Were you injured in an accident with a commercial truck? Commercial truck accidents can be catastrophic. They can involve massive property damage, injuries, and death simply because of trucks’ size and weight. This also means they often lead to high-value lawsuits and settlements. If you are dealing with serious injuries and other losses because of a commercial truck accident, you are probably wondering, what is the average settlement for semi-truck accidents? Unfortunately, there is no average settlement for truck accidents. However, we can give you the information you need to have a better idea of the value of your claim. We can also help you figure out what to do next in this short guide on the value of a truck accident.
Factors in Settlement for Commercial Truck Accidents
Commercial trucks include many different vehicles besides semis. Other types of commercial trucks are tow trucks, gas tankers, ambulances, fire trucks, box trucks, etc. Basically, any vehicle larger than a car that is used by a business for the work it does is a commercial truck. The value of a truck accident depends highly on the circumstances. Some factors are within your control, but most of them are not. There are also factors that will increase or decrease the amount of your settlement.
The Circumstances of the Accident
How the accident happened is a crucial element of your claim. You must show that the truck driver or someone else responsible for the vehicle was negligent and their actions caused your damages. Common examples of negligence that can lead to an accident include:
- Driver fatigue,
- Vehicle maintenance issues,
- Not paying attention to the road,
- Violating traffic laws,
- Inadequate driver training,
- Speeding, and
- Poorly attached cargo.
Your attorney will investigate the accident based on the police reports, eyewitness statements, and other evidence. They will also look into the trucking company and determine if anyone aside from the driver and company is liable. Other parties could include truck part manufacturers if there was a defect, an employer that required excessive hours or unreasonable delivery timelines, or a truck maintenance company.
Comparative Negligence Laws
Your actions during the accident matter as well. For example, if you were driving carelessly, e.g., texting or speeding, you probably would not receive the full amount of your claim. Many states have adopted contributory or comparative negligence laws. These rules limit someone’s liability in an accident based on each party’s negligent actions. A judge or jury must assess each party’s fault for the incident. They then decide how much responsibility each party had based on percentage, and that percentage may reduce the value of their claim.
In contributory negligence states, any percentage of fault means that party cannot recover compensation. Most states have moved away from this legal scheme and adopted comparative negligence rules, which reduce someone’s recovery based on their percentage of fault. To illustrate comparative negligence, if the jury decides that you are 20% at fault for your accident and the truck driver is 80% at fault, then you would get 80% of your claim amount. So if your claim is for $100,000, you receive $80,000.
Oregon is a modified comparative negligence state. For someone to get compensation for their injuries in an accident, they must be less than 51% at fault. If they are over 50% at fault, they cannot not recover any compensation. Washington is a “pure” comparative negligence state. This means that no one is barred from recovering for the other parties’ liability by any amount.
Both Oregon and Washington are traditional tort states, which means that people injured in accidents can seek compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. If those policies are not enough to cover the damages, Oregon and Washington drivers can seek compensation from the at-fault driver personally as well. However, Oregon law does require a small amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Nevertheless, Oregon drivers are not limited in their ability to sue at-fault parties for their damages.
Victims of commercial trucking accidents generally will find themselves negotiating settlements with the truck driver, their employer, and the employer’s insurance company. Commercial insurance policies are usually comprehensive enough to cover damages from a vehicle accident. Some truck drivers are contractors or don’t work for trucking companies, in which case their personal insurance policy must cover the expenses.
The Amount of Your Damages
As we stated earlier, commercial truck accidents can be very costly. The value of your claim will depend largely on the amount of your damages. You can claim medical costs from the time of the accident, including any ambulance rides or emergency care and hospitalization, as well as all treatments and projected future related costs. That includes rehabilitation, transportation to your appointments, medication, any accessibility modifications you must make to your home or vehicle, etc. You can also recover for time you lost from work and future lost wages.
Other possible damages that make up the total compensation are non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and scarring or disfigurement. These non-financial costs are much harder to assign a dollar figure, but your legal practitioner can help you determine a fair settlement number based on the severity of your injuries and how the accident has impacted your life.
D’Amore Law Group Can Help You with Your Commercial Trucking Claim
The best way to maximize your compensation is to hire a commercial truck accident attorney. The lawyer you hire is crucial to a successful outcome. Tom D’Amore and D’Amore Law Group are experienced injury lawyers that will aggressively fight for fair compensation for your injuries. We have decades of experience representing accident victims and their families. In one of our commercial trucking matters, we recovered $26.4 million after a tragic accident where four drivers were driving recklessly and ended up severely injuring our client and killing his wife. You can view more of our results on our website. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you with your commercial truck accident claim in Washington or Oregon.