Category Archives: Truck Accidents

What Is the Difference Between Punitive Damages and Actual Damages?

Monday, November 11, 2019

In a personal injury lawsuit, you have the right to collect compensatory damages for losses you suffered in an accident that was not your fault. The aftermath of these accidents can leave us with unexpected medical expenses, lost wages while we are healing, property damage, emotional anguish, and more – and filing a lawsuit provides a pathway to recover from these significant damages. There are many types of damages you can claim, including actual damages and punitive damages.

What Are Actual Damages?

Actual damages refer to the financial, physical, and emotional losses you suffered as a result of the accident. They make up the bulk of the settlement that the court can award you at the conclusion of your case, and seek to help you restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. To claim these damages, you will need to prove that the accident was the direct cause for them.

Actual damages come in two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to the tangible financial losses you suffered from in the course of the accident. You can prove these damages in court by supplying invoices, receipts, and bills. Common economic damages include the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses for doctor’s visits, surgeries, hospitalization, etc.
  • Lost wages during recovery time or loss of earning the ability
  • Disability accommodations to a home or vehicle
  • Property damage

On the other hand, you cannot supply receipts or invoices to prove non-economic damages. These actual damages include the intangible losses you suffer in the wake of an accident, commonly known as pain and suffering damages. Some examples of non-economic damages include the following.

  • Emotional distress
  • Chronic pain
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of quality of life

Courts calculate the amount of the non-economic damages you can claim in different ways. In most situations, the jury will examine the facts of your case after your attorney proves that the at-fault party is the cause of your injuries. Based on your case, the jury will assign an amount based on a combination of evidence and reasonability.

In the state of California, there are no caps on economic or non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits. However, there is a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

What Are Punitive Damages?

On the other hand, the court does not intend for punitive damages to restore your financial standing to what it was prior to the accident. Their purpose is to punish the at-fault party in your case for dangerous, reckless, negligent, or intentional behavior. At the conclusion of your case, the at-fault party will have to pay punitive damages on top of actual damages – they will not affect the outcome of your settlement.

The court will determine whether or not the at-fault party acted in a way that warrants punitive damages and makes a decision on the amount he or she will have to pay. The amount can vary based on the circumstances of your case, and the more severe cases typically result in a higher amount of punitive damages.

Do You Need an Attorney for Your Personal Injury Case?

Calculating these damages and knowing exactly how much you can claim in civil court can be difficult. You may forget about a certain line item that you could claim as an economic loss, or remain unsure of whether or not you qualify for non-economic damages. If you are filing a personal injury lawsuit, consider hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case.

Your lawyer can help you determine which economic and non-economic damages you can claim, collect the evidence necessary to prove your economic losses, advise you on the amount of non-economic damages you might receive, and whether or not your case could qualify for punitive damages.

If you are grappling with the aftermath of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or reckless, you have legal options available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to claim actual and punitive damages for your losses. If you have not done so already, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your case and to begin the filing process.

Posted by highrank at 6:05 pm

Should I Give a Recorded Statement to the Truck Driver’s Insurance Company?

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

If you recently suffered injuries in a semi-truck accident, you may have received a call or visit from an insurance claims adjuster. This adjuster may tell you that he or she wants to receive a recorded statement from you about the accident. He or she may claim that the company wants to settle your case as soon as possible to help you recover.

Why Do Insurance Adjusters Want Recorded Statements?

Insurance companies typically ask for a recorded statement after a semi-truck accident because they want to know what your version of events is leading up to the accident. The adjuster will use the statement you give to them, as well as the at-fault driver’s statement, to build a picture of your claim. However, information gathering is not the only reason that the insurance adjuster wants to record your statement.

Insurance companies often try to solicit a recorded statement from you soon after your accident because you may not know all of the details of your accident. They will use this recorded statement as concrete evidence against you if your case goes to trial – even if you say something you believe is true at that moment and find out more information later, the insurance company can use the statement to discredit you.

Avoid Giving a Recorded Statement Before Speaking to Your Attorney

If an insurance adjuster approaches you after your accident asking for a recorded statement, do not speak with him or her before contacting a Bakersfield truck accident attorney. The adjuster may make it seem like the company requires you to provide this statement in order to progress in your claim, but this is not true.

