After a truck accident, you are left with severe injuries to nurse and financial losses to deal with. It is essential to know what to do to recover your damages if you feel that the truck driver or truck company was responsible for your injuries. If so, you can file a lawsuit against the responsible party in a civil court. You could also seek an out-of-court settlement with the responsible party's insurance provider. If you have compelling evidence against the alleged at-fault party, the court will grant your petition and order the responsible party to compensate you.
Personal injury lawsuits are not always straightforward. It is advisable to seek a personal injury attorney's help and guidance to overcome some of the unforeseen challenges. The right attorney will advise, guide, and also help you file a strong lawsuit against the allegedly responsible party for a favorable outcome. But first, it is crucial to understand the types of damages available in your situation.
Damages Available After Personal Injury Truck Accident
Accidents involving trucks can result in severe injuries that could be expensive and take a longer time to heal. The entire burden goes to the victim, who may have to dig deep into their pockets to pay for their treatment. The victim also has to deal with other losses, for instance, missed opportunities to make money, job loss, and car repair. That is why the law is in place for negligent parties to pay compensation to victims who incur damages due to their negligence. With the payment received, victims can pay for their medical treatment and cater to their financial needs before recovering fully from their injuries.
However, the alleged victim has first to prove that their injuries are a direct result of the accident. Secondly, they need to verify that the alleged at-fault party negligently caused the accident. The plaintiff has to demonstrate in court how the cause of the accident points towards negligence by the driver or trucking company. Here, an expert will be required to provide sufficient proof, to strengthen the plaintiff's case. Determining the cause of the accident is one way in which the plaintiff can establish liability. If there is evidence that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident or the truck was poorly maintained, the task of proving fault will be easy for your attorney.
In California, fault in any motor vehicle accident is based on negligence. A negligent driver or trucking company will be responsible for other drivers, pedestrians, or passengers for any damages they incur if he/she caused an accident. Driver or trucking company negligence can be demonstrated in several ways, including driving while fatigued, speeding, intoxicated driving, and improper loading of the truck. A driver or company that fails to show care while discharging its duties will be considered negligent. If their negligence caused others to incur losses, the negligent party would be held responsible.
California civil courts award damages to successful plaintiffs for an amount related to both tangible and intangible damages. Damages are available in three main categories, namely:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages
The value of damages is dependent on several factors, including the nature of the accident and the responsible party's degree of fault. A severe accident would have resulted in more severe injuries and sometimes death. The value of damages in an accident like this will be higher than damages in a less-severe accident. Additionally, there are instances in which the accident victim is partially to blame for the accident. Following California's Comparative Negligence Law, the responsible party will only be held accountable for their percentage of fault in the accident. The degree of fault, in this case, will be determined by the judge after going through the evidence tabled in court.
Economic damages will help you recover all financial losses you must have incurred in the truck accident. They refer to the substantial damages that you can easily quantify. Recovering economic damages will help you cater to all financial needs necessitated by your accident. The value of these damages doesn't change; the court awards the exact amount of losses you have incurred in the accident. Some of the economic damages you can include in your personal injury claim include:
They comprise the past, current, and future medical-related expenses, including the emergency care you received right after the accident, the hospital visits you have had to make since the accident, and any ongoing treatment you need for a full recovery. After an accident, it is advisable to seek medical treatment right away to ensure that your physical injuries are treated on time. Sometimes a person doesn't feel the need to seek medical help immediately after the accident. This may affect your ability to recover compensation as it may appear as if you were never injured in the first place. Ensure that you obtain a formal medical report detailing your injuries and the kind of treatment needed for a full recovery.
Sufficient proof is required in court to show the judge just how much money you have spent on medical needs after the accident and how much more you might need for future treatment. Some injuries are quick to heal, while others may linger on for a while. Others are long-term injuries that might take years or a lifetime to heal. You might need to keep receipts, medical reports, and other documents that could help in your case.
The value of your medical damages will depend on the severity of injuries you sustained in the accident. A person who only incurred broken bones will not receive as much compensation as one who incurred a spinal cord injury in a truck accident. It is advisable to work with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that you receive full compensation for your medical damages.
You may not have been able to drive yourself to the hospital, back home, or for doctor's appointments after the accident. Therefore, you can include transportation costs in your claim if you ever needed to pay for transportation after the accident. The plaintiff could also incur transportation costs days or weeks after the accident. If you needed to attend a doctor's appointment after the accident and were unable to drive due to your injury, there could have been a need for transportation services.
Remember that the cost has to be directly related to the misfortune to be awarded by the court. Thus, you need to provide sufficient proof of the same. Evidence could be in the form of receipts or invoices received after the service.
Loss of Earnings
If you had to spend a few or more days in the hospital or at home after the truck accident, you might have lost some days out of work or business. These are days when you could not earn a living. The court calculates lost earnings according to the number of days you have missed an opportunity to make money due to the accident. Some people only need to spend a few days at home or hospital to recover, while others might never be able to work again due to their injuries. The court will require the responsible party to pay compensation for all your lost earnings. Then you can continue taking care of your financial needs during the recovery period.
The court calculates lost earnings based on your current earnings. The amount of money you lost in a day will be determined by your daily earnings right before the accident.
