There is no doubt that you or a loved one will have numerous questions about your future settlement after experiencing a tragic accident involving a commercial truck. An 18 wheeler or tractor-trailer can total your vehicle and send you straight to the hospital, preventing you from returning to work. Your family’s income is at stake when you suffer from a commercial truck accident and obtaining your settlement is the priority after checking your vitals and getting emergency medical attention.
Various factors affect your commercial truck accident settlement, and if you have not discussed these with a truck accident lawyer, you will have no clue how the courts calculate your settlement amount. You cannot afford the defendant’s insurance adjuster to shortchange the compensation your spouse and kids need.
We will walk you through more about the variables that affect your settlement and how liability ties in so you can proceed with confidence and know what you’re eligible for.
What to Know When Seeking Commercial Truck Accident Settlements
If this is your first motor vehicle accident, you may not realize that most insurance companies will lead you to believe they have your best interests at heart with their offer letter. They usually try to pay out the smallest amount possible and manipulate you or your loved one to preserve their CEO’s profits.
For example, the defendant’s insurance adjuster will often contact you soon after the accident with a settlement amount to compensate you for everything you have suffered. They employ this tactic so they can escape proving you a settlement that accounts for future surgeries, vehicle damages, and injuries that may develop over time, like spinal cord damage.
They will claim the amount in your initial settlement letter is how much your case deserves, but they are lowballing you in reality. A truck accident lawyer can identify when an insurance adjuster is trying to take advantage of you and bring them to a trial by jury if necessary. Your family is counting on you obtaining a settlement that covers all your commercial vehicle accident bills, so you must watch out for hasty insurance adjusters.
Factors That Determine Your Commercial Truck Accident Settlement
When determining how much you earn from your settlement, both questionable insurance adjusters and the lawyer you hire take the same variables into account. However, the difference lies in how each party interprets the factors and whether they consider new evidence after the first settlement offer. Here are items they will record when calculating your commercial truck accident settlement.
- Liability: One of the first things the court will do in a settlement case is to establish who is at fault, which will decide how much the driver will pay you or whether they will pay you anything. The defendant can weaken your personal injury case if they can shift liability onto you for any reason, so you must prove why you did not cause the crash. The courts will increase your compensation by exponential futures if they rule the opposing party was at fault.
- Economic Damages: Economic damages are sufferings you endured during the commercial truck crash that have a quantifiable price tag the defendant owes you. The judge forces the defendant to pay them unless you are found liable for these damages, and there is little debate as to how much they pay you for them in either case. Some common types of economic damages you are eligible for are vehicle damages, lost wages, and medical treatments.
- Non-Economic Damages: On the other hand, the judge will have more difficulty assigning a settlement amount to non-economic damages since they are sufferings that do not have an inherent price. They usually deal with emotional trauma or mental illness, which most legal blogs categorize as “pain and suffering”. For example, you could lose a limb from a devastating truck crash and live with that physical disability for the rest of your life, stopping you from living life to the fullest.
- Evidence: The difference between a low and high settlement lies in the case evidence you or a truck accident lawyer uses. Videos and pictures (your totaled car, the crash scene, your injuries), medical bill receipts, and witness testimonies are all examples you should present to the judge. They will prove liability in your car accident if the other driver was at fault and confirm any economic/non-economic damages you can add to your settlement amount.
Potential Liable Parties in Commercial Truck Accidents
There is more to assigning who is at fault for your commercial truck accident than you understand since the reckless driver may not be the only one responsible. You and a truck accident lawyer can log all the parties involved from the commercial trucking company and assign specific responsibility to each for your compensation.
Truck Driver’s Fault: Cases of drunk driving, driving under the influence, negligence, willful harm, or violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service rule will present the truck driver as liable for any damages they cause. The courts consider many of these as punitive damages that will increase your settlement higher than usual.
Trucking Company Policies: Trucking companies often offer drivers incentives and extra pay to operate their vehicle loads beyond legally allowed limits. This fact means the opposing driver may not be responsible if their boss overworked them or forced them to drive sleepy. You could be suing the wrong party if you target the truck driver when their parent company is the true party to blame.
Manufacturer Negligence: Judges will consider a cargo company’s error when totaling your commercial settlement in probate if their mistake(s) led to an accident the driver could not control. Every commercial truck on the road must meet specific cargo codes to protect other drivers and to preserve the load. However, it becomes the cargo company’s fault if an 18 wheeler toppled over due to poor cargo loading or sliding truck items that created an unequal weight balance.
What Is the Average Settlement?
Unfortunately, no average commercial truck accident settlement exists for you to reference when deciding whether to pursue your case in probate. Crashes can range from $100,000 to $5 million, so there is no set amount you qualify for. Too many individual factors that affect your final amount, the complexities of non-economic damages being one.
A good general rule for your commercial truck accident settlement is that the more severe your injuries and property damage, the more you can earn in the end. Insurance adjusters will send you a first settlement offer letter with an amount you could accept but will likely be lower than what your family needs. The best option is to work with an experienced truck accident lawyer so you can obtain more than they tell you you are eligible for and bear your family’s new vehicle and medical bills.
Talk to a Truck Accident Attorney
These individual factors and liability technicalities will help you as you seek your commercial truck accident settlement after recovering from the immediate trauma. Sadly, learning more about what can increase or decrease your final settlement amount alone does not secure it for you in probate. While you have the option to pursue legal action on your own, you will compete against the defendant’s trucking company lawyers and insurance adjusters that have years of court experience.
We recommend working with a truck accident attorney that you can depend on to deliver results based on your unique situation. Our lawyers sit with you in a free consultation to hear your truck crash from start to finish, so we don’t miss any details and acquire all the evidence necessary to win your best settlement.
Call our law firm at (334).269.3230 to partner with our expert attorneys so we can support you and your family during this difficult time. We are also wrongful death lawyers and can ensure your loved one’s sacrifice was not for nothing.