Typically, trucks are among the biggest and heaviest vehicles traveling on roads. Truck accidents often result in severe damages and severe injuries to whatever and whoever they hit. The injuries incurred after a truck-on-sedan accident are more severe compared to a sedan-on-sedan crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in truck-on-car accidents, approximately 73 percent of all deaths and damages caused to victims are caused by the trucks. Also, truck drivers cause over 55 percent of all accidents. Owing to these facts, you are in a better position or get compensation for harm caused to you and the driver at fault’s negligence. You need the help of a qualified lawyer to know the type of payment available for your damages and how to seek it in court.
At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers help victims get the compensation they deserve. We have a track record for successfully seeking and securing compensation for clients for many years.
From lost wages to wrongful death, brain tumors, back injuries, and emotional trauma, our capable team in Los Angeles, understands the pain and suffering truck crashes cause since we have handled many such cases since we opened doors.
If you, your relative, or someone dear to you gets injured following a truck crash, we want to offer legal counsel and assistance.
Liability and Damages in Truck Accidents
Incurring severe injuries in a truck accident make victims worried about their inability to gain income, performing their daily duties, and settling piling hospital bills. If you are in this kind of situation, looking for a reputable truck accident attorney is a must. They help assess the injuries, damages, and determine liability in the accident.
A lot of your time is consumed in doctor’s visitation and recuperation at home. While you find ways to get back on your feet and take care of your loved ones, your attorney should be representing you and doing the very best of their ability to make sure you receive the rightful compensation.
In Los Angeles, California, the at-fault driver bears the liability for recompensing the victims for harm and damages caused. If you or your injury attorney file a personal injury lawsuit, you take the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the trucking firm or truck operator acted with negligence, causing great harm to you.
Determining liability and obtaining damages in a California truck crash is challenging since there is the possibility that many parties are responsible for the harm and losses you incurred. Your lawyer comes in handy in this situation to gather and safeguard proof of liability.
Factors Influencing the Worth of Your Damages
The court determines the compensation victims receive for losses they incur after truck accidents on a case-to-case basis. Various factors impact the value of your claim and the damages you receive:
- Severity and nature of your injuries. Injuries incurred in a car accident vary in severity. There are slight and life-threatening injuries. Usually, severe injuries limit your ability to resume work compared to slight ones. That means you receive higher compensation than minor injuries
- The dollar value of property damage in the truck crash. Property damage is economic damage that you recover equivalent to the cost of your car damage and repairs
- Your current age and life expectancy
- Your level of income and occupation
- Your medical conditions before the truck accident
Compensation Available for Truck Accident Victims
Under California laws, truck accident victims receive compensatory damages due to the truck driver’s or company’s recklessness or negligence. The court could also impose punitive damages on the at-fault party.
Compensatory damages refer to compensation you receive for harm and losses in an injury claim. These are split into economic and non-economic damages.
These are the types of damages to which one can attach a certain amount of money. Economic or financial damages repay the amount you spend or are supposed to pay out of your pocket for a long time after incurring losses and injuries after a truck accident. Examples of economic damages include:
Present and Future Medical bills
After getting involved in a truck accident, you could have a long recovery phase. The long period could consist of lengthy treatment periods and many months of therapy/ counseling. You can seek and receive compensation for your current medical expenses and those that your doctor predicts you could incur in the future. Examples of future restorative sessions are corrective surgeries and on-going rehabilitation sessions. It is wise to ask your injury lawyer to compute with the help of your doctor, all current and future medical costs you incur.
If your car gets damaged in a road accident due to the truck driver's negligence, you can seek and receive compensation for the damages. The settlement includes the mechanic fees or replacement of spare parts. You could get a vehicle repair expert after the accident to assess the value of the damage. If you incurred severe injuries, your attorney can take over the task and get the estimate on your behalf. Remember to have a quote estimate that is enough to cater for the repair of your car back to its tip-top condition.
How to Prove Property Damage to Your Car
Images of the crash scenes and visible damage to your car involved in the accident are ideal shreds of evidence of property damage. Motorists should carry with them a camera phone, a digital camera, or a disposable camera for those looking for cheaper options.
If your injuries are severe to the extent that you cannot take photos, your attorney or friend can visit the scene and take pictures on your behalf. Noting down the names and contact details of a couple of onlookers is imperative. However, you should avoid talking with them about the details of the crash, apologizing, or admitting fault. The defendant’s lawyer can misconstrue the apology as admitting guilt.
