Experiencing a trucking accident is an extremely traumatic event, and dealing with the legal aftermath often comes with additional stressors. Because of this, Broadwing Legal has put together this simple FAQ article to provide you with valuable insight into the legal proceedings involved with commercial truck accident settlements. Additionally, we have included some examples of actual settlement amounts and verdicts in Indiana commercial truck accident cases to help give you a better understanding of how important it is to work with a truck accident attorney in these kinds of incidents.
General FAQs for Truck Accidents
Before we discuss specific truck accident settlements and verdicts, let’s go over a few frequently asked questions surrounding legal representation and commercial trucking accidents.
What Should You Do After a Trucking Accident?
Here is a basic outline of the steps you and your attorney need to take while you prepare your truck accident case:
- Immediately visit a doctor and assess your injuries.
- Find a truck accident attorney you trust and begin making your case.
- Work with your attorney to determine liability for the accident.
- Work with your attorney to gather information and calculate your current and future damages.
- Work with your attorney to draft and send a demand letter to the applicable insurance companies.
- Work with your attorney to file your claim.
- Begin negotiations to reach a settlement.
- Prepare for litigation in case a settlement cannot be reached.
How Often Do Truck Drivers Get into Accidents?
According to the Indianapolis Star, there were 813 fatal crashes in Indiana in 2020, compared to 752 in 2019. In fact, accidents are on the rise all over the US. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the number of motor-vehicle deaths in the U.S. increased 8% from 2019 to 2020. The NSC noted that this is the highest increase year-to-year in the rate of death since 1924.
In regards to commercial vehicles specifically, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that in 2020 there were 4,870 crashes involving commercial vehicles in Indiana. 144 of these crashes resulted in fatalities.
The roads are a dangerous place, and it looks as if this danger is only going to increase year by year. Because of this increased risk, it is even more important for people to have access to dedicated and honest legal representation to take their cases when the unthinkable happens.
If you’re interested in more information about Indiana traffic accidents check out the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute’s Crash Statistics page.
How Do Insurance Companies Determine Settlement Amounts?
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all semi truck accident settlement calculator for insurance companies. However, there are a few key elements that influence this process. In general, insurance companies determine settlement amounts by looking at three main factors:
- Liability – In order for an insurance company to offer a settlement, the defendant’s liability must be clearly established.
- Damages – If the plaintiff has liability for their claim, then the next step is to determine what their losses are. In other words, what are the special and general damages? Read more about these below.
- The specific terms of the insurance policy – Lastly, the insurance company will review the at fault person’s insurance policy or policies to determine the exact coverage available to the plaintiff, factoring in specific losses as well as the policy limits.
Some More Information About Damages
There are two types of damages that impact how an insurance company determines a settlement amount: special damages and general damages. Let’s learn a bit more about each below.
Special damages are losses that can be assigned a specific monetary value. In short, special damages need specific numbers to back up the claims. Here are a few examples:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of employment
- Property damage
General damages are losses that cannot be assigned a specific monetary value. This means that these damages are not quantifiable. Some examples include:
- Physical pain and mental suffering
- Worsening of a preexisting condition
- Damaged relationships
- Scars or loss of limb
A lot goes into the process of putting a dollar amount to these experiences, which means that working with the insurance companies on your own can be extremely difficult. When it comes to negotiating, it’s best to use an attorney who has the legal knowledge and skills to navigate the complex world of truck accident claims and settlements.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Semi Truck Accident?
There is no specific timeline for a truck accident settlement. However, it is almost guaranteed that the process will be fairly extensive. In general, a truck accident settlement can take a few months or several years to process. The specific timeline of your settlement case depends on factors such as:
- How complex your case is
- How difficult the insurance companies are to work with
- The specific laws of the state you live in
- The severity of your injuries
- The severity of your damages
- How many parties are involved
The above-listed factors directly impact how much the defending party or parties will fight to avoid paying out for your accident, which can increase or decrease the length of your settlement process.
How Much is a Semi Truck Accident Settlement?
There is no concrete number for the average semi truck accident settlement because these accidents are so common and the circumstances of the settlements vary so greatly. In general, the severity of your injuries and the amount of damage caused by the accident have the most influence in determining the final settlement value. As a rule of thumb, the more severe the injuries and damages, the higher your settlement will be.
Having legal representation helps your case as well. A personal injury lawyer can help you collect and analyze critical information like:
- Pain and suffering
- Damaged relationships
- Medical bills
- Medical treatment history
- Property damage
- Projected costs of future medical treatment
- Lost wages
- Loss of employment
Why Legal Representation Matters After a Truck Accident
Trucking accidents are devastating events that impact the rest of your life, and the lives of your loved ones. Using legal representation after you have been involved in a trucking accident means you have someone by your side, working to help you receive the justice you’re entitled to. Here are just a few of the ways the right legal representation can benefit the outcome of your settlement:
- Navigating the Legal System: An experienced attorney will understand exactly how much your claim is worth. They also have access to the knowledge, tools, and assets that benefit your case.
- Complex Insurance: Trucking accident attorneys know where to look in insurance contracts to get you the coverage you deserve. Additionally, an attorney will handle complex negotiations with representatives from more than one insurer.
- Liability: Oftentimes there are multiple parties at fault in a trucking accident. Drivers, shippers, brokers, and many others could have played a role in your accident. An experienced trucking accident attorney will be able to navigate the complexities of liability and ensure that everyone is held accountable.
- Navigating Wrongful Death: Fatalities are extremely common in trucking accidents. A skilled attorney will help move the insurance companies to compensate you fairly for the death of your loved one.
- Finding and Presenting Evidence: An attorney will collect, sort, and review critical evidence for your case. For example, an attorney will collaborate with law enforcement to assess your accident report to identify and remedy any gaps or errors.
Broadwing Legal: Experienced Attorneys Who Care
If you’ve been affected by a truck accident, you need an attorney who specializes in trucking accidents specifically. Most lawyers treat truck accidents the same as car accidents – this won’t get you the settlement you deserve. At Broadwing, we’re experts in Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations, and understand all of the nuances involved with truck accident cases. We are honest, dedicated, and committed to providing you with the highest quality legal representation. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.