Seattle Underride Accident Lawyer
Commercial vehicles are usually the most massive vehicles on most roads in Washington, and the massive size differential between them and smaller passenger vehicles often plays a significant role in the severity of injuries people suffer when they are involved in accidents. An underride accident is a collision in which a passenger vehicle goes partially or entirely underneath the trailer of a commercial truck.
An underride crash is an absolutely horrifying experience for the people involved, as such accidents are incredibly frightening and can cause devastating injuries. Some individuals may be decapitated in these types of incidents.
If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in an underride accident in the Seattle area, you do not want to waste any time getting yourself legal representation. Commercial trucking companies have insurers looking out for their best interests, and you deserve somebody doing the same for you.
The Seattle truck accident lawyers of The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee will protect your rights and fight to get you all of the compensation you need and deserve. Call (206) 899-5415 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Do I Need An Underride Accident Lawyer?
You will want an attorney because you are likely to encounter immediate threats to your rights soon after a commercial truck accident. Some trucking companies will immediately dispatch agents to the scenes of crashes who attempt to get people to sign agreements that are presented as being a necessary part of the claims process but significantly limits the rights of the victim.
Do not sign anything or even speak to anybody about your accident until you have legal representation. You are going to want a lawyer because they will conduct an independent investigation of your crash to determine the cause of the underride accident, collect relevant evidence, and identify all possible liable parties.
Some insurance companies may try to claim that you were at fault for your accident, and the attorney will be able to prove when the commercial truck was to blame. One way insurers accomplish this is through recorded statements that they get victims to provide, which is precisely why you should refuse to give any such statements without legal counsel.
An insurance company could also offer you a lump sum settlement to resolve your case, but you should know that whatever you are being offered is undoubtedly less than what an attorney would be able to get you. Insurers usually push for people to accept these settlements before victims have had the chance to even look for a lawyer, but do not ever think that refusing a settlement offer is going to be your only opportunity to obtain compensation.
Why Choose [Firm-Name] To Handle My Case?
The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee has been helping all kinds of accident victims and their families for more than ten years. We represent everyday people on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not have to worry about paying us anything unless you get a monetary award first.
Our firm will negotiate a fair and full settlement to your case that appropriately compensates you for every expense you are facing or will face because of your accident. If the insurance company does not make an acceptable offer, The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee will take your case to trial.
The National Trial Lawyers has named Jeffrey R. Caffee one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers every year since 2013. He earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Notre Dame Law School and was a research assistant at the University of Notre Dame.
Mr. Caffee received the American Bar Association Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Trial Academy Scholarship in 2011 and was honored in 2009 with an Award for Advocacy for distinguished achievement in the art and science of advocacy by The International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He is a member of the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association, King County Bar Association, and Washington State Bar Association.
Types of Underride Cases We Handle
Underride collisions come in many forms. A rear underride crash involves another vehicle sliding under a trailer, a side underride collision occurs when a vehicle goes under the side of a trailer, and a front underride crash happens when the trailer backs into and rolls over a vehicle.
The causes of these crashes can vary, but some of the most common causes include:
- Inclement weather
- Failure to use proper lights when parked
- Failure to use underride guards
- Inadequate driver training
- Brake failure
- Failure to maintain vehicle
- Driver fatigue
- Mechanical defects
Just as there are many possible causes, there could also be multiple liable parties in a commercial truck accident case. Some accidents could make one or more of the following parties responsible for damages:
- Truck drivers
- Truck owners
- Governmental entities
- Manufacturers of truck parts
- Shipping agencies
- Cargo loading companies
- Maintenance companies
- Another motorist
Code of Federal Regulations § 393.86(a)(1) requires trailers and semitrailers manufactured on or after January 26, 1998, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more to be equipped with a rear impact guard that meets the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 223 (49 CFR 571.223).
What should I do if I am involved in an underride accident?
After an underride accident, always be sure that you receive medical treatment. This is true even if you do not think that you were hurt. Not only do some injuries involve delayed symptoms, but it is always beneficial to have a medical record created as soon as possible after your accident. If you are approached at the scene of the crash or in your hospital room by anybody asking you to sign an agreement relating to the accident, you should always refuse to do so until you have legal representation. Before you contact an attorney, try to take as many pictures of everything involved in the accident. Also, look for any people who saw your crash and ask them for their names and phone numbers. Avoid discussing your accident on social media websites, as these are often the first outlets insurance companies will turn to for damaging statements. Try to contact a lawyer as soon as you are able.
How long do I have to file an underride accident lawsuit?
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 4.16.080 establishes that you have three years from the date of your underride accident to file a legal claim. Under RCW § 4.16.190, the statute of limitations can be tolled (or delayed) when a person is imprisoned on a criminal charge, less than 18 years of age, or “incompetent or disabled to such a degree that he or she cannot understand the nature of the proceedings.”
Individuals then have three years to file lawsuits when they are released from imprisonment; they turn 18 years of age or become mentally competent. People also have three years to file wrongful death claims, but the limitations period begins on the date of a person’s death rather than the date of the accident. You should never assume that you have three years to wait to contact a lawyer, as you want to take actions as soon as possible on your case so relevant evidence can be preserved.
Can I still file a lawsuit if I was partially at fault for my underride accident?
Yes. Washington is one of only 12 states in the country that uses a pure comparative fault system for awarding damages in civil cases, which means that people can recover damages regardless of their amount of fault. People can be awarded damages even when they were primarily at fault. The catch is that a plaintiff’s percentage of fault will reduce damages, so a person who is awarded $100,000 in an underride accident case but found to have been 75 percent at fault will have their damages reduced by $75,000 and receive $25,000.
Seattle Underride Accident Statistics
A 2013 National Transportation Safety Board (NTCB) study found that there was an estimated annual average of 4,124 single-unit trucks and 8,726 tractor-trailers involved in crashes in which a passenger vehicle collided with the sides of the trucks each year between 2005 and 2009. Single-unit trucks were involved in 2,309 collisions in which passenger vehicles collided with the rears of these trucks each year between 2005 and 2009, and rear underrides occurred in over 70 percent of passenger vehicle collisions with the back of single-unit trucks resulting in injury or death.
Another 2013 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 977 trucks were struck in the rear in fatal crashes from 2008 to 2009, 934 of which were occupants of the striking vehicle and 724 of which were light vehicle occupants. Almost 500 of those light vehicle fatalities involved some underride, and NHTSA stated that 70 percent of fatalities attributable to underride was the same for tractor-trailer combinations and straight trucks.
NHTSA reported that overall, some underride was detected in 53.9 percent of all front and side impact crashes.
Contact a Seattle Underride Accident Attorney Today
Were you hurt in a commercial truck underride crash in Seattle or another nearby community in Washington? You don’t have to handle your injury claim on your own. Help is available to you, and you can have a qualified, compassionate attorney take your case and help you get the compensation that you deserve. Don’t let the cost of quality representation keep you from seeking justice….our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t pay anything until we win your case.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee has helped scores of people with commercial truck accident cases. Our firm can discuss all of your legal options when you call (206) 899-5415 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.