Serious and fatal trucking accidents are all too common. Semi-truck accidents happen quite frequently leave victims with huge medical bills, lost wages and other damages that can affect their lives and their financial future.
The trucking accident lawyers at Davis Law Group have more than 25 years of experience representing injured victims of commercial trucking collisions in Washington State. Our firm has represented the victims the Skagit River Bridge collapse.
Trucking Accident Lawsuits & Settlements
Drivers are often required to deliver their cargo on a very strict schedule which can result in long hours on the road with little or no sleep. Poorly maintained trucks and those with unsecured loads can also cause accidents. Insurance companies that represent commercial vehicles aggressively defend against claims and, unfortunately, it is often necessary to file a lawsuit in order to get fair compensation for victims.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident involving a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or other commercial trucking vehicle in Washington State contact attorney Chris Davis and the team at Davis Law Group at 206-727-4000 to schedule your free legal consultation.
Top 10 Trucking Accident Attorneys In Washington State
Attorney Chris Davis has been named one of the Top 10 Trucking Accident Lawyers in Washington State by the Trucking Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA). Membership into this select group is determined by a strict selection committee based on the attorneys’ reputation among their peers as well as experience and achievements in the area of interstate trucking accidents.
Davis Law Group has been named Best Injury Law Firm in Washington State by AI Dispute Resolution Awards.
Commercial Trucking Accident Lawyer News
Perhaps the most famous semi-truck accident in Washington State is the Skagit River Bridge Collapse case. As the attorney handling the case and as a prominent personal injury attorney with experience in handling semi truck accident claims, Chris Davis's expert opinion is often featured by local media covering impaired driving-related issues and incidents. You may have him on local stations such as KING5, KOMO4, KIRO7 and Q13Fox or national news programs like CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 or InsideEdition.
Common Semi-Truck Accident Legal Questions
- What kind of financial compensation can I receive after an accident involving a semi-truck?
- What is a fair settlement value for my trucking accident case? Is there a trucking accident settlement formula?
Causes of Truck & Commercial Transport Crashes
Semi trucks can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds, which puts regular commuters at a serious disadvantage when it comes to their overall safety. There are many causes for semi truck accidents but some of the most common causes are:
- Driver Fatigue
- Substance Abuse
- Failure to adhere to the rules of the road
- Failure to properly maintain trucks
- Improperly loaded trucks or cargo shifting / Illegal, over-sized loads
- Under-inflated tires
- Over-height trucks attempting to pass under lo overpasses or bridges
- Pilot/Escort Vehicle Operator (P/EVO) error
- Trucks following other traffic too closely
Low Clearance Crash With Over-Height Truck
There are a often number of different terms used to describe an event in which an over-height commercial trucking vehicle strikes low-clearance bridge, tunnel or overpass. Very often states, such as Washington State, lump these kinds of collisions into a category called “fixed-object crashes” or stationary roadside object crashes” which also include items such as utility poles and guardrails.
It is therefore difficult to get an accurate measure of the size of the problem. These types of accidents present a danger to other drivers on the road that may get hit by falling objects; may rear-end the truck when it comes to a sudden stop after striking an overpass; or when the roadway becomes littered with debris.
- Over-height Vehicle Accident
- Inadequate Vertical Clearance Accidents
- Low Clearance Accidents
- Bridge Impacts
- Bridge Strikes
- Collision With Overhead Structure
- Stationary Object Strikes
- Stationary Object Hits
Tanker Truck Spill Accidents
When a tanker truck hauling toxic and or flammable chemicals is involved in an accident which is so severe that it causes the truck to overturn and its cargo to spill out onto the highway and surrounding landscape, the risk of injury to the community at large increases dramatically. These types of accidents are far more common than is generally known.
Toxic Chemicals on Washington State Roadways & Highways
- Gases (flammable, nonflammable, inhalation hazard/poison, or oxygen)
- Liquids that burn (flammable and combustible liquids, based on their flashpoint)
- Flammable Solids, Spontaneously Combustible, or Dangerous when wet materials
- Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides
- Poison/Toxic Solids and Liquids, Infectious Materials
- Radioactive Chemicals
- Corrosives (acids and bases)
Dangers of Chemical Truck Accidents
- Explosions caused by ignighted flammable liquids.
- Toxic chemical exposure to humans and animals causing burns, injuries to eyes and lungs, and neurological damage.
- Contamination of local ground water.
Underride Collision With Semi Tractor-Trailer
When a semi-truck is involved in an accident with a smaller vehicle, the results can sometimes be deadly. Because of these trucks’ massive size, even the most basic accidents can cause serious and life-changing injuries. A small, compact car or sedan can drive under the semi-truck, called an underride accident, shearing off the roof. It is the most terrifying and deadly scenario imaginable. A car, typically a sedan, collides with the side of a tractor-trailer and is pulled underneath. The top of the vehicle is often sheared off and the occupants are fatally injured, often decapitated.
Government statistics show that more than 200 people are killed in semi tractor-trailer underride accidents every year.