You are not required to give a recorded statement to the truck driver’s insurance company. Since you are filing a third-party claim, the company cannot require you to make a statement. If you were filing a claim with your own company, you would have to give a statement. In the majority of semi-truck accident cases, however, you are making a third-party claim.

Insurance adjusters can be very tricky. They can often ask you misleading questions to try and confuse you or say something that the company can use against you as evidence later on. As a result, you can see a lower compensation amount at the end of your claim or the courts could reduce the truck driver’s liability in your claim.

Tips for Giving a Recorded Statement

You should not give a recorded statement to an insurance company until after you have had a chance to speak with your attorney. The adjuster cannot require you to give a recorded statement. However, insurance adjusters can use aggressive tactics to obtain these recordings. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to give a recorded statement, follow these tips to protect your claim.

  • Request that the insurance adjuster does not record the conversation. This makes it harder for the company to use your words against you in court because the evidence is not concrete.
  • Give succinct, to-the-point answers. Always answer slowly and clearly, and do not ramble.
  • If you don’t know the exact answer to the question, do not guess. Simply say “I don’t know” or “I don’t know the facts yet.”
  • Do not admit to any type of fault. Even if you think you may be partially liable at that point, admitting fault could reduce your claim significantly.
  • Do not accept a settlement from the insurance adjuster. The amount will likely be much lower than what you actually need to recover.
  • Do not volunteer information to the insurance adjuster. Only give answers to the questions he or she asks of you.

Remember, you do not have to give a recorded statement to an insurance company in a truck accident case. Be careful with what you tell the insurance adjuster and avoid giving any information about your injuries or the circumstances of your accident early on in your claim. Always contact your attorney before you speak to the insurance adjuster. Contact Rodriguez & Associates today.

Posted by highrank at 10:10 pm

How Long Do Semi-Truck Accident Cases Last?

Monday, July 1, 2019

If you are involved in an accident with a semi-truck, you could experience significant damages in the months to come. Due to the sheer size and weight of these vehicles, you may suffer from serious injuries in these accidents, as well as extensive damage to your car and belongings.

You can claim damages for your losses through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, but these cases can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to conclude. Because of how severe and complicated semi-truck accidents can be, they can sometimes take longer to settle than the average car accident claim.

What Factors Can Lengthen My Semi-Truck Accident Case?

Several factors can impact the length of a Bakersfield semi-truck accident case. Because of the damage that semi-trucks can cause, plus the corporate and government bodies that may be involved, you may need to navigate some very complicated legal considerations.

• The more severe your injuries, the longer your case will likely be. Your attorney will need to determine the extent of your injuries so he or she can calculate your damages for medical treatment, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. You may need to wait until you reach maximum recovery before your attorney can resolve your case. While you may want to resolve your claim while you are still recovering from your injuries, your attorney will likely advise against this. You may not know the precise nature of your injuries, and could lose out on compensation to aid your recovery.

• Semi-trucks accident cases may involve government investigations in addition to your own. Entities such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration may look into the crash and provide analyses that could assist your claim – but you may need to wait up to a year for them to release these reports. However, these reports can provide valuable information and strengthen your overall cases.

• You may need to navigate complicated insurance negotiations when dealing with a semi-truck accident. Usually, corporations represent these drivers and have large insurance policies. You can settle your claim with the insurance company and avoid going to court, but negotiations could take time based on the severity of your injuries, the policy limit, and the aggressive tactics that the insurance adjusters could employ to protect their driver and trucking company clients.

• The information gathering process for semi-truck cases can take a long time because of how many liable parties may be involved in your accident. Your attorney will need to gather information on the driver’s history, such as moving violations, Department of Transportation infractions, and other safety records. Your attorney will also want to look into the vehicle and the company itself, making sure they maintained the truck up to federal standards and that negligence from the trucking company didn’t play a part in your injuries. Your attorney will want to learn as much as possible about the company, the driver, the cargo, and any other party who may be involved, and you may have to wait a while for him or her to collect this information.

The Average Length of a Semi-Truck Accident Case

Because each case is different, it is difficult for an attorney to estimate how long your semi-truck accident case will take to reach settlement. Certain factors can lengthen the duration of your case, such as severe injuries or multiple liable parties. The more complicated a case is, the longer it will likely take to reach settlement.

Many semi-truck cases can take a long time to conclude because of clerical mistakes and slow information gathering processes. Obtaining the services of a semi-truck accident attorney can help you navigate these claims and reduce errors in the process. In addition, an attorney can help you enter into sticky negotiations with insurance companies and determine the most efficient pathways to possible compensation.

