​Commercial Vehicle Collisions

Throughout the United States, passenger cars must share the road with semi-trucks hauling heavy cargo.  When tractor-trailers, logging trucks or cement mixers cause accidents, the likelihood of serious injury or death increases greatly.  We have extensive experience representing people who have suffered losses in accidents involving large commercial trucks. When serious injuries result, we do everything possible to obtain the maximum level of compensation to meet our clients’ lifelong needs.

No matter how great your injuries, you cannot recover compensation unless you can prove someone other than yourself was responsible for the accident. In commercial truck accidents, responsibility could lie with a number of parties:

Trucking company
Loading company
Vehicle or parts manufacturer
Truck maintenance company
Driver who interfered with the truck’s right of way

Common factors pointing to driver negligence include fatigue, reckless driving, excessive speed, distracted driving, and drug or alcohol abuse. However, the driver may not be the only one to blame for poor operation. The company may have been negligent in many ways:

Hiring an unqualified driver
Forcing or allowing a driver to work excessive hours
Failing to properly maintain the vehicle

These failures may involve violations of state and federal trucking regulations.  In some cases the driver may have acted appropriately, but the tractor, trailer, brakes or other component parts may have been defectively designed, manufactured or installed. In these circumstances, the product manufacturer or designer may be liable.Type your paragraph here.

Because of the heightened danger that comes with the size of commercial trucks and their often hazardous cargoes, state and federal authorities have enacted additional laws and regulations to govern commercial transport.  Licensing is more stringent for semi-truck drivers, and trucks themselves must have operating permits.  Of course, all the regulation in the world will not prevent poor outcomes if the regulations lack oversight.

Here is a brief explanation of trucking regulations and the authorities that monitor compliance with Federal regulations for interstate trucking

The U.S. Constitution allows Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Congress has also authorized the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to write and enforce regulations for:

Hazardous materials
Companies engaged in interstate trucking

For example, the requirements for obtaining a license to drive a semi are much more stringent than those for obtaining a regular driver license.  Additionally, federal laws dictate the maximum number of hours an operator may be on the road without a break (known as Hours-of-Service Regulations) and require drivers and trucking companies to keep a log detailing that data.  Federal laws also dictate the level of maintenance performed on large trucks and the rules for the relevant recordkeeping.  This information can be the key to proving liability in your truck accident involving impaired driving, faulty maintenance or a product defect.

Washington State also has regulations designed to prevent accidents and save lives
Washington exercises jurisdiction over commercial transport within the state’s borders, permitting some exceptions to federal trucking laws and imposing specific state standards in other areas.  For example, for intrastate operations, Washington allows individuals 18 years of age and older (rather than 21 and over) to obtain a license to drive a large vehicle.  Washington has instituted many safety requirements including those involving:

Drug tests
Hay bale securement
Fruit bin load securement
Hazardous material transport

The Washington State Patrol's Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Bureau is the enforcement body for state truck regulations.

Bus transportation is essential for many residents of Washington; many travel by bus to their jobs and children rely on buses to take them safely to school. Yet bus accidents happen frequently, seriously injuring innocent passengers, other motorists and pedestrians. In 2006, school bus accidents alone accounted for 394 collisions, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Numerous factors cause bus accidents. Driver negligence, defective equipment, dangerous road or weather conditions and poor or inadequate bus maintenance all play a role.

Bus accidents are unique for several reasons.  First, because buses are larger and heavier than most other vehicles, accidents involving buses typically cause injury to others beyond just the occupants of the bus.  Second, almost 70 percent of bus accident victims are people driving or riding in other vehicles.  Also unique to bus transport is the lack of safety restraints.  Laws govern the use of seatbelts and child seats in passenger vehicles, yet many school and city buses are not equipped with seat belts.  Bus occupants, particularly children, are especially vulnerable to traumatic injury when an accident occurs.  School districts faced with budget restrictions may try to reduce costs by keeping old buses in service longer and hiring less experienced drivers at lower pay.

Legally, the responsibilities of bus driver and bus company are different than those of a passenger vehicle.  A bus is considered to be a “common carrier” and thus the driver is held to a higher standard of safety and protection than the driver of a regular car. These issues can become complicated, however, when a bus company is operated by a city or other government branch. (Some claims must be brought through a special government tort claim system before a lawsuit can be filed).

Because of these complicating factors, obtaining legal compensation for injuries from a commercial vehicle or bus accident is a complex process. An experienced personal injury attorney can help. Attorney Mike Fisher knows how to conduct a thorough investigation of your accident to determine the cause of the accident.  Numerous factors can cause bus collisions, so it is vital to have knowledgeable advocates on your side.  Most importantly, Mike Fisher understands how to prepare a legal strategy that protects your best interests.

When a bus accident causes serious injury, it is essential that you act quickly to preserve key evidence – and to ensure your right to file a claim.  There are statutes of limitations on personal injury lawsuits, so legal action must be taken promptly.