Russell & Hill, PLLC

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, more than 6,000 motor vehicle accidents in our state involve heavy trucks and commercial vehicles each year. While truck drivers are less likely to be injured in trucking accidents, drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles tend to suffer catastrophic and fatal injuries in these crashes.

Truck accident laws in Washington are intricate and involve multiple parties from drivers, trucking companies to insurance firms. Navigating the aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming and emotionally exhausting. Not only are you dealing with the physical and psychological toll of the incident, but there’s also a myriad of legal complexities to untangle. Filing a truck accident lawsuit without the guidance of an experienced lawyer could result in you missing out on the compensation you’re entitled to.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of a truck accident, the time to act is now. Don’t navigate the complexities of Washington laws on your own. At Russell & Hill, PLLC, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of truck accident victims. We understand the intricacies involved in building a strong case and are committed to securing the maximum compensation you’re entitled to. We are here to help you every step of the way.

On This Page

  • Types of Trucks Involved in Personal Injury Cases
  • Types of Truck Accidents in Spokane, Washington
  • Causes of Spokane Truck Accidents
  • Where Do Most Truck Accidents Happen in Spokane, Washington?
  • Liability and Claims in Truck Accidents in Spokane, Washington
  • Types of Damages Available To a Victim of A Truck Accident in Spokane, Washington
  • How Can Your Truck Accident Claim be Denied or Limited?
  • How to Win a Truck Accident Case in Washington State
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents
  • Don’t Navigate This Alone – Talk to an Attorney

Types of Trucks Involved In Personal Injury Cases

Pickup Trucks

A common sight on Washington roads, pickup trucks are often involved in road accidents due to their size and weight. When a pickup truck is involved in an accident, injuries can be severe, and it may necessitate legal counsel to navigate the complexities of insurance and liability.

Semi-Trucks and 18-Wheelers

Also known as tractor-trailers, semi-trucks are commercial vehicles that typically haul goods over long distances. These trucks are governed by stringent regulations both federally and under Washington law. Due to their size and the momentum they carry, accidents involving these trucks are often catastrophic, requiring immediate legal attention.

Box Trucks

Box trucks or straight trucks, are commonly used for moving household items or delivering goods to businesses. They are smaller than semi-trucks but can still cause significant damage and injury if involved in an accident. Understanding the specifics of Washington laws on commercial vehicles can be beneficial when dealing with accidents involving box trucks.

Garbage Trucks

Accidents involving garbage trucks are rare but usually serious when they do occur. These trucks have a specific function and are often found in residential areas. Regulations for waste management trucks may vary, making it essential to consult a truck accident lawyer in cases of accidents with these vehicles.

Dump Trucks

Frequently used in construction sites, dump trucks are designed to carry heavy loads like sand, gravel, or demolition waste. Accidents involving dump trucks can be devastating due to the weight and nature of their cargo. In Washington, occupational safety laws may come into play when a dump truck is involved in an on-the-job accident.

Tanker Trucks

Used to carry liquids, including hazardous materials, tanker trucks are subject to additional federal and Washington laws due to the nature of their cargo. Accidents involving tanker trucks can result in not just immediate physical injury, but also long-term environmental damage.

Tow Trucks

Tow trucks are designed to move disabled or improperly parked vehicles. When involved in accidents, they present a unique set of legal challenges due to the nature of their operation. It is essential to understand the specific laws governing tow trucks in Washington when pursuing a personal injury claim.

Types of Truck Accidents in Spokane, Washington

Head-On Collisions: A Deadly Encounter

Head-on collisions are one of the most dangerous types of truck accidents you can encounter. When a truck and another vehicle collide head-on, the results are often catastrophic. The significant size and weight of a truck, combined with any speed, result in immense force upon impact. Washington law is quite specific about maintaining lane discipline, and crossing a centerline can lead to strict legal repercussions for the offending driver. These laws are even more stringent for commercial drivers given the risk factors involved.

Rear-End Collisions: Not Just A Fender Bender

While many rear-end collisions between cars may result in minor injuries or damages, when a truck is involved, the story is different. The enormous weight of a truck means its momentum is significant, making it harder to stop quickly. Washington has laws that dictate a safe following distance, especially for commercial vehicles, to allow ample time for braking.

Jackknife Accidents: Losing Control

In a jackknife accident, a truck’s trailer loses alignment with the cab, often folding onto itself and causing the truck to lose control. This type of accident frequently occurs during sudden braking or when a truck driver attempts to maneuver abruptly. According to Washington law, drivers are required to maintain control of their vehicles at all times, making the prevention of jackknifing an essential aspect of responsible driving.

Rollover Accidents: When Trucks Tip Over

A rollover accident is when a truck ends up on its side or completely overturned. These are usually high-impact events that can occur due to excessive speeding, sharp turns, or when navigating sloping terrain. Washington law requires all drivers, including those operating commercial trucks, to adhere to posted speed limits and warnings, especially on roads known for sharp turns or steep grades.

