Truck accidents may result in devastating consequences for the involved parties. Physical injuries, emotional trauma, property damages, and recovering after the accident can be expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, a truck accident settlement can help you obtain the financial compensation required during recovery.
You need to know what to do and what not to do after the accident. Specific actions you take after the accident would affect your compensation. An experienced attorney can help you understand how settlements work in a truck accident. Also, the attorney will help you include economic and non-economic damages in your lawsuit. The attorney considers several factors in determining your compensation.
When do Semi-truck Accident Settlements Happen?
In California, the settlement can happen after the truck accident or after the court delivers its final verdict. For example, when a representative from the insurance company approaches you after the accident and presents a settlement offer, accepting the offer ends the case. When you agree with the offer, you waive your right to bring a lawsuit.
Another option is when the case proceeds to court, and you wait for the jury to decide the compensation. Many settlements happen immediately after the victim files a lawsuit or after the victim hires a personal injury attorney. Insurance companies know the victims understand their rights and want to invoke them.
When the insurance companies notice you are working closely with a personal injury attorney, they present reasonable offers. Many victims, however, have numerous financial responsibilities keeping them off from prolonged cases. When this happens, you receive a limited settlement. Many insurers know this and usually delay the case to pressure the victim to accept the offers they present.
What Factors Help Determine the Value of a Semi-Truck Accident Settlement?
Even though your attorney cannot pinpoint the average value of your settlement, they can help you understand the worth of your compensation. These claims can vary significantly since numerous factors impact their values. The following are the potential factors that can affect your semi-truck accident compensation lawsuit in California:
The Severity of Sustained Injuries
The size of your settlement claim will majorly depend on the severity of your injuries. For example, when you suffer minor injuries, the compensation you expect is also limited. Alternatively, you are entitled to substantial compensation when you suffer significant injuries.
Whether the trucking company and the insurance companies accept liability is another crucial factor that affects compensation. If the liability is clear, the settlement is easily agreed upon. When the liability involves multiple parties, the settlement also becomes a challenge.
The available insurance coverage can have an impact on your settlement. When you have limited insurance coverage, the negotiations become more challenging. Working with your criminal defense attorney throughout the legal process is good.
The semi-truck accident settlement can be higher than any other type of accident. First, the potential damages resulting from the trucks are greater than when two passenger vehicles commit an accident. Also, truck accidents lead to severe injuries and great property damage.
Non-economic damages cover the damages in a personal injury claim that cannot be determined by financial charges, losses, or expenses contained in the document. Although an accident may attract significant physical injuries, the victim might also endure emotional and psychological losses.
For example, a semi-truck accident victim might not perform certain activities after the accident, like performing normal household activities or playing with their children. The following are examples of non-economic damages you can be compensated for after a truck accident in California:
Pain and Suffering
One of the common types of non-economic damage is pain and suffering. Economic damages cover medical costs and expenses, but the injured victims may also experience significant pain and suffering immediately after the accident, during treatment, and during future recovery.
Humiliation and Emotional Anguish
This group covers all sorts of emotional distress that might have occurred because of the accident. For example, when a victim suffers burns or disfigurement after the accident, they are entitled to compensation for their embarrassment.
Loss of Companionship or Consortium
The children and the spouse of the injured victim might not be able to enjoy their relationship with the injured victim like they used to do before the accident. For example, a partner might not remain to be sexual intimacy with the injured victim. Also, the injured victim might not be able to resume normal daily household services any longer. Under this case, the spouse or partner of the injured victim must receive non-economic damages.
Any Damage, Suffering, or Painful Injuries
The truck accident victim can suffer injuries affecting their physical body and capabilities. The victim might face untreatable chronic pain. Non-economic damages cover all these types of pain.
Loss of Enjoyment in Life
When you sustain injuries after a semi-truck accident, you might find it challenging to enjoy your life as you used to do before the accident. For example, you might find it challenging to operate your vehicle anymore.
Determining the Value of Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are difficult damages to value. Usually, money is an insufficient substitute to fix the non-economic damages. After all, what is the most appropriate compensation to award extreme emotional and physical pain felt when a victim suffers permanent disfigurement? What is the appropriate amount to compensate the grieving family members of a child killed in a semi-truck accident?
Many reasonable people can develop differing numbers of these types of non-economic damages. Beliefs, values, sense of justice, and emotional sensitivity drive their assessment. Therefore, the non-economic damages can exceed the economic damages. For example, consider a situation where a defective toy explodes, killing a young child. In this case, the parents' economic damages are small compared to the non-economic damages.
The juries and courts find it hard to calculate rational and fair non-economic damages awards. That’s why you must work closely with an attorney experienced in calculating non-economic damage awards in California. The attorney will also help you incorporate all the non-economic damages in your lawsuit.
