Truck accidents have the most devastating injuries compared to other types of collisions. The weight of these trucks, especially when loaded, causes enormous destruction when they hit typical cars. If you are concerned about winning your truck accident case, the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney will help you with this challenging process. Our truck accident attorneys understand it’s not a walk in the park to seek compensation from large trucking and insurance companies. Hence, we are here to offer guidance.
After the Accident
Whether you are going to win your truck accident case or not depends on what you do right after the crash. Every step you take will play a pivotal role in your case, but this should not mean you put your safety at risk. So, the first thing you should do is evaluate your condition and check on others involved in the crash. In case you need an ambulance, stay calm until it arrives.
After a truck accident, you should reach out to the emergency services by calling 911. Remember that these accidents are usually severe and catastrophic. Your well-being should be your priority, which is why you should contact emergency services.
If your injuries are minor, make sure you check on others. In the event, there are multiple victims of the accident request for multiple ambulances from the dispatcher. Besides, you can wait for the police to arrive at the scene if your injuries don’t pose a danger. The reason for remaining at the scene is to make sure you get a copy of the police report. The report is the best way to acquire immediate documentation of the accident with accurate information.
Getting Medical Attention
If a truck accident is minor, most people assume they have not sustained significant injuries, so they don’t seek medical examination. What such people don’t know is that some injuries have delayed symptoms that manifest themselves later. You may think you are okay but begin to experience symptoms after a few days. Such injuries are dangerous because often they are discovered when the damage has already been done. However, if you seek treatment right after the crash, these injuries can be discovered and treated before getting out of hand.
Seeking medical attention right after the crash makes it easy to link the injuries with the accident. Your insurer might be reluctant to compensate you for injuries if you sort treatment a few days after the accident. They will argue that the injuries were due to something else other than the accident, which might cost you the case.
Note that even after the emergency personnel at the scene have examined you, going for a medical checkup is appropriate because you will need the medical records and receipts during the trial.
Documenting Facts of the Accident
Evidence documentation is a step that should be done by victims with minor or zero injuries, and when it is safe to do so. If the crash happened on a busy highway, it’s best to wait until the police arrive because it’s the only time it will be safe to gather evidence. Where the road is not busy, and you feel okay, you can commence gathering evidence.
The process of gathering evidence involves taking photos of the scene, getting witness testimony, and checking weather and road conditions. Photographs, especially those showing the road or weather condition, could help explain the truck driver or any other person that caused the accident had low visibility or the road was slick. Photos of the injuries and property damage will say a thousand words about the accident and help preserve evidence.
Gathering evidence also involves exchanging information with all the relevant parties in the accident. Before leaving the scene, make sure you get the following information:
The name, physical address, contact number and email address of the other driver
The name of the insurance company of the other driver(s) and policy number
Name and contact information of the rucking driver and his or her employer or trucking company.
Truck license plate number
Truck or other driver’s license number
Get Witness Statements and Contact Info
Any person that observes or sees the crash unfold in any way is a witness. It could be an occupant of another car, a bystander, or a passenger in one of the vehicles involved in the accident.
Speaking to these witnesses and getting statements from them could go a great way to build your truck accident case. Keep in mind that if the police are at the scene and they are not busy, you should allow them to get witness statements. However, if they are too busy with other things at the scene, apart from speaking to witnesses, you should note down witness statements. Doing so is vital because if these people leave the scene, you might never find them again, meaning valuable information that could have helped you win the case will be lost.
Make sure you get their statement and contact information. If police are conducting an investigation, share this information with them or with your attorney.
Have your Truck or Vehicle Appraised
Trucks cause significant damage to standard vehicles because of their size and weight. Vehicles are just like human bodies because they might appear alright on the outside, but significant damage may have been caused on the inside. For this reason, it is critical to have a trained eye to examine the damages.
Do not make the mistake of visiting a local automobile repair outlet for an appraisal if you are not sure the shop meets all government standards. The reason being, the appraisal report will be used when bringing a claim against the insurer of the liable party. And because insurance companies have requirements on what should be submitted for them to pay for vehicle damages, it’s wise to ensure the repair shop meets the standards the insurer will need. Check the list of repair shops approved by the insurer and make sure the shop you pick is on the list.
Don’t Admit Fault
It’s good not to be angry or rude to the truck or other driver involved in the crash. However, this should not mean you should be too nice and say things that might implicate you further during the trial. Stay calm and preserve your conversation for your truck accident attorney. Even if you are partly to blame for the crash, don’t apologize because doing so amounts to admitting fault, and it could see you lose the case.
