides that companies can be liable for their employees’ actions.
This is actually a good thing for truck accident victims because trucking company insurance policies are generally better and larger than a personal insurance policy. In other words, trucking companies have deeper pockets and you can likely recover a much fuller settlement by filing against the company.
However, this also means that you will likely be fighting an uphill battle. Trucking companies often have very large, experienced insurers and legal teams. In many cases, accident victims who take on trucking companies themselves end up jeopardizing their case or accepting far too little for their case.
Can a trucking company be directly liable for my accident?
Yes. A trucking company can be directly liable for your accident if the trucking company:
- Forced or encouraged its drivers to stay on the road past federally-mandated hours
- Hired a driver with a history of dangerous driving (e.g., DUIs, speeding tickets, etc.)
- Did not suspend a driver for driving while intoxicated
- Requiring drivers to text and drive
Are there times when a trucking company is not liable for my accident?
There are exceptions to this rule, though. If any of the following circumstances apply, then you may need to file against the truck driver rather than (or sometimes in addition to) the company:
- Independent contractors: Respondeat superior only applies to employees, not self-employed drivers. If the truck driver that hit you was an independent contractor rather than an employee, you will need to file against the driver. (Max Meyers will investigate your case to determine whether the driver was actually an independent contractor; in some cases, trucking companies will misclassify employees to save money or deflect liability.)
- Off duty: Employers are only liable for their employees’ actions when the employees were acting within the course and scope of employment. An employer would be liable if a driver caused an accident making a delivery, but if the driver was off the clock and had an accident while running a personal errand, then the company will not be liable.
- Intentional: If the truck driver intentionally caused the wreck or harmed you, then the trucking company is not liable. You can file a civil claim against the driver and pursue recovery.
What do I need to establish liability?
You will need to be able to show that the trucking company or other responsible party caused the accident as a result of its carelessness or negligence.
The items you may use as evidence to prove liability depend upon the circumstances of your accident. For instance, if the driver was texting while driving, we can subpoena his/her phone records to prove negligence. If s/he fell asleep at the wheel, we can obtain his/her log books to see if s/he overstepped the legal hours of service limits or his/her drug and alcohol test to see if s/he was intoxicated.
It is important to note that trucking companies tend to “lose” or quickly destroy evidence after an accident to protect their interests. Our team at Max Meyers Law PLLC can take steps to stop the destruction of evidence, collect any necessary evidence to prove liability, and obtain maximum compensation for you.
We will also determine whether there are any potential third parties responsible for your truck accident. We will build cases against any parties involved.
For a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Kirkland, call Max Meyers Law PLLC today at 425-399-7000.
I was in a chain reaction multi-car accident in Washington. Who is liable?
In every case, the person who causes a Washington car accident should be liable for the damages and injuries, but when there is a multi-car accident, sometimes more than one person is liable. This is because in multi-car accidents, multiple people can act negligently and cause or contribute to the accident.
First, let us consider a typical, two-car accident. Alice stops her car at a red light. Bob, who is texting, does not see her car and slams into her. In this case, Bob is liable. Liability in this case is pretty cut and dry.
What happens if more drivers or factors are involved?
Let us add more parties. In this case, Bob rear-ends Alice who, due to the force of being rear-ended by Bob, rear-ends Camille. Bob will likely be liable for both accidents.
What happens if we change our accident a bit? In this case, Alice rear-ends Camille (who is sitting at a red light) first. Bob, who is texting and does not see Alice stop, rear-ends Alice. In this case, we have two liable parties:
- Alice will be liable for rear-ending Camille.
- Bob will be liable for rear-ending Alice. However, Alice may be partially liable for Bob rear-ending her.
However, this situation can become more complicated if another party or factor (e.g., one of the parties had a burnt-out taillight) is involved. For example, if Camille’s brake lights were out, Camille could be liable for Alice rear-ending her (if Alice was following at a safe distance and following all traffic laws) and partially liable for Bob rear-ending Alice, even though Bob was texting.
If another driver caused the entire collision, s/he may be liable. For example, if Doug swerved to avoid debris in the roadway and sideswiped Camille causing her to brake quickly and set off a chain reaction of accidents, he could be liable, at least partially, for any resulting accidents.
Weather, construction, and other drivers (who are not involved in the accident) can also play a big role in multi-car chain reaction accidents.
Where can I get help if I was in a multi-car accident?
As you can see, chain reaction multi-car accidents are often complicated. A multi-car chain reaction accident can leave victims with catastrophic injuries; our car accident team can help you recover the compensation you and your family need and deserve.
We will work with accident reconstruction experts to determine exactly how the accident happened, who originally caused it, and which additional parties are liable.
Once we have determined the liable parties, we will manage communication with each party’s insurer. Dealing with one insurer is difficult enough; it becomes immensely more complicated when you add insurers to the mix. Fortunately, we have experience on both sides of the aisle when it comes to dealing with insurers. We know the tricks insurers might try to pull and we know how to defend against them.
And we do all this with no-upfront costs from you. We know how difficult recovering from an accident is; we believe you should have the freedom to recover from your injuries without worrying about how you are going to pay for a lawyer. We will do all the legwork, keep you informed about how your case is going, and help you in whatever way we can.
Note: All we ask of you is that you continue with your medical care. Follow all your doctor’s instructions to the T and do not overexert yourself. If you are worried about how you will pay for your medical bills before your case settles, read our post for your options.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 to set up your free, no-obligation consultation with Kirkland car accident lawyer Max Meyers. To make sure you are doing what you can to protect your rights before our consultation, feel free to read through our free eBook Car Accident Secrets Unlocked. We look forward to speaking with you.
