california trucking laws

Neck and Back Pain After a Car Crash: What to Do

A car crash can leave you with nagging injuries that last for years, or even a lifetime. Proper medical treatment is critical.

A car crash can leave you with nagging injuries that last for years, or even a lifetime. Proper medical treatment is critical.

If you were involved in a car crash and are suffering from pain in your neck and/or back, you may be wondering what, if anything, you can do to make the pain go away. For some lucky individuals, taking a few painkiller pills and getting good rest is enough for whiplash symptoms to go away. These are the lucky few. For most people, severe whiplash following a car accident can lead to months and sometimes years of neck and back pain. To add insult to injury, if the car crash wasn’t your fault, you’re now stuck with the headache of getting your car fixed, and face a potentially long road of physical recovery.

See a Doctor

Wherever you are in California, there are doctors who will see you and help you recover from your injury. Sometimes your health insurance doesn’t have appointments in the near future. Speak with a lawyer to find out if there are other medical offices that you can seek treatment at. Lawyers do no prescribe treatment, but they may be aware of offices who will treat you on a lien.

Wherever you are in California, there are doctors who will see you and help you recover from your injury. Sometimes your health insurance doesn’t have appointments in the near future. Speak with a lawyer to find out if there are other medical offices that you can seek treatment at. Lawyers do no prescribe treatment, but they may be aware of offices who will treat you on a lien.

The severity of your back pain may be difficult to diagnose by yourself. For example, strained muscles may very well heal on their own without significant medical treatment. However, if you have suffered damage to the vertebrae in your spine, you may not get better without medical treatment. Only a doctor that can give a qualified examination and order the appropriate diagnostic studies such as x-rays and MRI scans will be able to figure out what is going on in your back and neck. To make matters more difficult, many people suffer acute pain for a variety of injuries to their back, not being able to differentiate between the injuries. Some of the pain may go away, some may get worse.

Many people injured in car accidents are afraid to ask their attorney or their medical doctor for advice regarding treatment because of their insurance situation. Many people have high deductibles, or do not have health insurance. If you were not at fault for the car accident, a good lawyer can make sure you are able to receive the care you need. After all, you wouldn’t require medical attention if not for the negligence of someone else, so many personal injury law firms are able to help point you in the right direction. At the very least, you should go to an urgent care office to get checked out.

Neck and back pain following a car crash might go away in a week or two, or might still be bothering you ten years from now. Don’t risk your health - see a doctor who can run the proper diagnostic studies to evaluate the extent of your injury!

Neck and back pain following a car crash might go away in a week or two, or might still be bothering you ten years from now. Don’t risk your health - see a doctor who can run the proper diagnostic studies to evaluate the extent of your injury!

Attend All Treatment

Most doctors prescribe a regimen of treatment to address your injuries following a car crash. This often includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, possibly acupuncture, and a variety of other treatment options. These options are for what are called “soft tissue injuries,” and many people benefit from this treatment.

One way that insurance companies deny payment for medical treatment is by saying the patient was non-compliant with the treatment the doctor prescribed. If the doctor says attend three chiropractic appointments a week for six weeks, but you only attend three appointments total, you’re unlikely to have future treatment paid for. Do what the doctors tell you to do. Your attorney will make sure the bills are paid for, but can only do this if you attend all your appointments and are in all ways compliant with the doctor’s treatment plan.

You’d rather be anywhere than the doctor if you are like most people. But if you want to get better, you have to go to your appointments. Also, skipped appointments and failure to follow your doctor’s orders will likely result in a reduced personal injury settlement. It can also mean you will be stuck with your bills, as the insurance company will say you were noncompliant with prescribed treatment.

You’d rather be anywhere than the doctor if you are like most people. But if you want to get better, you have to go to your appointments. Also, skipped appointments and failure to follow your doctor’s orders will likely result in a reduced personal injury settlement. It can also mean you will be stuck with your bills, as the insurance company will say you were noncompliant with prescribed treatment.

Keep a Treatment and Pain Journal

Pain affects everyone differently. For some people, a 2-3 mm disc bulge in their spine will be immensely painful; for other people, the same injury will not bother them much. For this reason, insurance adjusters often justify low settlement offers by trying to categorize your injury with the “average” pain and suffering involved in such an injury. There is no “average” injury, of course, when it comes to your health. Your financial recovery should not depend on how much pain other people feel. For this reason, if you keep track of your pain levels in a notebook, you can track the ways in which your injury have affected your life, and later use this to prove to insurance adjusters that you were in fact injured, and that the consequences of their insured’s causing an accident have affected your day to day life.

