The Basics of Truck Accident Settlements

commercial truck accident settlements concept image

In Florida, there is an average of nearly 40,000 trucking accidents each year, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Accidents involving trucks are not benign; trucks are big and powerful, and when they collide with another vehicle, the outcomes are usually not good. Each year, thousands of people are seriously injured in a truck accident, and the extent of property damage is huge. 

Filing personal injury lawsuits against truckers is not uncommon and when the truck driver is held liable, the monetary compensations are significant. Oftentimes, more than one party is responsible for a truck accident.  If you have been involved in a truck accident and have been injured, you may be wondering how much your case might be worth. Read on to understand how commercial truck accident settlements are calculated.

Truck Accident Settlements

In general, every truck accident is different, and no one settlement figure applies to all accidents. Insurers usually do not reveal the settlement figures following trucking accidents due to privacy rules and constraints. However, even if these figures were available, they may not apply to your particular case because the injuries and damages you may have suffered may be vastly different and perhaps more serious.

To understand how the average semi-truck accident settlement is determined following a truck accident, consider these factors.

  1. Medical Expenses:

Suppose you are injured and require medical or surgical treatment. You will be entitled to collect damages for all your medical expenses, including follow-up visits, future treatments, rehabilitation, use of ambulatory devices, trips to the doctor’s office, prescription medications, and so forth. Even if the treatments last more than a year, you will be compensated. 

For example, if you suffer a spinal cord injury, your home may need to be modified so that you can enter, use the bathroom, or sleep. All the home renovations will be reimbursed. Finally, if you are not able to use your hands and need a nurse or a nursing aide to feed or bathe you, the cost of hiring these professionals will be compensated.

  1. Insurer Settlement:

In many cases of truck accidents where the fault is not yours, the insurer will call you and offer to settle the case with you. You will be offered a lump sum of money to pay for your immediate injuries. While the amount of money may sound large, in general, this is only a fraction of what you can get if you decide to go to court. Once you settle with an insurer, you have no recourse if you later discover that you need more surgeries or rehabilitation. 

Once you’ve settled, you cannot go back to get more money; you will need to pay out-of-pocket for all these future expenses. The bottom line is that you should never settle with an insurer before speaking to a lawyer. Once you have signed the contract of payment with the insurer, you cannot file a case, and you cannot get any more money.

  1. Lost Wages:

If your injuries are serious and you are not able to return to work following the truck accident, or you need prolonged rehabilitation, you are entitled to all the lost wages and rehabilitation costs. You may have suffered physical and mental injuries which do not permit you to return to the same job as before and are offered a lower-paying job; again, you are entitled to collect any difference in the pay. 

At the same time, if you are injured and lose your health insurance but still need medical treatment, the compensation will cover all your medical bills and lost wages. However, if you agree to settle too soon with the insurers, you may only receive limited payments based on the new job.

  1. Pain and Suffering:

In some courts, victims of accidents are allowed to collect for any pain and emotional suffering. For example, after the accident, you may develop panic attacks, develop post-traumatic stress syndrome, no longer be able to enjoy the company of others, may not be able to have a satisfying relationship with your spouse, or be depressed and in constant pain; the court may offer you a monetary award for these damages. 

In general, insurers never offer any compensation for pain and suffering. To receive compensation for pain and emotional suffering, you need to go to court. The amount of money you can get for pain and suffering is usually 1-5 times the total amount of your medical bills.

  1. Punitive Damages: 

In some courts, the victim is allowed to seek punitive damages. Essentially, the person who caused the accident is ordered to pay on top of the compensatory damages. While punitive damages are rare in accidents involving trucks, there are many cases when trucking companies have blatantly ignored safety rules or violated basic maintenance regulations, which have resulted in accidents. In such cases, the court may award victims additional punitive damages to punish the at-fault party. In most cases, punitive damages are significant.

  1. Suing For Your Injuries:

Commercial truck accident settlements can be complicated and complex.  If you have been involved in a truck accident and have been seriously injured, you may be able to take the truck driver and/or the company to court. Even though Florida rules recommend that you first settle with the insurance company, your case may be deemed suitable for litigation in court when the injuries are severe. 

However, if you do settle with the insurer, remember that the amount of compensation you can collect is limited. By going to court, you could be entitled to the full damages that you deserve. This is especially true if your injuries are life-threatening or the accident resulted in the death of a loved one.

What Type of Settlements Occur Following Truck Accidents?

An average semi-truck accident settlement can be difficult to predict because each and every case is unique.  While every case is different, the amount of compensation depends on the extent of the injury and the severity of the property damage. If the injury permanently results in disability, awards above $1 million are not uncommon. For less severe injuries, like fractures and head trauma, settlements of $400K-$500K have been reached. 

For somewhat more minor injuries, like shoulder dislocations, whiplash, and lacerations, settlements between $150K-$300K have occurred.  This does not take into account the fact that, in some jurisdictions, you can also claim for pain and suffering, which can result in 1-5 times the compensation of your medical bills. However, be aware that there is a cap on how much money you can get from a truck accident in many states.  Currently, the capped amount is about $1 million. However, if there are multiple parties involved in the trucking accident, the lawyer can file multiple lawsuits and increase the amount of compensation you can get. 

The only way to know how much compensation you can receive is first to see a personal injury lawyer who can assess your case.  Call Clayton Trial Lawyers at 1.833.938.2300 to learn more or go online to have the option of a 24/7 Chat with a live, real person.