If you are involved in an accident with a truck, you likely sustain significant injuries and damages. As a result, you incur costs seeking treatment for them and repairing your vehicle, among other expenses. A common question you would ask yourself the type of compensation available when you become hit by a truck.
Recoverable damages when hit by a truck are both economic and non-economic. With a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, you can pursue damages through the at-fault party's insurance provider. Seeking damages can sometimes be complicated and frustrating. However, an experienced lawyer can help you navigate through the challenges and triumph over the issue.
Overview of Compensation Elements in Trucking Accident
California's civil laws allow truck accident victims to recover damages or losses resulting from a negligent party's actions. If a truck hits you, you can recover both economic and non-economic expenses you incur as a result. For every accident involving a truck, compensatory damages are available. Sometimes, if the accident resulted from gross negligence on the driver's part, the court can award punitive damages to punish their behavior.
Compensatory damages vary from one case to another. This means the amount you would recover in damages differs from what the next person will. Various circumstances contribute to the available damages, and they include:
The severity of the injuries sustained
The period you would need to recover or heal from the injuries
The possible effects to your future and that of your family or impact on your family if you die
Your level of income
Your life expectancy
How skillful your attorney is
The cost of repairing property damaged by the accident or the value of the property
After a truck hits you, you can pursue your damages by raising a claim with their insurance provider or having your lawyer file a lawsuit to seek the losses. An out of court settlement is common after you agree with the party liable for the damages you have incurred. Irrespective of how your claim becomes settled, the same principles are followed in determining the worth of a case.
Before you accept any insurance company settlement, you must be sure of your claim's value to enable you to make sustainable decisions. Knowing the value of damages you have suffered is critical in deciding whether to accept the offer from the insurance provider or not.
Your skilled attorney is always at hand to help you determine the value of your claim. One of the most significant expenses is medical bills. However, this depends on the severity of the injuries, as earlier stated. Before presenting your claim to the insurance adjuster, a comprehensive report from your attending physician is critical. This report outlines the treatment procedures carried out, their cost, cost of drugs, doctor's bill, and any other costs related to the treatment of your injuries.
If you had a car when the truck hit you, the vehicle must sustain damages. The cost of its repair or the value of its replacement must be in your claim. While attaching all these essential documents to your request, adding photos of your injuries and the car's damage is necessary.
During your recovery period, you are likely to miss days of work and lose your income. In this case, you must attach a letter from your employer indicating your wages and what you stand to lose each day you are not at work.
All these and other documents necessary in your claim must be attached to know how much to expect. An important thing to always remember is never inflating your claim because the insurance adjuster always investigates a claim before making an offer. If found to have raised your request or lied about the extent of the damage, you can face insurance fraud charges.
Obtaining your Claim
You can obtain your claim for damages in various ways. Almost always following an accident where the truck driver or other party is at fault, their insurance provider will offer a settlement. However, before they do, they will want to find out from you what happened. When insurance adjusters, from your insurance provider or the other party's insurance, call you, avoid any discussion with them and instead refer them to your lawyer.
An essential element to note is that insurance adjusters work for the insurance companies meaning their loyalty is to them and not to you. Insurance providers are in the business of making profits and will do anything to protect their bottom line. This means if an adjuster can hear anything from you that could reduce their settlement or cause them to deny it, the better for them. Because of this, avoiding a conversation with them is critical for a successful claim.
After your lawyer has compiled the necessary documents, the insurance adjuster is presented with a copy of your request. The insurance company typically asks for a few days to access your claim and give their feedback. During this time, they also carry out investigations to ascertain if the request is genuine or not. Afterward, they will contact your lawyer with any of the answers below:
The insurance company will agree to your claim and offer to settle or
The insurance adjuster will make a counteroffer to your claim or
The insurance company will deny the request entirely or say you are partially to blame for the accident
The best outcome is always when they accept your claim and offer a settlement. If a counteroffer is made, the amount may be below your expectations and may not adequately cover your losses. In this case, your lawyer will engage in negotiations with the insurance adjuster until a favorable settlement is reached.
If your lawyer fails in the negotiations as expected or the insurance company denies your claim, you can file a petition through the court to receive your compensation. Once your lawyer files a petition, the insurance company is informed to allow them to respond. The court also issues a hearing date where both sides present their arguments.
With evidence, your lawyer will argue why you deserve the damages you claim. Expert statements or testimony is also heavily relied upon to earn you the desirable damages. On the other hand, the insurance company may argue you were to blame for the accident or partially responsible for it. If their argument convinces the jury that you were entirely responsible for the crash, your claim is denied, and you may be asked to pay the other party.
