Being injured in a crash with a tractor-trailer can be a very traumatic experience. While most auto accident injuries may be minor, truck accidents often end in serious or life-threatening injuries.
After the crash, you may be overwhelmed and not know where to turn. At the Saeedian Law Group, our California truck accident lawyers help victims pursue the compensation they need to recover from severe injuries.
Federal Trucking & Tractor-Trailer Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets hours of service regulations (FMCSA) for all trucking companies. Failing to comply with these regulations often results in tractor-trailer crashes due to driver fatigue. Currently, property-carrying drivers may drive no more than:
- 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty,
- 14 hours in a 24-hour period, and
- 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days (depending on how many days a week the carrier operates).
In addition to these requirements, truckers must take a 30-minute break every eight hours of work.
How Long Does It Take to Settle Tractor-Trailer Crash Claims in California?
Tractor-trailer accident settlements may take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years to resolve. It mostly depends on the insurance company’s willingness to negotiate, but other factors may come into play as well.
For example, since the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is two years, you may end up filing your lawsuit a year or so into your claim.
Taking the lawsuit to trial may also take additional time. For this reason, it’s important to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney who can negotiate with the insurance company and take the case to trial if necessary.
Tractor Trailer Accident Compensation Categories
Under California law, there are different types of damages available to those injured in a truck accident. The first category, known as compensatory damages, has two types of damages: economic and non-economic. The second category is punitive damages, which the court applies only in rare circumstances.
In a tractor-trailer crash lawsuit in California, there are several losses you may pursue. Each of those losses fits under either the economic or non-economic categories mentioned above.
Some of them may or may not apply to your specific case, so be sure to consult with a personal injury attorney.
Special or economic damages are any losses sustained by the victim that have a calculable value. This typically includes medical treatment bills, hospital bills, lost wages, and vehicle repair costs.
However, in cases involving permanent disability, they may even cover accessibility conversions for your home/vehicle, future medical costs, loss of future earning potential, and even child care.
Non-economic or general damages are the less tangible losses sustained by the victim of an accident. While economic damages deal with calculable losses, non-economic damages refer to losses that are mostly subjective.
Some examples include loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, inconvenience, and emotional distress. Attorneys usually calculate these losses either by multiplying total economic damages by a whole number or assigning a per-day cost for pain and suffering.
While rare, punitive damages do apply in specific situations. The jury may award punitive damages in cases where the defendant intentionally harmed the victim or acted with extreme recklessness. These damages, which are meant to punish the defendant, do not compensate for any specific loss.
Factors That Affect Settlement Amounts
For tractor-trailer crash claims in California, there are two major factors that affect the settlement amounts: the severity of your injuries and your share of liability. These factors vary widely between cases, so it’s important to understand how they help determine compensation.
In personal injury cases, injury severity plays a significant role in the overall value of a claim. Typically, more severe injuries command a higher settlement than minor injuries.
For example, you may be able to pursue higher compensation if you receive a permanent disability since it requires lifelong care. Ultimately, if the injury is serious, it increases future medical costs, thus resulting in a larger potential settlement.
Share of Liability
In California, courts follow a pure comparative negligence doctrine. This means that a plaintiff may pursue compensatory damages even if they are 99% at fault for an accident.
However, the court also reduces the plaintiff’s damages by their percentage of fault. For example, if you have $1 million in damages, but the jury finds you 25% at fault, the court reduces your award to $750,000.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
No. Unfortunately, the goal of the insurance company is to reduce your settlement as much as possible. In many cases, the adjuster uses unethical tactics to get the victim to accept a low settlement. They may even go as far as using a single statement to outright deny your claim.
Another reason why it might be best to avoid talking to the insurance company is that they have large legal teams. These teams also have several resources to fight your claim, including private medical experts, investigators, and more.
A skilled California truck accident attorney knows how to combat these strategies used by insurance companies. This is why it’s essential you retain legal representation if you decide to submit a claim.
Injured in a Tractor Trailer Accident? Call Us Now
If you get into an accident with a tractor-trailer, don’t rely on the insurance company to get you the relief you need. At the Saeedian Law Group, we fiercely negotiate with the insurance company and prepare your case to go to trial if necessary.
With an Avvo rating of 10 out of 10 and over a decade of trial experience, Attorney Michael Saeedian uses a client-focused approach to advocate for clients.
To schedule a free consultation or learn more about tractor-trailer crash claims in California, contact us online or call us at 310-288-3000. We serve clients throughout Southern California from our offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Newport Beach, Riverside, Beverly Hills, and Rancho Cucamonga.