How Attorneys Determine Damages in Truck Accident Cases

  •  

    The 18-wheelers that dominate America’s highways are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which sets strict safety rules for big rigs and their drivers. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for carriers and truckers to skirt these requirements in order to deliver loads faster and save money. This puts everyone on the road in danger, especially occupants of smaller vehicles, because when a truck and a car collide, the car is going to take the brunt of the damage.

     

    If you have been hurt in an accident involving a commercial truck, you may be entitled to damages. It’s important to schedule a consultation with a truck accident lawyer promptly to discuss the details of your case.

     

    Common Truck Safety Violations

     

    Trucking companies and individual drivers are responsible for ensuring that they follow FMCSA regulations, and they can be held legally accountable if they don’t. Here are a few ways they often break the law.

     

    • Hours-of-service violations. Truckers are required to stop driving after a certain number of hours on the road, and must take rest breaks as specified by the FMCSA. They may be under pressure to deliver their cargo quickly, which can tempt them to keep driving past the allowed time and putting them at risk for drowsy driving.
    • Shoddy maintenance. Big rigs pull heavy loads and are in use for many more hours than most vehicles. This means regular maintenance and frequent inspection checks are critically important to ensuring they are road-safe. Weigh stations and roadside checks help, but carriers must have programs in place for maintaining the safety of their fleet and training drivers to conduct some routine checks.
    • Load and cargo violations. Overloaded vehicles and loose freight can cause catastrophic accidents. Federal law specifies weight restrictions and how particular types of loads must be secured.
    • Hiring violations. The trucking industry is facing a critical shortage of drivers. As a result, companies may hire people who don’t meet federal requirements.

     

    How to Calculate Damages

     

    Once it’s been determined that a truck driver and/or carrier is responsible for your injuries, your attorney will have to calculate how much compensation you deserve. Damages in personal injury suits fall into two broad categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are simpler to calculate, as they tend to already have a monetary value attached. Examples include:

     

    • Medical and hospitalization bills (including projected for the future)
    • Ambulance fees
    • Money paid for medications and medical devices
    • Cost of current and future rehab and therapy
    • Property damage: car repairs, as well as repair and replacement costs for personal items in the vehicle at the time of the wreck
    • Lost wages
    • Legal fees.

     

    Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate, as there is no clear dollar amount attached to concepts like “pain and suffering.” A good truck accident lawyer will apply precedent, experience, and thoughtful consideration of the particulars of the accident to come up with a fair number. Non-economic damages may include compensation for the following:

     

    • Physical pain
    • Permanent disfigurement and disability
    • Diminished quality of life
    • Emotional distress
    • Mental problems stemming from the accident, such as PTSD or depression.

     

    A McNeely Stephenson attorney will be able to ask the right questions, track down evidence and documentation, build a strong case for why you deserve damages, and figure out the full cost of your injuries — past, present, and future. He or she will fight to win you every penny you deserve, whether at the negotiating table or in front of a jury.

     

    Nothing will undo the damage you’ve sustained due to the negligence of a truck driver or company, but you can hold the guilty parties responsible and get the financial compensation you need to put your life back together.