Being involved in a traffic accident can be a harrowing experience, but this is especially true when the accident involves a collision between you and a truck. Because of the size and weight of such vehicles, these types of accidents often cause great amounts of property damage, in addition to serious injuries and even fatalities. After surviving a trucking accident, it can be difficult to determine how best to proceed, especially considering the expenses and healing you have ahead of you. The first thing you’ll want to do is seek immediate medical attention, ensuring that any injuries sustained at the scene don’t have the opportunity to worsen or become fatal. Your health is an absolute priority.
However, it’s also important to exchange insurance information with the truck driver involved, and you should obtain documentation of the scene if possible, including photographs of the damage. Once you are in a more stable condition, you’ll have to begin the arduous process of working with the insurance companies. Unfortunately, companies often make decisions that help them maximize their own individual profits, making them less likely to give you a fair payment.
The lack of support from insurance paired with the costs of medical services you’ve received is likely to place a significant financial burden on you at a time when you’re particularly vulnerable, exacerbating the situation. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed at the thought. Fortunately, a San Diego truck accident attorney can draw on their years of experience and knowledge to answer any questions you might have and provide you with some much-needed legal guidance regarding what sorts of options you have at your disposal.
Can I Sue for Being Hit by a Semi-Truck?
If you were injured in an accident involving a truck and were not responsible for said accident, you could file a personal injury case for damages resulting from the collision. In addition, even if you were partially at fault, you may still be able to file for damages, given that California has a comparative fault law that allows claims to be made in the event of partial responsibility. One of the first steps in moving forward with filing a claim is determining liability, as with truck accidents, there is often the question of whether the responsibility for the collision lies with the individual driver or the trucking company. Once this has been determined, you can start to consider what sorts of damages you might be eligible for. After all, there are all sorts of negative impacts that can result from such an event, and you deserve to be compensated for those impacts. Generally speaking, three categories of damages can be claimed.
The first category is expenses that are easily quantifiable, generally involving physical damages, both to your person and your property. This would include any bills from medical procedures, any medical equipment, and physical therapy services. This would also include any costs related to vehicle repairs or if the vehicle cannot be salvaged, vehicle replacement. If you require mental health services due to mental or emotional trauma, the cost of such services can be claimed as well. Finally, you can claim any lost wages while you were in the process of recovery.
The second is expenses that are less material and quantifiable, such as pain and suffering or a loss of enjoyment of life. This might also include mental health issues that impact your life, such as a fear of traffic incidents so severe that it prevents you from driving. While this category can be more difficult to claim, an experienced personal injury attorney can help employ certain methods to translate these losses into an actual monetary figure.
Finally, the third category is losses of potential. These can also be difficult to quantify because they involve hypothetical scenarios and some amount of speculation. Types of damages that would fall under this category include the loss of future earnings or a reduced quality of life and are usually claimed when your injuries include permanent disfigurement or disabilities. Again, a practiced attorney can assist in ensuring that these are properly assessed and included in your case if applicable.
Do Semi-Truck Accidents Go to Trial?
Before going to trial, the insurance adjusters working on behalf of the responsible party are likely to come forward with a settlement offer. This starts the process of negotiations. During this process, you can work with your attorney to verify whether the amount offered is appropriate and how to make a counter-offer effectively if necessary. While some number of exchanges may be necessary to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution, the truth is that most cases involving semi-trucks are settled outside of court. A key to finding success during the settlement process is relying on the legal expertise of a San Diego trucking injury lawyer. In fact, the Insurance Research Council found that settlements made with the assistance of a personal injury attorney were, on average, 40% larger.
That being said, insurance companies are frequently motivated to pay as little as possible and ultimately may decide to remain firm with their offer, regardless of how unsuitable or unfair it might be. When this occurs, the next step is to proceed with litigation. The biggest risk with litigation is that if the jury decides to favor the defendant, you could lose the case and walk away without any compensation. That’s why it’s critical to work with an experienced San Diego trucking accidents attorney who can ensure you have a solid case backed by ample, irrefutable evidence.
What Do You Do If You Get Hit by an 18-Wheeler?
As stated previously, in the immediate aftermath of an accident, you should document the scene to the best of your ability, ensure that you have obtained the other driver’s insurance and contact information, and sought out medical assistance. But another thing you should consider is getting in touch with a San Diego trucking injury lawyer. While you focus on recovery, your lawyer can continue working on the investigation, ensuring that there is proper documentation of the incident to prove who was responsible for the accident and what damages were sustained.
