Damages in Truck Accident Cases

Damages in Truck Accident Cases

Damages in truck accident cases include physical injury, emotional suffering, and financial losses suffered as a result of a truck accident. Damages can be either compensatory or punitive. Compensatory damages can further be broken down into actual and general damages. A discussion of each of these types of damages is discussed briefly below.
Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages are intended to make up for the injuries suffered as a result of a truck accident. These may include actual damages, such as the out-of-pocket expenses incurred, and general damages, which may include emotional distress or diminished ability to enjoy life activities. Actual damages include lost wages, medical bills paid, rental car costs incurred while your vehicle is undergoing repairs, property damage, and any other economic losses that may have resulted from the accident.
General damages are more difficult to quantify. These types of damages may include loss of enjoyment of life activities, loss of consortium, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering refers not only to the physical pain and suffering you have endured as a direct result of the accident, but also the emotional trauma of undergoing surgery or being unable to participate in life activities because of the injury.
The following table lists some of the different types of actual and general damages that may be claimed by a truck accident victim:

Actual Damages

  • Medical and hospital bills
  • Lost wages
  • Cost of household or nursing help required during recovery
  • Cost of wheelchair, crutches, etc.
  • Cost of rental car
  • Property damage

General Damages

  • Future medical bills
  • Lost future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical disfigurement or permanent injury
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Lost opportunity

Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are those that intend to punish the defendant for intentional conduct or gross negligence in causing a truck crash. These types of damages are reserved for conduct that is so egregious that the civil court penalty is warranted in order to deter the defendant from committing the same act in the future. Punitive damage may only be awarded if the judge or jury determines that the defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice in causing your injuries. This is a very strict burden that is difficult for most plaintiffs to meet. In addition, punitive damages awards may not exceed three times the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff, or $1.5 million, whichever is greater.

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Common Defenses in Truck Accident Lawsuits

Common Defenses in Truck Accident Lawsuits

Trucking companies, truck drivers, and their insurers typically raise several defenses in truck accident suits in an attempt to avoid liability. The most common defenses in truck accident cases are lack of causation, contributory negligence, and assumption of risk, each of which is discussed briefly below.

  • Lack of Causation: In order to prove causation in truck accident cases, you must demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of your injuries. To satisfy this requirement, you do not have to show that the defendant was the only responsible party, but only that there is a connection between the defendant’s conduct and the injury such that the injury would not have occurred without the defendant’s actions. The continuous causal connection between the fault and the injury is the most important element necessary to prove causation in a truck accident suit. This means that if it were not for the defendant’s act, the injuries would not have occurred. If there is no causal connection, the defendant will not be held responsible for your injuries.
  • Contributory Negligence: Defense attorneys attempt to prove that you were contributorily negligent in causing your own injuries. If you were in any way at fault for causing your own injuries, then you are not able to recover damages. This means that if the defense proves that you are 1% at fault in the accident, you will receive no compensation for your injuries. Contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Our Law Firm to discuss whether contributory negligence bars your truck accident claim.
  • Assumption of Risk: If you engage in inherently risky or dangerous activities and suffer injury as a result, you may be deemed to have “assumed the risk” of injury associated with that activity. For example, if you drive a car that you know has failing brakes, then you would have assumed the risk of any accident that may occur as a result of being unable to stop the vehicle in a timely manner.

The experienced truck accident attorneys at Our Law Firm will thoroughly investigate the accident in order to prove that the defendants were responsible for causing the crash, and therefore liable for your injuries. It is important in truck accident cases that you not discuss fault with anyone except your attorney, or you could unwittingly provide the other side with a built-in defense to the charge of negligence.

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What to Do After a Truck Accident

If you have been involved in a truck accident, you may be confused as to what actions you should take to ensure that you are compensated for your injuries. In all accident cases, it is essential that actions be taken to promptly preserve evidence and document injuries. The following tips will help you know what to do after an accident:

Tip 1: Obtain Information
It is important that you seek immediate medical attention if you are seriously injured in an accident. However, after you have ensured that everyone involved in the accident is out of danger and that police and emergency personnel have been summoned, you should obtain the following information:

  • The full names of the drivers of all vehicles involved, as well as their drivers’ license numbers and addresses.
  • The full names and addresses of all passengers in any of the vehicles—these passengers may later serve as your witnesses.
  • The full names and addresses of any pedestrians or witnesses to the accident.
  • The company name and business address of the owner of the truck.

Tip 2: Make Observations
In addition you should make observations at the scene and record the following information:

  • Do any of the drivers appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol? If so, inform the police immediately.
  • Did anyone report any physical injuries?
  • Was medical assistance rendered at the scene?
  • In what direction was each the vehicle traveling when the collision occurred?
  • What time of day did the accident occur? What were the weather conditions at the time?
  • How did the accident occur?
  • Did anyone accept responsibility or assume fault in the accident?
  • Did the police issue anyone a ticket?

In addition, you should take photos of the accident scene, if possible. Photos taken at the scene of the accident can be invaluable at trial.

Tip 3: Contact an Attorney
Directly after leaving the scene of the accident – or while still there if you are safely able – you should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced in handling Personal Injury cases. The truck accident experts at Our Law Firm can begin investigation of the accident immediately in order to preserve evidence, photograph the scene of the accident, and take witnesses’ statements. Our attorneys know that the trucking company and their insurers will try to manipulate evidence and secure a quick settlement. You should have an experienced truck accident attorney on your side working to get you the compensation you deserve.

Tip 4: Do Not Admit Fault
Any statements you make to the police should not in any way insinuate that you were at fault in the accident. Even if you believe you may have been partially at fault, admitting this to anyone will only preclude your claim against other negligent parties. Statements admitting to speeding, inattention or distraction, fatigue, using a cell phone, or failing to wear required eyeglasses can severely damage your chances of a fair settlement.

Tip 5: Do Not Sign Anything
Trucking companies and their insurers often attempt to get accident victims to accept a low settlement at the scene of the accident or soon after. Do not sign anything. Although the offer may seem fair at the time, you may realize that it is inadequate to cover your medical expenses and lost wages down the road. It is important to hire an experienced truck accident attorney with the resources to get you the settlement you deserve.

Tip 6: Visit a Doctor
Even if you feel healthy, you should always undergo a doctor’s examination after an accident. Often, you may not manifest any physical symptoms of injury until hours or even days after an accident. If you wait to visit a doctor, you may lower your chances of obtaining a fair settlement for your injuries. Visiting a doctor directly following an accident will ensure a preliminary diagnosis, as well as minimize the discomfort you are feeling now and future treatment you may require later.

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