What You Need to Know About Truck Accident Compensation
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A truck accident can have a devastating impact on the injured party and their family. This is where an attorney can help. Your attorney can help seek compensation for you while you focus on your recovery. The average compensation amount may vary depending on the type of accident you were involved in and the injuries you sustained.
For more information, call Zinda law Group at (888) 234-7042 for a free consultation with a no win no fee attorney.
What Are Damages?
Compensation for an accident involving a semi truck, 18 wheeler, tractor-trailer or another type of truck will generally include economic and non-economic losses you sustained. These losses are also known as ‘damages’:
This usually covers damage to your vehicle involved in the accident, which in cases involving large or “semi” trucks, may have required extensive repairs or total replacement.
Medical expenses generally include the cost of treatment for injuries suffered as a result of the accident, including hospitalization, surgeries, therapy, or other medical treatment. This may also include the cost of future medical care and rehabilitation.
Lost income attempts to replace wages you may have lost as a result of not being able to work after your accident. You may also be able to recover for a loss of future wages or earning capacity if you are unable to return to work or unable to work as much after the accident.
In fatal trucking accidents, damages may be awarded if a loved one was killed in an accident.
Loss of consortium
Loss of consortium takes into account loss of companionship with your spouse or significant other.
These may also be available to compensate you for any emotional or mental damage caused by accident, such as PTSD, emotional distress, or similar problems.
Pain and Suffering
This category of damages are awarded to compensate for physical or mental anguish, and injuries suffered as a result of the accident.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the person at fault if their actions or behavior were especially dangerous or reckless.
How is Compensation Calculated?
Compensation is calculated by adding together all your economic and non-economic damages. To do that, your attorney will need to see evidence of expenses incurred, for example:
- For calculating property damage, professional repair estimates or the estimated value of your vehicle will typically be used.
- Medical expenses will include the amounts billed during the course of your treatments while also taking into account estimates of how much any future treatment will cost.
- To compensate you for lost income, pay stubs and records of any paid time off, sick days, or vacation days used to make up for time off will all be factored in to reach a figure replacing the income you lost because of your injuries. You may also be able to be compensated for any future lost income if you are unable to return to work fully, have to take more time off, if your injuries are so severe as to force you into a lower-paying job, or if you are unable to work again.
Amounts awarded for pain and suffering may especially vary, with insurance companies typically using a multiplier to calculate these damages based on the severity of your injuries, how much pain is generally associated with those injuries, and how long such injuries may impact you. Your attorney can advise you on their estimate of the value of your claim.
Factors Affecting Compensation
Many factors contribute to the overall recovered amount. Because each accident is often unique, amounts may vary from case to case, often depending on factors such as:
- the severity of your injuries
- the extent of your property damage
- the liability of the driver who caused your accident.
As your attorney investigates your claim, they will build an estimate of how much they think you can seek and use this estimated value to issue a demand letter to the insurance company to seek closure of your case. You may find that your attorney’s demand value may be higher than any previous offers from the insurance company. This may be because the insurance company wants to settle quickly and may not conduct a thorough investigation as your attorney would. Meaning that your attorney may uncover damages that the insurance company may not find.
The truck driver’s liability for the accident plays a large role in deciding how much you may seek. Accident cases may vary significantly from case to case, so it is crucial to gather as much evidence as possible regarding the facts of the accident to establish the truck driver was at fault in the crash, thus significantly improving the odds of a successful claim or trial victory.
Many factors will be considered when determining liability, including:
- possible negligence by the driver
- environmental conditions such as weather
- other drivers’ actions
- road conditions
- mechanical malfunctions
- any responsibility you may have had in the accident.
In some cases, the truck driver’s employing trucking company can also be found negligent, especially if the trucker has a history of speeding tickets and other citations or previous accidents.
Property damage covers the damage or destruction of your vehicle. If your vehicle is damaged, the insurance will generally pay to have it repaired.
However, if the vehicle is damaged beyond repair or to such a degree that repair would cost more than the vehicle’s value, the insurance may only pay “fair market value,” such as the value listed by services such as Kelley Blue Book.
Medical expenses cover any medical costs resulting from the accident. These include ambulance costs, hospitalization, treatment, physical therapy, and medications. Future treatments for injuries sustained in the crash may also be covered in some cases. Thus, the amounts given to someone with minor sprains or bruising may be significantly lower than someone else who suffered extensive injuries such as broken bones, internal bleeding, or especially any permanent disabilities or disfigurements.