Your attorney can also provide you some guidance regarding getting medical attention from all the relevant professionals, as they are familiar with the most commonly missed or overlooked types of injuries. Once your lawyer is involved, they can help you navigate through the rest of the process. Unfortunately, it is possible to make seemingly innocent mistakes early on that could negatively affect your chances of being awarded any amount of compensation later. That’s why it is absolutely critical to tread with care and speak to your attorney as soon as possible.
What Common Mistakes Should You Avoid If You Are Hit by a Semi Truck?
Being involved in a collision with a truck can be an extremely shocking, disorienting experience, and it can be difficult to remember what to do next. However, some of the choices made at this stage could significantly hurt your case later. Here are some of the more commonly made mistakes you should try to avoid after being involved in a truck accident:
Failing to Get Any Contact Information
It may seem like a small detail at the time, but failing to clarify the truck driver’s identity and contact information can cost you greatly later. A big part of proving liability is the ability to confirm the identity of the driver, as well as the trucking company that employs them. Without this information, it can be very difficult to submit a successful claim.
Deciding Not to Seek Medical Care Right Away
Not only is it extremely critical for your own health and safety to seek immediate medical attention, as you could be suffering from internal bleeding or other hidden injuries, it also helps to bolster the integrity of your case. The longer you wait before going to a doctor, the easier it is for the opposition to claim that your injuries were overall superficial or not as serious as you claim or that injuries were sustained elsewhere and were not the result of the accident. Failing to follow up with any prescribed medical treatment can also hurt your case by making it seem like your injuries are, in reality, quite trivial and not in need of further treatment.
Admitting Fault at the Scene
Even if you believe you were responsible, it’s important not to make any statements at the scene, especially regarding culpability. During an accident, many things happen in a short span of time, and from your position, you only have access to a limited amount of information. This can give you a very skewed perspective and make you feel like you were responsible for the accident when, in reality, that may not have been the case. Unfortunately, making such a statement can derail your entire case, even if it turns out not to be true. This is why it is generally best to avoid giving any statement until you have had time to confer with your attorney.
Failing to Preserve Evidence
Any evidence that isn’t successfully captured via photographs, videos, written statements, and other forms of documentation won’t be taken into consideration, so it’s crucial to compile and preserve as much of it as possible. Evidence is what ultimately helps determine who is responsible for the collision, as well as how to best quantify and validate the damages you’re requesting. One way to help protect you from this misstep is to submit a spoliation letter intended for the trucking company. This essentially serves as an official notice of your claim and an order to preserve any evidence named within the letter, successfully preventing the company from destroying any materials that could support your case.
Speaking With an Insurance Adjuster or Trucking Company Representative
Every conversation had with members of the insurance company or trucking company can later be used against you, and it’s very easy for seemingly innocuous statements to be made to seem damning when the context is removed. Keep in mind that their goal is to minimize how much they will have to pay as part of their settlement and resolve the situation as quickly as possible. If there is any chance that they can use your own words to have the case dismissed, they will do so. Instead, speak to your attorney first before speaking to any other parties.
Settling Too Quickly
It can be tempting to simply accept the first settlement offer made by the insurance company. At a glance, the figure might seem significant, and you are likely to feel eager for the entire ordeal to be over, which in turn adds more pressure to accept. Unfortunately, it is very easy for the cost of your recovery to skyrocket far above your initial expectations or for you to face other more long-term financial impacts, such as losing a job. After accepting that initial offer, you might discover that the amount isn’t nearly as helpful as you once thought it would be. That is why it’s important to thoroughly discuss what damages apply to your case with an attorney, giving you a much clearer perspective regarding what amounts you are owed and what sort of an offer could be considered fair. At the same time, your attorney can also go over what amounts you can realistically expect based on the evidence you have to support your claims, ensuring that you don’t say no to a great offer and risk walking away with nothing.
Reach Out to an Experienced San Diego Trucking Accidents Attorney Today
If you or a loved one sustained severe injuries due to a trucking collision, you are entitled to receive compensation to cover any related expenses and costs associated with the incident. At Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates, our team has over 20 years of extensive experience handling all sorts of personal injury cases, including truck-related accidents. Whether you’re looking to learn more about these cases, have specific questions that need to be addressed, or would like to schedule a free consultation to look into the viability of your case, contact our skilled personal injury attorneys.