Trucking is one of the industries with the highest rates of injuries and fatalities. In Washington, one out of every 4,000 plus employees in the sector may die while on duty. Others, meanwhile, can injure themselves through non-traumatic musculoskeletal disorders, slips, trips, falls, and being hit against or by an object. All these account for over 70% of healthcare costs, lost workdays, and compensation claims.
Trucking is a high-risk job. Drivers can experience fatigue, which can affect their focus and performance when on the road. They work in equally dangerous industries such as warehousing. But what if your injury is not your fault at all? Can you claim compensation for the damages you incurred due to another person’s negligence? The answer is yes, but you need to work with a trucking attorney in Washington for that. It also helps to learn more about the state’s personal injury laws, especially on negligence:
1. How Does the State Define Negligence?
At first glance, “negligence” should be easy to define. It means that someone didn’t focus enough on their duties, which resulted in another person’s injury. In reality, it can be complex. In Washington, it needs to meet the following elements: duty, breach of duty, proximate cause, and cause in fact. To help you determine if there is indeed negligence, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the plaintiff has a duty or responsibility toward me?
- Is there a breach of duty? For example, did the company fail to provide the right equipment or training that should have prevented the injury?
- Did the breach or negligence directly responsible for the injury?
- What is the scope of the person’s negligence toward me?
The state follows the rules in comparative negligence. It means that Washington determines the plaintiff’s participation in the injury. Are you partially at fault? If you are, you cannot recover the full amount of damages. It will be less than the percentage of your negligence. For instance, if the state says that you are 30% at fault, then you can recover only 70%. Many states already abide by these regulations, but some may stick to no-fault negligence. In other words, any ounce of fault on your end will prevent you from claiming compensation or damages.
2. What Is the Statute of Limitations?
To prevent individuals from suing anytime they want, Washington imposes a statute of limitations. You have three years since the accident happened to file a lawsuit. There are only a few situations when it can extend:
- The plaintiff was under 18 years old at the time of the accident.
- The person lacks the competence to understand the lawsuit, let alone go through and decide during the proceedings.
- The defendant leaves the state or exerts all efforts to remain hidden within Washington.
In the first two scenarios, the clock starts only when the person reaches 18, or they regained their competence. For the third situation, the period of absence doesn’t count toward the three-year rule.
Personal injury cases are not simple, and for anyone who is not used to that, it can be overwhelming and frightening. Truckers like you, though, may deserve compensation for the suffering you injured while in your line of work. When this happens, get professional help.