Growing up in Nevada, Joe Benson & Ben Bingham have watched with amazement as Las Vegas has grown from a cowboy town to the most exciting city in the United States. To support the growth of our city, it is necessary for large courier vehicles such as eighteen-wheelers, rigs, diesels, and semi trucks to travel our roadways. Concrete trucks and other heavy load commercial vehicles travel our overcrowded expressways, interstates and highways by the dozen. Coupled with traffic cones for construction areas, these are just two factors that may be a recipe for disaster. Nevada's Joint & Several Liability Law applies to truck drivers, meaning they may be held liable for damages in cases where comparative fault is not raised as an affirmative defense.
When a Diesel crashes into an ordinary vehicle, the results are often life altering injuries and or death. Victims who do survive may require occupational therapy and may experience significant memory loss, become nonambulatory, require in home nurse care, and miss the opportunity to truly enjoy life. Accidents involving big rigs can cause catastrophic damage due to the large size of the trucks. While truckers should always drive defensively and safely—after all, they are professionals; in many cases, they do not. They may feel tired, speed, or not properly maintain their trucks. Such behaviors can cause accidents between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and pedestrians. If a driver falls asleep at the wheel or a truck malfunctions while you’re nearby, you’ll have up to 80,000 pounds coming straight at you.
Commercial vehicles including eighteen-wheelers, diesels, construction trucks and essentially all big rigs are required to maintain a minimum one million dollar policy of insurance. Many law firms will exhaust an eighteen-wheelers one million dollar policy without a comprehensive understanding of how these large policies of insurance for eighteen-wheeler or commercial vehicles unfold. A million dollars may initially sound like a lot of money, but considering the costs of two months at University Medical Center, emergency surgeries and in-house nursing care for the remainder of an injured party's life is not enough. A million dollars might get you through two years of medical care thereby leaving your family with outstanding medical bills in the future. Most eighteen-wheelers will offer the one million dollar policy in hopes that an attorney or law firm will accept the same as exhausting all coverage's. However, this may be FALSE. Many commercial carriers will have an excess policy exceeding one million dollars. To make temptation worse, many firms are unskilled in forcing the eighteen-wheeler companies procedurally to reveal the excess policy and in determining when they have a duty to.
If you’ve sustained an injury in an accident with a truck or if you’ve lost a loved one because of a truck accident, contact an experienced Las Vegas attorney today.
Truck accidents, like most other automobile accidents, fall under the practice area of personal injury. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you should retain an attorney who has experience negotiating with trucking insurance companies and litigating truck accident cases in court to assist you with your personal injury claim. Some accidents may involve long-term or permanent injuries. Depending on the circumstances of an accident, a court may award injured individuals significant damages to cover the cost of their injuries. An experienced truck accident lawyer knows how to negotiate with insurance companies to secure compensation for long-term injuries or injuries that may require multiple surgeries. If settlement proves unviable, your attorney should not hesitate to file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
Before retaining a truck accident attorney, you should ask how many cases he or she has settled and how many have gone to trial. You may also want to inquire about the specific dollar amount of past settlements or damages awards that the attorney has secured in similar cases.
Truck accidents occur for various reasons. In some cases, the cause is entirely accidental, such as when a mechanical part that appears fully functional fails. For example, if an engine sensor goes bad and causes a truck to stall in the middle of the road, the driver may lose control of the truck’s hydraulics and be unable to stop in time to avoid an accident.
In other cases, a court may determine that a truck driver is entirely at fault for an accident. Truck drivers can cause accidents because they are driving while tired, are driving too fast for conditions, or have failed to properly maintain their truck. Drivers can also cause accidents if they drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or fail to pay attention to the road.
Because big rigs can cause so much damage when they’re involved in an accident, federal law limits the number of hours that drivers are allowed to drive in a given day. The hours of service mandate also restricts how long a driver may stay on the clock.