Other information that could help when seeking compensation include:
- Location of the accident scene
- The time when the accident occurred
- The speed of your car and the truck
- The condition of the weather
- The activity of the driver at the time of the accident
Present and Future Lost Wages
The law allows you to seek and receive compensation for lost wages following your truck accident. You can imagine the pain of getting stripped of the ability to work and provide your loved ones with basic needs. Things are worse for victims who are breadwinners with many dependents and live paycheck to paycheck.
If you cannot work due to injuries incurred in a truck accident, especially if the injuries are severe and permanent, you are eligible to receive future lost wages. These are wages you could have earned in the coming months and years if it were not for your permanent or severe injuries.
How to Prove Lost Wages
You and your attorney have various ways you could prove lost wages in the court, and they include:
A Lost-Wages Letter from Your Employer
The letter is the simplest form or lost wages evidence. You should obtain this letter from your employer with information like your job title, the date you began work, and a statement saying you were an employee at the time of your accident. Other vital information your employer should include in the lost wages letter is your current salary, the number of days you missed work following the truck accidents, and what you could have earned were it not for the accident.
Tax Returns and Prior Pay Stubs
There are times when it’s hard to obtain a letter from your employer, you are self-employed, or you have irregular revenue. In these situations, you could prove lost wages through income tax returns or pay stubs. You could use your tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service through filing IRS Form 4506
Lost Vacation Time, Sick Days, And Personal Days
If you used your sick days and vacation to replace missed workdays and doctor appointments, you are eligible for lost wages. If you had not suffered any injuries, you could have used your personal days as you please.
Lost Earning Capacity
Lost earning capacity is the loss of the accident victim’s ability to work and earn a living in the future. The majority confuses this loss with lost wages, which is explained above. Lost wages in California are earnings and income lost from the time the accident occurred to the start of the court case.
Lost earning capacity is considered as the amount you would have received if the accident had not ensued. Lost future income, unlike lost wages, is hard to prove since losses are yet to happen.
Permanent Vs. Temporary Injuries
In California, you are eligible to recover lost future income if your injuries have not healed completely by the date of trial. You need a specialized doctor to assess your condition and give a report that states your health could need further attention in the future whether temporary or permanent.
Permanent injuries need continued treatment; hence, the need to seek compensation for lost future income. With injuries like traumatic brain injuries, the plaintiff cannot work again and still need upkeep and medical attention. You need to hire an aggressive attorney who will chase after your compensation relentlessly.
The Types of Income Comprised In “Lost Earning Capacity”
Per California law, “lost earning capacity” refers to the difference between the income you would have earned if you had no injuries and the earnings you will have enjoy taking your harm into consideration
Examples of revenues included in lost earning capacity are but not limited to:
- Lost benefits and perks like cost-free meals and allowances
- Profit-sharing contributions and 401k
- Income earned through self-employment
- Overtime remuneration
What Affects Damages Computation
There are factors that the jury considers when calculating lost earning capacity. They include:
- From your doctor’s report, the length of time your injuries could take to heal
- The ability or inability to resume work and official duty
- Your life expectancy prior to the accident
- The number of years remaining to reach your retirement age
- Your health status before the date of the truck accident
- Your level on income before the truck accident ensued
- The type of income you receive – whether based on performance or fixed
- The terms and conditions of your employer. You must produce a signed agreement
- Your employer’s policies like raises, promotions, and benefits
- Available promotion potential in your career field
- Your career interests and long-term goals
- Your evident talents and work-performance report
In California, you don’t have to be earning to seek compensation for lost earning capacity. You could be, for instance, undertaking a bachelor's degree in nursing when you get involved in a truck accident. Your lawyer could argue in court that your goals are working in a nursing home for the aged.
Your doctor could tell the court that you had a surgical procedure on your knee, and you cannot perform activities that cause stress on the knee. Since working with the aging and aged calls for physical mobility and agility, it is evident that your knee injury could compromise your ability to earn a living in the future.
Proving “Lost Earning Capacity” In California
California law requires that future lost earnings should be realistic in an injury lawsuit. Your proof of income before the truck accident is vital, together with other papers like employment letter, salary statements, and tax returns for the previous year.
