How Much Can You Get In An 18-Wheeler Accident In California?

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    Collisions with massive 18-wheelers are among the most violent and destructive accidents on the road. Truck accidents often cause significant damage and serious injuries to those involved. A truck’s immense size and weight make even minor crashes potentially life-changing.

    Beyond the immediate trauma, victims and their families often face crippling financial strain after an 18-wheeler accident. Medical bills for emergency care, hospitalization, rehabilitation, and ongoing treatment can quickly spiral out of control. Not being able to work due to their injuries can also add to the burden.

    When you’re injured in a truck accident, you might wonder if there’s any way you can recover from your pain and suffering. Through compensation, victims can cover these expenses and losses so they can focus on their healing without the added financial stress.

    A person who has been injured in an accident involving a truck may wonder, “How much will I get paid if an 18-wheeler hits you in California?” The compensation for an 18-wheeler truck accident can range from a few thousand to millions of dollars. However, the actual compensation you can get will vary greatly depending on the circumstances of your personal injury claim.

    How Much Can You Expect After A Collision With An 18-Wheeler In California?

    The average payout for truck accidents in the US is around $40,000. At Arash Law, we’ve helped truck accident victims recover millions in compensation for their pain and suffering. For example, we’ve recovered a $1,150,000 settlement for a client who was rear-ended by a delivery truck employed by a large company. In another case, we helped a client who sustained a mild traumatic brain injury recover $5,000,000 after they were struck by a large truck while they were walking.

    The first thing you have to know about 18-wheeler accidents (and accidents in general) is that each one is unique. So, you shouldn’t compare your case to others, as many variables influence the compensation you might receive. These factors include:

    Injured woman after a truck accident with an 18wheeler

    Severity Of Injuries

    Injuries that require extensive medical treatment, ongoing care, and significant lifestyle changes inflict a greater financial burden on the victim. So, catastrophic injuries like spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, severe burn injuries, permanent disabilities, or amputations will naturally warrant a higher compensation amount compared to minor cuts or bruises. The more serious your injuries are, the higher the compensation will be.

    Medical Expenses

    The costs of medical treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, physical therapy, and any necessary assistive devices will be considered when calculating your compensation. If you sustained severe injuries that require longer hospitalization, expensive surgeries, and long-term care, your final settlement amount would be higher.

    Property Damage

    If your vehicle or any other property was damaged in the collision, you may be compensated for the repair or replacement costs. Your truck accident lawyers will ensure that all of your losses will be accounted for when filing your claim.

    Lost Wages

    You are entitled to compensation for lost income if your injuries prevent you from working. This includes both present and future lost earnings due to your injuries. Your truck accident attorneys will work with financial specialists to calculate your lost income accurately. They can also work out a computation for your lost earning capacity, which covers future lost earnings.

    In general, your personal injury lawyer will look at the following factors in assessing your lost wages:

    Pain And Suffering

    These damages are often subjective and vary depending on the details of the crash and the degree of your injuries. Factors considered when determining the monetary value of your pain and suffering include physical pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and the impact on your relationships.

    The value of pain and suffering is different for every victim, even if they sustain the same injury. For example, the suffering experienced by an elderly due to a broken bone will be different from that of an average, healthy, younger individual (pre-accident). Your truck accident lawyers can take these individual factors into account when calculating the amount of your claim.

    Insurance Coverage

    The at-fault party’s insurance policy limits will determine how much compensation you can receive. If the coverage is low, it may not be sufficient to cover the full extent of your damages, especially in cases of severe injuries. You’ll need the assistance of good truck accident lawyers to explore other possible options to maximize your compensation.

    Comparative Negligence

    California follows a comparative negligence system that affects your final settlement based on your share of fault in the accident. For example, you are making a left turn at an intersection. While turning, you failed to notice a speeding truck coming your way because you were distracted by checking your GPS for directions. Hypothetically, the defendant’s lawyer might argue that you were partly to blame for the accident. If you were deemed 30% at fault for the accident, you will only be eligible to get up to 70% of your settlement.

