Disability Claims For Victims Of Trucking Accidents: Your Rights After A Trucking Accident

Truck accidents are statistically more dangerous than those that involve only cars. Not surprisingly, truck accident victims are more likely to have injuries that prevent them from returning to work. If you were in a motor vehicle accident, you may have a right to pursue a disability claim. But, it's important to assert your rights in the "right" way. That's where an experienced truck accident attorney can help.

Exploring Your Disability Options

At the law firm of Girardi | Keese — with office locations in Los Angeles and San Bernardino — our attorneys have decades of experience handling truck accident claims. It is important for you to learn about your rights and your options. Medical expenses and lost wages can add up quickly. Following are some specifics regarding disability benefits.

Types Of Disability Benefits Available To Truck Accident Victims

Short-term disability programs bridge the gap between the time of a catastrophic truck accident and the time when an accident victim who cannot return to work establishes permanent disability status. In California, the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program provides employees who work for businesses that are part of the program up to 52 weeks of coverage. SDI benefits cover 60 to 70 percent of the income an injured worker was making before the accident.

If you've had to reduce your working hours due to your truck accident injury, you may also qualify for partial SDI benefits. Receiving other federal disability benefits, such as Social Security Disability Insurance, will not impact your eligibility for SDI.

A key point to remember is that receiving SDI benefits is not automatic — and you may miss out on your chance to receive them if you don't act. You must apply for benefits within seven weeks of confirming that you can't return to work because of your injury. You'll also need to file a claim form signed by the proper medical authority.

Some people find that finding the right practitioner, or filing the claim, can be overwhelming after a truck accident. Truck drivers may have to cope with employers who fail to provide the claim form they need, or demanding the driver return to work before he or she is able. A personal injury attorney who specializes in auto and truck accidents can help you navigate both filing the claim and dealing with employers.

Long-Term Disability

If you cannot return to work for the foreseeable future after your accident, you may apply for permanent disability through the federal Social Security Administration. Social Security Disability benefits, much like Social Security retirement benefits, are based on the number of years you've worked and the amount of money you earned during those years.

The Social Security Administration manages two types of disability income: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). As mentioned earlier, SSDI is calculated according to such factors as your average income during the number of years you were employed. SSI benefits are available to persons with limited incomes who are blind, disabled or aged 65 or older. You may collect both SSDI and SSI at the same time.

Injuries That May Merit A Disability Benefit

After a truck accident or car wreck, you do not automatically receive federal Social Security Disability benefits. You must apply and will need to provide documentation explaining why you cannot return to work. Injuries that may qualify you for SSDI or SSI benefits can include:

  • Severely injured arms or legs
  • Complete or partial paralysis
  • Burns
  • Brain injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How To Fight A Disability Claim Denial

There are many reasons your SDI or Social Security Disability claim could be denied. Some of the most common denial reasons include:

  • Lack of verifiable medical evidence
  • Previous denials of a similar claim
  • Failure to follow your treatment plan
  • Failure to cooperate with agency personnel evaluating your claim

In addition to these common reasons for denial, many truck accident victims suffer injuries that are challenged by their employer, who may deny that they are unable to work. Rely on an experienced legal team to help you refile your claim to make a more convincing case for why you deserve SSDI or SSI, and avoid common pitfalls along the way.

Disability Benefits Vs. Personal Injury Lawsuits

When you've suffered life-altering injuries in a truck accident, SDI and SSDI/SSI can provide badly needed access to funds that you need for day-to-day survival, medical needs and to provide for your family. One other crucial source of income may be found by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver who was responsible for your injury.

Several parties can be found to be at fault in a truck vs. passenger car or motorcycle accident. These parties include the truck driver's employer or shipping agent, the truck manufacturer or mechanics, and the agencies in charge of ensuring safe road conditions. Even if you are judged to be partially at fault for the accident, you may still seek damages if the other parties were more to blame.

Disability from the wreck can play a key role in your personal injury case. Your disabling injuries may factor into:

  • Lost wages
  • The loss of future wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Punitive damages if the negligence was extreme or intentional

Gathering evidence at the scene of the incident as soon as possible after the truck accident is an important part of seeking damages based on disability. Making your case persuasively is also crucial. Your chances of receiving a settlement or winning the award at trial that you deserve improve dramatically if you retain an experienced personal injury lawyer.

How To Prevent A Devastating Truck Accident

On average, commercial trucks are about 25 times heavier than passenger cars and small pickup trucks. They also have a much slower response time than passenger cars do, especially when it comes to the time it takes for a truck to slow down once the brake is engaged. They're also slower to turn if something unexpectedly comes into their path. In fact, trucks are much more likely than cars to overturn when making sharp turns.

What can you do to prevent future accidents that have the potential to create disabling injuries? Always treat large trucks as the potential safety hazards they are. Most truck drivers are extremely conscientious and alert. But their vehicles simply can't react in time if you drift into a "no-zone," the areas to the rear and sides of the truck that are blind spots for the truck driver. If you can't see the driver in his large side mirrors, the odds are good he also can't see you! And, of course, you don't ever want to cut just to the front of the driver, given the decreased visibility and the slow-braking issues.

Reach Out For Assistance With Your Disability Claims

Whether you need help filing a state or federal disability benefit claim or a personal injury lawsuit, Girardi | Keese has the legal team and the resources to help you. Call us today at 800-401-4530 or send us an email.