Truck Accident Injury Attorney Burbank CA
Trucking companies will try to avoid liability completely. In some cases, trucking companies actually require their drivers to purchase or rent their equipment and will attempt to push responsibility on to a driver’s personal insurance in the result of an accident. At Law Offices of Andrew Zeytuntsyan, we will do our best to prove both driver and trucking company negligence by examining the conditions of the accidents, the conditions of the equipment, and the condition of the driver. In more cases than not, a trucking accident was caused by a combination of driver fatigue and sub-standard trucking equipment. In these situations, we prove negligence by both parties and can build a case for a larger settlement.
Taking on Insurance Companies
When there are two potential parties at fault (i.e., the driver and the trucking company), both associated insurance companies will try to push responsibility to the other. For example, the leading cause of trucking accidents is a failure to properly maintain equipment. The driver’s insurance will claim that the trucking company is responsible for their equipment, and the trucking company’s insurance will claim that maintenance is the driver’s responsibility. When two insurance companies fight, only the injured party loses. You need a Law Offices of Andrew Zeytuntsyan attorney on your side to help you navigate these tricky liability and insurance practices.
Calculating a Fair Settlement
We will fight to get you the absolutely largest settlement that we can. Trucks are very large and very dangerous vehicles, and more often than not the victims of trucking accidents are entitled to more of a settlement than someone who was involved in an automobile accident. When you have a Law Offices of Andrew Zeytuntsyan attorney on your side following a trucking accident, you can feel secure knowing that we understand the uniqueness and severity of your case and that we will secure the largest compensation possible.
Make the First Move Without Delay
Make the First Move
Contact us Today
You’ve been driving a truck for years. You know what you’re doing. The problem is that other drivers around you are often ignorant about how to share the road with a tractor-trailer.
They don’t give you enough space to turn at intersections. They speed up just to quickly cut you off and slam on the brakes. They seem to drive long stretches in your blind spot, making safely changing lanes a struggle. Because you have to drive with so many people who are completely unaware of how to safely share the road with you and your truck, you’re at risk for an accident.
In fact, in 2016, there were just over 3.5 million registered truck drivers in the US compared to 221.7 million registered automobile drivers. That same year, there were “approximately 475,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks.” This means that almost 14% of all truck drivers were involved in a crash that year. When you compare that to police-reported automobile accidents, where approximately 3% of all registered automobile drivers were in an accident, it’s easy to see that you’re at greater risk just by driving a semi.
If you’ve been in an accident, you already know you could be entitled to financial compensation. This can include payment for medical bills, repairs to your truck, loss of income, and several other items. That might leave you wondering, “How much money could I receive?”
The simple answer is that it depends on two things:
- how good your evidence is that you weren’t at fault and
- how good your lawyer is.
Before we talk about how to choose the best lawyer to represent you, let’s go over what you should do if you’ve been in an accident.
By following these steps now, it will help you gather good evidence. Plus, it will help your lawyer prove your case later. Taking these simple steps right after your accident can help the court understand why you should be awarded more money if your case goes to trial.
As soon as your accident happens, call the police. You want to report what has happened as soon as possible so the police can see the site of the accident ASAP. This allows them to thoroughly document and take pictures of the scene. Plus, they will be able to interview witnesses.
While you’re waiting for the police, make sure to get the name, license number, and insurance information of the other person involved in the accident. You also should feel free to get names and phone numbers from witnesses who might not have time to wait until the police show up.
Even though the police are going to take pictures of the accident, feel free to take your own. You want to take photos of the accident from every angle possible. If there are skid marks, be sure to include those in your shots. Take pictures of the damage to your truck and the other vehicle. If you’re injured, take pictures of that, too.
The point is that you want to take enough pictures to easily show someone else exactly what happened. After all, this might be what your lawyer needs to do if you end up in a trial. The difference between showing your story and telling your story could result in significantly more money for you.
Never refuse medical treatment. You’re not a medical professional, so you don’t know whether you’re injured or not. You might feel fine because of shock or you might have a type of delayed injury. Have the EMTs or firefighters who arrive at the scene of your accident examine you. Then, have the emergency room doctor take a look. Make sure your injuries are documented.