According to the Department of Transportation, over 4,000 people were killed in accidents involving underride between 1994 and 2014. In 2015, 301 of the 1,542 passenger vehicle occupants that died in crashes with a semi-truck hit the side of the truck. Compare that to the 292 people who died when they hit the rear of the semi-truck. Rear underride guards are now required under federal regulations.
Experts say that underride accidents could be prevented if trucks were required to have side guards to deflect cars. Semitrailer underride guards are designed to prevent injury and death caused by rear-end passenger car collisions with long-haul trucks.
But for decades standards for underride guards have been grossly deficient. Research shows that tougher standards would protect car drivers and passengers susceptible to preventable death in these types of accidents.
Use of GPS Navigation Systems in Trucking & Commercial Transport
There is a dangerous practice in the commercial transportation industry that is causing an increase in accidents involving large trucks. Many small transportation companies and independent truckers are purchasing consumer GPS systems rather than GPS systems created specifically for truckers. All GPS systems can help define the quickest route between two locations. But systems designed specifically for commercial use go one step further by factoring the height, width, and weight of the load and determine the safest route--avoiding low-clearance overpasses, narrow roads, and the weight restrictions of bridges.
According to ABI Research, global shipments of commercial GPS navigation systems, such as those used in large trucks, will climb from 3 million in 2010 to 7.5 million by 2015.
In a survey in which common carriers 33% described situations in which they believed that GPS navigation systems errors contributed to crashes. Of those 34% reported that they had been navigated to roads with inadequate bridge/overpass clearance.
Trucking Accident Statistics
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, every year semi-truck accidents and commercial vehicle collisions are responsible for killing nearly 4,000 people. Additionally more than 100,000 people are injured each year in truck crashes.
National Trucking Accident Injury & Fatality Statistics
- In 2014 there were 3,903 people killed in crashes involving semi-trucks/big-rigs/large trucks.
- In 2014 there was a 17 percent increase in the number of people injured in crashes involving big trucks. An estimated 111,000 people were injured in crashes involving semi-trucks/big-rigs/large trucks in 2014.
- In 2014 seventy-three percent of people killed in large-truck crashes were occupants of the other vehicles.
- Two percent of the truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .08 g/dL or higher.
- Large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had the highest percentage (14.9%) of previously recorded crashes compared to drivers of other vehicle types (motorcycles, 13.6%; passenger cars, 12.6%; and light trucks, 12.0%).
Washington State Semi Truck Collision Statistics
There are over 500,000 truck accidents in the United States every year. A large number of semi truck accidents result in fatalities, primarily because of the difference in size between semi trucks and standard motor vehicles.
Traffic safety experts estimate that approximately 5,000 people are tragically killed in trucking accidents annually. Ninety-eight percent of the time, the passengers or driver in the other vehicle is killed as opposed to driver or passengers in the truck.
2016 Semi-Truck Accident Statistics - Washington State
- Fatal Truck Crashes - 32
- Suspected Serious Injury Collisions - 61
- Possible/Suspected Injury Accidents - 695
- No Apparent Injury Incidents - 3,152
- Total Large Truck Involved Crashes - 3,940
Over-Height or Wide Load Tractor Trailer Accident Statistics
A 2004 research study reported that 62% of states that participated in the study indicated that they consider over-height collisions to be a significant problem. Washington State reported that overheight collisions were not a problem.1
In a survey conducted for a similar 2012 study Washington State officials responded that bridge strikes were a serious problem reporting a total of 84 reported bridge strikes during 2005 to 2008.2
Research estimates that nearly one-third of the nation’s 600,000 highway bridges are currently in need of repair or replacements, making applications for innovative bridge concepts and construction methods vital to both traffic safety and cost-effective maintenance. Because of this pressure issue, researchers are addressing a growing need for over-height impact protection and detection systems.3
Not everyone uses the same terminology when it comes to identifying large commercial trucks. Some of the other common terms for large commercial trucks include:
- Tractor Semitrailer
- Semi Truck
- Tractor Trailer
- Commercial Truck
- Big Truck
- Big Rig
- 18 Wheeler
Sources & References
"Commercial Driver License (CDL)." WA State Licensing (DOL) Official Site. Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL), n.d. Web. http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/cdl.html.
Javers, Eamon, and Jennifer Schlesinger. "A Family Lost: The Risk of Trucks on US Roads." CNBC. NBCUniversal, 30 July 2014. Web. http://www.cnbc.com/2014/07/30/truck-accidents-surge-why-no-national-outcry.html.
"Large Truck Accidents." Highway Loss Data Institut. Nsurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2017. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/large-trucks/topicoverview.
"Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts." Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. United States Department of Transportation, 17 Mar. 2015. Web. https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts.
Rafter, Michelle. "Truck Driver Is Among the Deadliest Jobs in the U.S." Trucks.com. Trucks.com International, 28 Dec. 2016. Web. https://www.trucks.com/2016/12/19/truck-driver-deadliest-job.