The law allows different parties to offer proof of your lost ability to earn future income. These include:
- Your employer. Your employer can provide testimony concerning your role, performance, strengths, opportunities of promotion, and past responsibilities at work
- Your doctor. Your physician and nurse could testify about your health status before and after the truck accident. they should also explain hour your injuries impact your ability to resume work
- An expert economist. You need an economist to determine salary trends in your career field and expected salary range in the future
- A vocational rehabilitation expert. Under California law, witnesses are not needed to claim future lost earnings. If need be, a rehabilitation specialist could testify concerning the therapy you would need and if you can resume official duties. The expert can also tell the court the date when you can return to work per their specialized assessment
- Colleagues, relatives, and friends. If you have people close enough to you can tell the court about you before you incurred injuries in the truck crash. Things they could talk about include activities, interests, and life goals
Unlike economic losses, non-economic damages don’t entail out-of-pocket costs. These kinds of losses are subjective, and they include:
Pain and Suffering
After getting involved and incurring injuries and other losses in a truck accident, you could suffer severe pain and suffering. You are eligible per California law to get compensation for undergoing the pain and suffering. The court could award compensation for experiencing depression, mental anguish, PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), and bodily pain.
No statute caps the amount of compensation you could receive for pain and suffering in California. Also, the courts find it hard to place a monetary value on this compensation. Therefore, the jury makes a ruling based on your current condition.
Also known as mental suffering, emotional distress developing after a truck accident includes shock, mortification, worry, grief, humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, and terror.
A truck accident could be very traumatic and leave long life effects on your psyche. Determining a dollar value to emotional stress is hard and mainly performed as a subjective process. You need the help of a qualified attorney to compute such kinds of non-economic damage accurately.
Loss Of “Consortium”
You could lose your spouse’s or intimate partner’s affection and sexual attraction after incurring injuries in a truck accident. The loss of compassion is known as loss of consortium in legal terms. The court awards compensation for the loss of physical intimacy, consortium, and companionship in a truck accident case to the unharmed spouse and not the injured one. Note that your spouse cannot receive the damages before you can recover damages for the harm caused to you.
If the accident victim succumbs due to injuries, the surviving relatives are eligible to seek compensation for the loss of companionship and society. However, before awarding the damages to the family members of the deceased, the judge must establish that:
- The dead had a peaceful relationship with the surviving relatives before the accident
- The effect of the victim’s death towards the plaintiff(s)
Truck accidents are catastrophic and could easily cause disfigurement to victims. Disfigurement could include permanent scars on visible parts of the body. Often, these scars affect the appearance of a person and could lead to emotional distress.
California law under Civil Code 3294 allows victims of truck accidents to receive punitive damages. Also known as exemplary damages, punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party as a lesson to other wrongdoers. Another purpose of punitive damages is to punish truck companies and drivers who act with negligence, malice, intent to cause injuries, and recklessness. The court could impose both punitive and compensatory damages to the defendant.
What Is “Malice” Under California Law?
Per Civil Code 3294(c), malice refers to an act that a defendant performs with the intent to cause harm to their victim. The accused acts willfully and knowingly with total disregard of safety, life, and rights of others.
How to Get Punitive Damages in California?
When you request the granting of punitive damages, you bear the burden of providing evidence in court. You are required to show proof of malice with a high chance of probability.
There are two ways in which the court determines punitive damages. One method is in a similar proceeding with the defendant's liability. The other process is where the accused requests the case to be bifurcated or split and tried discreetly.
If the jury allows the bifurcation request, there is no hearing of the financial situation of the accused until the injury victim wins the lawsuit, and the accused is considered guilty. After this, the judge decides what punitive damages to impose on the defendant based on the evidence brought forth concerning their finances.
Determining the Punitive Damages to Impose on a Defendant
The law does not have a conventional manner in which the jury determines the punitive damages to impose on at-fault parties. However, there are factors that judges use to determine punitive damages to award and they include:
- The link between the injuries the victim incurs and the punitive damages
- Whether the accused acted in a guilty manner
- The punitive damages that are suitable to punish the at-fault party and daunt future repetition of negligence and reckless behavior. The jury must consider the present financial status of the defendant before awarding the damages
The Cap on Punitive Damages in California
There is no Californian statute that details the limit of punitive damages in a personal injury suit. However, according to the Fourteenth Amendment, it is unlawful to impose irrational or excessive punitive damages. Further, the United Supreme Court ruled that there must be a realistic relationship between compensatory and punitive damages imposed on the defendants.
Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me
If you incur injuries and losses in a Los Angeles truck accident, talk to personal injury lawyers at The LA Personal Injury Law Firm as soon as possible to learn about the available and possible compensation options.
We have A-class truck accident lawyers on standby and ready to discuss with you ideal damages you could seek and recover fully. We take pride in helping clients receive the highest compensation available. With this compensation, you have the ability to get back on your feet after the accident.
Our experienced attorneys have assisted many clients in securing compensation for losses and damages they incurred through the strategic use of legal prowess, resources, and in-depth knowledge of the insurance industry. Our clients have received favorable verdicts and payments thanks to our lawyers’ unmatched skills. Feel free to schedule an appointment today at 310-935-0089.