Semi-truck accidents are unquestionably the most dangerous auto accidents you can experience on our roads or highways. Because these vehicles are typically large and heavier than standard cars and SUVs, an auto accident involving a truck can result in severe and catastrophic injuries that can significantly affect your quality of life.
In addition to the expensive medical bills required to treat injuries sustained, a truck accident can also result in permanent disabilities, affecting your ability to work to earn money to take care of your family.
Hence, it is important to understand how settlement works in the aftermath of a truck accident to protect your best interests and stand a chance of obtaining valuable compensatory damages for your losses. Obtaining fair compensation for your losses is the only way to avoid possible financial hardships you will likely experience in the aftermath of a truck accident.
This article addresses the compensation claim after a truck accident. Read on to understand how semi-truck accident settlements work and the possible factors that affect the value of your claim.
Three Important Issues to Know About Semi-Truck Accident Cases
Also commonly known as commercial truck accidents or truck accidents, semi-truck accidents are unique in many ways. Below are three critical issues or facts truck accident victims (injured parties), their families, and the public should know about truck accident settlements:
- A truck accident settlement can occur at any time from the date of the accident
- Trucking companies are legally obligated to carry or have liability insurance coverage of up to $750,000
- The range of settlement you can obtain in a truck accident is huge, ranging from a few thousand to over $10,000,000
An experienced personal injury attorney understands how the above-listed facts can drastically impact your potential settlement in a truck accident claim.
What is the Average Settlement to Expect in a Semi-Truck Accident?
Generally speaking, there is no average settlement amount for semi-truck accidents because every case's facts are unique. However, the settlement amount you will likely receive in a semi-truck accident case is more than what you would receive in a typical car accident claim because of the severity of the injuries you are likely to sustain. Some of these injuries include (but are not limited to):
- Traumatic brain injury
- Bone breakages
- Head and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Amputation and disfigurement
While the average of published settled truck accident cases is calculable, you cannot rely on this data to calculate the worth of your settlement claim because your case is unique and different in various ways. Therefore, an average truck accident settlement on any website does not represent your specific case's facts and circumstances.
The services of a skilled attorney could go a long way if you are unsure of what to expect on your compensation claim after sustaining injuries in a truck accident.
How an Attorney Can Help When Seeking Settlement in a Semi-Truck Accident Case
Retaining the services of an attorney does not guarantee an increased settlement amount or successful outcome. However, your attorney can reduce the stress of pursuing the deserved compensation and increase the odds of obtaining a favorable outcome during settlement negotiations with the at-fault party insurance provider.
Here are reasons to hire an attorney when seeking a fair settlement in the aftermath of a truck accident case:
- Your attorney will investigate your case to determine the at-fault party in your semi-truck accident case
- Your attorney can help you draft a demand letter and file your claim while receiving treatment for the injuries sustained
- Your attorney can handle all calls and messages from the at-fault party insurer
- Your attorney will handle settlement negotiations with the at-fault party insurer to fight for a favorable and valuable settlement offer
- Your attorney will be your legal counsel at every stage of the compensation claim process
- Your attorney can take your case to court, if necessary
While you can pursue your compensation without an attorney, you must acknowledge the importance of having a skilled attorney in your corner after a truck accident. Ensure the attorney you will choose to hire for your case is:
- Qualified and experienced
- Accessible and available
- Legally licensed
How Settlements Work After Sustaining Injuries in a Semi-Truck Accident
A legal settlement is a common way of resolving most personal injury cases, including a semi-truck accident claim.
If you choose to settle your truck accident claim with the at-fault party insurer, you could have to agree to give up your legal rights to file a lawsuit against him/her. In exchange, you will receive a certain agreed-upon sum of money as compensation for your injuries and other losses resulting from the accident, including property damage.
