How We Prove Your Losses in a Truck Accident Case
Truck accident cases play out in several phases. First, our attorneys gather evidence to learn what happened, and then we use the evidence to prove the defendant is at fault. But once we establish the defendant's liability, the next step to winning your truck accident case is to substantiate and quantify your losses, or damages, so that a jury knows how much to award you. While most people think of losses as things like pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills, there are a few other types of damages that you may not be aware of that you can also be compensated for.
In this article, we'll explain exactly what types of losses you can be compensated for, and how to prove them in the courtroom.
Why is any of this necessary?
You may be wondering why you have to prove that you were hurt and should be compensated. After all, isn't it obvious? In the world of personal injury and wrongful death law, nothing is obvious. Everything you allege must be proved to a jury.
Think of it this way, if someone broke into your house and stole all of your possessions, forcing you to file an insurance claim, you wouldn't make the insurance carrier guess as to what was stolen and then hope they voluntarily pay you the right amount. No, you'd make an itemized list of all of the things that were stolen, and you'd make sure that the insurance carrier paid you for all of it. Well, the same philosophy applies to a truck accident case.
The jury doesn't know what the truck driver's misconduct actually cost you unless you prove it to them with concrete evidence. And, naturally, the ability to successfully prove to a jury what a client lost is what separates good lawyers from bad ones. Our attorneys have spent 25 years litigating truck accident cases, so we know exactly how to make sure that the jury fully appreciates what you've been through.
Overview of Damages Available In Truck Accident Cases
The technical name for the losses that you can sue someone for in a truck accident case is "damages".
There are many different types of damages that Texas law allows you to be compensated for, and some that Texas law does not allow you to seek compensation for. Typically, the courts decide whether or not a specific type of loss can be sued for. Once the court says that it's okay for someone to sue for, say, mental anguish or loss of consortium, a precedent is set and subsequent injury victims can sue for that same type of loss.
Under Texas law, some of the different types of damages you can sue for include:
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income generating ability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pre-judgement interest
- Post-judgement interest
There are a few other types of damages that you can sue for, but those are the most commonly pleaded examples.
Damages Experts Help Prove Your Losses
There are two schools of thought on proving your losses to a jury. Some lawyers choose to "wing it," and simply rely on using descriptive words and their oratorical skills to convince the jury. At one point in time, this was pretty much the only way for a lawyer to help a jury understand what his client went through. On the other hand, other lawyers (including ours) choose to rely on evidence. This could be something as simple as photographs or videos showing how badly injured and disfigured you were following your accident. Or it may include statements from your family members or caretakers wherein they describe what you went through.
But, in our judgment, the single best way to help a jury understand your losses is to utilize testimony from experts in various fields of medicine and economic sciences who can offer their unbiased, third-party opinion. When a professor of economic studies evaluates a client's injuries and renders an opinion as to how those injuries will affect that client's future earning capacity, that is likely to be far more compelling to a jury than hearing an attorney with a vested interest in a large award guess at what the impact of the accident may be.
When it comes down to it, our attorneys may be masters of their craft, but they are not doctors, economists, life care planners, etc. So, rather than guessing and rolling the dice with our clients' futures, we bring in these expert witnesses and have them crunch the numbers. The impact that this approach has on a jury is remarkable, and it's one of the ways that our attorneys are able to get the great results that we have.
Now, it's worth noting that we don't just open a phone book and hire the first expert witness we find. Over our 25 years of practice, we have cultivated a stable of expert witnesses who are not only leaders in their respective fields, but are also good at testifying, know how to fend off attacks from trucking company lawyers, and are otherwise reputable. Many up-and-coming lawyers make the mistake of trying to bolster their cases with testimony from an expert witness, but don't have the experience to know which experts are actually able to perform well before a jury and which ones will hurt their case.
We litigated a truck accident case recently that illustrates this point well, in which a teenager suffered a traumatic brain injury due to a truck driver's misconduct. The defendants alleged that our client did not have a brain injury, though the evidence showed that she did. Since brain injuries are subjective, we knew that we would need a credible expert who could explain to the jury exactly what was going on inside our client's brain. The doctor we hired for this role is a leader in the field of medical science specializing in this type of injury. To counteract his testimony, the trucking company lawyers hired a lesser-regarded brain doctor. When we cross examined the defendant's doctor, we got him to admit under oath that the reference that he uses for basically all of his clinical studies on brain injuries was in fact written by OUR testifying expert! So, quite literally, our expert wrote the book on the subject under dispute, and the trucking company's expert tried and failed to use said book against its author. As you can imagine, we didn't just win that case: it was a slam dunk.
