Were You in a Truck Accident? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Dealing with a Washington state truck accident can overwhelm you. Understanding what happens next will make a world of difference. 

A few things to know up front: 

  • Truck accidents are much more complicated than other traffic accidents. 
  • Most people don’t have the bandwidth, depth of legal knowledge, or resources necessary to fight insurers alone.
  • Your only job is to follow your recommended medical treatment plan or be there for your loved one as they heal.

We know you might not have had the time at the truck accident scene to take pictures or get people’s phone numbers. Things are moving fast, and you were in shock.

We’re here to help you assert your rights, file a strong claim, and protect your future after your truck accidents. Call a Federal Way truck accident lawyer.

Understanding Truck Accidents: A Quick, Comprehensive Guide 

What to Know if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident

Truck accidents are devastating—and common. In one year, over 120 truck crashes took place in Federal Way. Nearly 200 truck accidents happened in Tacoma.

Whenever truck accidents occur, large bills follow.

Your truck accident claim must cover the costs of your accident. These may include lost income, medical bills, property damage, and child, elder, or pet care.

Battalions of insurers, third-party lawyers, and companies seeking to avoid liability for your damages stand between you and the resources you need. They may challenge your every demand, no matter how valid.

Why Are Truck Accidents so Complicated?

Truck accidents are uniquely complex because of the laws surrounding safe truck use, the many parties involved in claims, and the severe injuries truck accidents tend to cause.

  • Several regulatory bodies—including the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration—oversee different aspects of truck operation. These groups govern everything from the hours a trucker can drive to driver licensing and training. 
  • When a large truck gets into an accident, the company that owns the truck, the owner of the truck’s cargo, and other parties may share liability with the truck driver.
  • Large trucks are multi-ton battering rams barreling down Tacoma highways. The accidents they cause result in devastation. Victims can suffer nerve and organ damage or broken bones. They can lose limbs or incur lasting brain damage. Sometimes, these crashes kill people. They often total smaller vehicles. With more serious damages comes more contention over the insurance claims—which can lead to drawn-out, tense legal battles. 

There’s one more complication to consider. 

RCW 4.22.005 makes Washington a comparative negligence state. This means liability and damages in your case will depend on each party’s level of responsibility.

This can open the door to heated arguments and, ultimately, reduced compensation. Your truck accident lawyer will tackle negotiations with the insurance companies for you, leaving you free to focus on healing. 

What Your Truck Accident Lawyer Can Do for You

An experienced lawyer with deep knowledge of national truck accident law and specific state and local laws can ensure the at-fault parties’ insurance companies compensate you fairly.

After your truck accident, you must heal and spend time with your loved ones.

Your lawyer will: 

  1. Gather evidence and investigate your case.
  2. Determine who caused your accident.
  3. Negotiate your settlement with insurers and other parties.
  4. Handle your lawsuit, if necessary.

Entrusting your truck accident case to a capable lawyer will grant you peace of mind. You can rest knowing your legal team will use all of the skills, resources, and determination at their disposal to make you whole again. 

But that’s after you retain the right lawyer. Before you can enjoy that peace of mind, you’ll need to take a few steps.

Your Tacoma Truck Accident Timeline: What You Need to Do After Your Accident

You must complete a short but vital to-do list. We’ll break this down into the things that should happen the first week and the first month after your accident. After that, we’ll look at what you can expect in the final stages of the insurance claim process. 

The First Week After Your Accident

Right after a truck accident upends your life, a lot will happen. 

What’s happening:

  • Many people will rush about, trying to learn all they can about the accident. The trucking company will launch its investigation; the police will investigate and file their reports; and the insurers will start collecting information from all parties.
  • Immediately after the accident, an ambulance may have whisked you (or your loved one) to the hospital. There, medical staff initiated emergency treatment while you—maybe still a little in shock—tried to field their questions.
  • Depending on your injuries, you might experience days in pain or find yourself getting used to a cast. You may need to recover from surgery. You’re almost certainly coming to terms with considerable psychological trauma. You probably don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with much beyond your physical condition at this point.

What you need to do:

  • Seek medical care, even if you don’t believe the accident severely hurt you. (Serious internal injuries are harder to identify than you might think.) The sooner you do this, the better. If you only received a quick once-over at the scene, go see your personal care physician for a more thorough evaluation.
  • Set up systems to help you manage over the next few weeks. For example, you might need to arrange for childcare or have someone walk your dog for you. Notify your employer if you can’t make it into work. If you can return to work, if necessary, ask your managers to reduce your workload, reassign you, or make other accommodations for your injuries. 
  • Start gathering the paperwork related to your case. Get a car repair estimate, if you need one. Ask the police for a copy of their investigation report. Write down everything you remember about the accident in a dated journal entry, or leave yourself a voice memo narrating the event. Keep all medical bills.