Although you should avoid conversations, you must cooperate with the police. Give them the information they need and ensure what you say to them is the truth, but avoid admitting responsibility.
Call a Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, calling a truck accident attorney who practices personal injury law will be a massive step towards winning your lawsuit. Seeking compensation is mainly about following the rules. An injury attorney understands these rules, making him or her the most suitable person to help you win your claim.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Winning your truck accident lawsuit involves proving fault or negligence. Therefore, if you can determine the cause of the accident, it becomes easy to identify and prove a particular party breached their duty of care and are accountable for your injuries and damages. Some of the typical causes of truck accidents include:
Unbalanced loading of cargo
Fatigue due to driving for consecutive hours without adequate rest
Drunk or drugged driving
Failing to check blind spots
Hazardous road conditions
Trucking company negligence
Inadequately maintained trucks or commercial vehicles
Truck collisions usually occur due to preventable mistakes like those listed above. So, if your attorney can establish the cause of the accident, it will be a piece of cake to prove negligence by the defendant.
Winning your Truck Accident Case with the Guidance of a Truck Accident Injury Attorney
The purpose of a truck accident injury lawsuit is to help victims recoup compensation for life-changing injuries and massive property damages. In this case, your injury attorney’s role is to protect your rights as a victim of this type of accident and help you get justice through compensation. There are several things that your attorney needs to do to win a case.
Firstly, your attorney needs to gather facts relating to the accident. If you sustained injuries that prevented you from gathering evidence, your attorney could use the police report as evidence or conduct an independent investigation. The attorney could also work with accident reconstruction experts, biomedical engineers, and mechanical engineers to establish the extent of damages stemming from the crash.
Professionals like expert reconstruction experts will look at multiple factors that might have contributed to the accident to help establish liability. Further, the expert might check the black box and the logbook to prove the defendant is liable for the accident and its outcome.
In a truck accident, many people can be held liable. You will present your evidence, and the defense attorney will try to discredit it to show the defendant’s negligence didn’t lead to the truck accident. To win the case, you must provide strong evidence that will counteract their facts of the case. If you don’t understand personal injury law, you might lose the case, which is why enlisting the services of an injury attorney is paramount in winning your case.
The Black Box and Logbook
In the 1990s, many truck manufacturers began to make commercial vehicles whose engine was integrated with a black box to beat warranty claims. The black box, just like the one in airplanes, is an electronic event recorder. The role of the electronic module is to store data about the physical properties of the truck. Accident reconstruction experts can rely on the data recorded in these electronic devices to find the person that was liable for the accident.
The black box records information about:
The speed of the truck right before the crash
Whether the driver was accelerating or decelerating
Whether brakes were applied before the crash
The rate at which the truck drove above the designated speed limit
Whether the truck driver had a seatbelt on
Communication between the driver and trucking company
Whether airbags deployed
The accident reconstruction expert or your attorney needs to compare the information contained in the black box with the one recorded in the driver’s logbook. FMCSA has regulations that specify truck drivers can only drive consecutively for eleven hours and then rest for ten hours. The driver usually records this information in the logbook. FMCSA also requires all out of state truck drivers to record truck maintenance on the logbook.
Because the black box records this information, comparing what is recorded with what is contained in the logbook can help prove that the truck driver or employer was at fault. If the truck driver had falsified service hours in the logbook, the black box data would show otherwise. Where the accident is due to speeding, the black box will contain information on the speed of the truck right before the accident, which will help prove liability by the truck driver.
The trucking company has a duty to check the logbook often and ensure its employees follow safety regulations. When the logbook data doesn’t match that of the black box, it is enough evidence to prove the company owed you a duty of care to check log books but breached it, leading to the accident.
Establishing Liability in a Truck Accident Case
You will win your case if you can prove liability either under negligence or negligence per se theory. The theory that you will use to establish negligence will depend on the circumstances of your case. The elements that must be established under negligence theory include:
The defendant owed you a duty of due care
The defendant violated that duty by driving aggressively, tailgating, weaving, DUI, distracted driving, fatigued driving, or disregard of traffic rules.
There is a causal link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the outcome of the accident.
Keep in mind that truck accidents often have many victims. If all these plaintiffs file a lawsuit against one defendant, the defendant’s insurance company will be reluctant to compensate all these victims. Therefore, to increase your odds of winning the case, you must find as many liable parties as possible.
