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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Are There Caps on Truck Accident Lawsuits in Washington State?
There are no limits on the damages you can recover in a truck accident case in Washington State, but judges usually do not allow successful plaintiffs to recover punitive damages. There are no limits on damages for wrongful death cases.
If you suffered injuries in a crash, a truck accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your damages. At Max Meyers Law, we will investigate your accident, build a compelling claim on your behalf, and go after the party responsible for your truck accident for the full value of your losses. Call us at 425-399-7000 today for a free consultation.
What Economic Damages Are Available After a Truck Crash in Washington State?
Economic damages represent out-of-pocket costs you incur as a result of the wreck. You might qualify for compensation for any of the following economic losses.
You can recover compensation for the reasonable expenses you faced for medical treatment and care. This category can include ambulance transportation, emergency treatment, a hospital stay, x-rays and other imaging, surgery, lab tests, a stay at a rehabilitation center, physical therapy, and prescription drugs.
If you suffered a permanent, disabling injury, you might need to purchase specialized equipment. You could qualify for reimbursement for the cost of a walker, a wheelchair, home modifications, an accessible vehicle, and other expenses incurred because of your injuries.
Decreased Earning Capacity
After significant injuries, you might not be able to work as many hours as you did before. Depending on the long-term consequences of the harm you suffered, you might have to switch to a lower-paying or part-time job, or you might be completely disabled and unable to support yourself through employment. You can recover compensation for that loss.
Some people need ongoing medical and personal care after catastrophic injuries from a truck accident. Whether you receive these services at an inpatient facility, on an outpatient basis, or in your home, the costs are compensable.
What Non-Economic Damages Are Available to Truck Accident Victims?
When you sustain injuries in a crash, you suffer harm that goes above and beyond your economic losses. Your non-economic damages can include such things as your pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and your significant other’s loss of consortium.
While a tort reform law from the 1980’s used to limit how much you could recover for these losses, the state Supreme Court struck down this damage cap in a 1989 decision. There is no longer a limit on non-economic damages for personal injury claims in Washington.
When Can I Recover Compensation for Wrongful Death?
If your family member died in a truck accident, state law allows the surviving spouse, state registered domestic partner, child, or stepchild to bring a wrongful death action. The jury can award whatever amount of damages it feels are just under the circumstances of the case.
Does My Case Qualify for Punitive Damages?
Washington law has three requirements for juries that want to award punitive damages in a personal injury case:
- The jury must find that the defendant acted with malice or with reckless disregard of the consequences to the plaintiff;
- The damage amount must be high enough to punish the conduct; and
- The amount must be high enough to deter the defendant and others from similar conduct in the future.
Punitive damages in a truck accident case are relatively rare. However, if the truck driver or their employer acted egregiously, we might be able to build a strong case for this additional compensation.
What If I Was Partially at Fault for My Truck Accident?
The judge can reduce your damages award if you were partly at fault in the wreck. Washington’s comparative negligence laws allow each at-fault party to recover partial compensation that is reduced based on the amount of negligence.
For example, imagine your damages were $40,000, but you were 10-percent responsible for the crash. The judge would take 10 percent off of your damages award, and you would receive $36,000.
How Will a Lawyer Prove My Damages?
At Max Meyers Law, we begin by gathering your medical records, invoices, employer records of lost wages, and all other pertinent evidence of your economic losses. We will get the police report to establish who was negligent, and we will also speak with eyewitnesses about factual issues related to your claim. We will talk with you and your loved ones to build the case for your non-economic damages.
To get started, call 425-399-7000 today. You can set up a free consultation with a member of our truck accident team.
What Is Vicarious Liability for a Truck Accident?
Vicarious liability is the legal principle that one person can be liable for the negligent acts of someone else. This notion usually comes up in the context of an employer having to pay for the harm an employee caused. If the employee of a trucking company causes a crash, for example, the company might be liable for the damages that result.
For help understanding vicarious liability for a truck accident, contact Max Meyers Law at today. Truck accident lawyer Max Meyers can help you navigate the legal process to recover compensation after a crash in Washington.
When Can I Hold a Company Liable for a Truck Crash?
There are two main ways an employer is liable for the damages an employee caused.