    Overview Of California’s Compensation Laws

    California follows a fault-based system when it comes to compensation for personal injury cases, including those from 18-wheeler collisions. This means the party at fault is financially liable for the damage and injuries resulting from the accident. In truck accident cases, the truck driver or trucking company is typically held accountable.

    Additionally, California follows the principle of pure comparative negligence. This means that even if you are partially at fault for the collision, you may still be eligible for compensation. However, your financial recovery will be reduced by the percentage of your fault. For instance, if you are found 20% responsible for a collision that caused $100,000 in damages, you’d be entitled to $80,000 (100,000 – [100,000 x 0.20]).

    The Golden State has a statute of limitations, which sets a deadline for filing a lawsuit. Generally, you have two years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, this period may be tolled or paused depending on the specifics of the case and the parties involved.

    A personal injury attorney can help you understand these laws, assess the specifics of your case, and guide you through the legal system.

    The Dangers Of 18-Wheelers

    Also referred to as semi-trucks, tractor trailers, or big rigs, 18-wheelers are large trucks with trailers that transport goods across long distances. They carry everything from raw materials for manufacturing to finished products on store shelves and oil, medicine, and other essentials.

    Although 18-wheelers are important to the economy, they present unique dangers for other road users. Due to their massive size and weight, they take significantly longer to come to a complete stop than cars, which means they require a much greater following distance. If a car driver misjudges the truck’s stopping distance, it can lead to a catastrophic rear-end collision. A longer distance may be required in hazardous driving conditions, like during rainy weather.

    Furthermore, the large size of the truck and trailer creates extensive blind spots around the vehicle, particularly on the sides and rear. A trucker will find it challenging to see cars in these areas, which can lead to sideswipe accidents.

    Negligent truck drivers can also cause accidents due to their strict schedules. Unfortunately, some truckers choose to run red lights, overspeed, or fail to yield the right-of-way at intersections in an attempt to get to their destinations faster.

    18-Wheeler Accident Statistics

    Accidents involving 18-wheelers are undoubtedly among the deadliest crashes in the country. Here are some statistics and reports to support this claim:

    • In 2020, approximately 415,000 police-reported collisions involving large commercial trucks occurred. Of these, 4,444 resulted in fatalities, and 101,000 caused injuries.
    • About 50% of large truck crash deaths in 2021 occurred from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., compared with 28% of crash deaths not involving large trucks.
    • In 2021, 5,788 people died in road crashes involving heavy trucks. Of these fatalities, 72% were occupants of the other vehicles, 17% were occupants of the commercial truck involved, and 11% were nonoccupants, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
    • In 2021, drivers of large trucks were more likely to be involved in fatal traffic crashes (20.8%) than drivers of other vehicle classes (motorcycles, 19.9%; passenger cars, 18.2%; and light trucks, 17.2%).

    Types Of Damages You Can Recover After An 18-Wheeler Accident

    Damages you can get after an accident with an 18 wheeler

    Here are the different types of damages you might be entitled to after a collision with an 18-wheeler:

    Economic Damages

    These damages are the concrete, easily quantifiable financial losses you experienced due to the accident. Examples include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning potential, and property damage.

    Non-Economic Damages

    These damages address the intangible losses that impact your quality of life after the accident. Although they’re more challenging to quantify, truck accident lawyers typically calculate non-economic damages using multipliers based on the severity of injuries and their impact on a victim’s life. Here are some examples:

    • Pain and Suffering — The physical discomfort and emotional distress caused by your injuries
    • Loss of Consortium — Compensates for the loss of companionship or affection due to your injuries’ impact on your relationships
    • Loss of Enjoyment of Life — Awarded if your injuries prevent you from participating in activities you once enjoyed
    Punitive Damages

    Unlike economic and non-economic damages, which are awarded based on the demonstrable harm you suffered, punitive damages are only awarded in exceptional circumstances. In rare cases involving extreme negligence or intentional misconduct, the court may award punitive damages to punish the at-fault party and deter similar behavior in the future.

