Best Truck Accident Lawyers Seattle, WA Of 2024 – Forbes

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When a truck accident results in minimal losses, handling an insurance claim on your own might suffice to recover your damages. However, for cases involving severe injuries, complex accidents or multiple liable parties obtaining rightful compensation may demand time, legal expertise and a civil action. Below, we’ve provided crucial information on truck accident lawsuits in Seattle, WA, in case you choose to pursue that path for proper compensation.

Washington Statute of Limitations for Truck Accidents

The State of Washington imposes time restrictions for filing personal injury lawsuits and seeking compensation for losses. For truck accidents, victims have a three-year window to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, trucking company or any other at-fault entity that may have contributed to the accident.

The same timeframe applies to wrongful death claims, but the onset of the deadline begins on the date of the victim’s death, not when the truck accident happened.

If you fail to file a lawsuit within the designated time frame, you will be barred from recovering any compensation for your injuries, even if you have strong evidence supporting the at-fault party’s negligence.

It’s always a good idea to file the paperwork for your semi-truck accident lawsuit as soon as possible since truck accident investigations and liability establishment can be time-consuming. Waiting too long might lead to loss of crucial evidence.

All that said, there are exceptions that can slightly alter the statute of limitations for filing a truck accident claim. These include:

  • Minors: If the victim that was injured was underage at the time of the wreck, their statute of limitations of three years begins on their 18th birthday.
  • Discovery rule: Some injuries, like TBI and whiplash related injuries, may not be instantly apparent after the collision. It can take days or weeks after the wreck for the symptoms to manifest. In situations like these, the three-year statute of limitations begins on the date the injury is discovered.

There are several other situations that can modify how much time you have available for filing a lawsuit. We suggest having a Seattle truck accident lawyer look through your case to verify how long you have to bring formal charges against the defendant.

Washington Laws for Truck Drivers

There are many federal and state laws that truck drivers must follow when operating their vehicle. Some of these laws include:

  • Licensing: Truck drivers need a commercial driving license (CDL) to operate specific types of vehicles, including those weighing over 26,001 pounds, vehicles carrying hazardous materials and vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers.
  • Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations:
    Well-rested drivers are an integral component of minimizing the risk of truck accidents in Seattle. In an effort to keep fatigued drivers off the road, the federal government has established hours-of-service regulations. These regulations define when a truck driver can operate their vehicle and when they must take a break.
  • 14-hour shift limits: Truck drivers aren’t allowed to drive past the 14th hour of duty without a minimum 10-hour rest break.
  • 11-hour driving limits: Within a 14-hour shift, truck drivers cannot drive more than 11 total hours before taking a 10-hour rest break.
  • 30-minute rest break: After driving for eight consecutive hours, truck drivers are required to take a 30-minute break before resuming driving.
  • 60/70 hour duty weekly: If a truck driver’s company does not operate vehicles daily, the driver cannot drive after being on duty for 60 hours in seven consecutive days. If the company operates vehicles everyday of the week, the driver is not allowed to drive after completing 70 hours within eight consecutive days. The clock will reset after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
  • Handheld devices: Truck drivers are prohibited from using handheld mobile phones while driving. But if voice communication needs to be conducted, the driver can do so with a hands-free mobile phone that’s located in close proximity.

Determining Fault in Truck Accidents in Washington

In Washington, fault is determined using the pure comparative fault doctrine. This means that both drivers are assigned a percentage of fault, and the award they each collect is reduced in proportion to their share of fault.

For example, let’s consider the case of a semi-truck driver who brings his truck to a sudden stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian. A car driver who is behind the truck, is distracted by her cell phone and doesn’t realize she needs to stop, resulting in a rear-end collision with the truck.

In this case, the car driver may be assigned 40% of the fault for distracted driving, while 60% of fault is assigned to the truck driver for the sudden stop. So if the total damages the car driver experiences is $100,000, the car driver would be able to collect only $60,000 which is the total amount of damages minus her degree of fault.

How Can a Washington Truck Accident Attorney Help You?

Due to the substantial size difference between an 18-wheeler and a passenger vehicle, even a minor accident can lead to devastating losses for the victims. From harrowing injuries and significant vehicle damage to enduring the psychological impact of a serious collision, truck accidents can inundate your life with time-consuming and expensive setbacks. Hiring a truck accident lawyer in Seattle to handle the legal processes involved in obtaining fair compensation allows you to lighten your load and focus entirely on your recovery.

Here are some specific ways an attorney will help with your Seattle truck accident claim:

  • Case investigation: Attorneys conduct independent investigations to uncover how the accident happened. During this process, they obtain various evidence, including police reports, witness statements, black box data and truck inspection records, to prove the negligence of the defendant(s) and the damages they have caused you.
  • Identify liable parties: There may be multiple defendants who can potentially be held liable for your losses, such as the truck driver, trucking company, truck parts manufacturer, the company that loaded the cargo onto the truck or a government agency. Your Seattle truck accident lawyer will analyze the root cause of your accident to determine all parties that can be approached or sued for compensation.
  • Identify your claim’s value: Your attorney will assess the full spectrum of impact the accident has had on your life and assign a fair value to each economic and non-economic loss that qualifies for compensation. They will also help you gather evidence to prove the presence of these losses, such as bank statements and receipts to prove missed income and car repair costs.
  • Handle negotiations: Your truck accident attorney in Seattle will adeptly handle communication and negotiations with multiple liable parties simultaneously. Those with experience in truck accident cases are skilled at managing multi-defendant cases and can secure appropriate compensation from each party at fault in your accident.
  • Represent you in court: Having a Seattle truck accident lawyer by your side signals to the insurance company that you are serious about pursuing fair compensation. They know that with legal representation, you are prepared to go to trial if needed, which can lead to costly legal expenses for them. As a result, they may be more inclined to offer a more attractive settlement to avoid the risk and expenses associated with a trial.

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