Collision with a semi truck parked across road with no warning flares...

by James

A semi truck with two beds was parked across both lanes of traffic. The back tires of the last bed were off in a ditch, so it seems that he was stuck or waiting for help. The truck driver was sitting in his cab doing paperwork. The plaintiff's car was east bound, driving into the morning sun.

The truck was at the top of a small rise, and the plaintiff could not see the semi or trailers until it was too late. The truck driver did not have any flares or flags set out. Thankfully, there were no fatalities.

The driver of the car was released to himself at the scene, and went to the ER with a minor abrasion. He was told he may have soreness and soft muscle pain for awhile.

The passenger was transported by ambulance to the hospital, and placed in a leg brace for swelling and pain. X-rays showed no fractures. The passenger was told to contact their primary care doctor in a week if the pain or swelling continued. The family van was a total loss.

Can the Plaintiff ask for damages and replacement value for the van? Who is liable in this situation? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Collision with a semi truck parked across road with no warning flares...":

James (Washington):

Go straight to the police department and purchase a copy of the police accident report. You can do so for a nominal fee, usually under ten dollars. You may also be able to go on-line and purchase the report.

It's very likely the police report will indicate who was at-fault. Moreover, the report will show any traffic citations issued to the driver of the truck, or to you. The accident report will also hopefully list witnesses, including their contact information and statements of what they saw or heard.

If the police accident report indicates the truck driver was at-fault, his insurance company, and/or that of his employer, will likely pay for any medical bills and the repair or replacement of the van.

Insurance companies rely heavily on police accident reports when determining fault. This is true because if the claim is eventually litigated, a judge or jury will almost always place their trust in the police officer's opinion of fault. Of course, if the report indicates you were at-fault, you'll be in the same position as the truck driver and his employer.

In the event the police report doesn't indicate fault, you will have to negotiate with the driver's and employer's insurance company. If they decide to deny your claim, you can pursue it in Small Claims Court.

The jurisdictional limit, or maximum amount you can sue for in the State of Washington's Small Claims Courts is $5,000.00. To read more about Washington's Small Claims Courts go to the State of Washington's Attorney General's Website.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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