Per the federal regulations, truckers may only drive for 11 consecutive hours, and then they must rest for 10 hours before they are permitted to drive again. Additionally, if a driver has been on duty for 14 hours, regardless of the time spent actually driving, the driver must take 10 hours off. For example, if a driver was late loading his or her vehicle and was on duty for 6 hours before he or she started driving, and the trip is a 10-hour trip, the driver may only drive eight hours before needing to take a break. This is because the 8 hours of driving brings the driver up to the 14-hour limit.
Additionally, drivers must rest for at least 30 minutes for every eight hours of driving. If a driver has driven 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days, he or she must take 34 hours off duty. And, if the drivers are using the sleeper berth provision, the driver must have 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus an additional 2 consecutive hours off duty or in the sleeper berth. A driver may choose any combination of the two.
Thus, drivers should allow for plenty of off-time to avoid ever driving while tired. However, drivers can fudge log books to show off time when they were actually driving. If a driver falsifies his or her logbook, officials can fine both the driver and the company, and they both may face additional damages if the driver gets into an accident. With the growing use of electronic logbooks, it is more difficult for a driver to fudge his or her time than in the past.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that trucking companies systematically inspect, repair, and maintain their trucks. The FMCSA also requires that truck parts and accessories are in safe and proper condition at all times. It can be difficult to determine whether some truck parts are functioning properly, even with regular inspections. Electrical parts are some of the most common faulty parts. In some cases, mechanical parts may look fine when the driver leaves the yard, yet fail 300 miles down the road.
Failed parts can cause a driver to cause an accident. Because truck accidents are usually catastrophic, trucking companies should try their best to repair worn parts before the driver leaves for any trip, however long. However, it’s impossible to catch every small problem that a truck may experience. Regardless of whether a court determines that a trucker or truck company acted negligently in maintaining their truck, you may still be eligible to collect damages if you can prove that a part broke unexpectedly. If investigators are able to show that the malfunctioning part that caused your accident had been malfunctioning for some time and that the truck company should have already replaced it, a court will likely award you even more compensation.
Each truck must have a maintenance log book indicating all maintenance that has been done, when it was done, and the specific type of maintenance completed, such as repairs to a truck’s hydraulics, tires, or brakes. The logbook must show:
Trucks go through several types of inspections, including roadside inspections and driver vehicle inspections. Below we discuss some of the most common truck inspections:
Roadside inspections. If a driver undergoes a roadside inspection, the driver must provide his or her employer with the inspection report. The truck company then has 15 days to correct all violations, sign the report, and mail it to the address indicated on the report. The carrier must keep a copy of the report for 12 months from the date of the inspection.
Annual inspections. Commercial vehicles, including trailers, must undergo inspection at least once every year. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations have a list of items that must be inspected. The motor carrier must keep a copy of the inspection report for a minimum of 14 months from the report date. A motor carrier may perform the inspection itself.
Driver vehicle inspections. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also requires that drivers conduct a daily, post-trip inspection report at the end of each driving day. The report should note any deficiencies or defects that the driver has noticed. If the issue affects the safety of the vehicle, a driver must repair it immediately. Otherwise, the motor carrier must certify that the repair does not pose a safety hazard and thus doesn’t need to be rectified immediately. Copies of driver vehicle inspections must be kept for a minimum of 3 months.
Truckers often speed to ensure rapid delivery of their cargo. Because federal regulations restrict the number of hours they’re permitted to drive in any one day, they may miss delivery deadlines if they need extra time to load or unload their trucks. Traffic jams and accidents can also increase the overall delivery time. Truckers often speed to try and make up for that lost time.
Additionally, truck drivers are usually paid by the mile, not by the time in the truck. Thus, a driver is losing money by sitting in traffic waiting for a traffic jam to clear up. A trucker may speed to make up the time lost idling in traffic and to maximize his or her compensation.