Using Hands-Free Devices While Driving: Safe or Dangerous?
We all know distracted driving is dangerous. But in our eternal quest to increase our productivity through multitasking, we continue to engage in various types of distracting behaviors. Fortunately, the marketplace is flooded with tons of hands-free devices like Bluetooth cell phones and even voice command navigation and cell phone features built right into the center console of your car. But new evidence indicates using hands-free devices while driving is not as safe as we first assumed.
How dangerous is using your phone while driving?
According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), sending a text message keeps your eyes off of the road for four to five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, this is enough time to drive across an entire football field.
During the time that your eyes are off the road, a pedestrian may step into your path or the driver in front of you may slam on her brakes.
Talking on the phone causes inattention blindness, an inability to stay in the lane, and a slower response and reaction time, according to the National Safety Council (NSC) in its report Understanding the Distracted Brain.
Are hands-free devices really safe to use?
Intuitively, we assume that hands-free devices, such as a Bluetooth headset for your cell phone, are safer to use while driving than traditional cell phone usage. After all, although it is illegal to talk on your cell phone in many states, those same states make exceptions for hands-free conversations. However, hands-free technology may not actually be safe.
According to the NSC, drivers are four times more likely to get into an accident while using a cell phone. Furthermore, they argue that there is no difference in this risk between traditional cell phone use and hands-free use. This is because talking on a cell phone limits your ability to focus on the road.
For example, the NSC claims that activity in the part of your brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 33 percent while you are talking on a cell phone. Furthermore, drivers who are speaking on a cell phone have a narrower field of view than those who are not distracted. This means that even if your hands are both on the wheel, you could still be involved in an accident.
And it is not just hands-free phone conversations that are dangerous. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that voice-to-text messaging through the car’s dashboard or Bluetooth system can actually be more distracting for drivers than traditional texting by hand.
And the distraction does not stop once you end your text. Mental distractions can linger for up to 27 seconds after sending a voice text.
Myth Busted: Hands-Free Technology is NOT Safe
It is not just the NSC and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that agree hands-free technology is not safe to use. The MythBusters team set out to discover whether hands-free cell phone use is actually safer than regular cell phone use while driving.
In two separate studies, one with the hosts of the show driving on a closed obstacle course and the other with multiple drivers operating cars within a high-tech driving simulator, the results were the same: driving while using hands-free cell phone technology is equally as bad as driving while talking on a hand-held phone.
Contact Max Meyers Law if You Were Hurt in a Crash
Now that you know hands-free technology is not as safe as we initially thought, keep this in mind as you and your loved ones get behind the wheel. Whenever possible, postpone your calls until you can pull over to the side of the road or you reach your destination. Taking this precaution could save your life.
Regardless of the cause of your accident, if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, contact a car accident attorney at Max Meyers Law, PLLC at 425-399-7000 to set up your initial consultation today.
Should I sign a medical release from the insurance company?
Your medical records are likely to be key evidence in your Kirkland accident case, so it is no surprise that the insurance company wants to see them. You can expect both your own insurer and the other driver’s insurance company to ask for them soon after filing a claim. Before you share them, though, you should consider discussing your case with an attorney who is well-versed in Washington State personal injury claims. Signing a medical release form can hurt your case, so you must handle it carefully.
If you need help with a medical release or have other questions about your Kirkland accident claim, let the staff at Max Meyers Law PLLC go to work for you. Call us today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a time to discuss your case with Max.
What is a medical release form?
There are federal and state laws in place to keep your medical records private, so the insurance company cannot simply call your doctor and ask for them. Instead, it must request that you make them available by signing a medical release.
It is important to note that this release will likely not specify which records the insurance company can access. Instead, this release is usually a standard form that grants the insurance company access to your full medical history and any associated documents in your file. While the insurer will eventually need access to your medical records related to treatment for any accident injuries, giving it access to all your health history and other records is rarely a good idea.
How could signing a medical release hurt my case?
Allowing the insurance company access to your complete health history will never increase the compensation available for your claim. The insurer’s investigators will pore over your files and look for any possible way to reduce your payout or deny your claim.
For example, a high school football injury suffered more than a decade ago might come back to haunt you if it affects the same body part as your recent car accident injury. One of the most common reasons that insurance companies deny claims after seeing medical records is because of “pre-existing injuries.”
In some cases, not providing access to your medical records may also hurt your case. When it comes to your own insurance company, your policy is a contract between you and the insurer. You must uphold your end of the deal to get what it promises to pay out. The fine print of your policy may say you have to offer access by a certain time or provide medical records for a specific number of years before the accident.
How should I respond to a request for a signed medical release?
The best way to handle a request for a medical release is to give us a call. Our staff has extensive experience with the insurance industry. We review each client’s insurance policy to determine exactly what his/her obligations are and when. Once we have this information, we can ensure the insurance adjustor receives the records required while still protecting our client’s right to privacy.
We can also help with requests from the at-fault party’s insurer. There are a number of different methods we can use to limit the records available. Options include drafting a medical release that strictly limits access to the records. In a best case scenario, this gives the insurer a short period of time to look at records that pertain to treatment of accident-related injuries only.
Our preferred method is to request the records ourselves. We then provide copies of any pertinent documents to the insurance company, along with any other evidence to support the claim. This allows us to control the insurance company’s access directly.
Max Meyers Law: Kirkland Personal Injury Attorney
Washington State personal injury lawyer Max Meyers and his staff have a history of taking on insurance companies. We fight for our clients, getting them the compensation they deserve for their injury damages.
Call Max Meyers Law, PLLC today at 425-399-7000 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.