Trucking Accident

Depositions and the Consequences of Answering I Don’t Know

By | Car Accidents, Personal Injury, Trucking Accident, Uncategorized | No Comments

What are the possible consequences of saying I don’t know during a deposition? A Deposition is a sworn pretrial testimony that helps attorneys prepare for trial.  Answering I don’t know during the course of a lawsuit may be helpful but the reality is that it can also hurt. One thing is certain, is that saying I don’t know is going to lock you into your testimony. If you have a different answer later on, you have a problem.

When you bring a lawsuit, the defense will have an opportunity to question you and that’s known as a deposition.  The defense lawyer will question you in your attorney’s office. There is no jury present but instead there is a court reporter. The court reporter will record all of the questions and all the answers that you give. Your answers will be the basis of your pretrial testimony. There is not a judge or a jury during your deposition. However, everything you say during the deposition session is your testimony. It carries the same weight as it will at the time of trial.

It is very important to understand that telling a little white lie during a deposition can have serious consequences. Literally the other sides job is to find evidence to contradict every statement you make under oath. At the deposition you will be asked questions that you will not know the answer to.  The important thing to remember, is it is OK to say I don’t know.

No one can remember every single thing. After the deposition, your attorney will send you a copy of the transcript to read over and correct if needed. The defense attorney will use this opportunity you had to correct any changes to lock you in. This is why it is crucial to prepare for a deposition and take it seriously. The defense attorney will try and use it against you to contradict your testimony at trial and how you answered questions during your deposition. The defense attorney is going to try and show that there are significant inconsistencies between the testimony that you gave pretrial in your attorney’s office and the testimony that you are giving at trial.

For example, in a car accident case. A question about your speed at the time of the accident will likely come up. During your deposition you say my attorney told me not to guess and you say I don’t remember because it’s the truth. The defense attorney will probably try and get you to give an approximation or give a range of speed, but again, your attorney has told you not to guess, so you answer that you don’t know.

At trial the defense attorney is now cross-examining you. During your cross-examination he asks the same exact question that he did at the time of your deposition. Remember, the jury does not know anything about what went on during your deposition. For all they know, you’re being asked the question of how fast were you traveling at the time of the crash for the first time. However, at trial you say you were traveling at 35 mph. Now you may have a credibility problem. Remember, an answer of I don’t know locks you in, and is as significant as saying any speed.

The defense will likely shake their heads and pull out the transcript from your deposition. They will attack your credibility with your previous sworn testimony. If there is a discrepancy between what you said during your deposition and what you remember at trial, your attorney should ask you what the source of the discrepancy is and why you remember the speed now but not then. Your attorney will likely be able to easily explain why you can remember now, and it will take the wind out of the defense’s sails.

Your attorney has an obligation to explain to the jury why your answer is so different from your earlier testimony. Different answers in trial than depositions are a fact of life but usually they are easily explained if you communicate with your attorney. Remember, the power of saying I don’t know. It may help you, or hurt you, or it could do both but it for sure locks your answer in.

Why do Truck Accidents Happen

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“Trucking accidents are defined as vehicle collisions involving tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles that cause personal injury and/or property damage.

Trucking accidents are pretty common on our roadways.  Truck drivers receive training to prepare them for their career, but human’s will never be perfect. The law does not require perfection, but it does require care. Negligence is when that care is breached and is common in trucking accidents. Numerous truck drivers are mindful and follow the rules, but individuals who don’t follow the rules cause catastrophic damage that often results in death or serious injury.

Trucking accidents are usually caused by driver mistake, careless hiring, or improper payloads. The first driving mistake is speeding. Second is driving while affected by medications or liquor. Unfortunately, trucking accidents mostly involve a driver driving while exhausted. In spite of the legislature’s best efforts. Drivers still ignore the hours of service controls which are intended to shield drivers from driving too long without satisfactory rest periods. Unfortunately, some drivers disregard these standards and increase the danger of nodding off. Sleeping often occurs at the worst possible time, and results in poor reaction times.

Cases of careless hiring often include neglecting to investigate a driver’s background. It is careless to hire someone who’s past is marked by criminal traffic offenses. It is also careless to hire somebody with a substance abuse past. Allowing an unsafe or unfit driver on the road opens the business to liability. Tragically, trucking organizations commonly attempt to deny any obligation to those injured by their drivers. The organization’s most common tactic is asserting that the driver is self employed. The adversarial process inherit in our system is why it is critical to become as educated as possible about your specific situation.