However, most truck drivers now use electronic logging devices. These devices log the number of miles driven, the speed of the truck, the amount of time spent on the road, and more. With electronic logging devices, it is difficult for truckers to fudge their log books.
It’s important to note that federal regulations only require interstate drivers to use electronic logging devices. Many states do not require logging devices for local and/or intrastate drivers. However, Nevada has adopted the FMCSA’s ELD mandate .
When you retain one of the experienced truck accident attorneys at Benson & Bingham, we first try to negotiate a favorable settlement with all of the involved insurance companies. If we cannot secure a fair and reasonable settlement, we will file a personal injury lawsuit and take your case to court. Insurance companies generally want to avoid litigation because, in most cases, they end up paying more following a trial.
If you do end up filing a lawsuit and taking your personal injury claim to court to secure compensation for your truck accident injuries or for the death of a loved one, you may have to testify as to the events of the accident and following the accident. However, in such an event, we will help you prepare for your testimony.
Whether you settle or go to trial, you’ll have to participate in discovery, which entails providing the other parties with copies of your medical bills, the police report, and other documents related to your accident. We will help you collect these documents. If we need expert witnesses to testify about your injuries, the death of a loved one, or even to refute a police report, we will hire the appropriate expert witnesses—such as doctors and accident scene reconstructors—to help us present your case as accurately as possible.
Because of our diligence in preparing personal injury cases, insurance companies almost always prefer to settle than to litigate.
Many individuals try to settle with insurance companies without the assistance of an attorney. However, retaining an attorney to handle these negotiations will help maximize the amount of compensation that you receive. Always keep in mind that insurance companies—even your own—are focused on their bottom lines, which means they want to pay the least amount of compensation necessary to close a claim.
Complex truck accident cases often involve multiple insurance companies, and they may each have their own attorneys. Other parties potentially involved in the case may include:
When you are negotiating a settlement or litigating a court case, you must send copies of all important documents to every one of these entity’s attorneys during the discovery process.
Between 2004 and 2018, Benson & Bingham secured over $127,000,000 in compensation for our clients, including:
Truck accident injuries are often catastrophic due to the size and weight of the truck, especially if the victim was walking, riding a motorcycle, or riding a bicycle. Even if the accident was minor and you think you are uninjured, you should always have a doctor evaluate you for any hidden injuries following an accident. A light tap from a car is less dangerous than a light tap from a huge truck, which could have caused injuries that may not appear for days or weeks after your accident.
It is not uncommon for injuries to show up hours or even days later. When you are in an accident, your adrenaline flows, which may keep you from feeling pain. You should always have a doctor evaluate you for injuries following any type of truck accident.
Some of the most common truck accident injuries include:
Traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can range from short-term concussions to permanent, severe traumatic brain injuries.
Spinal cord injuries. These injuries are usually long-term or permanent, but they can also be minor. Regardless, you should always have a doctor check for spinal cord injuries following a truck accident.
Abrasions, bruises, scrapes, and cuts. In most cases, these injuries heal in a relatively short period of time. However, if open cuts and/or sores become infected, your recovery time may extend significantly. If you don’t take care of the infection immediately, you may contract sepsis, which can be deadly without medical intervention. A limb with sepsis may require amputation if you don’t get it under control quickly.
Broken bones. You may have sustained a small fracture or a more serious compound fracture, where an open wound resides near the break. Oftentimes, a piece of bone protruding through the skin causes the open wound.
Strains and sprains. These injuries generally heal quickly, but they may require physical therapy.
Muscle injuries. Depending on the muscle and how it’s injured, muscle injuries may heal quickly or may take a significant amount of time to heal. If you tear a muscle, you may have to undergo surgery to repair it. This type of injury could take up to 3 months to heal.
Neck and shoulder injuries. Depending on the type of injury, neck and shoulder injuries may take months to heal or could heal within a few weeks.
Amputations. In some cases, you may sustain so much damage to a single limb or digit that it cannot be fixed. In this case, you may have to amputate the damaged limb or digit.