In deciding whether to pursue a settlement for your truck accident case or file a lawsuit, your attorney will consider the following factors:
- The strength and weakness of the at-fault party evidence
- Past settlement verdicts in similar or related accident cases
- Weakness in your evidence
- The amount of the at-fault party insurance coverage
- Possible disclosure of your business information
- Chances of winning a trial
Typically, in most truck accident cases, parties involved will use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods like negotiation or arbitration to reach a common settlement agreement. Negotiation is a non-binding method of reaching a settlement agreement. On the other hand, arbitration is a binding method that replaces your legal right to a civil trial on the case.
Your attorney will know which ADR method is best to reach a favorable settlement agreement, depending on your unique case circumstances and facts.
Factors that Can Determine Your settlement in a Semi-Truck Accident Case
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there is no typical or average settlement in a truck accident because every case is different. In determining your truck accident case worth or fair compensation, your attorney and the alleged at-fault party insurer will consider various factors, including:
Liability of the Accident
Whether the involved trucking company and their insurance provider will accept liability for the semi-truck accident that led to your injuries is an important factor to consider. While the trucking company is often at-fault in most truck accident cases, several other parties could also be liable for the accident, such as:
- The driver of the semi-truck
- The mechanic of the involved semi-truck
- Manufacturer of a defective part of the truck
- The state
- The company responsible for loading the truck's cargo
When pursuing a settlement from any of the above parties or their insurer, your attorney must have appropriate and clear evidence to prove liability. When liability is clear, settlement negotiations will focus on obtaining the maximum settlement offer possible on your case.
However, if your attorney cannot prove liability in your truck accident case due to insufficient evidence or other reasons, it could be challenging to obtain a settlement.
The Severity of Your Injuries and Corresponding Expenses
Just like the weight and size of the truck can impact an accident's seriousness, the severity of your bruises and injuries resulting from the accident can also significantly impact the worth of your potential settlement. Unlike minor whiplash, which is treatable by painkillers, a severe injury like a spinal cord or head injury could make you fall into debt because they are expensive to treat.
In most cases, a spinal cord injury could make you fully or partially paralyzed, necessitating long-term rehabilitation and mobility equipment like crutches, prosthetics, wheelchairs, or electric scooters. Depending on the severity of your injuries, a reliable attorney will know how much the at-fault party should pay you as damages for your injuries and related medical costs.
Insurance Coverage of the At-Fault Party
While trucking companies are obligated to carry liability insurance of up to $750,000 for general freight, your claim could be worth more. If the at-fault's party insurance coverage is limited, your settlement negotiation could be more challenging.
A skilled and aggressive attorney will not settle for a less settlement offer than you deserve, even if the at-fault party insurance coverage is limited.
Emotional and Psychological Trauma Caused by the Accident
When determining your claim's worth, the at-fault party's insurance provider must also consider the non-economic losses caused by the truck accident, including emotional trauma, anxiety, and mental anguish.
While it is difficult to calculate the monetary value of these types of losses due to their subjective nature, it is also a crucial consideration when determining a fair settlement for your unique case. An experienced attorney will ensure these non-monetary losses are included in your demand letter and fight relentlessly to prove your claim deserves full compensation.
Whether Your Injuries Could Prevent You From Working in Future
Some severe injuries resulting from a truck accident can affect your cognitive and physical abilities, impacting your capability to resume your job or work to earn income. For instance, if you are a driver or machine operator, it could be challenging to continue doing what you do best after losing a dominant arm.
Hence, this fact must come into play when determining your settlement after suffering injuries in a truck accident.
Your age will also play a critical role when determining your claim's worth during settlement negotiation, especially if the truck accident has left you with a permanent injury like the loss of an arm or leg.
While it could sound unfair, the at-fault party insurance provider will consider this factor when determining your settlement value. One of the main reasons age is a critical consideration when determining your settlement is because it can influence other factors like loss of wages, guardianship of property, and earning capacity.
Additionally, when a person suffers an injury in a truck accident, the lives of people who rely on him, like children, wives, parents, or grandparents, can also change drastically. Therefore, a young person's settlement claim could sometimes be worth more than an elderly or retiree's claim who does not have to worry about providing for his/her children or missing work.