If, on the other hand, you are partially responsible for the truck hitting you, the jury will apportion blame according to your degree or percentage of responsibility. California, besides adhering to the theory of at-fault, comparative negligence theory is also followed. This means that even when you are found partially responsible, you will recover damages according to your responsibility percentage.
What You should do When a Truck Hits You
When a truck hits you, there are things that you need to do to enhance your receiving damages. Evidence plays a vital role in earning damages. After you become hit if you can move from your car to a safe distance, even as you do, help any other person that may have been involved in the accident if you can. Secondly, call for help.
When you dial 911, the operator on the other side will want to know the accident's details. This will involve your current location, where you were moving from or towards, how many people were in the accident, injuries sustained if you know them, any fatalities, and any other critical information. You must patiently answer these questions because they help provide the best assistance to every accident victim.
Next, engage the driver of the truck and obtain their details. This includes their insurance providers, their truck registration, model, and make. The contact details or address of the driver are also critical to have. If the truck driver is not the truck owner, obtain details of the trucking company as well. Remember to minimize your conversation at the accident scene with witnesses or the other victims, especially the other driver. If you apologize for the accident, it may mean you accept responsibility for it.
Sometimes the truck driver will blame you for the accident and come at you aggressively. Despite the pressure, do not accept responsibility or apologize in any way. Instead, move a safe distance and stay safe until help arrives. As you wait for assistance, take photos of the scene with your phone. Ensure to capture different angles and the surrounding. Pictures help reconstruct the accident scene and determine the at-fault party.
After the police arrive at the scene, you must cooperate with them. Never leave the accident scene until officers come unless you are going to the hospital. If the paramedics arrive before and need immediate medical care, your life is more important, and will not face hit and run charges. The police have a mandate to establish the cause of the accident in their report. One of the critical things they check is if any drivers were impaired by drugs or alcohol. Your cooperation is vital in your claim when asked to submit to a breathalyzer test or chemical test.
After you are in a stable condition in a day or two, you must inform your insurance provider of the accident or have your lawyer tell them. When you follow all these, it becomes easier to pursue your damages. However, this does not mean that your claim is weak if you are unable to do any of these. The injuries you sustain can be severe to the extent that you would go into a comma, are unable to gather any evidence, and worse, death. Regardless of the outcome, the police report and a skilled personal injury attorney is sufficient to help with your claim.
Types of Compensations Available when a Truck Hits You
Earlier, we mentioned that damages in a trucking accident are categorized into two. Economic damages are also known as financial damages. These involve all the costs you incur following the accident and are quantifiable. You can again recover non-economic damages following a trucking accident. These are damages where their value is unknown, but various factors are considered in determining them.
When a truck hits you, some of the economic damages you would recover include:
It is almost impossible to escape medical bills when you have been hit by a truck. If the truck driver or the trucking company was negligent and responsible for the accident, they must restore or compensate you for the money used in treating the injuries. Sometimes, your injuries may be life-altering or affect you for an extended period. This means you will incur costs in treating these injuries in the future. With your lawyer, you can seek damages for any future costs in treating your injuries.
Your claim must include your total bills incurred so far and any future bills as estimated by the doctor and contained in their report. If you petition the court for your damages, your doctor's report and receipts are critical in determining the damages you recover.
But, costs for medical treatment for the future may be difficult to calculate. Many lawyers advise reaching your maximum recovery for medical expenses before seeking future damages. At this point, if your condition has not improved significantly, it may mean it may not improve with much later requiring more medical care.
Before the damages are awarded, you must support your claim with evidence. This includes:
A detailed doctor's report on your injuries
Copies of the medical bills you have incurred
Copies of any medical procedures carried out and their results
Your medical record or reports at least for five years before the accident
A witness statement preferably signed by them
Your insurance provider's account of the accident
The report by the police regarding the accident
Photos of the accident scene and of the injuries you sustained where possible
With all these supporting documents, the insurance provider is unlikely to deny your claim. However, should they reject you, the same evidence is presented in court to recover your costs.
