Motor vehicle accidents in Washington can become catastrophic when they involve a commercial vehicle such as a large truck. Commercial vehicle drivers are much less likely to suffer an injury in a crash with a car, and car drivers are much more likely to suffer injuries or death.
This may have a great deal of bearing on the damages a court assesses, but the degree of injury does not determine fault in a vehicular collision.
Fault in a commercial vehicle accident
As Consumer Notice reports, data has consistently shown that drivers of commercial vehicles are at risk for accidents due to fatigue, defective or poorly maintained parts, carelessness, reckless driving and uneven load distribution, among other reasons. The sheer amount of time commercial drivers spend on the road compared to other drivers may also make accidents more likely. While there are regulations in place to mitigate these risks such as driving time limits and weigh stations, these accidents still happen.
After a commercial vehicle accident, officials will consider the factors of the crash similarly to any other collision. They will collect a variety of evidence like witness reports, skid marks and car damage, and they will also use data from the “black box” that trucks carry to provide evidence of the driver’s actions.
Ultimately, officials will assign fault to either the car driver or the truck driver. In some cases, other parties may be at fault such as another vehicle on the road, the trucking company or a parts manufacturer.
FindLaw explains that Washington is a contributory negligence, or pure comparative negligence state. This means that even drivers who are at fault for an accident may recover damages diminishing in proportion to their fault.
For example, if officials determine a car driver to be 25% at fault for a commercial vehicle accident, and a truck driver to be 75% at fault, a suing car driver may still be able to receive compensation for 75% of the total damages.
In Washington, unlike in most other states, even someone who was 99% at fault for an accident may still seek compensation for the total damages less 99%.