If the employer had not put the driver on the road, the accident would not have happened. In other words, but for the company hiring the driver to operate the large truck, the driver would not have collided with another vehicle. The “but for” category of vicarious liability does not always require carelessness on the part of the employer.
Negligence of the Company
Trucking companies have responsibilities to the public, such as:
- Hiring competent drivers;
- Training staff;
- Supervising drivers; and
- Maintaining trucks in safe, roadworthy condition.
If a trucking company is negligent in the performance of its duties, it might be responsible for the truck accident that occurred as a result.
How Can a Trucking Company Be Negligent?
If a trucking company fails to perform its duties to the public, it could constitute negligence. Here are a few examples of ways the employer can be careless in the performance of its duties.
Negligent Hiring of Drivers
When a company hires people to drive large trucks, the employer has a duty to keep the driving public safe from harm. The trucking company should perform a thorough background check and examine the driving record and criminal background of any potential hire. For example, if a trucker has a conviction for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol on his record, but the employer did not check his driving record or do a criminal background check, the employer can be liable if the trucker drinks on the job and causes a wreck.
Negligent Training of Drivers
An experienced driver can pass a criminal background check and have a clean driving record, and still not be appropriate to put on the road. If the driver’s experience was with a different type of truck, for example, the trucking company must train them to operate a new vehicle. If a driver’s lack of training causes a wreck, the employer might be liable.
Negligent Supervision of Drivers
A trucking company should supervise its drivers to discover problems quickly. For example, the employer should create a system to alert them when their drivers get speeding tickets, DUIs, or have accidents. The trucking company must also respond at once to these issues to get unsafe drivers off the road. If an employer fails to notice or respond to “red flags,” they could be vicariously liable for any damages that occur.
Failing to Maintain the Trucks in Safe Condition
If a trucking company does not keep its vehicles adequately maintained, it could be responsible for damages if poor maintenance causes or contributes to a wreck. For example, a company that cuts corners by sending drivers out in trucks with bald tires or defective brakes will be responsible if those parts fail and cause an accident. A trucking company should maintain an inspection and maintenance schedule for all vehicles. If a company fails to keep up with regular maintenance or hires unqualified, inexperienced people to service the trucks, it could constitute negligence.
Non-Compliance With Federal Trucking Regulations
If the employer participates in or ignores violations of federal trucking regulations, and those violations lead to an accident, the trucking company can be liable. It can be tempting to exceed the weight restrictions or have drivers stay behind the wheel more hours than allowed. In situations like this, there are often multiple parties at fault.
Why Should I Hold the Trucking Company Vicariously Liable for My Damages?
Truck crash victims often face serious injuries, which are expensive to treat. By filing a claim with the trucking company’s large general liability insurance policy, you stand a better chance of recovering enough compensation to pay for all of your damages. If you only hold the truck driver responsible, you will have to look to their vehicle insurance policy to pay you compensation.
At Max Meyers Law, we only handle transportation-related claims. We have experience handling truck accident claims in Washington. We can answer whatever questions you have about your claim. Call us at 425-399-7000 for your free consultation.
Can a Truck Accident Cause a Bulging Disc?
Yes, a truck accident can cause a bulging disc. Bulging discs are a type of spinal injury where the jelly-like inner portion of the disc pushes and stretches the outer layer of the disc, but does not rupture it like a herniated disc. If it puts pressures on the spinal cord or a nerve root, it can cause symptoms like pain and discomfort.
While some bulging discs are related to age and degeneration of the disc, trauma can cause disc injuries too. The violent and sudden force from an accident puts tremendous pressure on the spine, including the soft discs between the vertebras. This may cause the soft inner part of the disc to push against the outer layer of the disc. If the disc applies pressure to a nerve root or the spinal cord, it can cause pain and discomfort.
How Can You Tell if You Have a Bulging Disc?
If you have a bulging disc in the upper part of your spine, you may have symptoms in your shoulder and arm. Bulging discs in the lower spine may affect the buttocks, thigh, and calf. You might have pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected areas.
You might feel shooting pain when you move in a certain way, cough, or sneeze. Some positions might be excruciatingly painful.
But in any case, you should see a doctor who can examine you and diagnose a bulging disc or other injuries you suffered in the truck accident.
When Should You Get Medical Attention for a Suspected Bulging Disc?