Improper payloads are common and occur at the point when a trailer is over-burden or unevenly stacked. The outcomes that result from trailers that are improperly loaded are unfortunate, trailers that are overloaded are at substantial risk of causing an accident. Braking becomes difficult with an overloaded payload. If the truck is driving too quick or following too closely an accident is almost always going to occur. Unevenly stacking trailers, or neglecting to guarantee that payload is legitimately secured, can likewise be perilous. An uneven payload influences the trailer’s focal point of gravity and increases the possibility of a jackknife accident.

 Remember, knowledge is power. Come back for more posts, and always make decisions that are reflective and not fear based.



By | Articles, Bike Accidents, Car Accidents, Casino Accidents, Construction Accidents, Dog Bites, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury, Trucking Accident, Wrongful Death | No Comments

You’ve reached a settlement. The journey that began when someone’s careless actions hurt you,  has finally come to a close. Besides feeling relief, you’re probably wondering what happens next. What is required in a settlement by both the plaintiff and defendant. There’s several steps that occur between the time a case settles and having a check in your hands. Each process is contingent on what kind of settlement is reached. The different types of settlements are primarily based on if the person hurt is an adult, minor, or if it involved the wrongful death of a person.

“A Settlement is an official agreement intended to resolve a dispute or conflict.”

Whenever a case settles, the parties need to sign a release agreement. As part of the settlement, your attorney will send you a Release Agreement to sign. Your attorney will also send another document called a stipulation to dismiss. It’s imperative to put in a timetable for payment in the release. The Release Agreement is a document that specifies the terms between the parties. For example, in exchange for $250,000, you agree to release Mr. Jones from the car accident. Upon receipt of the settlement check, it is deposited in a trust account. Once the settlement funds become available, a check to you for your portion should be delivered.

When a claim involves injuries sustained by someone under the age of 18, the settlement requires court approval. A petition is submitted to the court specifying the terms of the settlement. The petition sets forth the amount agreed to, case expenses and legal fees. It also specifies why the agreement is in the best interests of the child. A Judge will then schedule a hearing where your petition will be presented to the court. This hearing is largely a formality but it is still important to take it seriously. Once the Judge affirms the petition, you will be requested to consent to a Release Arrangement as described above.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, there are usually claims for pain and suffering and wrongful death. Pain and suffering refers to the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death. Wrongful death refers to the monetary losses sustained by the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate, such as loss of income, loss of maternal guidance, advice, and burial expenses. The portion of the settlement allocated to wrongful death is divided according to the loss sustained by each beneficiary.

What’s important to remember is that every case is complicated. A settlement is one of the last steps involved in litigation, but it’s definitely not the finish line.

PIP – Personal Injury Protection

By | Articles, Car Accidents, Casino Accidents, Personal Injury, Spine and Back Injuries, Train Accident, Trucking Accident | No Comments

The average person lives their life without ever going to court for anything more serious than a traffic ticket. Our lives are filled with ordinary day to day events, such as work, errands like grocery shopping, school, ball games, family cookouts and dinners, and the like. Most of us will never know what it’s like to be in a serious car accident, and we’ll never see a friend or family member go through the aftermath of a catastrophic personal injury.

Most car accidents are minor, and the injuries consist of some bumps, bruises, and muscle soreness. For these minor accidents, Utah law mandates Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. What’s PIP? It’s $3,000 in insurance coverage for the average driver, and it provides a predictable means of resolving most injuries in a car accident.

No one wants a lawsuit, and PIP is a quick, easy way of covering injury expenses for those involved in an accident. Even if you’re at fault in a wreck, you can still get coverage for your injuries from the PIP on your insurance policy. The reason PIP is the law is to avoid lawsuits by making it easy to pay for medical expenses from minor injuries. In fact, before you can sue for an accident injury in Utah, you have to first exhaust the $3,000 of PIP on your insurance policy.