Semi-truck accidents can be complicated and can vary in length based on your specific circumstances. Because of their complexity, contact an attorney as soon as possible following your accident to help you reach a settlement for your losses.

Posted by highrank at 6:03 pm

How Much do Truck Accident Lawyers Cost?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Being involved in a truck accident can be just as damaging as it is frightening. Truck accidents cause significant damage to passenger cars because of their size. If you’ve been in a collision with a truck, you might want seek the consult of a professional truck accident lawyer. However, it is important to know how much these professionals charge and if they offer payment plans to cover their fees.

Total Fees

The total fees associated with a personal injury claim exceeds the cost of a lawyer. Aside from compensating your lawyer, you must also pay all fees associated with the following services:

  • Expert witnesses
  • Investigators
  • Court filing
  • Medical report furnishing
  • Police report furnishing

These fees quickly add up in addition of your lawyer fees. In most cases, you can cover these costs through the compensation you receive if your claim is successful. Some firms even pay the legal fees up front for you and take it out of your total compensation after the court decides the case.

Most firms offer free consultation before you hire them onto your case. Take advantage of this free service to discuss your total potential fees and how you can pay your attorney for their help.

Contingency Fees

Most truck accident lawyers charge based on contingency fees. Contingency fees come out of your total compensation after the court processes your claim. This is a useful option that doesn’t require you to pay any legal fees until you receive your completely awarded compensation. There is no requirement to pay for their services if you do not win your case. This can be a godsend for those who question how they can afford a lawyer on top of the court-related fees.

Some lawyers operate under contingency fees plus a retainer. This means you must pay a fee up front, before the lawyer helps with your case. This acts as a sort of insurance, and also helps some lawyers cover court-related fees that come up during the claims process. The lawyer deducts this retainer from the total contingency fee after you receive your compensation.

The percentage of a contingency fee that a truck accident lawyer charges depends on the case itself. However, a common practice among lawyers is to charge a 33% contingency fee, which would subtract 1/3 of your total compensation. It is important to discuss with your attorney that their fee should deduct from the net compensation you receive, in which you subtract all court-related fees first. Subtracting from the gross compensation would result in a larger contingency fee.

At Rodriguez & Associates, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means we receive a percentage of the verdict or settlement we win on your behalf. It also means you won’t get charged unless we win. The risk is ours.

Hourly Rate

Some firms offer an hourly rate payment plan if they don’t want to operate under a contingency fee. In this circumstance, you must pay your lawyer and legal fees regardless of whether you win your case. One rule of thumb to remember is that lawyers who are reluctant to offer a contingency fee might view your case as weak. Remember to think thoroughly about your case and the realistic probability that your case will succeed before filing claim.

Flat Fees

Some truck accident lawyers offer flat fees for their services. Flat fees apply to individual services in cases that don’t require a complete lawyer-client dynamic. For instance, you might need a lawyer to review your claim before you file it, but don’t want to hire an attorney full-time. In this case, you can hire a truck accident lawyer just to review your documents.

Consulting an attorney is always a good idea before pursuing legal action against any entity. Before hiring a professional truck accident lawyer, be sure to communicate about the details associated with payment and what options your preferred firm offers.

Posted by highrank at 4:15 pm

California Truck Lane Restrictions

Monday, October 23, 2017

It is an unfortunate reality that smaller, lighter passenger vehicles must drive alongside large, heavy commercial trucks to fuel America’s economy. Big rigs can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs just 3,500 pounds. The immense size difference between the two can lead to major damage to the smaller car and its passengers in a collision. The State of California strives to reduce the number of truck accidents on its highways by enacting truck lane restrictions. Learning the law can help you stay as far away as possible from large trucks when on California’s highways.