There are two reasons you should see a doctor after an accident:
1. Treat Injuries and Prevent Them From Worsening
Sometimes people do not have any symptoms at the scene of the accident, but injury symptoms show up days later. Even if you did not need emergency medical attention right after the accident, you should see your doctor for an examination.
Allowing an injury to linger without treatment may lead to its worsening over time. If your doctor identifies the injury and provides treatment or recovery instructions, you may find you can heal faster.
2. Connect Your Bulging Disc to the Truck Accident
The more days that pass between the wreck and your medical attention, the harder it will be to connect your bulging disc to the accident. That is, it will be more difficult to prove that the accident caused your injury and not something else.
What Are the Possible Complications of a Bulging Disc?
Depending on the location and severity of your bulging disc, you might require emergency surgery to prevent complications. The spinal cord splits into a system of nerve roots (cauda equina) below your waist. Compression of these nerve roots creates a medical emergency.
According to the Mayo Clinic, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room if you have any of these symptoms:
- Any of your symptoms get worse – numbness, pain, or weakness, particularly if you cannot function as usual.
- Loss of sensation that continues to get worse in the areas that would touch a saddle if you were riding a horse (saddle anesthesia).
- Bladder or bowel dysfunction, either becoming incontinent or being unable to void.
What Compensation Can You Recover for a Bulging Disc From a Truck Accident?
As with any other type of personal injury claim, you can recover your economic and non-economic damages from a truck crash.
Your economic losses include such things as your medical expenses, lost wages, and decreased earning potential.
Your non-economic losses can include your pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.
Work with a lawyer at our firm for help calculating the value of your claim, as some insurance companies may offer lowball settlements that fail to account for future damages or non-economic losses.
Does it Matter if You Were Partly at Fault for the Truck Accident?
You can still recover compensation for your injuries, but under Washington law your comparative negligence will reduce the amount you get in proportion to your percentage of fault.
For example, if you had damages of $50,000 and you were ten percent at fault for causing the accident, your recovery will be $45,000 after the ten percent reduction.
If you sustained injuries from a truck accident, please call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000. We will evaluate your claim for free and with no obligation.
Whose Insurance Pays for a Truck Accident?
Just as in any other motor vehicle accident, liability for a truck accident depends on what caused the crash. But when an accident involves a truck, multiple parties – and therefore multiple insurance companies – may be involved and could be liable.
We recommend working with a lawyer to identify the responsible party(ies) and the liable insurance companies. You can call us at 425-399-7000 to review your case.
What Parties Carry Insurance for Truck Accidents?
Any entity along the chain of distribution in which the truck is involved likely carries liability insurance. These can include:
- Trucking carriers. Trucking companies carry insurance to cover accidents caused by their truck drivers or their own negligence (e.g., negligent hiring, poor driver training, negligent maintenance and repairs, etc.).
- Cargo owners. The owner of the cargo truck may also carry liability insurance. The cargo owner may be liable for an accident if the cargo was a factor in the accident or the injuries. Examples of when cargo can be a factor include when the cargo is a hazardous material or when the cargo shifted and caused the driver to lose control of the truck.
- Cargo shipper/loader. There are strict rules about how to load and secure cargo during transport. When cargo moves while the truck is on the road, the truck’s center of gravity can change, causing the tractor trailer to careen, skid, or flip over. If improper loading or securing of the cargo was a factor in causing the accident or the injuries, the shipper or loader of the cargo can be responsible.
- Maintenance or repair company. If the company responsible for performing maintenance or repairs was negligent in its duty, it could be liable for an accident if the accident is related to failure to make repairs or perform maintenance, or for poor repair and maintenance.
- Truck or parts manufacturer. If a defective part on the truck caused or contributed to the wreck, then the part or truck manufacturer could hold liability too. For example, if a truck’s defective brakes caused the accident, then the truck or brakes manufacturer could be responsible for damages.
- Other drivers. If another driver – not a truck driver – caused or is partially liable for the accident, the at-fault driver’s liability coverage may cover the injured party’s damages too. The minimum coverage for cars in Washington is: $25,000 per person for injury or death; $50,000 for two or more people injured or killed; and $10,000 in property damage
How Much Insurance Do Large Trucks Have to Maintain?