If it’s about your case, take note of it. Whether it’s texts, emails, phone calls, medical records, bills, or anything else pertaining to your accident; make a note of it. You might find it helpful to have a notebook you can fill with information about phone calls, texts, and emails. This way, all of your notes are located in one place. Then, when you’ve chosen a lawyer to represent you, have everything printed and keep the hard copies for yourself. Give a copy of everything to your lawyer.
If anyone calls and wants to talk to you about your truck accident, tell them to call your lawyer. That might sound like a rude thing to do. After all, if the person calling is polite, you don’t want to be a jerk to them. What you might not realize is that insurance adjusters and other people who might call and try to talk to you about your accident have been specifically trained to be very nice to you and put you at ease.
They make everything seem like no big deal like they’re just finishing up some paperwork so they can send you a check, but what they’re really doing is trying to get you to say things that might damage your case. These people are not on your side. They’re trying their best to find holes in your claim so their company doesn’t have to pay as much money.
Whether it’s a waiver, release, settlement agreement, or some other document about your truck accident, don’t sign it unless your lawyer tells you it’s okay. Keep in mind, people working for the insurance company will try to trick you. They might nonchalantly ask you to sign something. Even if the person makes it seem like no big deal, have your lawyer review it first. You wouldn’t want to accidentally sign something that results in a smaller settlement.
But, in order to have your lawyer review your documents, you need to have a lawyer. And, when you’re looking for a lawyer, you want to find the absolute best. Maybe you’re wondering, “Can’t I just represent myself?” It’s not recommended, and here’s why.
If you’ve been in an accident, you don’t want to represent yourself. The insurance company of the person who hurt you is doing their very best to minimize (or completely eliminate) the amount of money they need to pay for the accident. In fact, they have a whole team of lawyers working to ensure you don’t see a dime of their company’s money.
Maybe you’re hung up on having to pay a lawyer a percentage of your settlement. After all, you were the one who was injured, not your lawyer. Shouldn’t you be able to keep all that money? Well, here’s the thing: You could represent yourself. You might even receive a few thousand dollars in your settlement. And, without a lawyer, that would be all yours.
Or, you could have a qualified lawyer represent you and possibly finish with a settlement for a hundred thousand dollars. Even if you paid thirty percent to your lawyer, that would still leave you with $70,000. That looks a whole lot better than if you represented yourself and just received a few thousand dollars.
The above is just an example, but it helps you see why anyone who is serious about receiving the best compensation for their accident would want a highly skilled lawyer. But, how do you find the best lawyer?
You want someone experienced, someone who knows exactly what kind of tricks the insurance company is going to pull to try to keep more money in their pockets. You want someone tenacious, someone who never accepts no for an answer and won’t stop fighting until you get what’s due to you. But, most importantly, you want someone who has already had success in the courtroom with a jury trial.
Use this idea of what you want to help you ask meaningful questions when you’re interviewing lawyers. After all, there are tons of personal injury lawyers out there. It’s important to ask quality questions when you’re hiring your lawyer in order to ensure you’re hiring the best person for the job.
It’s not good enough to find a personal injury lawyer. You need to find someone who has extensive experience with your type of case. A lawyer who normally handles motorcycle injury cases, for example, won’t have as much success as one who’s used to all the ins and outs of a truck accident case.
Insurance companies often have a team of lawyers who are all experts at winning in the courtroom. This is why it’s so important that your lawyer also has a winning track record. But, a winning record isn’t enough. You need to make sure the lawyer you’re interviewing has a winning trial record when representing people who have been involved in a truck accident.
Make sure to ask:
- How many cases has the lawyer handled regarding your specific type of truck accident?
- How many cases similar to yours has the lawyer tried in front of a jury?
- How many trials (similar to yours, of course) has the lawyer won?
As you might expect, the answers will vary here. It depends upon whether your specific accident was straight-forward or not, the severity of your injuries, and whether your case settles or goes to court. Those three factors can greatly impact how soon your case will be resolved.
In a best-case scenario with an easy-to-prove case and minor injuries, your case could be resolved in about five to eight months. However, if your case is more complex or if you need to go to trial, the entire process could take several years until everything is resolved. Still, if you’re speaking with a highly skilled lawyer, he or she should be able to give you a good idea of how long the process will take.
The amount of money you will get will depend on a few variables. How significant were your injuries? How badly was your truck damaged? Were you still able to drive it after the accident? Plus, there are some other factors that play a role.