T-Bone Collisions: The Deadly Side Impact

T-bone collisions involve a truck striking another vehicle from the side, usually at an intersection. Washington has specific right-of-way laws and traffic signals to regulate who should proceed first at intersections to prevent such accidents.

Underride Accidents: A Unique Risk

Underride accidents are unique to truck accidents. In these situations, a smaller vehicle ends up under the truck’s trailer, often resulting in severe injuries or fatalities. Safety regulations in Washington require trucks to have certain barriers or guards to mitigate the risk of underride accidents.

Causes of Spokane Truck Accidents

Recognizing the leading causes of truck accidents not only helps in understanding how they happen but also prepares you for what to look out for when considering a legal claim in Spokane, Washington.

Driver Fatigue: The Silent Risk

One of the major causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Federal laws dictate how many hours a truck driver can be on the road, but fatigue can set in even before these limits are reached. Washington enforces these federal regulations rigorously to prevent fatigue-related accidents.

Distracted Driving: A Growing Issue

Whether it’s using a mobile phone, fiddling with the radio, or eating while driving, distracted driving is increasingly becoming a significant problem. Washington law categorically prohibits distracted driving, and penalties for truck drivers caught doing so can be severe.

Speeding: Fast and Dangerous

Despite the weight and size of trucks making them difficult to control at high speeds, speeding remains a common cause of truck accidents. Washington law sets specific speed limits for commercial vehicles, which are often lower than those for other vehicles, to minimize the risk of accidents.

Improper Loading: A Balancing Act

Incorrectly loaded trucks can become unbalanced, leading to a greater chance of rollover or jackknife accidents. Washington law has strict regulations governing how commercial vehicles should be loaded to maintain a low center of gravity and balanced weight distribution.

Vehicle Defects: When Trucks Fail

Mechanical failures and defects can also lead to truck accidents. Be it brake failure, tire blowouts, or engine issues, these defects can be catastrophic when they occur. Washington mandates regular inspections for commercial vehicles to catch these defects before they can cause accidents.

Intoxication: A Recipe For Disaster

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Washington has zero-tolerance policies for commercial drivers operating under the influence, often resulting in the revocation of their commercial driving license.

Where Do Most Truck Accidents Happen in Spokane, Washington?

Highways and Interstates

Interstate 90, also known as I-90, is a major highway that runs through Spokane and is often cited as a hotspot for truck accidents. The high speed, heavy traffic, and frequent merging create an environment conducive to accidents.

Industrial Areas

Industrial zones like those found in the West Plains or Spokane Industrial Park tend to have a high concentration of trucks, making them prone to accidents. often, these areas lack the appropriate infrastructure to handle heavy truck traffic safely.

Downtown Spokane

While less common than highways and industrial zones, downtown areas can also be hazardous due to the mix of cars, pedestrians, and trucks navigating narrow roads and complicated intersections. Trucks making deliveries can often be involved in accidents here.

Roads Near Loading Docks and Ports

Locations near major loading docks or the Spokane International Airport are also risk-prone areas. Trucks are frequently entering and exiting these places, often in a rush, increasing the likelihood of an accident.

Intersections Near Commercial Areas

Busy intersections close to malls or shopping districts can also be risky. Trucks may be making deliveries and pickups, and the high volume of vehicular and pedestrian traffic can result in accidents.

Liability and Claims in Truck Accidents in Spokane, Washington

Truck Driver

In many instances, the truck driver is the first party scrutinized for liability. Factors like intoxication, distraction, or failure to adhere to traffic laws can make the driver the primary liable party. Washington laws are strict about driving under the influence and distracted driving, so any violation could result in the driver being held accountable.

Trucking Company

Trucking companies also shoulder a significant amount of responsibility when it comes to truck accidents. They are tasked with hiring qualified drivers, maintaining their fleet, and ensuring adherence to safety regulations. If an investigation finds that the trucking company neglected these duties, they could be held liable under Washington employer liability laws.

Cargo Loaders

The people responsible for loading the truck’s cargo also come under scrutiny if improper loading led to the accident. Overloaded or unevenly distributed cargo can result in truck instability, contributing to the accident. Washington has strict regulations about cargo loading, and failure to comply could lead to liability.

Manufacturer

Faulty parts can also be a cause for truck accidents. This could range from defective brakes to malfunctioning steering systems. In such situations, the manufacturers of these parts could be held responsible under product liability laws in Washington.

Types of Damages Available To a Victim of a Truck Accident in Spokane, Washington

Medical Expenses

Medical costs often form the largest portion of claims. These can include immediate emergency care, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, and even long-term rehabilitation.

Lost Wages and Earning Capacity

The injury might keep you away from work for an extended period, resulting in lost wages. You can also claim for a reduction in earning capacity if the injuries prevent you from returning to your previous job or require you to take up lower-paying employment.

Pain and Suffering

Washington law recognizes that the impact of a truck accident is not just physical but also emotional. Victims can claim compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in activities.

Property Damages

The accident likely damaged your vehicle and possibly other personal property. Compensation for repairs or replacement falls under this category of damages.

How Can Your Truck Accident Claim be Denied or Limited?

