Truck Accident Lawsuits in Washington
Trucking accidents may on the surface seem like a type of car accident, but they are very different and much more complex. We at The Stritmatter Firm have decades of experience helping our injured clients navigate these complexities.
What Makes Commerical Truck Cases Different?
Lawsuits for commercial trucking injuries are more complicated than your average car accident for several reasons, such as:
LARGE TRUCKS AND SEMI-TRAILERS ARE EVERYWHERE
In 2020, nearly 4 million “Class 8” trucks (i.e. over 33,000 pounds) were in operation nationwide. Large commercial trucks and semi-trailers are on our roads, all around us, every single day.
COMMERCIAL TRUCKS ARE DANGEROUS TO OTHERS AROUND THEM
Commercial trucks are larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road. The average car weighs about 5,000 pounds. By contrast, a “medium” large truck weighs more than 10,000 pounds and a “heavy” large truck weighs more than 26,000 pounds. 18-wheelers with cargo can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
Because of their size and weight, commercial truck injuries cause more serious injuries than the average car accident – most often to those around the trucks. In 2019, 5,005 people were killed, and an estimated 159,000 people were injured, in crashes involving large trucks. Of those injured or killed, over 70% were not occupants of the trucks (occupants of other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, etc.). These cases are often devastating, with victims suffering death, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding, severed limbs, and broken bones.
THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY IS GOVERNED BY COMPLEX FEDERAL, STATE, AND INDUSTRY STANDARDS
Because large trucks are more complex to operate, and mistakes are deadlier, commercial trucking is governed by a complex web of federal and state law, as well as industry standards. These laws and standards address a wide range of topics beyond simply how to operate a large truck on our roads. They include rules and regulations for how long truck drivers may work, rest and break requirements, pre-ride checklists and maintenance, loading cargo, and so on. Understanding these interconnected laws and standards is key to the proper workup of trucking injury cases. For more information please see the federal motor carrier safety administration rules and regulations.
MULTIPLE PEOPLE AND COMPANIES CAN BE AT FAULT
When it comes to trucking accidents, often multiple parties may be at fault for a variety of reasons. Sometimes truck drivers own their own businesses and lease out their services. Other times truck companies hire truck drivers as employees.
The truck driver may have made mistakes while driving, such as:
- Careless driving
- Inattention or distraction
- Driving when tired or fatigued
- Drug or alcohol use
But there can be other causes for a truck crash as well, including:
- Improper manufacturing or construction of the truck or other equipment
- Improper maintenance or repair of the truck or other equipment
- Negligent hiring, training, supervision, or retention of the truck driver
- Unsafe cargo loading
In short, identifying and proving which people or companies are legally responsible for a trucking accident can be complicated.