7 FAQs About Truck Wrecks and Victims’ Rights
Truck crashes are more dangerous and destructive than the average car crash, and the legal cases that follow truck wrecks are very complicated. So, it’s not uncommon for victims to have lots of questions about what’s next.
In this blog, we’ll try to help by answering some of the most common questions victims have after a crash involving a large truck.
1. Who Can I Sue After a Truck Crash?
When you or someone you love suffers injuries or dies in a crash involving a large commercial truck, there may be more than one party who can be held legally and financially responsible.
If the truck driver was to blame, you and your lawyer could file a lawsuit to hold them and their employer responsible. However, many truck wrecks happen because of hidden causes that only come out after an experienced attorney investigates the collision. In many cases, there are multiple parties at fault, not the just truck driver or their employer.
For example, some crashes result from defective parts that fail. If a faulty part is to blame for your injuries, you may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer. Sometimes the trucking company is so unsafe they never should have been hired by a safe and responsible broker/shipper using reasonable care in selecting a safe trucking company to move its goods…not just the cheapest.
Unless you work with an experienced truck wreck lawyer who can investigate your case quickly, you probably won’t ever find out about these types of hidden causes. These hidden causes are often the root cause of the wreck and are the in fact most significant at fault party. We often find that truck drivers were set up to fail by these corporate hidden root causes and these corporations, with much greater knowledge than the truck drivers they employ, try to make the truck driver the fall guy for the corporations bad acts.
2. What Is Negligence?
Determining negligence is an important part of any personal injury case. Negligence occurs when a person or legal entity (like a business) fails to exercise reasonable caution and a victim suffers harm as a result.
Negligent behaviors that cause truck wrecks can include:
- On the part of the truck driver:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while distracted (like while texting or watching videos)
- Driving while drowsy or falling asleep at the wheel
- On the part of the trucking company:
- Failing to maintain vehicles
- Failing to take proper care when hiring drivers (like checking for crash history, drug abuse, and license suspensions)
- Failing to train drivers
- Encouraging drivers to break hours-of-service rules
- Refusing to reserve parking spaces for its trucks and forcing drivers to park on the shoulders of roads, interstates and exit ramps rather than in a safe spot
- On the part of the Shipper/Broker:
- Hiring an unsafe trucking company with known safety defects
- Failing to properly investigate a trucking company’s safety history and defects to see if it is actually improving or is continuing to operate unsafely.
- Double brokering
- Hiring a chameleon trucking company
These are just a few examples. Truck driver and trucking company negligence can take dozens of different forms, and only an experienced truck wreck attorney can investigate a crash to determine whether negligence played a role in causing injuries. Companies that cut safety short can always underbid safe trucking companies. If these unsafe companies are used to haul loads then safe trucking companies have a hard, if not impossible time staying in business. Unsafe trucking companies force safe trucking companies to cut corners or go out of business. We need safe trucking companies and have to stamp out unsafe trucking companies to keep us all safe on the roads.
3. Why Do I Need a Truck Wreck Attorney?
Truck and bus crash claims are notoriously challenging to handle. These claims often involve several vehicles, extensive damage, and multiple liable parties. Also, handling a truck wreck case requires expert knowledge about the complex sets of state and federal regulations that govern the trucking industry.
As if all that weren’t enough, the insurance companies who provide coverage to trucking carriers have expensive teams of lawyers and crash investigators. These “rapid response” teams start working immediately to deny claims after any crash.
Against all this, there’s only one reliable way to level the playing field. Victims need an experienced lawyer who has the know-how to take on the trucking industry, the tenacity to investigate every option, and the integrity to stand up to powerful companies.
4. How Is Liability Determined?
After a crash, your lawyer will conduct a careful investigation to find out who is responsible for paying for your damages. If the investigation is incomplete, not thorough, or inaccurate, then you risk not identifying any or all of the liable parties and failing to hold them accountable for their negligence.
It’s very difficult to conduct a thorough and complete investigation without years of experience handling truck wreck cases, so make sure the lawyer you choose has successfully handled cases like yours before. Your truck wreck case is too important to leave it up to someone’s first try.
5. How Much Is My Case Worth?
Every truck crash case is different, so there’s no blanket statement we can make about the value of your case. The best way to understand the value of your case is to schedule a free consultation with an attorney who has handled lots of substantial trucking cases. The attorney will examine the details of your case and give you an idea about the value of your case based on their experience handling similar trucking cases. A car wreck lawyer will rarely have the resources and depth of trucking industry knowledge that an experienced truck accident lawyer brings to the table.
If your claim isn’t worth pursuing because it won’t provide you enough compensation to justify the time and attorney’s fees, your lawyer should be honest and up-front with you about this.
6. What Counts as a Commercial Truck?
Commercial trucks are vehicles specially designated for the use of moving goods on the interstate. All commercial vehicles will have a Department of Transportation identification number on the door.
Most people think of massive tractor-trailers when they think of commercial trucks, but sometimes vehicles as small as pickup trucks can count as commercial vehicles if they have the capacity to haul enough weight or have a trailer attached.
The laws regulating and defining commercial trucks also vary from state to state. If you have questions about whether the vehicle that hit you counts as a commercial truck under the law, an experienced truck wreck lawyer can help.
RELATED VIDEO: What Is the Definition of a Commercial Truck?
7. What Is the Statute of Limitations for Truck Crash Cases in Washington State?
The statute of limitations restricts the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after a crash. In Washington state, the limit is three years for truck crash claims. In some other states, the time limit is only one year. Also, some states require that any government entities that are at fault receive notice within 90 days.
Exceptions and extensions to the statute of limitations do exist, but you shouldn’t count on your case being an exception — most aren’t. Also, keep in mind that it takes lots of time to prepare a truck crash lawsuit for filing. If you wait to contact an attorney until a few months before the statute of limitations expires, they may not be able to help you, or they may limit their representation. It’s always best to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a crash to make sure the statute of limitations doesn’t create problems for your case.
Questions About a Truck Crash? Contact Seattle Truck Law Today
At Seattle Truck Law, we’re committed to fighting for clients just like you who’ve suffered at the hands of negligent trucking companies. We can answer all your pressing questions during a free, no-risk initial consultation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.