- Medical bills. When you’re keeping track of medical bills that need to be reimbursed, you need to think about your past, present, and future. Collect the bills you may have already received for treatment you received immediately after your accident. Make notes about what other treatments or doctor’s appointments you are going to currently. Think about your current situation. Will you have to receive treatment in the future for any accident-related injuries?
- Lost wages. If you were injured and unable to work because of your truck accident, you are entitled to your lost wages. Similarly, if you were fine but your truck was badly damaged and that caused you to miss work, you’re entitled to lost wages. But, lost wages aren’t just a collection of wages you missed out on in the past. If you’re still unable to work (whether because of your injuries or because of your truck’s damage), you need to think about your future lost wages. This is particularly important if you are unfortunately not going to be able to work in your field again.
- Pain and suffering. How much does your pain cost? This can be a tough number to compute. However, if you are in therapy for accident-related issues, the cost of therapy can be a good starting point. Regardless, it’s your best bet to start off with a high request for pain and suffering compensation. Negotiations will always whittle away at the actual money you’ll be awarded.
- Property damage. You can reasonably expect to have your truck restored to its former glory. It’s realistic to expect your truck will be returned to its pre-accident condition. However, it’s unrealistic to expect your accident will warrant a completely new truck.
- Death or dismemberment. If your truck accident, unfortunately, included the death of a loved one or dismemberment of yourself or a loved one, some additional expenses might be covered. This could include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering for anyone else in your truck at the time of the accident. If your truck accident resulted in a death; funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses of the deceased, loss of future income of the deceased, and loss of companionship could be covered.
- Evidence. It’s not just enough to tell your story—you need to be able to show your story. Showing jurors pictures of your injuries, pictures of your truck, pictures of the scene of the crime paints a vivid picture in their memories. Witness statements and police reports can also contain tons of help. Did the witness clearly see the other vehicle cut off your truck? What was the other driver’s blood alcohol level? Remember, everything you can do to clearly prove you weren’t at fault will result in an easier decision for the jury about how much you should be awarded.
Important evidence can include:
- Medical records.
- Video footage.
- Police reports.
- Testimony from medical experts.
- Police reports.
- Records of phone calls, texts, emails, and any other pertinent correspondence.
You want a pile of evidence that’s a mile high. You want the insurance attorneys for the other side to cringe whenever they see how much evidence you have. Most importantly, you want them to realize that if you go to trial, it’s going to be very costly for their company. This realization will yield a settlement offer and, if you’ve done a thorough enough job collecting evidence, the offer will be a good one.
But, what if you’ve done a great job collecting evidence and the insurance company’s attorneys still seem willing to go to court? This probably means they think you’re asking for more money than a jury would award you. If this is your situation, you need to take a moment to stop and think carefully and unemotionally about your situation. Then, talk to your lawyer and really listen to his or her advice. The last thing you want to do is invest your time and emotions on a trial that could result in a loss for you.
The good news is that most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means if you win, they get a percentage. If you lose, they don’t get anything. By working this way, you know your lawyer is just as enthusiastic about bringing in a significant settlement for you as you are to receive it.
Before you choose your lawyer, you need to know what percentage he or she expects. It’s not unusual for the contingency fee to run anywhere from 25% to 75%, so it’s important to understand what your lawyer expects before you officially enter into an agreement together. Keep in mind, the contingency fee is a negotiable point. Don’t be afraid to try to adjust to a lower fee before signing the contract.
- Sliding fee scale. Make sure to ask your lawyer what the fees will be if you go to trial. Lawyers who use a sliding fee scale will charge you a higher percentage if you end up in a courtroom. Often, it’s a much higher percentage than you originally thought you would pay. If the lawyer you’re speaking with has a sliding fee scale, find a different lawyer.
- Case costs. Case costs are a normal part of any case. There are expenses such as court filing fees, investigation fees, expert witness fees, and more. What’s important is that you ask to pay the case costs “off the top.” This means that your case costs are paid before your lawyer’s payment is calculated.
Let’s take a look at an example. We’ll say your settlement is $100,000, your case costs are $10,000, and your lawyer’s percentage is 33%. When your case costs come off the top, your lawyer’s percentage is calculated from the remaining $90,000. This results in $60,300 for you and $29,700 for your lawyer.
