Involved in your case. Because of their weight and size, semi-trucks tend to cause more serious injuries and fatalities that warrant large settlements. Reach out to a truck accident lawyer One recent year, the National Safety Council counted 4,842 large trucks involved in fatal accidents.
People involved in these accidents can sustain many types of injuries, including scrapes, lacerations, broken and fractured bones, and catastrophic injuries such as amputations.
Severe injuries will require more thorough treatment, and injury victims may need treatment for the rest of their lives, resulting in high costs that insurers and liable parties would need to cover.
More extensive injuries will not only lead to costly medical bills but could also result in disabilities that prevent victims from returning to work, resulting in lost income and earning potential.
Ultimately, more severe injuries translate to more damages, the specific items for which accident settlements compensate. These damages could include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages, depending on the nature of the accident.
Some examples of the different types of economic and non-economic damages that factor into semi-truck accident cases include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Lost earning capacity
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium (relationship)
- Wrongful death damages, including funeral and burial expenses, along with the victim’s pain and suffering
Insurance companies will work harder to avoid paying the full settlement if a case involves many costly damages. They will want to delay payment as much as possible and conduct in-depth investigations to find a reason to deny these types of claims.
While insurers may want to close settlements faster if the nature of the victim’s injuries is urgent and severe, leading them to make a settlement offer soon after filing a claim. However, you may not want to settle for this offer if you stand to recover more compensation.
Also, your case will likely take longer if it involves a wrongful death. The claims process for wrongful deaths often lasts longer because of the involvement of the victim’s estate, requiring the victim’s family to go through probate and getting the probate court involved in the case.
The Investigation Process
Another factor to consider is the length of the investigation into the accident. When filing a claim, the insurance company will want to investigate the accident and determine who was at fault for the accident, looking at all available evidence to make a decision.
Remember, insurance companies want to avoid making large payouts and will work diligently to find reasons to either minimize the settlement amount or reject the claim altogether. At the same time, if you hire an attorney to represent you throughout a case, this professional will also want to investigate the claim to determine liability and calculate the total settlement.
The following are some of the many pieces of potential evidence that insurers and attorneys will review during the investigation:
- Medical records. One of the most critical pieces of evidence in any accident case is medical documentation. Following an accident, doctors will generate medical records once victims seek treatment, so accident victims must seek treatment immediately after an accident. These records can show a formal diagnosis and detail how the injury developed, proving that the accident was the cause and the extent of the injury.
- Police report. People at the scene of the accident should report the accident to ensure police arrive and begin drafting a police report. The report will detail the accident and how it occurred, and it can include the victim’s version of events along with witness statements that might support them.
- Photos and video footage. Another piece of critical evidence in these cases is photographic and video evidence. This evidence may include photos and video footage of injuries, property damage, and the accident scene. It may come from accident victims at the scene, liable parties, witnesses, surveillance camera footage, dashcams, doorbell cameras, and other sources. This evidence makes it possible to better understand how an accident occurred and the nature of the resulting damages.
- Witness statements. If people were present at the time of the accident and saw what happened, they may provide official statements to law enforcement and others during the investigation into the accident.
- Expert witnesses. In more complex cases, attorneys may opt to hire expert witnesses who can accurately reconstruct the events of the accident to better determine how the accident occurred and who was at fault.
- Pay stubs. This evidence could help show how injuries affected a victim’s ability to work. They may indicate how long employees took off for recovery and prove lost income.
- Drug and alcohol test results. If an accident involves a professional truck driver, another important form of evidence would be the drug and alcohol tests that truckers must regularly undergo per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. These tests could show that the semi-truck driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
- Black box data. Another item unique to semi-truck accident cases is the potential investigation of a black box device. Like other commercial vehicles, many semi-trucks have black boxes or event data recorders that could relay information about the circumstances leading up to an accident. For example, the black box data could show that a truck driver was not applying the brakes at a crucial moment when that would have been the reasonable action to take.
- Logbooks. The logbook that professional semi-truck drivers carry will include vital information about the driver’s hours worked, inspections performed on the truck, and the mileage driven. This information could reveal how a driver violated the law or that the truck didn’t receive sufficient inspections to keep it in working condition, among other details.
Reviewing all of this evidence could take time, especially if the nature of the accident is unclear and many parties are involved.
The Case Involves Multiple Liable Parties
Semi-truck accidents often result from a driver’s negligence, but other parties could be liable in addition to or in lieu of the driver. For instance, the driver’s employer might be liable for the accident, a mechanic could be liable for failing to properly inspect or maintain the vehicle, and another company may be responsible for loading the truck’s cargo insecurely. These are examples of how various parties might be responsible for a semi-truck accident. Proving how each party is liable can take longer than it would if only one party is liable in a simple case.
Whether the Case Goes to Trial
In rare instances, semi-truck accident cases may wind up going to trial if the parties involved are unable to agree to initial negotiations. The trial process would take even longer, but it could be worth it if victims can recover total compensation in court.
Beginning the trial process can take a long time on its own, as the first court date allowing both sides to present their arguments could take weeks or months to arrive. Depending on the factors involved, the trial process could take as long as years to complete. If a case involves many parties, injuries and other damages are challenging to prove, and witnesses are difficult or impossible to find, the trial process could take longer.
An attorney can help you determine whether taking your case to court is right. While it may prolong your case and require you to wait for more time to recover compensation, it may be the best way to recover a fair settlement.
Why Shouldn’t You Accept the First Settlement Offer?
To hasten the settlement process and get compensation earlier, you might consider accepting the first offer from insurance companies, particularly if it appears sufficient. However, insurance companies are never working in the claimant’s best interests in these cases.
These companies and their adjusters want to avoid paying out large settlements as much as possible. As a result, they often make initial offers far lower than what accident victims are eligible to recover in hopes that claimants will accept them and permanently close the case.
However, if you accept this first offer, you cannot pursue further compensation even if you stand to recover more from the accident. Your case may also be worth much more than insurance adjusters make it seem. Despite this, you might not be able to easily calculate the total value of your case on your own.
If you want to file an insurance claim after a semi-truck accident, you are often better off consulting with an attorney to discuss your case and help you determine the actual value of your case. This step is particularly important if your case is complex and involves extensive damages and multiple parties.
How a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
As you prepare for a semi-truck accident case, you will likely want to keep the settlement process as efficient as possible while maximizing your chances of receiving total compensation.
To help you succeed with your case and ensure the case only takes as long as it has to, it is often best to hire an experienced semi-truck accident attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer in this practice area can help you in multiple ways as you seek compensation following an accident. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
One way a lawyer can assist you is to calculate the total settlement amount you’re able to recover. During an initial consultation, the attorney can learn about the details of your case and determine the next step to take. This attorney could then begin reviewing the evidence in your case to figure out how much compensation you’re able to seek through an insurance claim or a lawsuit.
An attorney can also represent you when negotiating with insurers. If the insurer makes an initial offer, the attorney can reject it and make counteroffers until you’re able to reach a favorable settlement. In the process, the attorney can help prevent you from making any statements or taking any actions that might hinder your case. Having an attorney by your side will also give you more time to focus on recovering from injuries and spend with your loved ones.
Generally, hiring a reputable semi-truck accident attorney is the best way to shorten the time it takes to settle. The right lawyer will have access to the best resources and know how to navigate many cases, putting you on the fastest road to full financial recovery.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.