The Extent of Property Damage Caused by the Accident
The amount you will receive in your settlement claim will also depend on the extent of property damage caused by the truck accident. Due to the significant size, length, and weight difference between a truck and a standard car, a collision involving these vehicles is likely to cause costly property damage.
Images of your vehicle or motorcycle damage before repair and the associated repair receipts can help prove you deserve maximum compensation for the property damage caused by the truck accident.
Chances are you will not be able to return to work for a few weeks or months after suffering an injury in a truck accident, meaning you could lose a significant amount of income. Therefore, when calculating your settlement for the injuries resulting from the truck accident, the at-fault party insurance provider should consider your lost wages since the accident's date.
Your attorney can use your pay stubs to prove you deserve adequate compensation for your current lost wages and the possible wages you could lose in the future before returning to work.
Whether or Not You Were Partially Liable for the Truck Accident
Another factor that could affect your potential settlement value is your percentage of contribution to the truck accident that led to your injuries. According to comparative negligence law, if you were partly liable for the truck accident that led to your injuries, your potential damages award will be reduced based on your degree or percentage of negligence.
For instance, if you were 30 percent liable for causing the accident, your potential settlement award will reduce by 30 percent. In that situation, you will rely on your attorney to provide appropriate evidence to convince the other party's insurance provider that your percentage of negligence was lower for the maximum settlement award possible.
Your Attorney's Competency and Aggressiveness
All injured victims in a truck accident or any other personal injury case should receive full compensation from the at-fault party insurance provider to cover their losses. Sadly, that is not how insurance companies operate. Insurance companies are in business to make the maximum profit possible.
That means they could deny your claim or question the severity of your injuries if it will ultimately save them money and increase their profit margin. Hence, having a competent attorney in your corner is critical to represent your best interests and aggressively fight for the maximum settlement you deserve for your losses.
Large trucking companies could also hire the best attorneys to challenge your compensation claim, reducing your chances of obtaining the damages you deserve. Hence, having a reliable and aggressive attorney in your corner could go a long way to combat their efforts and increase your chances of obtaining adequate and fair damages for your losses.
How Settlement Could be Advantageous if You Have a Semi-Truck Accident Claim
Typically, most people with truck accident claims will resolve their case through settlement negotiation instead of filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Here are the advantages of resolving your semi-truck accident claim through settlement negotiation:
- Settlement negotiations are cheaper and quicker than having your case resolved through a trial
- You and your attorney are in control of the negotiations, meaning if you do not like a settlement reward from an insurance company, you can reject it
- Settlement is private, meaning the public does not have to know about the terms of your settlement negotiations or obtained damages
- Settlement negotiations are less stressful than the trial process because the judge's verdict on your case is final
While settlement is an advantageous way of resolving a truck accident claim, the at-fault party insurance provider could be unwilling to offer you fair compensation for your losses. When that happens, filing a lawsuit against them will be the only option to pursue adequate compensation that you deserve to live a comfortable life after suffering injuries in a truck accident.
Potential Damages in a Semi-Truck Accident Case
Whether your truck accident case is resolved through settlement or at trial, you could receive damages for the following non-economic and economic losses when you win your case:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Vehicle repair costs
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment in life
In some cases, a truck accident can also result in the death of your loved one. When that happens, you can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party to obtain compensatory damages for the following losses:
- Loss of companion
- Funeral and burial costs
- His/her medical costs before his/her demise
Find a Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we have significant experience representing clients with truck accident claims, and we can help you obtain maximum compensation for your losses. While most injury cases will settle, we are ready to take your case to trial if necessary because the ultimate goal is to obtain full compensation for your losses resulting from the truck accident.
Call us at 714-876-1959 for an obligation-free case evaluation by our experienced attorneys. Once you contact us, we will investigate your case immediately to prepare proper evidence to help you obtain fair and valuable damages for your losses.