Lost Earning Capacity
Most truck accidents are severe, resulting in catastrophic injuries. These injuries are life-altering and could make it impossible for you to work and earn a decent living. If you incurred a catastrophic injury, you might be eligible for damages for lost earning capacity.
Some people are rendered incapable of working on gainful employment after an accident. Others might not perform in their current job and might be forced to seek a lower-level job. In any case, the court will consider your lost earning capacity and award compensation accordingly. The payment will help you maintain the same standards of living you enjoyed before the accident.
If you have children, you may not be able to take care of them after the accident, especially if you remained in the hospital for days or weeks or are bedridden. Thus, you'll be compelled to hire childcare services. Those are expenses that were initially not on your budget but are necessary before you recover fully. They, too, can be included in your claim.
The court considers children incapable of caring for themselves. They will need someone to be physically present to take care of their physical needs like cooking and cleaning after them. Children will also need someone to take them to and from school, help with homework, and put them to bed. If you incurred injuries that made it impossible for you to care for your children as you did before the accident, you'd need to hire help. The court will transfer the cost for that to the responsible party until the time you'll be able to take care of your children like before.
If your car were severely damaged in the accident, you would incur extra costs in having it repaired or replaced. The negligent party is responsible for these costs as well. The court will award these damages based on the status of your vehicle after the accident. Some cars are damaged beyond repair in accidents like these. If that is your case, the court will consider awarding enough damages to acquire a new car.
For this to happen, you'll be required to provide substantial evidence in court regarding the condition of your car after the accident. That is why it is advisable to take pictures of the scene immediately after the accident. Ensure you have clear images of your damaged vehicle before your car is towed away.
Economic damages consider all losses you might have incurred in the accident with a dollar value attached. They could be more or less, depending on the nature of the accident. For the court to grant you economic damages, you must provide evidence in the form of documents that an expert has prepared. Also, you may provide an expert witness to testify in your favor regarding the amount of loss you incurred after the accident.
Non-economic damages are the intangible losses you incurred in the truck accident. They, too, must be directly related to the truck accident. Many accident victims only consider their economic losses at the expense of noneconomic losses. The following is a list of non-economic damages you might include in your personal injury claim:
It includes the mental suffering you might have incurred after the accident. Mental anguish could be in the form of anxiety, depression, grief, hopelessness, feelings of distress, and fright. Think of how worried you were after the accident. You probably never thought you'd ever recover from your injuries. Mental anguish also includes those sleepless nights you spent in hospital or at home, thinking of how much you have lost in the accident.
Physical disfigurement is a prevalent type of injury after a truck accident. An example of a physical disfigurement you could be compensated for is facial scarring. These are injuries that will have a significant physical, psychological and financial impact on your life. You may have been scarred so badly that it could be uncomfortable to leave your home or associate yourself with other people. The devastating effects of physical disfigurement make it possible for California courts to award compensation to injured victims.
Accident victims who suffer physical disfigurement go through an identity crisis. Some people cannot stand how their face or body looks after the accident. Others cannot get over the loss of the functioning of a part of their body. If your face were severely injured, you'd always be afraid that people will stare at you once you step out of your house. It will affect your social life and perhaps your career as it might be hard for you to go back to work looking different. Avoiding contact with people also comes with feelings of loneliness and isolation, which eventually causes you to lose touch with the people you love.
Compensation for physical disfigurement could help you undergo medical treatments that could bring you back at least closer to how you looked before the accident. Your doctor might recommend plastic surgery to bring your face back to its original look and feel. It will cost you a lot of money, which you may not afford at that instance. Compensation for physical disfigurement makes it possible for the plaintiff to undergo the necessary treatment to bring their lives closer to how it was before the accident.
Loss of Sexual Function
Sex is an integral part of life for many people. After trauma, most people, especially men, lose their sexual function. The effects of physical injury after an accident changes on your physical look and feel. Side effects of some medications could also affect your sexual function, impacting your general sexual life and relationships.
If the accident was severe, the trauma or injuries like TBI and spinal cord injuries could cause you to go through periods of reduced sexual drive or low libido. Other than the physical effects of the injury, your feelings and thoughts may cause your body not to respond sexually as before. In that case, you could be eligible for damages for your loss of sexual functioning.
Pain and suffering
It is advisable to work with an experienced truck accident injury attorney to ensure that you are not leaving anything out. In cases where the injuries are severe, the court may even double or triple your intangible damages.
Economic and non-economic damages are categorized under compensatory damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the discretion of the court. They are meant to extend compensation further. A civil court will award punitive damages in cases where there is enough proof to show that the alleged at-fault party acted in gross negligence in causing the truck accident. In that case, the court will award these damages to punish the defendant and send a warning to those who might showcase similar conduct.
For example, the court could award punitive damages involving an intoxicated or speeding truck driver.
Find a Truck Accident Injury Attorney Near Me
If you've been involved in a truck accident, you may be wondering about the kinds of damages you can recover in compensation. California civil courts award various damages based on the type of accident a plaintiff has been involved in. It might help to work alongside an experienced truck accident injury attorney to ensure that you are not missing out on any detail in your claim. If you would like to file for compensation after a truck accident in California, call us at 619-754-7667. Our highly skilled and experienced attorneys at Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm will be glad to help you recover fair compensation.