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. Add traffic cones for construction areas and you have a recipe for disaster.
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 nursing home 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. As licensed professionals, truckers should always drive defensively and safely—yet in many cases, they do not. They may be overworked to meet deadlines causing fatigue, 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 Las Vegas truck accident lawyers 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-home 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 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.
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 falsify 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. 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 trucking 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:
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 costs and the potential for a run away or large verdict.
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 a fair settlement over litigation.
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 $135,000,000 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 prevent 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:
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 may be eligible to receive compensation for the following non-economic damages:
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 are 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) 600-6000, 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.