This covers both the at-fault party and the victim in a car accident, because each party can pay for their minor injuries via their PIP, coverage thereby keeping the courts free of minor lawsuits with under $3,000 in medical expenses. This is good news for you if you’re at fault in an auto accident, because the other party can simply go to their insurer to get their minor injuries covered on their insurance policy. It’s also good news for you, because as the at fault party, you’ve got no grounds to recover for your injuries from the other party. Thanks to PIP, you can to your insurer and get those minor medical issues taken care of, as long as they’re $3,000 or less.

At the very least, you’ll save $3,000 in overall medical expenses, even if you happen to be at fault for the accident.

You won’t have to wait six months to three years, either. That’s how long it can take a personal injury lawsuit to settle or be resolved in a trial. Regardless of whether or not you’re the person to blame, or the victim, PIP covers you no matter what for those bumps and bruises and trips to the chiropractor’s office. It ensures that you won’t be choosing between buying food for those family cookouts and paying for your minor medical expenses after an accident.

The Utah Educational Center for Personal Injury hopes you never have even a minor injury, but if you do, your PIP will be there for you.

Wrongful Death

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At some point in your life, you’ve likely known someone who was injured in an accident, either at work or in traffic.  Accidents are a fact of life, and unfortunately, sometimes accidents result in the death of an individual.  When this happens, Utah law provides for the compensation of dependents and family members.  However, most people have no idea where to begin when their loved one dies as the result of the negligence or wrongdoing of another party.

Not a single person reading this sits around contemplating the wrongful death of a family member or a close personal friend.  Tragedies are unthinkable outcomes, and wrongful death is not an everyday occurrence in our lives.  We live our lives among our friends and loved ones, secure in their company and comforted by their continued presence in our day to day lives.

A wrongful death is the absolute worst case scenario for many of us, but if and when it happens to your spouse, your child, or someone you know, a crash course in the law is usually what ensues. At a time when you’re grieving the loss of someone close to you, the law is the last thing on your mind.  That’s why you need to contact an attorney.

An attorney is your advocate during the most unimaginably heartbreaking time.  They’re your guide, and when you’ve lost a loved one, you need to focus on healing and recovery.  Very often, the person you lose can be a breadwinner, a provider, a mother, a father, an adult child taking care of elderly parents or a disabled spouse or child.  The loss isn’t just emotional; it’s financial.  Life insurance and the estates a deceased individual leaves behind are often not enough to ensure the future of their surviving relatives.

In the event that a child dies as a result of negligence or wrongdoing, parents and siblings are left with the knowledge that no amount of money can bring their child back to life.  However, civil damages are intended to both compensate a loss that cannot be quantified, and deter the wrongful conduct that resulted in the loss of a child.

Second, Utah law limits wrongful death claims to the heirs of the deceased victim, or a personal representative of the deceased. Who are the heirs under Utah law?

1. A surviving spouse, such as a husband or a wife.
2. A surviving adult child.
3. A surviving parent or parents either natural or adoptive.
4. The surviving stepchildren, if they are under 18 at the time of death and dependents of the deceased person.
5. Any other blood relatives listed in Utah’s inheritance laws.

The presumption under Utah law is that one of the heirs will take on the role of personal representative for the deceased; however, if the deceased died with a will or an estate plan, they may have named a personal representative who can also file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative has to file in civil court. This is the person who will contact and hire an attorney to deal with those responsible for the wrongful death and their insurance company.

Third, you have to file within two years of the deceased’s death.  If the negligent party is a government entity, you only have one year to file.

Finally, you can recover damages under Utah’s wrongful death law. These damages can include the following:

1) Compensatory damages for:
-Medical expenses related to the injury causing the death.
-Lost wages, such as future wages and benefits lost.  This means that you should be able to  recover the wages the person would have made if they were still alive to work.
-Pain and suffering resulting from the death.
-The loss of companionship, guidance, and care.  Very often, the deceased will be a spouse or  parent whose loss cannot be quantified in mere lost wages.  Children rely on their parents for  guidance and care, and spouses rely on their other half for companionship and care as well.

2) Punitive damages: these damages are intended to send a message, and that message is that the negligent or intentional behavior that resulted in a wrongful death should not be tolerated or repeated. Punitive damages are awarded to punish intentional or negligent behavior, and they are also awarded to discourage that behavior in the future.

We all hope that we never have to deal with the aftermath of wrongful death, but if and when we do face that horrific possibility, knowledge is the key.  The Personal Injury Education Center of Utah is a resource to give you the knowledge you need when the unthinkable occurs.