Possible Defendants in a Truck Accident Case
Apart from collecting evidence to help you win the case, it is the role of your injury attorney to identify the liable parties. The trucking company will be responsible if it was negligent in hiring, training, or supervising employees. If during background checks on a driver, the company noticed that the driver has a history of drunk or drugged driving but still went ahead to hire or assumed signs the driver was still DUI, the company will be held liable for negligence. Where lack of proper driving skills was the cause of the accident, the trucking company will be responsible for negligent training.
When a defective truck part is a reason for the accident, the truck manufacturer will be accountable for the collision. A manufacturer of truck components will be responsible for the accident if brake failure was the cause of the accident, and black box data shows the driver hit the brakes on time.
Other potential defendants in these accidents are truck repair shops, the government authority that oversees road maintenance, or the other driver.
Comparative Negligence in Truck Accident Cases
Having provided your evidence against the defendants, they will also be allowed to present theirs. Even though it’s clear that they were negligent and caused the accident, they can rely on comparative negligence to lower the amount of compensation you will be awarded. By raising the issue of comparative negligence, the jury is forced to investigate whether other parties, including the plaintiff, might have contributed to the accident.
California’s comparative negligence law has provided a way for parties involved in the accident to share the blame. If a minor mistake by the plaintiff caused the accident, compensation would be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of negligence.
The level of responsibility in a comparative negligence case is left for the judge or jury to determine. The defendant has to establish that you, as the plaintiff, were negligent and that your negligence was a significant factor that caused your injuries or damages.
Note that when allocating responsibility for an accident, the judge must ensure that the total percentage of negligence by the plaintiff, defendant, and other non-parties equals 100 percent. Each defendant will owe you an amount based on the percentage of damages for which they are responsible for your harm. The percentage of negligence that you will be assigned depends on how you present your case. So, make sure you have a proficient attorney on your side during trial.
The Issue of Agency in a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Trucking companies have devised various ways to avoid being liable for accidents caused by their drivers. They hire truck drivers as independent contractors because they know they will not be responsible for the driver’s actions or inactions. In case of an accident, the company will assert that the driver is an independent contractor, so they cannot be held liable for the driver’s conduct.
Remember, most truck drivers don’t have money to pay for all your damages, and if you were to sue them alone, the amount recovered would not be enough to pay for your losses. When the trucking company uses the issue of independent contractors to avoid responsibility, your attorney can argue that the truck driver is a de facto employee, which means he or she is a representative of the company. Therefore, the company will be held directly responsible for the negligent hiring of the truck driver that caused your injuries.
The truck driver can only be responsible if he or she was intoxicated before the accident. However, if the company encouraged the driver to violate the law by setting unreasonable targets and tight schedules, it is the company that will take responsibility for your injuries. In these situations, you need to retain the services of the Orange County Personal Injury Attorney because they understand these complex circumstances and know the type of evidence they need to win your lawsuit.
Compensatory damages in truck accidents are categorized as either general or special damages. Special damages include hospital bills, lost wages, reduced earnings, rehabilitation costs, and replacement services. These damages are awarded to help recover all the out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the truck accident.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are those that are difficult to calculate. They include mental anguish, loss of consortium, pain, and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. These damages seek to provide reimbursement for the intangible harm the accident has caused. The number of damages received under general or non-economic damages depends a lot on your characteristics after the harm and the ability of your injury attorney to present your case.
Where the victim of a truck accident succumbs to the injuries, you can file a wrongful death suit against the defendant. If you win your case, you will be reimbursed for funeral and burial costs, doctor’s bills, loss of income, loss of companionship, and financial support.
In case the defendant’s conduct was wrongful or wanton, you could pursue punitive damages to punish him or her and deter others from taking part in similar conduct.
Winning your truck accident case is highly dependent on the time you file the lawsuit. In California, you have two years to register a lawsuit and six months if the defendant is a state or federal government agency. When the timeline elapses, you lose the right to register a suit, so the earlier you act, the better.
Find a Truck Accident Injury Attorney Near Me
To win a truck accident lawsuit, you need an in-depth understanding of trucking industry regulations and personal injury law. The Orange County Personal Injury Attorney understands these regulations and has the resources to investigate your truck accident case. Call us today at 714-876-1959 to arrange a meeting with one of our attorneys.