Commercial trucks must have at least the minimum coverage required by federal rules. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), trucks must have:
- Liability insurance that protects the public for claims of bodily injury and property damage. The required amount can range from $300,000 to $5,000,000 depending on the truck’s weight and whether the cargo is hazardous.
- If the commercial vehicle transports passengers, it must carry at least $1,500,000 of liability insurance, but some have to carry as much as $5,000,000 of coverage.
We encourage people hurt in a truck accident to review other parties and their insurance policies with a lawyer, as coverage may vary depending on the party.
Will a Driver’s Own Insurance Cover Their Damages?
Drivers who carry no-fault coverage like personal injury protection (PIP) or collision coverage may file claims with their insurer in addition to seek compensation from a third-party insurer, such as those listed above.
These no-fault coverage options pay damages regardless of fault. But if you recover compensation in a liability claim, your insurer may be able to seek reimbursement for the benefits it gives you. This is called subrogation.
If you have been in a truck accident, call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 to explore the insurance policies that may cover your accident. We can help you gather evidence and build your case so you recover fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Who Is at Fault If a Cargo Spill From a Truck Causes a Wreck?
When a truck cargo spill causes a crash, liability will depend on several factors including what caused the spill, whether the truck carrier or other party followed federal rules on cargo containment and securement, and whether any other party was negligent in the accident.
What is the Purpose of Cargo Securement Regulations?
An inadequately secured load can shift in transit, throwing the truck out of balance, causing it to lose control and in some instances, overturn. Even if the cargo does not cause the initial accident, improper securement could allow it to spill and create hazards for the vehicles traveling near the truck. Thus, federal regulations dictate minimum securement standards to prevent cargo-related accidents and spills.
What Kinds of Cargo Do the Federal Cargo Securement Laws Cover?
Federal law sets strict guidelines for how truckers can transport heavy loads on our highways. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires tie-downs and securement equipment for all cargo-carrying commercial motor vehicles, except for certain bulk commodities “that lack structure or fixed shape (e.g., liquids, gases, grain, liquid concrete, sand, gravel, aggregates)” if they are transported in a tank, box, or similar device. Hazardous materials also have separate requirements.
When a truck is transporting multiple large objects, each object must all be immobilized so the objects do not strike each other when the truck is moving. Improper tie-down can result in objects inside the trailer portion of the truck colliding with each other, which can cause cargo spillage. If this spillage leads to an accident, the party responsible for the non-compliant tie-down of cargo will be liable for the crash.
Who Is Responsible for Accidents Related to Incorrectly Secured Cargo?
The truck driver and the trucking carrier can be responsible for an accident caused by the spill. If a third party loads the cargo improperly, that third party can be responsible. We will investigate the cause of the accident and actions taken by several parties along the chain of distribution to identify which party failed to follow federal rules or otherwise acted negligently.
Is a Trucker Automatically Negligent for Not Buying New Securement Equipment When the Federal Laws Changed?
No. Although the federal laws changed to include performance criteria, trucks can use existing securement equipment, as long as it achieves the same performance standards as required of the new equipment. Trucks may use a variety of materials, including cording, chains, wire ropes, steel strapping, or synthetic webbing to secure cargo.
Are There Applicable Securement Rules in Addition to the Federal Laws?
Yes. The FMCSA’s “Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement” cautions truckers that local regulations may be more or less strict than the federal laws. In the Handbook, the FMCSA tells truckers how to apply the North American Cargo Securement Standards. Following these standards will place a trucker in compliance with both American (federal) and Canadian cargo securement regulations. We will investigate which rules applied at the time of the accident and whether any parties along the chain of distribution was in violation of those rules.
If a Non-Truck Driver Caused a Cargo Spill, Is the Trucker Still Liable?
For the trucker or the carrier to be responsible for an accident, he must have done something that was negligent. If the cargo spills due to no fault of the trucker or carrier, then those parties may not be liable.
For example, a passenger vehicle collides with a truck, causing the truck to swerve and overturn. Some of the truck’s cargo spills and causes damage to a third vehicle. If the trucker and carrier fully complied with the laws on cargo securement and were not negligent in any way, the driver who collided with the truck is responsible for the third driver's damages. But even if another driver caused the wreck, but the trucker or carrier failed to secure the cargo, then both the at-fault driver and the trucker and carrier may be liable for the third driver's damages.