Call an Injury Attorney

Not many people want to get lawyers involved in their problems. The challenge with injury cases is you usually don’t have experience or an understanding as to how the claims process works. Thus, you don’t know what you don’t know, and are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to knowing whether you’re getting taken advantage of, or whether the insurance company is treating you fairly. Ask a lawyer who practices injury law your questions. You will have a better understanding of how the claims process works. Just because you call a lawyer does not mean you have to sign up with a lawyer and take your case to trial. In fact, the involvement of an injury lawyer in your case may mean you’re less likely to end up in court. Why? Because insurance companies know that if a good lawyer is involved in representing you for your injury, they are often better off playing fair and paying you a fair settlement for your claim than going to court.

Nobody wants to get a lawyer, but the numbers don’t lie: personal injury plaintiffs who have a lawyer are much more likely to get a fair settlement from their injury claim than if they try to settle their case alone. Will a big chunk of the “extra money” you hope to get by going with a lawyer end up going to the lawyer and not you? Great question to ask a lawyer! (Answer: not if you get a good personal injury lawyer).

Nobody wants to get a lawyer, but the numbers don’t lie: personal injury plaintiffs who have a lawyer are much more likely to get a fair settlement from their injury claim than if they try to settle their case alone. Will a big chunk of the “extra money” you hope to get by going with a lawyer end up going to the lawyer and not you? Great question to ask a lawyer! (Answer: not if you get a good personal injury lawyer).

Think Long Term

If you hurt your neck or back following a crash, you may have a day where you feel better, followed by several days of pain. You’re unlikely to feel the same way every day. This means you have to think long-term about the severity of your injury. Will you feel better in a month? Will you feel better in a year, or in ten years. Will you ever feel better? Remember that the person who caused the crash is legally responsible for making you whole again. That means you should be put back in the position you were in before the crash, both financially and physically. The law protects the injured for their long term health, but you have to do your part to think ahead. You can’t simply decide a year after a car accident that you’re still in pain and start going to the doctor and expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for your medical treatment. You have to think long term from day one, or as close to day one (the date that you were injured) as possible.

Unintended Consequences of Car Modification

Most car owners who modify their cars are aware that the modifications tend to decrease, not increase, the value of their vehicle when they want to sell it. Why is the vehicle worse less money after modification, when modification can cost a lot of money? Your tastes are unique and don't necessarily match the tastes of other drivers. But there are several even more important reasons to carefully consider any modification to the external appearance of your vehicle.

This is how law enforcement may perceive you, regardless of how you're driving

This is how law enforcement may perceive you, regardless of how you're driving

Safety First

People change the appearance of their vehicle to get a certain look, something perhaps sportier than the original version. Or, maybe they want to stay up to date in trends of color and wheels. But many car owners may not consider that their modifications can have safety implications, and may not even be legal. For example, you may have driven behind a vehicle that has darkened plastic covering their rear lights, usually on a dark colored or black vehicle. The appearance makes the car look more uniform in color, as the back lights are less pronounced. What you may also have noticed is the brake lights are not as bright on these vehicles. Owners of these vehicles risk being rear-ended due to their brake lights not being bright enough, resulting in the driver behind them not being aware that the car in front is braking. 

Some modifications, like tinting light covers, especially brake light covers, can be illegal. There are millions and millions of vehicles on California roads, so what are the chances a driver of a vehicle with illegal brake light modifications will get pulled over? Maybe slim. But the chance that they'll get in a car accident certainly rises, posing a public safety hazard. This is why this particular modification tends to be against DMV standards. Also, if the vehicle has modifications that contributed to the crash, even a rear-end accident that results in injury, liability will almost always go against the car that has the modification. Thus, if you modify your car and are injured, the chances that you're placed at fault are high. Then, in many cases neither the other party's auto insurance, nor your own, will pay for your medical expenses.

badidea.jpg

Also consider that seemingly minor modifications, if enough to convince a police officer or California Highway Patrol officer that your vehicle's appearance had something to do with causing the crash, you may be liable for any injuries caused to other parties. A car modification to make your vehicle look "cool" may not feel so cool, after all.