Finally, get a lawyer.

Find a firm with excellent testimonials, experience and proven results. Call them for a free consultation, if they offer it, and tell them about your case and ask about next steps. Try to get a sense of their communication style, too.

Once your lawyer is on the case, you can rest—and know that the best people will work for your success while you and your family begin healing.

The Months Following Your Accident

In the weeks and months following your accident, you and your lawyer will work on building a strong case for your settlement.

What’s happening:

  • The severity of your injuries will influence this stage of your claim. Minor injuries might entirely heal within a couple of weeks. Significant injuries could place you deep in the trenches of physical therapy or awaiting major surgery. No matter where you are in your recovery, you shouldn’t try to take on more than you can do. Follow your recommended medical treatment plan for the good of your case as well as your health, as it will help your lawyer document and determine damages.
  • Your car is getting fixed, you’re arranging alternative transportation for a while, or you’re preparing to purchase a new vehicle. 
  • If your injuries allow it, you might go back to work. If not, you’ll have arranged for extended time off.

What you (and your lawyer) need to do: 

  • Preserve evidence. Your lawyer will advise the trucking company and other relevant parties to preserve all evidence related to your accident, including data from the truck’s black box, maintenance records, driver logs, and surveillance footage.
  • Investigate the accident. Your lawyer will independently analyze the accident scene to glean additional evidence, speak with your mechanic and your medical care team, and possibly even consult accident reconstruction experts to establish crucial information about your accident, including cause, liability, and the value of your claim.
  • Calculate damages. As you learn the extent of your damages—your medical bills are coming in, you know how much your car bills are, and you’re beginning to understand the long-term effects of your accident—you can determine the value of your claim. Your claim will include compensation to help cover tangible costs (like property damage, medical bills, and lost income) and intangible costs (like your pain and suffering).
  • File a claim with all applicable insurance companies. Your lawyer will identify these parties based on their assessment of liability in your case. Filing the claims will involve filling out forms and providing supporting evidence. An experienced lawyer will take care of the complex task of Identifying, assembling, contextualizing, and submitting evidence.
  • Handle tough conversations. Your lawyer will field all communications from the insurance companies for you and negotiate a fair settlement. Insurers want to avoid paying out on claims, or pay as little as possible, and they have teams of lawyers and agents expertly defending their interests. You’ll need your own capable, determined, resourceful legal team defending yours.

Your lawyer will advocate for you throughout this entire process, fighting for your rights and updating you while you focus on recuperating after your traumatic truck accident.

Finalizing Your Claim and Pursuing Fair Compensation

To settle or sue? How will your journey to fair compensation culminate? What happens after you achieve compensation?

As you reach the resolution of your truck accident claim, here’s what to expect. 

What’s happening:

If the insurance companies approve your claim and your lawyer believes your settlement offer includes fair compensation, great!

Settling involves agreeing that you will not pursue further legal actions against the other parties in exchange for compensation. It’s often far easier (and less expensive) to settle—but it isn’t always the right decision.

Often, insurance companies pressure victims to settle for far less than their claim is worth. Insurers can also use nefarious tactics to delay a claim, such as requesting unnecessary documentation, disputing liability without basis, changing fault allocation, or even employing manipulative negotiation strategies to play off the victim’s emotions or fear for the future. 

Your experienced truck accident lawyer will make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

What your lawyer needs to do: 

  • Follow up with all requests for documentation and clarification as the parties negotiate a settlement offer.
  • Evaluate your settlement offers, and negotiate as necessary to ensure you get what you deserve.
  • Determine whether a fair settlement offer is possible or if you need to file a lawsuit.
  • Accept your settlement offer, if you agree it’s fair and sufficient, or reject it if it isn’t.
  • Prepare your suit, file it, and provide representation and support if you take your claim to court.
  • Collect and disburse your funds after you agree to a settlement offer or win your case.
Rick Park, Truck Accident Attorney
Rick Park, Truck Accident Lawyer in Federal Way

That last point is key: Once you achieve compensation, you still have a few things to do. Your truck accident lawyer can structure your settlement in lump sum payments or periodic payments to satisfy your current and future needs.

If you have outstanding medical debts or other immediate financial concerns, your lawyer can resolve them as simply and quickly as possible. 

Once your lawyer takes care of those obligations, you can access your remaining settlement funds. After your long fight for fair compensation, this will relieve you. 

If you’re ready to start working toward fair compensation today, put your trust in an experienced truck accident attorney. Your compassionate legal team will handle all aspects of your claim, including negotiations with insurers. Allow a personal injury lawyer near you to provide the support you require as you and your loved ones heal.

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