An accident with a commercial truck can change your life in a blink of an eye. From immediate impacts like losing your transportation to life-long medical conditions like traumatic brain injuries or permanent pain, semi truck accidents can cause any number of devastating results. But how much compensation are you entitled to after an accident like this? Is there an easy way to calculate what you deserve? How can a truck accident attorney help you? We’ll answer these questions and more in this guide to semi truck accidents.
What Happens When an 18 Wheeler Hits You?
After the first wave of responding to the accident, the long and complicated process of determining who is at fault and how to properly compensate the injured party (or parties) begins.
If you are able, make sure to take pictures of the accident and aftermath. Writing down everything you remember about the accident as soon as you can is helpful for reconstructing what happened. Pay attention to details like the time of day, location, what you were doing, where you were headed, how fast you were traveling, the road conditions, etc. In addition to your own actions, be sure to write down any observations about the truck that hit you. A personal injury lawyer who specializes in trucking accidents can help you tell your side of the story, getting to the truth of what happened.
After the initial impact, the process of figuring out who is responsible begins. This is determined by looking at evidence such as:
- The Scene of the Accident – Examining evidence like broken glass and metal, tire marks, and the environment around the accident is helpful in figuring out what actually happened.
- The Truck’s Black Box – Just like airplanes, semi trucks and other commercial vehicles contain black boxes that record and store information about the operation of the truck. This can include data about the speed of the truck, when the driver hit the brakes, whether the driver was wearing a seatbelt, how long they had been on the road without stopping, communications with the trucking company, and other important information. It’s vitally important to hire a commercial truck accident lawyer as soon as possible, as the data storage for black boxes is time sensitive. Newer models of black box can store this information for around 30 days, but older models may have less storage and data can be lost quickly. Your lawyer can help you obtain these records and present it in the best way.
- Driver and Maintenance Records – In addition to the black box, your lawyer can help you pull other records and logs to support your case. This could include items like maintenance records, timesheets, complaints filed by the driver, and the driver’s own record of accidents and tickets. The driver’s medical records can also play a role if conditions like sleep apnea or epilepsy are a factor. Another potential factor could be prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or substances like alcohol or marijuana. These substances can also contribute to the negligence of any of the drivers involved.
- Eyewitness Testimony – Gathering testimony from the drivers involved, their passengers, and any bystanders who witnessed the accident helps support the truth of what happened and adds detail and clarity to your case. There may be video footage, depending on the location of the collision, that can give a valuable first-hand account of how the accident occurred.
- Expert Witnesses – Expert witnesses are individuals who were not involved in the accident but are professionals who can speak to standards of reasonable care. They can point out proper procedures that should have been followed by drivers, trucking companies, freight loaders, maintenance crews, and any other potentially negligent parties. Expert witnesses help establish the best practices of common experience in their industry. They are helpful in proving negligence. Other types of experts include accident reconstructionists. They can recreate the accident, showing the truth of what happened based on evidence that has been collected.
It’s important to act quickly after a truck accident, especially in Indiana. You may think you have time, since the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit against a company or individual who was involved in the truck accident is two years from the date of the event. However, if the state or local government may share fault in your accident, the statute of limitations is significantly shorter. You only have 270 days from the date of the accident to file a notice of a potential lawsuit against the State of Indiana or your city or county, and 180 days to file suit against the city or county in question.
What Is the Average Cost of a Commercial Truck Accident?
The average cost was estimated at $91,125 in 2005, the last year the FMCSA conducted an in-depth analysis. Costs can vary widely depending on the severity of the accident however. For example:
- The average cost of property-damage-only crashes was $15,144.
- The average cost of each non-fatal injury in a truck accident was $195,258.
- The average cost of a fatal truck crash was $3,604,518.
Keep in mind that these estimates do not reflect some costs like mental health care or earnings lost by family and friends caring for injured parties. Factoring inflation, these costs would be at least 30% higher.
Is There a Truck Accident Settlement Calculator?
No, there is no universal semi truck accident settlement calculator. The reason for this is because commercial truck accident settlements vary widely and are calculated based on the individual circumstances of each unique case. That being said, many insurance companies have their own internal formulas for determining the payouts they will give after a truck accident.
How Do Insurance Companies Determine Settlement Amounts?
With so many car accidents happening each year, it seems like insurance companies would have one set way to determine the value of an injury claim, but the truth is that there just isn’t one. However, insurance companies often use the multiplier method where the adjuster totals up the claimant’s medical bills, then multiplies that sum by a factor (usually between 1 and 5) to calculate the general damages. Another similar method would use this basic formula:
Special damages like medical bills x (factor that reflects general damages) + lost wages = settlement amount
How Do They Calculate Accident Settlement?