Although truck drivers and trucking companies are to blame for the vast majority of all truck accidents in the United States – including but not limited to such causes as poor vehicle maintenance, inadequate screening of truck drivers, hours of service regulation violations, drunk driving, overloaded trucks, improperly secured cargo, and many more – it can be extremely difficult to obtain compensation through a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

However, by hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer in Spokane or elsewhere in Washington state, you improve your chances of getting a favorable outcome in your case. Among many other things, your lawyer can help you break through some of the most common defenses used by trucking companies to deny and limit claims from injured victims:

  • You were to blame for causing the crash, not the truck driver
  • You failed to prove your injury
  • Another driver, including phantom or unidentified driver, caused the crash
  • The truck driver did not violate any trucking regulations
  • You are exaggerating the severity of your injuries
  • You cannot prove your lost wages or other damages
  • You refused to get medical attention at the scene of the accident

Yes, trucking companies and their insurance companies know quite a few defenses and tactics to deny and minimize claims filed by injured car drivers, their passengers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and other parties, which is why it is important to be represented by a Spokane truck accident lawyer from Russell & Hill, PLLC.

How to Win a Truck Accident Case in Washington State

Apart from being represented by an experienced truck accident attorney in Spokane or another city in Washington state, what does it take to obtain compensation in a personal injury case stemming from a truck crash? The following things must be done to secure a favorable outcome in your truck accident case:

  • Be open to negotiations but always maintain a strong stance
  • Consider accepting a settlement but only if truly represents your total damages and losses
  • Fight for your best interests (always)
  • Collect compelling evidence and preserve it
  • Know exactly how much your case is worth
  • Follow your doctor’s orders
  • Do not give the other party even the tiniest chance to deny or minimize your claim
  • Have sufficient evidence proving your damages and losses
  • If necessary, present a strong legal case to go to trial

Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents

What Should I Do Right After A Truck Accident?

The immediate aftermath of a truck accident can be chaotic and stressful. Priority number one is to ensure the safety of everyone involved. Call 911 immediately to report the accident and receive medical attention. It’s extremely important to collect evidence at the scene, like photographs of the accident and witness contact information. Your next steps could significantly affect your truck accident lawsuit down the line.

Who Is Liable in A Truck Accident?

Liability in a truck accident can be a complex web to untangle. Under Washington laws, various parties could be held responsible—these include the truck driver for negligence, the trucking company for poor maintenance or overworking drivers, and even parts manufacturers for defective components. Sometimes, more than one party could be at fault presenting multiple layers of liability. This is where a truck accident attorney will be indispensable in providing the expertise to handle that complexity.

What Are The Common Causes of Truck Accidents?

Several factors contribute to truck accidents. While driver errors like speeding or tailgating are common, other issues like equipment failure, improperly loaded cargo, and inadequate driver training can also cause accidents. Washington has stringent laws regulating truck maintenance and driver hours to minimize these risks. Despite this, accidents still happen, and understanding the cause is vital for your truck accident lawsuit.

What Compensation Can I Claim?

Washington law allows victims to seek various types of compensation in a truck accident lawsuit. These can range from immediate concerns like medical bills and property damage to long-term issues like loss of earnings and emotional trauma. In the most unfortunate cases involving fatalities, family members can file a wrongful death claim.

Do I Need A Lawyer For A Truck Accident Lawsuit?

Hiring a lawyer who is experienced in truck accident claims will ensure that you get the justice you deserve. Truck accident laws in Washington are complex and require an in-depth understanding that general practitioners might not possess. A focused attorney can investigate your case, determine liable parties, and negotiate with insurance companies to get you one of the best possible outcomes.

How Long Do I Have To File A Lawsuit?

The statute of limitations for filing a truck accident lawsuit in Washington is generally three years from the date of the accident. However, specific circumstances could extend or shorten this period, so consult a lawyer immediately to safeguard your rights.

Don’t Navigate a Truck Crash Alone, Contact our Spokane Truck Accident Lawyers at Russell & Hill Today

Trucking accidents can turn your life upside down in an instant. Besides the immediate impact of physical injuries, the emotional and financial consequences can be equally devastating. While the situation is overwhelming, navigating through Washington’s intricate legal landscape, and dealing with complex practices by an insurance company, shouldn’t be another burden you have to bear. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, one of the best decisions you can make is hiring an experienced Spokane personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will understand the complex Washington laws surrounding truck accidents and can be your advocate in fighting for the compensation you rightfully deserve.

A truck accident case may be complex, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. At Russell & Hill, PLLC, we focus on representing victims of truck accidents. Our team of professionals understands the intricacies of Washington laws and how they apply to your case. We are committed to ensuring you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Contact an experienced truck accident attorney in our Spokane office today for a free consultation at (509) 361-2065. We are ready to fight for you every step of the way.

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Date published: 2024-05-01
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Thank you so very much for all your hard work on my accident claim. Sara Baca was amazing and so helpful. The whole office staff was always helpful in helping me, they where always positive and encouraging, especially when insurance companies tried to not pay there part. I cannot thank you enough, Russell and Hill and everyone on the Office staff, Thank you so much.

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