A semi-truck crash is among the most dangerous and horrific accidents a person can experience. A fully loaded class-8 semi-truck can weigh as much as 80 thousand pounds, so the impact of a collision can cause life-changing injuries or even death.
If you’re in an accident involving a semi-truck, you could be entitled to a hefty settlement, but just how much might you receive from a personal injury claim?
What Factors Determine Your Settlement?
Multiple factors can affect how much you could receive from a semi-truck personal injury claim.
Evidence is the cornerstone of any legal case. To successfully receive compensation after a truck accident, you must prove that the accident was caused by another party’s negligent or reckless behavior.
You may still be entitled to compensation even if you were partly responsible for your accident. This is determined by the negligence law of your state. States with contributory negligence laws, including Alabama and North Carolina, bar you from claiming compensation if you were at all at fault for your accident.
However, the majority of states have comparative negligence laws. In these jurisdictions, you can file a personal injury claim even if you were responsible for your accident, although the percentage of fault varies. If you can make a claim, your total settlement will be reduced based on this percentage.
For example, if you were 40% responsible for your accident, your total compensation amount would be reduced by 40%, allowing you to receive the remaining 60%.
As these laws vary by state, it’s wise to consult a dedicated accident attorney near you. If you’re in Texas, for example, a personal injury lawyer in San Antonio can help you navigate the legal requirements and determine how much you might be entitled to.
If you are eligible for compensation, you must gather sufficient evidence to support your claim. This should include medical bills and documents, the semi-truck’s black box data, photographs of the accident site and your injuries, written reports, eye-witness testimonies, and details of any other out-of-pocket expenses, such as transportation to and from the hospital and loss of earnings due to being out of work.
At the very least, you’ll be entitled to your lost wages and the costs of your medical treatment, commonly known as economic damages.
Any motor vehicle accident can cause horrific injuries, but the sheer size and weight of a semi-truck mean that an accident can be particularly dangerous.
Injuries can range from broken bones and whiplash to paralysis, burns, amputations, and traumatic brain injuries.
As part of your personal injury settlement, you may be entitled to damages to compensate you for the pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment caused by your injury. These damages, known as non-economic damages, are harder to quantify as — unlike economic damages like lost wages and medical bills — they are subjective.
This makes it difficult to predict precisely how much your settlement might be worth, but as a general rule of thumb, the more severe your injuries and the bigger the impact they’ve had on your life, the more compensation you could be entitled to.
For example, an individual who is permanently paralyzed from the waist down after a semi-truck accident will receive a much larger settlement than a person who breaks a bone and has physiotherapy for a few months.
Negotiation is a vital part of the claims process. The insurance company of the party responsible for the accident will try to minimize the amount of compensation they pay you, while your personal injury lawyer will aim to secure the maximum amount you are entitled to. There will often be a disparity between the two figures, which is why it’s important to secure as much evidence as possible to support your case.
Shortly after your accident, an insurance adjuster will likely approach you to get your version of events. You are under no obligation to speak to this person, and doing so could actually harm your claim. If you admit any responsibility, the insurance company could use this to justify offering you less. In a state with contributory negligence laws, they may use this admission to avoid settling at all.
What Happens if You Don’t Settle?
Most claims are settled without going to court, but sometimes, the insurance company may be unwilling to budge on an offer that is well below what you’re entitled to.
If you have a strong case, your lawyer may recommend going to trial. During litigation, your lawyer will make your case to a judge, drawing on all the evidence gathered and securing eye-witness testimony from medical experts.
If the judge rules in your favor, they can compel the other party to pay compensation, and the amount you receive could be much larger than what was offered during negotiations. However, the judge may also rule in favor of the defendant, which means you would not receive any compensation.
Your lawyer will only recommend taking your case to court if they are confident they can secure a positive outcome, but there is always a chance you will lose your case.
If you go to court, you could also receive additional compensation in the form of punitive damages. Punitive damages — known in some states as exemplary damages — are a means to punish the defendant and are often awarded to send a message to the wider community to deter others from engaging in a particular behavior.
For example, if you were in a semi-truck accident because the driver of the vehicle was intoxicated, a jury may decide that punitive damages are appropriate to discourage others from drink-driving.
No two semi-truck accidents are alike, and each insurance company uses a unique formula to calculate how much they should offer a victim of an accident. However, using a personal injury calculator and consulting a dedicated semi-truck accident attorney can give you a realistic ballpark of how much you could expect to receive.