Skip to main content

How to navigate the legalities of a trucking accident

A truck driving down an open road at night, on a blog discussing trucking accidents.

Getting in a trucking accident at work

If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident using a company-owned vehicle, there are a few things you need to be aware of to cover yourself legally. The list below goes in order of priority. 

After a commercial trucking accident, you must: 

  1. Call the police to report the accident 
  2. Seek medical attention (get checked out even if you’re feeling fine) 
  3. Document everything you can at the accident site (reports, photos, etc.) 
  4. Collect all pertinent information (license numbers, insurance info, witness accounts, etc.) 
  5. Get an appraisal of the truck/vehicle damage 
  6. Don’t admit fault or liability at the scene (if you’re at fault, have that conversation with your lawyer) 
  7. Avoid posting anything about your accident on social media 
  8. Get a lawyer experienced in professional driving accidents 

Washington State commercial trucking regulations

We covered the basics for after your accident, but what makes your accident fall under “commercial trucking?” Commercial trucking is governed by legislation from both the federal government and the states. A helpful manual on commercial trucking is available from the Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) for more information.

Now, back to the facts! Commercial truckers must hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to operate the following vehicles:

  • Single automobiles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of at least 26,001 pounds
  • Trailers with a GVWR of at least 10,000 pounds if the overall weight rating of the vehicles is at least 26,001 pounds
  • Any automobiles built to carry a minimum of 16 passengers 

While operating a commercial truck, drivers must also carry a recent medical exam certification on them. However, a commercial driver’s license is not necessary to operate a recreational vehicle for non-commercial purposes. (So have all the fun you want driving that cool new rig on vacation.) 

Accident liability for professional driving accidents

Accidents involving commercial trucks differ from those involving standard automobiles, as trucking businesses typically employ the drivers involved in the collision. Several other parties may be responsible for a commercial accident.

For example, the liability of a trucking accident may fall on: 

  • The truck’s manufacturer
  • The cargo owner 
  • Local government 
  • Road maintenance contractors 
  • Vendors who provide service to the carriers 

Dealing with an injury post-accident 

The road to recovery after a major trucking accident can be challenging, but never stop fighting for your rights. Things may seem overwhelming now, but you’re entitled to legal support, healthcare, and workers’ compensation. If you’re anxious about what lies ahead with your recovery, read Jeremiah’s story. This is a personal account of a trucking accident from one of our clients published with permission. 

Legal representation for trucking accidents

With years of experience in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases, Carlisle + Byers is here to help you navigate all the speed bumps that come your way after a professional driving accident. To contact us, click here or give us a ring at (509) 228-7011.