Truck-Only Lanes in California

Very few truck-only lanes exist throughout the country. In most states, large trucks and passenger vehicles must intermingle, but trucks must simply stay out of the left lane on certain highways. California, however, has two truck-only lanes in existence and more potentially on the way. As of now, the two lanes that only trucks may operate in are as follows:

  • Northbound and southbound 1-5 in LA County at the State Route 14 split. The truck lane begins as two roads, northbound at LA County postmile C043.925 and southbound at postmile C043.899. Both roads meet at postmile C044.924. These trucks lanes separate slower-moving large trucks from the general traffic that moves faster. The roads run 2.426 miles northbound and 2.452 southbound. This truck-only road has been in existence for about 30 years.
  • Southbound I-5 in Kern County at the State Route 99 junction. On Route 99 near the Grapevine, postmile L000.629, a truck-only lane begins. The lane continues for 0.346 miles until I-5 at postmile R-15.492. The point of the lane is to allow large trucks to merge farther downstream of where other vehicles merge between I-5 and State Route 99. This truck-only lane could potentially prevent collisions between trucks and smaller vehicles in an already difficult merge area.

All large trucks must travel in truck-only lanes when they arise. There are black and white highway signs indicating where truck-only lanes begin and end. These are enforceable signs that all truck drivers must obey. Failure to use truck-only lanes when available can result in fines. Passenger vehicles may technically drive in truck-only lanes, but green highways signs encourage them not to do so. Since the signs are green, they are not enforceable.

Large Trucks in the Left Lane

California sees a particularly large number of commercial trucks on its roadways. For this reason, the state has enacted somewhat strict rules when it comes to large trucks on the highway. California is one of few states with a law that prohibits “motor trucks, truck tractors with three axles or more, and truck tractors pulling vehicles” from driving in the left-hand lane while on the highway. These slower-moving vehicles must remain in the right-hand lane or the second-right-hand lane if on a highway with four lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.

If a large truck disobeys lane restrictions, the driver could receive fines of up to $250 for a third offense within one year. Any slower-moving vehicle, regardless of size, must use the furthest right-hand lane while driving in California, except when passing or making a left turn. The California Highway Patrol enforces truck lane restrictions and will stop large trucks should they disobey the law.

Posted by highrank at 5:29 pm

Are Trucks Allowed to Drive in the Left Lane?

Monday, October 16, 2017

You’re driving down the 58, maintaining the speed limit in the far-left lane. You’re going to be just on time for work. Suddenly, a large commercial truck merges into the lane in front of you. You hit your brakes to accommodate the slower speed and are annoyed because now you’ll be late for work or have to pass the big rig using the middle lane. More importantly, a truck driver who broke California’s roadway laws has put you in a potentially dangerous position. Here’s what you need to know about trucks in the left lane in The Golden State. For more information, speak with an experienced Bakersfield truck accident lawyer.

Rules of the Road for Truckers

California Vehicle Code Section 21654 states that any vehicle traveling on a highway at less than the average speed of moving traffic must drive in the right-hand lane, as close as possible to the right-hand edge or curb. The only time a slower-moving vehicle can leave the right-hand lane is to overtake and pass a different vehicle traveling along the same directional path, or if preparing to make a left-hand exit or turn. This law applies to all large trucks (those with three axles or more).

In California, motor trucks, truck tractors with at least three axles, and truck tractors pulling another vehicle must use designated truck lanes at all times if they exist. They cannot come out of designated lanes unless passing or turning. If no designated lane exists on the roadway, the truck must remain in the farthest right-hand lane, or the second-to-right-hand lane if the highway has four or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction. To pass, a truck must use the designated lane, right-hand lane, or second-to-right lane.

If a large truck drives in the left lane, the driver has broken a California roadway law and may face penalties. For a first offense, the driver may face fines of up to $100. If the driver receives a second offense within one year, the fine is up to $200. For a third offense in one year, the fine increases to $250. These are steep fines compared to similar laws in other states. The only evidence law enforcement needs to charge a driver with this infraction is that the vehicle was traveling at a slower speed than the rest of traffic in the same direction and was driving in the left-hand lane.

Dangers of Trucks in the Left Lane

There is a reason that all highways use the rule that faster-moving vehicles use the left lane, and slower-moving vehicles use the right lane. On a multilane highway, dividing the vehicles based on speed increases the safety and efficiency of the road. Drivers can easily become frustrated if they’re stuck behind a slower moving vehicle, and the situation could end in road rage.

Too many drivers in the fast lane can create a major highway problem, with sudden and unexpected changes in speed and rear-end collisions. If a large truck merges into the far-left lane, it will slow down traffic and cause other drivers to weave in and out of traffic lanes to pass the truck. This increases the risk of a potentially severe car accident. If you see a large truck in the left lane in California, consider calling Highway Patrol to report the truck and its driver.

Posted by highrank at 5:25 pm