Each truck accident settlement is determined by taking the following factors into account:
- How severe the injuries are. If you need extensive medical care like in-home care, physical therapy, or hospital stays, then your settlement will most likely be higher to cover these costs.
- How steep the financial and emotional losses are. A semi truck accident can have a ripple effect on your life, impacting you long after the incident. This is particularly true if you have lost a loved one due to this accident. Your settlement offer should take into account this tragic loss as well as the amount of lost wages, medical bills, auto repair bills, and more.
- What the state laws are. Every state has its own laws that will impact your settlement. For example, Indiana is a modified comparative fault state. This means that if reports conclude that you are less than 51% at fault, you can seek compensation only up to the amount of your own fault. So, if you are found to be 30% at fault, you can only receive 70% compensation.
- The other driver’s negligence. Your settlement will most likely be higher if the other driver is found to be negligent due to distracted or impaired driving.
- Insurance policies and their limits. Many insurance policies have caps on the amount it will pay toward a claim, which may limit the settlement offer you receive.
What Is a Fair Accident Settlement?
Calculating the settlement value of a case can be difficult, especially if you’re trying to go it alone. Here at Broadwing Legal, we believe that a fair accident settlement is one that covers present and future needs for medical treatment, covers missing wages, and compensates you for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced. Sometimes people will receive settlement offers that seem “good,” without realizing the long-term expenses and continued effects from an accident. For this reason, it’s important to talk to an attorney before accepting a settlement, to make sure that you have an advocate who is fighting for you to get what you deserve.
What is a normal settlement amount?
You’ll often see estimates of $15,000-20,000 as a “normal” settlement amount, but the truth is more complicated than picking arbitrary numbers out of a hat. There really isn’t a “normal” settlement amount, because each accident is unique and has a huge number of variables that impact the outcome of the case. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone—working with an experienced attorney will help you know what your options are and tell your side of the story in an accurate and favorable way.
What is a good settlement offer?
A good settlement offer will take into consideration all of the factors that we’ve discussed above, as well as covering all of your past, present, and future expenses. Your attorney can help you figure out if a settlement offer is good or not.
How Much Is a Semi Truck Accident Settlement?
You may find yourself asking, “What is the average semi truck accident settlement?” There is no number for the average semi-truck accident settlement due to the fact that these accidents occur so frequently and have such a huge range of settlements. They can range from a few thousand dollars into the millions.
Although there is no average payout for a semi truck accident, there are ways to boost your odds of winning your case and getting a higher settlement. In fact, one survey found that 74% of people who hire a car accident attorney get at least some compensation in their cases, compared to 54% of those who handle their own claims. The same survey found that the average car accident settlement is higher when you hire an attorney.
How Long Does It Take To Settle a Semi Truck Accident?
Truck accident settlements and verdicts take time. It can range from a few months to several years, depending on how complex your case is, how difficult the insurance companies are, and the specific laws of the state you live in. Your semi truck accident case may take longer if you were severely injured, multiple parties are liable, or you have significant damages. These factors impact how much the defending party or parties will try to avoid paying out for your accident.
Taking a case to court is another factor that can cause your semi truck accident to take longer to settle. Most personal injury cases are settled out of court. However, if yours ends up going in front of a judge, you will need an experienced truck accident trial lawyer to help you get the settlement you deserve as quickly as possible.
How Do I Calculate My Personal Injury Settlement Amount?
When trying to calculate a personal injury settlement amount, be sure to consider all of the immediate and long term impacts from the accident. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is a good idea, because they can help you collect and analyze your medical bills and medical treatment history, property damage, lost wages, and other harms and losses. Your attorney will fight for you to receive the fullest compensation possible, and will most likely think of things you might not have considered, like the projected costs of future medical treatment or compensation for loss of employment.
With all of the emotions, stress, and challenges that come in the aftermath of a commercial truck accident, it can be very difficult to know where to turn for legal advice. There are many flashy billboards or late night TV commercials and even the Google search results can be overwhelming. Here at Broadwing Legal, we put all of our efforts into individualized attention for each and every client because we know you need an attorney who is your advocate throughout this difficult time. We can help you calculate your personal injury settlement amount and fight for everything that you deserve.
Trusted, Experienced Truck Accident Attorneys: Broadwing Legal
If you’re searching for an attorney to help you with your commercial truck accident, look no further than Broadwing Legal. With over a decade of experience in handling truck accidents, car accidents, and personal injury cases, our team of lawyers are standing by to fight for you and your case. Our expertise, passion, and compassion is all available to you, and we are ready to represent you to the full extent of the law. We will help you fight for the highest compensation to get the fair truck accident settlement that you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.