However, if you didn’t pay your case costs first, you would have $67,000 and your lawyer would have $33,000. Then, you would have to pay your case costs. That would leave you with $57,000. If you take a look at the difference between the two examples, you can see that by taking the case costs “off the top,” you end up with more money—$3,300 more. Make sure that paying the case costs off the top is included in your contract with your lawyer.
A good lawyer will tell you to not do anything that might jeopardize your case. Remember, even if you are the victim, you are being investigated. If the lawyers for the insurance company can find any evidence that you might be at fault (even a little), it weakens your case.
- Do not talk about your accident on social media.
This means you shouldn’t post that you had an accident. If friends hear you were in an accident and send you a message to ask what happened, stay tight-lipped and thank them for their thoughts and prayers. What you post on social media can be used as evidence against you in court.
- Avoid posting any photos on social media.
Let’s say your back was injured in your truck accident. If you post a picture of you taking your dog for a walk, it opens the door to question the severity of your back pain (and maybe even the validity of your injury). It would be a shame to call question to your injuries just because of a silly social media picture, but it happens all the time. Make sure you and your friends don’t post pictures of you on social media before your case is settled.
- Do not talk to anyone besides your lawyer about your case.
Whether it’s chit-chatting with friends or answering questions from the insurance company, you shouldn’t say anything about your case without running it by your lawyer first. Your lawyer better understands the process of personal injury cases. He or she will know what is really going on when the friendly insurance adjuster calls and just wants to verify some things. Remember, loose lips sink ships, and the same is true for personal injury cases.
- Follow your doctor’s orders.
It’s imperative that you show that you’re completely following orders so you can heal as quickly as possible. If you’re not quite following the doctor’s orders, people could think you’re not very interested in getting better. They might even think you’re preventing yourself from healing in order to receive more money. By following your doctor’s orders, you show that you’re serious about healing and are trying to resolve your health issues as quickly as possible.
- Attend all your doctor’s appointments.
There are a couple of good reasons why you should make sure to attend all of your doctor’s appointments. First, if you skip doctor’s appointments, you show that you’re not interested in getting better. It could also make people think you’re faking your injury. Second, each doctor’s appointment is an opportunity for a medical professional to take notes and verify the significance of your injuries. By going to your doctor’s appointments, you show that you’re doing your best to get better and you have further evidence from a doctor of how significant your injuries from your truck accident were. This results in better, stronger evidence.
- Keep thorough, detailed notes.
Only you know who has contacted you and what has been said. It’s vital that you keep notes about any phone calls, text messages, emails, or other correspondence you have received regarding your accident. To keep the best notes, get a notebook that is exclusively for information about your truck accident. Whenever you are contacted, jot down the date, time, person who contacted you, and what was said. You might also record the phone number (for phone calls or texts) or email address (for emails). But, do make sure to take your notes as the contact happens. Keep the original copies of your correspondence for yourself and send copies to your lawyer.
Everything you’ve just read will help you do your part to receive a high financial outcome for your case. But, there’s one more key ingredient to your success—the right lawyer. Here are some ideas of how to find the best truck accident injury lawyer:
- Ask your friends. Friends can offer a wealth of knowledge. Just make sure the lawyers that are recommended to you are experts in cases similar to your own.
- Do a Google search. By typing “personal injury lawyers near me” into your Google bar, you’ll end up with some great results. Most likely, the top several results will be from ads that may or may not have lawyers that are actually near you. However, if you scroll down you’ll find all sorts of information about local personal injury lawyers.
- Check out your State Bar Association directory. Every lawyer licensed in your state will be part of the directory. Then, narrow your search by entering your city and/or that you’re searching for a lawyer with truck accident experience.
After reading all of this, you might be wondering why I would spend so much time teaching you all the best questions to ask and what traps to look out for when hiring a lawyer. Why wouldn’t I just say, “Hire us! We’re the right lawyers for your case!”? Honestly, you should know what to ask and look for. When you do, I’m confident you’ll be positive we’re the right lawyers for you.
Regardless of whether you choose to work with our firm or someone else, we wish you all the best results on your truck accident case. Please remember different states have different laws about truck accidents and settlements that may come as a result of an accident.