We must sort out issues of liability when pursuing legal action for an injured person, which can be especially complex when a large truck is involved. In fact, multiple parties may be liable, including the injured person in some cases.
Washington State follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, which means that an injured person can recover compensation for damages, minus their percentage of fault. Comparative negligence adds another layer of complexity to these cases.
If you have experienced injuries in a truck accident, call Max Meyers Law at 425-399-7000 for help taking legal action and sorting out the many complex issues involved in truck accidents, including liability, federal regulation, and more.
Who is liable for a FedEx truck accident?
If you suffered injuries in a FedEx truck accident (caused by one of the company’s drivers), FedEx will likely be your liable party.
Why Would FedEx Have to Pay for the Negligence of Its Driver?
FedEx can be liable for an accident its driver causes in two different ways:
- Vicarious liability
- FedEx acted negligently in the hiring, training, or supervision of the driver.
What Is Vicarious Liability?
This legal theory holds an employer liable for its employees’ negligent actions, so long as the employees acted within the scope of their employment.
Consider the following: A FedEx driver completing a package run was texting and ran a red light, striking you as you passed through the intersection. In this case, FedEx is liable because the employee was acting within the scope of his employment (i.e., delivering packages) when he committed the action that caused your accident.
What Is Negligent Hiring, Training, or Supervising of a FedEx Driver?
FedEx has a duty to ensure its drivers behave safely behind the wheel. Companies can breach this duty in the following ways:
FedEx must evaluate its driver applicants carefully by performing a background check, which should include pulling the driver’s record and doing a criminal record check.
If FedEx does not perform a thorough background check, and hires someone with multiple arrests for driving while impaired, FedEx can be responsible if this person drives the delivery truck while impaired and injures someone.
Even if the driver has a clean driving record and no criminal convictions, FedEx can be liable if it did not properly train the driver. FedEx should evaluate the driver’s job skills, determine what gaps exist, and train the employee to fill in those gaps in skills.
If FedEx hires someone as a driver who has worked as a delivery driver for other companies but has no experience with FedEx’s delivery trucks, FedEx must train the driver on the safe handling practices for FedEx’s trucks. FedEx can be liable for any accidents the driver causes due to inexperience.
FedEx’s responsibilities do not end when it puts a prudently-hired, well-trained driver on the road. FedEx must keep its finger on the pulse of its drivers at all times, to promptly detect problems that may arise. For instance, FedEx should have a system in place to discover when its drivers get DUIs, speeding tickets, or other moving violations — on or off the job. FedEx should take action when its drivers get moving violations. Failure to identify and respond to problems can be negligence.
Large corporations like FedEx have policies in place to make sure that negligent hiring, training, and supervision do not happen. Unfortunately, people do not always follow the rules at work. When employees get lazy or cut corners, the employer can be liable for the resulting damage.
What Damages Can I Get for a FedEx Truck Accident?
The damages in every case are unique, so we cannot speculate without talking with you about your case and learning your facts, but these are some common compensable items in FedEx truck crashes:
- Medical bills for your initial evaluation and treatment, therapy, and ongoing medical care. This category can include anticipated future medical expenses. We prove this amount by gathering your medical bills and any other related receipts.
- Lost earnings for the time you missed work due to the wreck and recuperation, plus time lost for treatments and therapy. This category can include anticipated future lost wages, decreased earning potential, and disability. We prove this loss through your employment records and, when necessary, testimony from vocational experts.
- Pain and suffering and other intangible damages, like loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life. We calculate this item based in part on the amount of your other damages.
- Punitive damages send a message to the employer when there has been outrageous conduct. For example, if FedEx knew its driver had received three citations for reckless driving but continued to let the driver get behind the wheel of one of its trucks, the employer might get hit with a demand for punitive damages.
- Property damages to repair or replace your vehicle and any contents damaged or destroyed in the wreck. We prove this through the repair estimates or total loss reports.
Get Help from Max Meyers Law, PLLC
If you suffered injuries in a FedEx truck accident and the wreck was not your fault, you need a knowledgeable legal team on your side. FedEx is a huge corporation with a fleet of lawyers on retainer, ready to defend them.