    If you are wondering which types of damages you may be eligible for, contact a personal injury lawyer. They can assess the specific details of your case and provide a more accurate estimate of the potential settlement you may receive. They will consider all relevant factors and ensure you receive just compensation.

    Steps To Take After An 18-Wheeler Collision

    After an 18-wheeler collision, taking immediate action is crucial to protect your rights and maximize your chances of fair compensation. Here are some essential steps to follow:

    Seek Medical Attention

    Your health and well-being should be your top priority. Immediately check yourself for injuries after a truck accident.  Even if you don’t feel immediate pain or visible injuries, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some injuries, such as internal or head injuries, may not be immediately apparent but can have serious consequences if left untreated.

    Contact Law Enforcement

    Call 911 and report the accident to the police. A police accident report will outline the details of the collision and can be vital evidence when pursuing your compensation claim.

    Gather Evidence

    Collect as much evidence as you can at the accident scene. You can use this evidence to support your claim and demonstrate the extent of your injuries and damages. Here are some key pieces of evidence to gather:

    Evidence after a crash with an 18 wheeler

    • Visual Evidence — If it is safe to do so, take photos or videos of the accident scene. Include the vehicles involved, the damage, and any visible injuries. This documentation can provide powerful visual proof of the crash.
    • Medical Records — Keep all hospital reports, doctor’s notes, test results, and receipts for medications and treatments. These records will help establish the severity of your injuries and any associated medical expenses.
    • Witness Statements — If there were any witnesses to the accident, respectfully ask for their contact information and a brief statement regarding what they saw. Witness accounts can provide additional support for your version of events.
    • Police Reports Obtain a copy of the police report. These reports contain important details about the collision, such as the parties involved, witnesses, and any citations issued, such as a DUI citation. It can serve as valuable evidence when seeking compensation for your losses.
    • Financial Documents — Keep records of any financial losses resulting from the crash, such as medical bills, repair estimates from auto body shops, and proof of lost wages. These documents will help establish the monetary damages you have incurred due to the accident.
    • Pain And Suffering Journal — Write in a journal to keep track of how you suffered after the accident. Mental and emotional trauma can affect your memory of the accident, especially one as traumatic as a truck collision. Noneconomic damages are difficult to prove. However, if you keep a daily journal, your lawyer can give you a good estimate of how much compensation you may be entitled to.

    Always keep all evidence organized and easily accessible. This will help your truck accident lawyer streamline the claims process and ensure no crucial information is overlooked or misplaced.

    Notify Your Insurance Company

    Contact your insurance provider and report the accident. Provide them with accurate and detailed facts about the collision.  Be cautious when discussing the specifics of the accident, and never admit fault. Insurance adjusters may try to minimize your claim or shift blame onto you. If you’re unsure about what to say, consult a truck accident attorney first.

    Consult Experienced 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys

    Here’s how our injury attorneys, who are experts on 18-wheeler accident cases, can help with your claim:

    • Legal Expertise — Our 18-wheeler accident lawyers have in-depth knowledge of California’s compensation laws and legal processes. They can guide you through your case and ensure all necessary paperwork is filed correctly and on time.
    • Evidence Gathering — The best personal injury attorneys know what evidence is needed to maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation and will work diligently to obtain it. Our experienced truck accident lawyers are experts in gathering and presenting strong evidence to support your claim.
    • Negotiation Skills — Insurance companies will try to undervalue or deny your claim. Our lawyers specializing in truck accidents are skilled negotiators who can advocate for your rights and fight for what you deserve. They will handle all communication and negotiations with the insurance company so you can focus on getting better.
    • Legal Representation — If your case goes to trial, our expert litigators will be by your side. Our truck accident attorneys will represent your best interests in court and present a compelling case before a judge or jury.

