Commercial Vehicle Accidents
With major container ports in both Tacoma and Seattle and a number of nationwide firms headquartered in the area, the Puget Sound area sees a tremendous amount of truck traffic on its roads and highways. When accidents occur due to negligent or reckless driving or trucking company negligence, the Washington truck accident lawyers at Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. devote their skill and experience to obtaining full and fair compensation for the injured victim, while holding the responsible party fully accountable for the damages that have been caused.
For many reasons, 18-wheelers pose a significant danger of serious injury or wrongful death to other drivers on the road. Due to their enormous size and weight relative to most other vehicles, even a low-speed impact can cause serious harm to the occupants of the smaller automobile. In addition, the limited maneuverability and visibility of big rigs requires that drivers be alert to their surroundings, allow for increased stopping distance, and clearly signal their intentions.
Driver Negligence and Misconduct
Car drivers may not fully appreciate the risk factors associated with semis and may find themselves involved in a collision if driving aggressively or recklessly around a truck without considering the truck's limitations regarding visibility and maneuverability. Both the automobile and truck driver are charged with the duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care.
Truck Driver Negligence and Misconduct
Unfortunately, the nature of the trucking industry encourages truckers to get their load to their destination as quickly as possible. This pressure leads to drivers operating their rigs when they are fatigued, and promotes speeding and reckless or aggressive driving. Truckers may also be tempted to take stimulants to help them stay on the road longer. Whether over-the-counter or illegal controlled substances, the use of stimulants has been shown to decrease alertness and awareness, hampering reaction time and the ability to drive safely. A truck driver who negligently or intentionally drives without due care may be liable for any accidents or injuries that occur as a result.
Trucking Company Negligence and Misconduct
Besides the driver, the trucking company may bear some responsibility as well. The proper loading and balancing of the load may initially be the responsibility of the company. Training the driver and other workers and providing proper inspections and maintenance on the vehicle may also be required. This duty may include supplying the cab with fire extinguishers and other necessary safety equipment, which may help in the event of an accident to reduce injury to the driver and others. If the truck, its parts, or equipment are defectively designed or manufactured, the manufacturer may potentially be held liable in a products liability claim as well.
Importance and Impact of Federal Regulations
The law recognizes the dangers and hazards associated with trucking and sets forth extensive regulations designed to increase the safe operation of semis on the nation's highways and roads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has promulgated regulations covering everything from length, width, and weight limitations of trucks to inspection, repair, and maintenance. The law also regulates the maximum hours of service for truck drivers.
The law also requires that records and logs be kept documenting that the driver and trucking company are in compliance with the rules. After an accident, it is important to obtain a copy of these records, as they may provide evidence of negligence on the part of the driver or trucking company. It is not unheard of for such records to be altered or completed after the fact, so these records may need to be carefully scrutinized.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Truck accident cases are often more complex and more vigorously defended than car accidents. It is important to trust your case to an attorney who is experienced in handling collisions involving commercial vehicles and dealing with trucking companies and their insurance carriers. The law firm of Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. has been handling civil litigation claims and commercial vehicle accidents in Washington State for over 50 years. Our experienced attorneys possess an in-depth knowledge of the laws and regulations covering 18-wheelers and understand the steps necessary to obtain a fair recovery on behalf of clients who have been injured by a dangerous semi truck. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a commercial vehicle accident, contact Rush, Annuli, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. for sound advice and effective representation.