Visibility is Good, But Excessive Visibility is Bad

Some car owners have followed trends shown in the "Fast and Furious" movies, and other car racing movies, and install neon lights under their vehicle. Again, these modifications tend to be illegal, and the owner can be tickets. If the owner is ticketed on multiple occasions, the car may be impounded and their license suspended. What's the big deal of a little neon light? First, if you have neon lights under your car, the vehicle is very visable - too visable to other drivers, in fact, making it a distraction and a safety hazard. If you cause an accident and the other party says they were distracted by your lights, you're unlikely to convince the California Highway Patrol that your under-carriage lights had nothing to do with the crash. In fact, many California injury attorneys will attest that in almost every case where one of the vehicles has significant modifications, that vehicle is placed at fault on the police report.

dontdoit.jpg

The Presumption of Guilt

Stereotypes are often unfair and inaccurate, but they still matter. You  may have an impeccable driving record and be an upstanding citizen in every way, and a great driver, but if you're involved in a crash that injures someone, the appearance of your vehicle matters. It may not seem fair, but California injury lawyers almost unanimously agree that the appearance of your vehicle comes into play when deciding who should pay for the damages. An extreme example may be helpful: if you're driving a sports car with bright paint, modified wheels, and other changes to the vehicle, and you're involved in a crash with a brown minivan, and the driver of the minivan says you were speeding and driving crazy, who do you think the police officer is going to believe? And modifications sometimes aren't needed at all: a sports car involved in an accident with a more "normal" car will often result in the sports car driver being put at fault.

nope.jpg

Which Modifications Matter?

If your tint is too dark, you can expect raised suspicion by the officer who makes the car crash report. If you have after-market wheels on your car, that will also likely go against you. This is not fair, of course, as the kind of rims on your vehicle likely had nothing to do with causing the crash, but these statements are made based on many years of observation by experienced California car accident lawyers who have dealt with thousands of injury cases. Under-carriage lighting, especially neon, is a big no-no; if you want to do this to your car, it is recommended that you don't drive with the lights on. You're asking for a ticket, at a minimum, and if you're involved in a car crash and someone gets hurt, your chances of not being put at fault are very low. Don't tint your tail lights; it's most often against DMV code, and it often results in rear-end accidents. Flashing lights on the interior that can be seen from outside are a big no-no. Basically anything that could distract other drivers and are not necessary to the safe operation of your vehicle are frowned upon by law enforcement, and do in fact contribute to car crashes. Mirror paint, or metallic paint jobs can often be distracting (this is, of course, obvious and on purpose), and the drivers of these vehicles will often attest that the number of tickets and perceived harassment by law enforcement is simply not worth it. Not to mention, most of these chances to your car are expensive, some costing many thousands of dollars!

theythinkthisisyou.jpg

What if You're Involved in an Crash That Results in Injury?

If you were injured in a car crash, there are a lot of things to consider right away: your health, your auto insurance, the other driver's auto insurance, a police report or California Highway Patrol report, medical bills, lost wages - the list goes on and on. Most people have a decent idea of where to start and how to go about it, but there are endless loopholes designed to keep money with the insurance companies and out of your pocket. A call with an experienced car crash lawyer who practices in California may be beneficial. Also, if you were driving a modified vehicle and were involved in a crash where someone was injured, you  may benefit from speaking with an attorney, especially if you feel you were unfairly put at fault. Speaking with an injury law firm may save you a lot of time, headache, and money in the long run, and most lawyers offer these consultations at no up front cost.

The Lions Injury Lawyers practice injury law, and have seen many of the examples contained in this blog post play out in real life cases. If you or someone you love was involved in an accident that resulted in injury, you owe it to yourself to discuss the matter with an attorney, if only to reassure yourself you're going about things properly. The Lions Injury Lawyers represent clients throughout California, from San Diego all the way past San Francisco and including the Inland Empire and more remote parts of California. 

 

Car Accidents Involving Large Trucks: What You Should Know

trucker.jpg

It's no surprise that the large semi trucks that carry much of the food we eat and the products we use throughout the country can cause serious safety threats to other drivers on the road. After all, most of these trucks weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds, and are nowhere near as agile and maneuverable as a common automobile. California highways are sometimes choked with trucks, which is due to the large population of California, as well as the several shipping ports, where the trucks receive their loads from abroad for distribution in California and throughout the country. If you're driving on California highways, there are a few safety tips you should be aware of in order to stay safe.