At Max Meyers Law, PLLC, we only represent accident victims in transportation-related cases, so we will fight to get you all the compensation you deserve.
Call us today at 425-399-7000 and we will line up a free consultation for you, with no obligation.
Who is Liable for a UPS Truck Accident?
In most cases, UPS will be your liable party in a UPS truck accident, even if the truck driver was 100 percent responsible for the accident.
How Is UPS Liable for the Negligence of its Drivers?
UPS is responsible for the harm done by its employees under the theory of vicarious liability. The Latin term for vicarious liability is “respondeat superior,” which means that if an employee commits a wrongful act while on the job, the employer is liable. The thinking behind this legal theory is that, if UPS had not hired the person to drive the truck, the driver would not have had the crash.
Can UPS Also Be Negligent?
Yes. UPS can also be directly liable for an accident. This can occur if UPS engaged in negligent:
- Supervision, or
What Is Negligent Hiring?
UPS must exercise caution not to hire dangerous drivers, so it does not put people in harm’s way. UPS can be liable for negligent hiring if it does not carefully scrutinize all applicants for driver positions. UPS is supposed to perform a background check, including pulling a driver’s record, before it hires someone. Failure to carry out a sufficient investigation of a potential driver is negligent hiring.
Another example of negligent hiring is when a company hires someone despite the fact that the pre-employment investigation revealed they have a bad driving record.
What Is Negligent Training, Supervision, and Retention?
UPS can also be responsible for contributing to bad driving or keeping a problem driver on the road. Even if UPS did its due diligence during the hiring process and the driver had a clean driving slate, the company can be on the hook for:
- Negligent training: Failure to provide proper training for drivers — both initial and continuing education.
- Negligent supervision: Failure to monitor drivers for problems, such as speeding tickets, accidents, and DUIs.
- Negligent retention: Failure to fire problem drivers.
Companies like UPS must have policies that remove their drivers from the road if they become a danger to the public. An example would be that the company terminates drivers who have two moving violations in two years. Failure to enact policies to protect the public is negligence, and failure to enforce these policies is also negligence.
Is Filing a Claim Against UPS Complicated?
In most cases, yes. There are two main reasons UPS accident claims are often complicated:
- UPS is a large company which means it has a large insurance company and a large, experienced legal team behind it. The team at Max Meyers Law, PLLC is not afraid to stand up against UPS and its legal team to recover the compensation you deserve.
- UPS has most of the evidence we need for your claim. UPS holds the driver’s personnel file, drug and alcohol test results, any sanctions the company took against the driver, ad his hours of service logs. We will send a letter of spoliation to ensure the company preserves and hands over that evidence.
Can Another Party Be Liable for My UPS Accident?
Yes. If the accident resulted from a maintenance error or a defective part, we might be able to hold a maintenance company or manufacturer liable.
The truck accident team at Max Meyers Law will compile all the pertinent records to build your case and establish fault. We will collect the evidence to prove your damages and deal directly with the insurance companies and UPS’ lawyers for you.
What Damages Can I Recover for a UPS Truck Accident?
UPS can be liable for your:
- Trauma bills: Initial medical treatment and ambulance costs. We can help you gather these documents.
- Subsequent medical treatments: Necessary to “make you whole” again. We will retrieve these bills from your health care providers.
- Lost wages: Time lost from work for the initial recuperation and medical treatments. We can retrieve these records from your employer.
- Decreased earning capacity: To compensate you if you are no longer able to work the number of hours you used to, cannot do the same type of work as before the accident, or will be unlikely to enjoy the same career path you would have but for the crash. We can get the documentation from your employer. We can use a vocational expert to get a more accurate value of your lost earning capacity.
- Disability: For long-term or permanent loss of function that makes you unable to work or that causes you to need assistance with daily activities. We prove this through your medical records and, when appropriate, through expert witnesses.
- Pain and suffering: We calculate and demand an appropriate amount of money to account for what you have endured.
- Punitive damages: These damages punish the wrongdoer for actions that are malicious, intentional, or a wanton disregard for public safety.
You do not need to handle your UPS truck accident claim alone. Call Max Meyers Law, PLLC at 425-399-7000 today to set up your free, no obligation 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.
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.