When a truck hits you and sustains injuries, you will likely stay away from gainful work until you recover. During this time, you will lose income, referred to as wages. The recoverable damages under this claim include:
Your standard salary or pay
Commissions and bonuses
If you are self-employed, the income you lose as a result
To support your claim, you must provide evidence of the income you earned before the accident occurred. If the injuries were minor and you missed work for a few days, the pay you would have made is calculated and reimbursed. Some evidence that is critical to present when claiming lost wages includes:
If you are self-employed, your tax returns billings must be attached
Your payment stubs
A report on the missed workdays
A testimony from an economic expert
Contract of your employment
Bonus, commission, and overtime policy by your employer
Evidence that you are eligible for overtime, bonuses, and commission
A letter detailing your job from your employer
When you claim for lost wages, you earn compensation for the losses you incur due to the injuries by missing work and any future earnings you may lose due to the injuries sustained.
Lost Earning Capacity
Under this claim, the earnings you are likely to lose in the future due to your injuries are compensated. Sometimes, injuries when a truck hits you, it can be catastrophic, mostly if you were a pedestrian. The impact of the crash on a motorist can also be significant enough to result in devastating injuries. Some of these injuries may include traumatic brain injuries, injuries to your spine, and any other injuries that may alter your life.
Claims for lost earnings will have you reimbursed for:
The income you would receive if you had not sustained the injuries that left you unable to work again
The possible income you would earn if you had not been hurt
The process of calculating your future earnings is complicated compared to lost wages. An economic or forensic accountant will be required to project your future earnings. Your doctor's report outlining how the injuries hinder you from working is also critical.
If you were driving and a truck hits you, it is likely your property, in this case, your car will sustain damage as well. Trucks are much more prominent in size than regular vehicles, and a forceful impact from them causes significant damage to your vehicle.
If your car was damaged following the accident, you could claim reimbursement for the cost of repairing it or replacing it. The market value of the vehicle must, however, be established and documented to earn your costs.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
If a loved one dies due to the trucking accident, the family will incur funeral and burial costs. Under the compensation laws of California, these damages are compensable upon presenting evidence of the expenditure.
Medical Bills before Death
If following the accident, a loved one sustained injuries that had to be treated, but unfortunately, they died from them, the cost of treatment before death is compensable. Your lawyer will attach the medical bills that include doctor's fees, cost of medical procedures, and medications, among others.
Besides the economic damages, the compensation law allows victims of trucking accidents to recover non-economic damages. These damages have no known value and are primarily based on the severity of your injuries and the economic damages you receive. Some of these damages include:
These are damages awarded to your spouse or partner if your injuries left you incapable of providing the love and companionship you previously did.
Pain and Suffering
Injuries following a trucking accident can be painful and cause you unimaginable suffering. Although one cannot quantify the value of the pain and your suffering, the law allows compensation. The amount compensated varies from one victim to the next, depending on the injuries sustained. If you sustained life-altering injuries and another suffered a broken limb, the value of your pain and suffering is different.
A forceful impact by a truck can result in you losing a body part, mostly a limb. The value of a limb or body part is not known. However, if your injuries resulted in you losing your limb, you will receive damages for that.
These claims, among others, are not easy to arrive at, and their calculation is subjective. The proof you present in court goes a long way in determining your non-economic damages. A testimony from a counselor working with you is crucial in showing the pain you suffer.
Truck accidents, due to their impact, can result in fatalities. If a loved one was hit by a truck and died from the injuries, you could receive compensation for their life. Like other non-economic damages, this damage is not quantifiable, meaning many considerations are taken to determine life's value.
Before awarding the non-economic damages, the jury will consider the following:
The extent of the injuries contributes to the amount you receive in non-economic damages. If your injuries were more substantial, leaving you with permanent disabilities, scars, or lost bodily functions, the amount will be significant.
The long term effect of your injuries is also considered before awarding non-economic damages. If your injuries will take time to heal or are permanent, your compensation is higher.
Your age is a contributing factor to the damages you receive as well. If you had a high life expectancy and at a young age, the settlement you receive is higher.
The evidence you provide significantly contributes to your non-economic damages. If you have photos of the accident scene and your injuries, the jury may sympathize with you and award you more in damages.
These types of damages are not available in all trucking accidents. The damages are not compensatory but aim to punish the party responsible for the accident and warn others against doing the same. For instance, if the truck hits you because the driver was intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, the court can award you punitive damages to punish the driver and deter other drivers from drunk driving.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
The journey of recovering from truck accident injuries is a difficult one. Some injuries require the victim to make adjustments in their lives, including financial, psychological, or physical ones. The inconvenience of the injuries affects even your family and sometimes results in a permanent need for care.
Fortunately, the law allows you to seek compensation to restore you to your former financial state before the accident. A lawyer is critical in the process of pursuing your damages to protect your rights. At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we understand the pain of a truck accident and will passionately help you pursue your damages. Call us at 424-237-3600 and allow us to help you with your claim.