If you’re involved in an accident between two passenger vehicles, damage and injuries can be serious. Add a commercial truck hauling tons of cargo into the mix and results are often severe and tragic.
Commercial vehicle settlements tend to reflect this in larger dollar amounts. But if you or a loved one has been in a truck accident there is a lot more to know than simply bigger vehicle bigger settlement. In the following, we’ll discuss in detail…
How Much Can I Recover From a Truck Accident?
Let’s assume that fault is cut and dried (it’s not yours), and despite the terrible reality of many truck accidents you’re wondering how much you can expect to receive in damages.
Anyone who tells you they can give a specific answer to this question is probably misleading you.
There are a few common economic categories that can help you get an idea of the total value of your semi-truck claim. These are:
- The total cost of your medical expenses (many truck claims last a long time because serious injuries can take a while to resolve).
- Lost wages from time spent out of work
- Compensation for any lost earning potential resulting from the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship (ex: someone died )
- Vehicle or property damage
Common Truck Accident Settlement Factors
Drilling in even deeper to the dynamics of truck accident settlements, let’s take a look at a few other factors that are going to affect settlement amounts. Here are four primary ones:
- Liability — Laws regarding contributory negligence vary state to state. This can mean that the amount you are compensated is reduced in relation to the percentage of fault you are assigned.
It can also lead you to being barred any compensation from the other party’s insurance company unless you can demonstrate they are 51% or more at fault. Step one is figuring out how state laws may affect your claim, oftentimes an attorney is needed for this.
- The severity of injuries — As with any higher dollar claim, a truck accident claim involving serious injuries is going to be scrutinized by an insurance company or opposing attorney. The more severe your injuries the greater the chances of receiving a higher settlement from an insurance company or jury.
Be prepared, though, the opposition may try to dig into your medical history to find preexisting conditions or outright dispute your medical claims.
- Fatalities — The physics involved in a tractor trailer accident are simply less forgiving than most other types of accidents. The grim truth is that 1 in 10 deaths on America’s roadways is the result of a truck accident .
If an accident results in a death this often leads to a wrongful death lawsuit (and perhaps even criminal charges). Again, each state has their own laws regarding wrongful death lawsuits but this is a factor that cannot be overlooked when trying to size up truck accident settlements.
- Policies to claim against — Another key factor that can effect a settlement outcome is simply the amount of money that is available. The average commercial truck operating in the US is going to have around $1 million dollars of liability coverage.
This may sound like a lot but if you consider the more severe accidents, it isn’t. Be aware that a truck may be covered by more than one policy and unearthing all coverage can be a bit of a process. How this plays out is, of course, subject to state a federal regulation. If you’re finding yourself confused an attorney can help you clear things up.
Average Truck Accident Settlement Examples
Another way to try to get a feel for how much your truck accident settlement will be is to review some real cases and their results.
A driver was the victim of a distracted semi-truck on I-20 in Florida. He sustained neck and back injuries, along with a closed head injury. A settlement offer was reached after negotiations in the amount of $183,215
A woman was driving her car when she got into a trucking accident on Highway 101 in California. She suffered severe head injuries. The trucking company was found at fault because the accident occurred at night and the truck did not have adequate reflectors. Due to the seriousness of the head injury and fault of the trucking company, the truck accident settlement of $600,000 was reached.
An 18 wheeler truck in Texas crashed with a passenger vehicle when during heavy rain it slid across multiple lanes. The driver of the vehicle suffered several fractures to her arms and legs. One of the arms was also nearly amputated. The driver received a truck settlement amount of over $2,000,000.
The truth is that money will never be enough to compensate for a debilitating injury or the loss of a loved one, but that doesn’t mean that you should not pursue a fair settlement.
Truck accident claims and settlements are unique. Trucking companies/insurance carriers are prepared to defend themselves and often employ tactics to reduce what they pay out. Keep the following in mind, and if in doubt seek legal counsel.
- No two claims are alike but generally, you can be compensated for medical bills, lost wages, lost earning potential, lost companionship, pain and suffering and property damage.
- There are four key factors that affect settlement amounts. Liability/state jurisdiction, the severity of injuries, deaths, and available money.
- Settlements can range from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of millions it all depends on the circumstances, how you approach the claim and state laws.
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