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.
What are override and underride truck accidents?
An override accident occurs when a semi-truck or any other large commercial vehicle runs over a passenger vehicle, crushing it beneath it. An underride truck accident occurs when a passenger car collides with the rear or side of a truck, sliding underneath it. These accidents are quite common, and many of them prove fatal. In fact, an estimated 55 percent of all fatal truck accidents are underride collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Causes for Override and Underride Accidents
Override – There are a lot of possible contributing causes of override accidents. In many cases, the truck driver miscalculates the distance between the truck and passenger car or simply tailgates and doesn’t provide enough space to stop in time. Poor weather and road conditions can affect the driver's visibility and cause the truck to skid, which can also cause an override accident. Defects in the truck’s brakes or tires can contribute to an accident as well.
Underride – Likewise, there are several factors that can cause an underride accident. Drivers who tailgate obviously put themselves at risk, but sometimes a truck may turn or stop without warning. In many cases, the driver simply doesn’t see the truck. This is a huge problem at night, when the bed of a truck can remain completely invisible until the driver is right up on it. Trucks are required by law to have reflective tape along the side of the trailer to increase visibility, but the tape often gets worn or dirty and does little good. Plus, most trucks lack underride guards, which could do a world of good in preventing these types of serious collisions.
Damages in Serious Truck Accidents
The front of most passenger cars stands 30 inches or less. The trailer of a semi sits 45 inches high. So when a car collides with the back or side of a truck, it can instantly slide right under, crushing the front of the car and the occupants. The injuries are generally catastrophic -- if not fatal -- and the damages are substantial.
If you were hurt in an underride or override accident or if your loved one was killed in one, you will want to speak to an attorney immediately about your case. There are steps you and your lawyer must take to preserve your claim. If you reside in Washington, you are welcome to call our truck accident lawyer at Max Meyers Law for a consultation. We will review your case, determine if negligence contributed to the accident, and then help you seek compensation for damages via an injury or wrongful death claim against the liable party.
Contact us today for a free consultation at 425-399-7000 or fill out our online contact form.
Cell Phone Policy for Truck Drivers: Proving a Mobile Phone Caused Accident
Truck drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a “safety-critical” event, e.g., crash, near-crash, lane deviation, etc. than drivers who refrain from texting, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
As such, the FMCSA, the agency that regulates the trucking industry, provides detailed cell phone policy for truck drivers. When a driver violates the rules and subsequently causes a crash, the victim (or family) can file a claim to recover damages so long as they can prove the violation.
FMCSA Mobile Phone Use Rules
The federal rules regarding cellphone use for commercial truck drivers is simple and straightforward: truckers are banned from using any type of handheld device while operating their rigs. They are permitted to use voice-activated functions and one-touch features to initiate, answer, or terminate a call, but they cannot hold the phone or press more than one button.
They are also prohibited from texting while driving or doing any of the following activities on their device.
- Reading texts or sending texts
- Instant messaging
- Accessing a webpage
“In short, the rule prohibits unsafely reaching for a device, holding a mobile phone, or pressing multiple buttons,” provides the FMCSA.
How to Prove a Truck Driver’s Violation Caused Your Accident
Using a cell phone while driving a truck constitutes negligence. In order to file and win a truck accident claim, you’ll need to be able to show that the driver was negligent (using a phone) and that the negligence is what caused your truck accident.
Proving this can be a tricky task. Your lawyer can help you collect evidence to support your case. S/he can send a letter of spoliation to the truck company to preserve evidence and/or subpoena the driver’s phone records. The records will indicate if the phone was in use at the time of the accident.
In some cases, you might be able to use the following to prove your claim.
- Eyewitness testimonies
- The truck driver’s cab cam footage
- Accident reconstructionists
Taking the First Step to Recover Your Damages
The first thing you’ll want to do is consult a truck accident attorney in your area who can review your injury or wrongful death case and get to work on proving your claim. It’s important to act quickly because 1) there’s a time limit on when you can file a claim, and 2) truck companies tend to “lose” evidence if they don’t quickly receive a letter of spoliation. Also, the sooner you file a claim, the sooner you can receive your much-needed settlement check.
For help in Washington, call truck accident lawyer Max Meyers today at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation or fill out our contact form.