Loss of wages and/or loss of earning potential
In some cases, where your injuries may keep you from working for some time, you may be eligible to recover wages lost due to injuries resulting from the accident. If an injury results in a long-term or permanent disability, you may also be eligible to recover losses for being rendered unable to work in the future due to an injury suffered in the accident.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and Suffering calculation is based on more subjective criteria than economic damages. Every case will have different circumstances that influence any damages awarded for pain and suffering. Truck accidents often result in severe injury and even death, and they can result in physical injuries and pain that may last a lifetime, as well as mental anguish and trauma. Typically, the amount you seek for pain and suffering will increase depending on how severe your injuries were and the amount of pain typically associated with those injuries.
There are many types of claims common in accidents involving cargo trucks (semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, etc.). Some of these include:
The driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel or ceased paying adequate attention to the road and surrounding conditions due to lack of adequate rest;
The driver may have been distracted by a cell phone, eating, other passengers, or even events outside the vehicle;
The driver may have been exceeding the legal speed limit, causing them to become unable to react to traffic appropriately and changing driving conditions, or perhaps leading to a shift in cargo that caused the driver to lose control;
Alcohol and/or Substance Abuse
The driver may have been under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, illegal or prescription, that impair the ability to drive safely;
Inexperience and Driver Error
The truck driver may have made an error in judgment that results in an accident, especially if they are inexperienced.
It must be proven that the party at fault caused the accident. To do that, your attorney can gather evidence and documents needed to build the strongest case possible for you.
How To File A Claim
To seek compensation for an injury in an accident involving a trucking accident, you should:
1. Seek Medical Treatment
First, always seek medical attention immediately after your accident. This allows you to receive the treatment you need as soon as possible. Many injuries, including serious ones, suffered in accidents may not be immediately apparent, such as head injuries or internal injuries, so it is important to get examined by a medical professional immediately after the accident occurs, to ascertain the extent of your injuries quickly. You will also need this medical report when you file a claim to prove your injuries.
2. Document Evidence
Documenting as much as possible about the accident is essential. If possible, document details of the accident, collect witness accounts and information and obtain a police report of the accident. This will help your lawyer in proving the truck driver’s fault or liability. You should also keep a record of any injuries you sustained, treatments, bills, future visits, and any other documentation relating to your medical expenses and injuries, as this will help to provide proof of the extent of your injuries as well as the cost incurred treating them.
3. Consult with an attorney
As soon as possible after your truck accident, you should consult a personal injury lawyer. It is important to do so quickly so your attorney may begin gathering evidence quickly, as some of it may be time-sensitive.
Only your attorney should communicate with the insurance company after an accident. The insurance company may attempt to force you into agreeing to a figure that may be far less than that which you are entitled to, so it is important to have an attorney experienced in personal injury law and truck accidents to represent your interests and help you seek maximum compensation for your injuries.
4. Negotiation and Compensation
Once hired, your attorney will ascertain the facts of the accident, build the strongest case possible for you and present your claims to the insurance company. There will often be some negotiation as both parties seek to find an acceptable amount to agree on. Every case is different; however, most cases are settled before having to move to trial.
If the insurance company refuses to settle, the case will go to trial, and your attorney will present your case..
How long will it take to receive compensation?
Every case is different, and the amount of time it takes will be different for each case. These are a few factors that may impact how long this process takes:
Your attorney will need to investigate the facts surrounding the events of the accident to determine the truck driver’s potential liability and any contributing factors, such as negligence, impaired or distracted driving, or other parties involved. Depending on the sources of the evidence needed timelines may vary.
In some cases, waiting until you have recovered or until a conclusive diagnosis of your injuries has been stated is a good idea. This allows your attorney to have the most accurate accounting of your medical costs and determine of long-term impact from your injuries, which may lead to an increased amount.
Negotiations with the insurance company can take time and will vary depending on the company. It may also depend on factors such as the findings of the liability investigation, amount of medical documentation to be submitted and verified, as well as determining any punitive damages you may be entitled to.
During this period, both sides will share information to strengthen their claim, and it may even become necessary to secure an expert witness. After examining the facts of your case, proposals and counter-proposals will be made until an agreement is reached. If an agreement is not reached, your case may go to trial instead.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations (or amount of time after your accident you have to file a lawsuit) for personal injury in a trucking accident varies by state. While in many states, the statute of limitations is two years, in some it is only one year, while in others it is as long as four years.
It is crucial to contact a local attorney as soon as possible after an accident has occurred, as it will allow them to determine a timeline of your case, improves their ability to find witnesses, such as police officers who responded, and build the most persuasive case possible for you.
OUR TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS CAN HELP
Speak with our truck accident lawyers to learn more about your claim. Your attorney will thoroughly assess your claim and seek the compensation you deserve. If an agreement cannot be obtained, we will aggressively represent you at trial and fight for you to recover your losses.
You can work with us on a contingency fee basis, which means you will pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our no-fee guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.