Here are some examples of the different types of damages experts that we routinely use in our firm's truck accident cases and a little info about the role they play:
- Doctors: You will need a doctor to testify that the medical care you received was reasonable and therefore warrants compensation. Treatment is reasonable when it was necessary to try to save your life or, at the very least, aid effectively in your recovery. If you can't prove that the medical treatment you received was reasonable and necessary, you risk the trucking company lawyers trying to make it sound like you received unnecessary treatment, and they shouldn't have to pay for it. If a jury agrees with them, then the value of your case will be significantly reduced. Medical professionals will also be needed to explain the degree to which you suffered. Juries can award compensation for this pain and suffering, alongside medical bills, but it must be established by reliable scientific evidence. Having these experts can help your attorneys prove exactly what you endured.
- Economists: In order to show the extent of your financial losses, you will likely need an economist or some other financial professional to explain to the jury what you could have been earning had you had to take off work for the sake of your recovery or what future lost wages you are likely to suffer due to the effects of your injuries rendering you unable to perform the duties of your pre-collision employment. This will take into account your education, work experience, income, and what money you could reasonably have expected to have earned the remainder of your working life.
- Mental Health Professionals: Many injured victims will require counseling and medication to deal with the mental anguish they've suffered as a result of a semi-truck crash. To recover for your pain and suffering, you could well need a psychologist or psychiatrist to explain to the jury what you personally have suffered and the medical necessity of continued mental health treatment.
- Vocational Specialists: A vocational specialist is essentially a job and labor expert. A vocational specialist will assess the injuries you may have received, and then accurately gauge how well you would be able to perform in your chosen career path, or if you're able to do so at all. For example, if you're a welder and you incur ligament damage to your right hand that makes it impossible for you to grip an ARC welder properly, then the vocational expert would most likely have the opinion that you were no longer able to pursue your current career path, which, in turn would likely result in the jury awarding you damages for the wages you could have obtained working in it.
- First Responders: First responders are exactly that. The medical or law-enforcement professionals who are the first to arrive at the scene of an accident. These are usually police officers, firefighters, or EMTs. First responders are helpful in determining cause-of-death and the amount of suffering someone may have endured before their unfortunate death, which is a considerable factor in wrongful death cases. The way the law sees it, the victim who was killed upon impact suffered less and someone who lingers in agony suffers more, so the family of the latter deserve greater compensation than that of the former.
- Life Care Planner: These are big picture medical experts. They assess your medical needs after an accident and determine what care you may need in the long term. With this care, comes cost. Life care planners help to give the jury a snapshot of your short term or lifetime medical costs, which of course, would require more damages to compensate for these costs.
- Neurologists: Neurologists obviously deal with brain and spinal cord injuries and how they may impact a victim. But they are also pain experts. The victim of a truck accident may have had a neck surgery following the accident that helped to repair muscular tears or vertebrae, but, that doesn't mean that the pain is ultimately gone. Chronic pain can make a victim's life very difficult, but since pain isn't exactly measurable, that difficulty needs to be qualified by an expert in this field.
- Orthopedic Surgeons: Orthopedic surgery is the branch of surgery concerned with conditions involving the musculoskeletal system. These experts are doctors that specialist in pain relief and pain management. Much like the neurologist above, orthopedic surgeons are very important to provide a professional opinion on how much pain a victim has endured, and will endure as the result of being in a truck accident. A good example would be if a victim unfortunately lost their leg due to injuries sustained in a truck accident. They may have one functioning leg, and a prosthetic limb to help them move about as best as they can, however their remaining leg may be under abnormal stress and wear. The orthopedic surgeon would be able to provide an expert opinion on the impact of your injuries in way that a jury can understand.
At our firm, not just any expert will do
Here at Grossman Law Offices, we don't just put out a Craigslist ad for our experts. We've cultivated them over 25-years of prosecuting wrongful death and injury cases. We have a stable of esteemed experts that are at the top of their fields to provide flawless expert testimony on your behalf. We know your damages are real. We have the years of litigation experience in truck accident cases to prove to the jury just how real they are. Call us now: (855) 326-0000.
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- 5 Ways to Ruin Your Truck Accident Case