Psychological injuries. Following some accidents, particularly those that are particularly horrific or traumatic, injured individuals may suffer from emotional and psychological issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Internal injuries. You can also damage internal organs in a serious truck accident. A broken rib may puncture one of your lungs, or you may sustain severe damage to your spleen, liver, kidneys, heart, stomach, and/or bowels. These injuries may require surgery and can have long-lasting and even permanent effects.
Some injuries may require additional surgeries, follow-up appointments, and ongoing physical therapy. Retaining an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you with the negotiation and settlement process—or the trial process, if the insurance company refuses to compensate you for your injuries with a settlement offer—ensures that you don’t forget about the future expenses that you will likely accumulate. Personal injury lawyers have the benefit of significant experience in this area, and they are able to use that experience to provide you with a better estimate of the total amount of compensation that you should seek.
How much compensation you may receive depends on many factors, including the severity of your injuries, the type of injuries that you’ve sustained, and whether a court will award you punitive damages. The three different types of damages are (1) economic damages, (2) non-economic damages, and (3) punitive damages.
Economic damages are for costs that you can easily put a dollar amount on, including:
These are damages that a defendant must pay that do not have a set dollar amount. Most insurance companies and some attorneys use a chart to calculate non-economic damages. You might receive compensation for the following non-economic damages:
Pain and suffering. If your injuries cause you to suffer long-term or permanent pain, a court may award you damages for pain and suffering.
Loss of use. If you lose the use of a limb, either from amputation or because the damage is so severe that you no longer have the full use of the limb, a court may award you compensation for your loss.
Loss of companionship. If your injuries preclude you from engaging in activities that you enjoyed prior to your accident, such as housework and hobbies, and if your injuries affect your ability to engage in regular family activities, you will likely receive compensation for loss of companionship.
Loss of consortium. If you are unable to have a physical relationship with your spouse because of injuries from your accident, a court may award you damages for loss of consortium.
Future wages. Long-term or permanent injuries may preclude you from returning to your previous job, thus resulting in a partial or complete loss of income. In this case, a court may award you compensation for lost future wages if you are not able to work in the same job as before.
Future medical costs. Following your accident, you may need additional surgery, therapy, and follow-up appointments. If so, a court may award you future medical costs. It is difficult to calculate the future cost of ongoing medical care. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you determine how much money to seek to cover your future medical care.
If an accident investigation shows that a driver acted negligently, a court may award you punitive damages. Courts only award punitive damages when an at-fault party acted grossly negligent. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or driving while distracted may constitute gross negligence.
Additionally, if the evidence indicates that a truck driver or company failed to properly maintain a truck or trailer, or that maintenance inspections were not carried out pursuant to the FMCSA, a court may award punitive damages.
Nevada law limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages if the amount of compensatory damages equals or exceeds $100,000. If compensatory damages amount to less than $100,000, the law caps punitive damages at $300,000. However, Nevada law does not impose any cap on punitive damages if the defendant was intentionally driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Don't let your chance for just compensation pass you by. Electronic Logging Devices our now mandatory in all commercial trucks and buses and it is critical to preserve this evidence prior to trial. If you or a loved one has been injured concerning any commercial vehicle; eighteen-wheeler, diesel, cement truck, limousine, big rig, construction truck, garbage truck, etc contact Benson & Bingham online or by calling (702) 382-9797, to schedule a free consultation. We are well established litigation attorneys who poses the knowledge and first hand experience required to take control of your case and force commercial companies to reveal and exhaust excess policies. Benson & Bingham has collected millions from excess insurance policies. Protect your rights today and call us for a free consultation.
See Also: Tractor Trailer Accidents
Listen to this client testimonial from James Raymundo about how Benson & Bingham helped him through his horrific semi accident.
Did you Know: Benson & Bingham was selected as a Best of Las Vegas Winner in the category lawyers by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the city’s longest running reader’s choice awards.