    Common Challenges In Navigating California’s Compensation System

    Understanding the compensation system for 18-wheeler collisions in California can be difficult due to several factors. Some common challenges include:

    • Complex Legal Procedures — The legal process surrounding truck accidents can be intricate and overwhelming, especially for individuals unfamiliar with the nuances of personal injury law. Understanding the necessary paperwork, deadlines, and legal requirements can be challenging without proper guidance from a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer specializing in 18-wheeler accidents.
    • Insurance Company Tactics — Insurers often try to minimize payouts or place blame on victims. They may use various tactics to undervalue your claim or deny it altogether. Dealing with insurance adjusters and negotiating can be frustrating and time-consuming.
    • Determining Fault Establishing liability in truck collisions is a complicated process. Multiple parties could be involved, including the truck driver, the trucking company, or other third parties. For example, the vehicle manufacturer can be held liable for accidents caused by auto defects. Meanwhile, another motorist can share responsibility if their reckless driving contributed to the crash. You might also have to file a claim with a government agency if the accident occurred due to dangerous road conditions. Your truck accident lawyers must thoroughly investigate and analyze evidence meticulously to determine fault.
    • Statute Of Limitations — Failure to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations can result in losing your right to pursue financial recovery. You’ll need to keep track of the deadlines and ensure all necessary paperwork is filed on time. If you find these things complicated, ask for help from a trusted truck accident lawyer.
    Frequently Asked Questions

    Should I Accept The Insurance Company's Offer After A Truck Accident

    Should I Accept The Insurance Company’s Offer After A Truck Accident?

    The severity of your injuries significantly impacts the compensation you receive after a collision with an 18-wheeler truck.  Don’t settle for a lowball offer.  Determining the full value of your claim is crucial, and an experienced personal injury lawyer can help by factoring in all your current and future medical expenses.

    If reaching a fair settlement with the insurance company proves impossible or the offered amount falls short, you have the right to file a lawsuit.  A truck accident lawyer can guide you through the legal process and fight to secure the compensation you deserve.

    Why Do You Need An 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney?

    You need an 18-wheeler accident attorney because semi-truck accidents are complex legal matters that often involve multiple parties potentially liable for damages. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you by gathering evidence, valuing your claim, negotiating on your behalf, and even preparing for a lawsuit if necessary. Their knowledge of specific laws ensures you receive the compensation you deserve.

    When Do Truck Accident Settlements Happen?

    Truck accident settlements can happen anytime after the crash until a jury gives a verdict. If an insurance company offers you a settlement soon after the accident, and you accept it, your case is over. Accepting a settlement means you can’t sue later, so it’s important to be careful and understand what you’re agreeing to.

    What Happens If There Is A Shared Fault In An 18-Wheeler Accident?

    If you are partially at fault for an 18-wheeler accident, your compensation will be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault. For example, if you are found to be 40% at fault, your damages will be reduced by 40%. In monetary terms, if the value of your case is $150,000, and your shared fault is 40%, you’re entitled to get up to $90,000. In some states, if you are mainly responsible for the accident, you may not be able to receive any compensation at all.

    What If I Am An Undocumented Immigrant Injured In California?

    You are still legally entitled to receive worker’s compensation benefits even if you are an undocumented immigrant injured in California. The state’s law ensures that all workers, regardless of their immigration status, have the right to necessary medical treatment and financial support for work-related injuries.

    We Turn 18-Wheeler Accident Victims Into Victors

    If you find yourself saying, “I need a personal injury lawyer in California,” look no further. Our experienced 18-wheeler accident attorneys are available 24/7 to assist you. Call (888) 488-1391 today, and let us help you protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.

    Led by Arash Khorsandi, Esq., our truck accident lawyers are committed to helping you get your life back on track. We know the complex regulations that govern the industry, and we’ll use that knowledge to your advantage. Our skilled truck accident attorneys aren’t afraid to go head-to-head with trucking companies and their insurers. We’ll handle all the legal legwork, from gathering evidence to negotiating settlements, so you can focus on what matters most: your recovery.

    Our firm has handled countless personal injury cases, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, Uber accidents, pedestrian accidents, workplace accidents, dog bites, product liability, wrongful deaths, and more.

    We offer our services throughout California, including Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and other locations in the state.

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    DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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