Following an accident that someone else caused, you will need to file an insurance claim to recover the compensation that you deserve. These claims are frustrating in any situation, but this is additionally true when it comes to commercial policies, simply because of the sheer complexity of a commercial motor vehicle insurance policy. Working with a San Diego truck accident attorney is one of the best ways that you can move forward with confidence towards compensation that you truly deserve.
Several details will need to be investigated to determine what happened in the truck accident. Commercial truck drivers are required to maintain meticulous logs of their travels to prove their compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, such as their hours of service limitations, maintenance requirements, weight limits, and more. In addition, there may be data from a “black box” that records information such as when the driver applied their brakes, the speed they were traveling at, and more, as well as footage from dashboard cameras, traffic cameras, and eyewitness accounts.
Each of these individual pieces of information will need to be pulled into our investigation to piece together a comprehensive understanding of what happened leading up to your accident. To make the most sense of this information, it is helpful to have a history of professional experience dealing with truck accidents and insurance claims processes, like the team San Diego truck accident attorney at our law firm.
Who is Responsible for Your Truck Accident?
Trucking accidents in San Diego differ from two-car collisions in many ways, due to the severity of the injuries as well as the fact that there may be more than one defendant.
The truck driver may have been at fault, negligent, distracted, or driven recklessly. The trucking company may be liable for hiring an inexperienced driver or allowing the driver to exceed the legal number of driving hours.
If the truck is independently owned, then the owner could be at fault, as well as the leasing company, or even the owner of the trailer. The truck may have been poorly maintained, resulting in an accident, or the truck—or specific parts of the truck—could have a defect in the design. Even the company responsible for loading the truck could be held liable for a trucking accident if the unsecured or improperly secured cargo was the cause of the accident.
Typical Injuries Associated with Truck Accidents
Those who survive a truck accident with an 18-wheeler are likely to be left with extreme injuries that could take months, years, or even a lifetime to heal—if they heal at all.
Common injuries sustained in a truck accident often include:
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Spinal cord injuries,
- Limb amputation,
- Internal injuries, and
- Broken bones
Victims of truck accidents may wonder whether their life will ever return to anything remotely resembling normal. They may be unable to work, therefore unable to provide for their family and pay even the most basic living expenses.
The trauma of colliding with a huge commercial truck can also leave victims with serious emotional issues, including PTSD, severe depression, and chronic insomnia. Many victims of a trucking accident find it difficult—if not impossible—to ever get behind the wheel of their vehicle again. In addition, enduring the pain and suffering of your injuries can have serious, long-term impacts on things like your ability to enjoy your hobbies, and even get out of bed in the morning.
Calculating Damages After a San Diego Truck Accident
Lawyer Vikas Bajaj has years of experience helping clients just like you seek fair compensation after a personal injury, and you can count on our law firm to do the necessary work to fight for fair payment – whether directly from the trucking company or through their commercial insurance policy. Personal injury law sets clear guidelines on what an injury victim may seek compensation for, but even so, the process of getting the money that you deserve can be frustrating as the insurance company continues to counter with a lower offer.
The following is a brief overview of how personal injury damages are calculated:
Economic damages are the basis of your claim and include the most obvious and simple to calculate damages such as your medical bills and impacts on your income. Medical bills include things like hospital stays at a San Diego facility, ambulance rides, and procedure costs, but extend to smaller expenses such as copayments, prescriptions, assistive devices, and anything else directly related to your accident and your recovery. Lost wages, missed time at work, and impacts on your long-term earning capacity are all covered under injury law, and we will need to look closely at the situation to ensure that we are calculating a fair amount for these damages.
Economic damages are repaid 1 to 1, meaning that we will not attempt to seek any sort of multiplier or additional payment for these expenses.
Non-economic damages are much more complicated to calculate, and any San Diego insurance company is much more likely to push back on these damages before they start in on your economic damages. This is because non-economic damages seek compensation for abstract issues such as the emotional impacts of your accident, the pain and suffering of your injuries, and the psychological damage that such a traumatic experience has on a victim.
Injury lawyers have a range of tools at their disposal when it comes to calculating these types of damages, including the “multiplier” method. With this method, you and your San Diego lawyer will lay out all of the non-economic damages that you have suffered, and choose a number along a scale (typically from 0 – 5) to indicate their severity. This number will then be multiplied against your economic damages to quantify your damages into financially-recoverable terms.
Fatigued Driving and Truck Accidents
As of 2012, truck drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours following 10 consecutive hours off-duty, or a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off-duty, and may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
Those who have ever driven eleven hours at a stretch know just how exhausting it can be, yet truck drivers drive these hours, day in and day out. Furthering the problem is the fact that truck drivers often keep two sets of logbooks—one to show to DOT in the event they are stopped, and the “real” set. This is such a widespread problem that logbooks are often known as “comic books” among those in the industry.
Truck drivers only get paid for the time they are behind the wheel, on the road, therefore their motivation is simple—a bigger paycheck at the end of the month. Trucking companies may turn a blind eye to the issue because the faster loads are turned around, the more money they make.
Fatigue is an extremely dangerous issue, however, and many believe it is responsible for a significant number of truck accidents with the U.S. Department of Transportation declaring driver fatigue a “leading factor” in collisions. Many truck drivers arrive to, depart, and pass through San Diego daily, meaning that there is a constant threat of tired truck drivers on the San Diego roadways, no matter how many regulations are restrictions are in place meant to combat this very real risk to public safety.
Distracted Driving: Just as Dangerous for Truck Drivers
Distracted driving is fast moving up to the number two spot as a cause of San Diego truck accidents, following fatigued driving. Visual distractions occur when the driver takes his eyes from the road, whether to look at a cell phone, look at the radio while changing stations, search for an item in the truck, or look at something happening on the side of the road. Manual distraction occurs when the hands are taken from the wheel.
Truck drivers often eat while driving, meaning their hands are engaged in a task other than driving. Cognitive distractions occur when the driver is thinking of something other than the road and the drivers ahead, behind, and on either side. When a driver spends up to 10 or 11 hours a day, it can be easy for them to get distracted and let their minds wander, and there is ample time for them to fall prey to the allure of engaging in other activities while on the road. No matter how many times they can engage in one of these behaviors without causing an accident, though, the risk is always high, and this behavior is very dangerous.
Daydreaming, listening to music with headphones on, talking on a cell phone, or concentrating on a conversation with a passenger are forms of cognitive distraction. Truck drivers are, perhaps even more prone to distracted driving than other drivers, simply because of the sheer number of hours spent behind the wheel.
Call our San Diego Truck Accident Attorney Today!
A knowledgeable San Diego Truck Accident Attorney can thoroughly evaluate your case, determining who should be held accountable. Your truck accident lawyer will work hard on your behalf to ensure you receive an equitable settlement that fully covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Experience is a key factor in your eventual settlement; your San Diego truck accident lawyers will be accustomed to handling lawsuits with multiple defendants and will know who to target in your truck accident. If you want to be able to look to your future, while being able to deal with your injuries and the pain and trauma of your truck accident, having a personal injury lawyer in your corner is essential.