Passenger-vehicle occupants make up most of the fatalities in large truck crashes. Small cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs are simply no match for big rigs when they collide in traffic. As such, passenger-vehicle occupants who are fortunate enough to survive a collision tend to sustain serious injuries in the process.
Spinal cord damage is one of the most devastating injuries that a truck accident victim can suffer. If you or someone you love is living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) because of a tractor-trailer crash, here’s what you should know about proceeding with legal action:
1. Who Should I Name in My Truck Accident Spinal Injury Claim?
The underlying cause of the wreck will ultimately determine whom you name in your claim. As such, you must allow adequate time for a resourceful spinal cord injury attorney to conduct a thorough investigation. Potentially liable parties include:
- The trucker;
- The motor carrier that employed the trucker;
- The motor carrier’s maintenance contractor;
- The cargo loading company;
- A parts manufacturer;
- The government agency responsible for designing or maintaining the roads; and
- Other motorists who were involved.
2. How Can I Prove the Parties I Name in My Claim Are Indeed Liable?
Once you determine what happened in the seconds leading up to the crash, you will know what kind of evidence you need to prove fault. When it comes to truck accidents in particular, the strongest evidence of fault typically includes some combination of the following:
- The official police report;
- Photographs of the scene;
- Statements from eyewitnesses;
- Toxicology reports;
- Cell phone records;
- Vehicle maintenance records;
- Driver’s logs;
- GPS tracking;
- Black box data;
- Toll booth tickets;
- Weigh station receipts;
- Surveillance recordings; and
- Dash cam footage.
Naturally, some kinds of evidence will be much harder to obtain than others. If the trucker was texting just before the wreck, for example, his or her cell phone carrier may not necessarily be inclined to release their records to a third party. With help from a seasoned truck accident attorney, though, you may be able to apply the legal pressure needed to acquire evidence that is being withheld.
3. What Is the Value of My Claim?
While a reputable personal injury attorney won’t promise to secure a specific dollar amount on your behalf, he or she can approximate a reasonable starting point for the negotiations based on the facts of the case. Once the proceedings are underway, though, several factors will ultimately influence the potential value of your claim. Such factors include:
- The total available insurance coverage of the liable parties;
- The total value of the liable parties’ assets;
- The strength of the evidence you present;
- The role you played in the accident; and
- Whether you took reasonable measures to mitigate damages.
4. What Kinds of Damages Can I Seek by Filing a Claim?
Spinal cord damage is inherently costly to stabilize and rehabilitate. According to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, those who suffer high tetraplegia can expect to spend more than $1 million during the first year alone in living expenses and medical bills. Fortunately, such costs might be recoverable by bringing a claim against the liable party.
In the state of California, recoverable damages may include:
- Healthcare expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of future earnings;
- Replacement services;
- Property repairs;
- Medical equipment;
- Home and vehicle modifications;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment in life; and
- Pain and suffering.
If you happen to be in a serious, long-term relationship, your spouse or registered domestic partner may also have grounds for a loss of consortium claim. Loss of consortium refers to the loss of love, companionship, care, comfort, affection, protection, moral support, and society that individuals incur when their partner sustains a catastrophic injury.
5. What Can I Do to Strengthen My Case?
If you’re seeking a significant settlement—which is likely if you sustained a spinal cord injury—the insurance adjuster will look for any reason to deny or at least devalue your claim. To avoid giving them any grounds on which to challenge your claim, refer all correspondence to your legal team. It’s also advisable to:
- Follow your doctor’s orders;
- Preserve your medical records, diagnostic images, and rehabilitative progress reports;
- Stay off social media;
- Ask friends and loved ones to avoid mentioning your case on their own social media profiles;
- Keep a daily journal in which you write detailed entries about your condition and its impact on your life; and
- Save all relevant bills, invoices, and receipts.
6. If I File a Personal Injury Claim, Will I Have to Go to Court?
Navigating complicated legal proceedings is probably the last thing you want to do while adjusting to a new normal in the wake of the accident. Fortunately, most personal injury claims are resolved before reaching trial. And if your case happens to be one of the few that does make it all the way to court, your legal team will guide you every step of the way.
Call (562) 206-1939 for a Free Consultation with a Long Beach Truck Accident Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you or someone you love sustained an SCI in a large truck crash, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks to determine the most strategic way to proceed. Our approach to the law is built on providing accident victims and their families with the attentive counsel, tailored legal solutions, and straightforward answers they deserve. Call (562) 206-1939 or use our Online Contact Form to set up a free consultation with a truck accident lawyer in Long Beach.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency Response .PDF
If you drive regularly, there’s a good chance you will be involved in a car crash or truck accident at some point. By printing our Car Accident Emergency Response .pdf and storing it in your glovebox, you will be prepared for all eventualities. This handy guide will help you record the scene thoroughly so you can build the strongest claim possible. Download it HERE for free.
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