Remembering Elementary School Science: Inertia

Remember learning about objects in motion staying in motion until another force acts upon it to slow it down? A large truck will stay in motion unless the driver tries to slow it down. This is all common sense. The catch is, even when the driver of the truck tries to stop the truck's intertia, depending on how big and heavy the truck is, it can take a very long time to slow a moving truck. Now consider how fast trucks travel on California freeways - usually at least 60-70 miles per hour. Going this speed, it can take a great distance for a typical 18 wheeler carrying a normal load to slow. Now recall how often you see passenger vehicles, like your standard car or SUV, dart in and out of traffic. Large trucks cannot stop in time to avoid contact, it is as simple as that.

truckscomingatchya.jpg

Driver Fatigue and the Laws Regulating Trucker Drive Hours

Truck drivers make their living by carrying loads from point A to point B. The more distance they travel, the more money they make. There are regulations in place to keep truck drivers from getting too tired and drowsy to drive, but the reality is that truck drivers get tired and occasionally doze off or fall asleep at the wheel, often times causing collisions with other cars. The laws regulating truck driver hours are not always clear cut, either. For example, consider the "14-Hour Limit," which states that commercial truck drivers cannot  "drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period." This limitation applies to truck drivers who are carrying goods and products in their cargo, while other limitations apply if truck drivers are carrying passengers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates truck driver hours, and these limits apply to the following drivers in specific vehicles only, known as a "CMV" vehicle: 

In general, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

While these regulations certainly prevent some drivers from driving too long and becoming dangerous due to the human propensity to need sleep and doze off after long hours of driving, the rules to not obviously apply to all potentially dangerous drivers. Not all trucks meet or exceed the weight limits, or are transporting goods requiring special placards. 

Common Trucking Accidents or Crashes

There are several categorizations of car crashes, and those involving commercial trucking vehicles tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Rear end collision (usually from common cars cutting in front of trucks and the truck can't slow)
  • Head on collisions (often from cars darting in front of a truck, again, trucks cannot slow down)
  • Jacknifes
  • Rollovers
  • Sideswipe
  • T-bone or other side-impact collisions (often resulting from vehicles turning into the path of the truck, which is unable to avoid collision due to an inability to slow in time)
  • Cargo shift causing rollover or jacknife
  • Cargo spill

Trucking Accidents Resulting in Injury

Tragically, many crashes involving commercial trucks result in injury. Sometimes, the injuries are non life-threatening, such as whiplash, sore neck and back, and what are categorized as "soft tissue" injuries. Unfortunately, due to the heavy nature of commercial trucks, many auto versus truck accidents result in catastrophic injury and death. The amount of property damage a truck can cause a pedestrian vehicle is also significantly greater than a typical auto versus auto car crash.

Trucking Accidents Often Result in Fire

When an 18-wheeler crashes into a small SUV, for example, the result is often fatal, sometimes due to fire. Crashes with trucks often result in fire, as the trucks necessitate large amounts of petroleum based fuel, or gasoline. Fortunately, as clean(er) energy options enter the market (such as the newly-announced truck from California's own Tesla), future crashes with trucks may be less likely to result in fire. Many large players in the domestic shipping business have placed orders for the Tesla truck, so hopefully the technology will soon spread throughout the industry, bringing safer trucks to the roads.

What To Do If You Were Injured by a Truck

If you were injured while traveling in California by a truck, you should first take care of your health. Seek medical attention immediately. Proceed to take care of yourself and any passengers involved as you would with a common accident - your health is most important. When you are able to think clearly and are beginning to try to figure out how to recover financially and physically, a call to a California injury law firm may be beneficial. Trucking companies are often represented by aggressive law firms that tend to deny liability on all crashes, sometimes even in contradiction with reports issued by the California Highway patrol or the local police department. Even if you think you were not at fault and that it is obvious that the trucker was at fault, do not assume the truck's insurance company will pay for your medical bills. In fact, if you were injured by a truck, you are actually more likely to face an uphill battle in recovering your costs. 

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured plaintiffs throughout the state of California, and are ready to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have. The sooner you discuss your injury claim with an experienced and trusted attorney, the more likely the attorney will be able to help you. When you call The Lions, you will speak directly with an injury attorney, not a salesman. Access to a lawyer who is experienced in handling California injury claims will help you navigate the often complicated world of injury insurance claim settlements.