How Do the Court in California Calculate Pain and Suffering
The law does not provide a fixed standard to decide on the monetary value for the pain and suffering you experience in a semi-truck accident. But the victims usually prove the injuries and mental pain they suffer in the accident. The victim must present objective evidence to prove their pain and suffering at the accident. Examples that might help prove pain and suffering include:
- Medical records and medical bills showing the extent of your injuries
- Social media posts, emails, and texts
- Pieces of evidence of lost work period
- Testimony of family members, friends, and coworkers
- Comprehensive doctors' and therapist's notes
- Photos of property damages and physical injuries
In many cases, the court includes emotional distress in suffering and pain experienced during and after the accident. Emotional distress includes mental impairment suffered in the accident. Examples of emotional distress are:
- Lack of sleep
The method for calculating pain and suffering is commonly used by attorneys, plaintiffs, insurance companies, and insurance adjusters when calculating the pain and suffering suffered in semi-truck accidents. You first gather all the economic damages and then multiply them with a figure ranging from 1 to 5.
So, the figure used to multiply in the case varies based on the nature of the sustained injuries. For example, when you suffer less severe injuries, the court calculates your damages with a lower multiplier, like 1. When the injuries are significant, the court uses a higher multiplier, like 5, to determine your damages. The court considers the following factors when choosing the appropriate multiplier in your case:
- The severity of the injuries
- Whether the victim requires extensive medical services
- Lost wages when the victim suffers a disability
- The victim's reduced quality of life
The law allows the families of the deceased victim to file a lawsuit seeking compensation from the liable party. The friend or relative files a case based on intentional acts, negligence, or reckless and gross negligence. The family members of the deceased receive compensation for the support they could have received from their family member was it not for the death. The following expenses are included in the damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The household that the deceased used to provide
- Monetary support the deceased could provide to the family members
Economic damages are out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to a semi-truck accident. You may recover the following economic damages when filing a case:
Lost Wages and Income
You may recover lost wages if your injuries after a truck accident are severe and you cannot work. The court determines lost wages by calculating how much you make and the amount of work you miss due to injuries. In this type of work, you may recover loss of future earnings.
In determining the number of lost wages from a semi-truck accident, the court determines the number of hours you missed from work. Again, the court determines your hourly pay rate and calculates the total amount. To calculate the lost wages, you multiply the hours you missed by the hourly pay rate.
Medical bills may pile to extraordinary amounts. In a semi-truck accident, you may find yourself in situations where your medical insurance is disputing the amount the hospital demands. At other times, the medical insurance may pay less than it should.
Your lawyer will review your medical records and settlement and calculate the amount you spend on the road due to the semi-truck accident. Semi-truck accidents may be devastating. Following the accident, you may require hospitalization, long-term treatment, or surgery. You can demand reimbursement for all your medical expenses.
You may require ongoing medical treatment. You deserve compensation for future medical expenses. The amount depends on expert testimony from your doctor. The medical professionals estimate the cost of your future medical expenses.
If your car was damaged due to a truck accident, you might recover the cost of repair and replacement of the truck, depending on the damage. The faulty driver will also compensate you even if you are insured. Your insurance coverage does not cover everything, and you may have additional costs.
Apart from damage to your vehicle, you may suffer other losses like damage to your mobile phone, expensive electronics, etc. You want to include electronics in the calculation of economic damages.
You are entitled to Punitive damages in addition to economic and non-economic damages. All the damages compensate for the losses you suffer due to the semi-truck accident. In cases where the person at fault caused your injuries with extremely reckless behavior or out of malice, punitive damages are mostly allowed when the at-fault party acts with gross negligence.
Thus punitive damages depend on the other party's misconduct and the nature of your injuries. The amount of punitive damages you receive depends on the jury's decision. The jury's decision depends on the severity of the victim's damages and the other party's negligence.
The jury also considers the other party's financial condition to help determine the number of punitive damages that will deter the party from the same misconduct in the future. Again, the jury considers the punitive damages necessary to send a clear message punishing the at-fault party while warning the public to avoid the misconduct.
How to Increase Your Compensation Award
Following a semi-truck accident, you deserve compensation. The compensation funds will help you pay your medical expenses and lost wages and compensate for your pain and suffering. Here are tips you want to follow to increase the amount you receive as compensation after a semi-truck accident:
Seek Medical Attention
Even when you are not severely hurt, you want to seek medical attention as you might have suffered injuries that do not show immediate symptoms. If you require medical attention later, it may be difficult to prove the injury was related to the accident. When seeking compensation, you will provide evidence that you visited the hospital and were examined. You will also prove that your injuries resulted from the accident.
You want to document the accident scene if you are not severely injured. Documentation includes photos. Take photographs of the semi-truck and your surroundings. You also want to gather information about the parties involved. The information includes the other driver's name, phone number, insurance company, license number, semi-truck license number, and trucking company.
You want to write down the contacts of the witness. Approach the witness and write their number, email address, and name. The obtained evidence will help you receive maximum compensation as the liable party will not evade their liability. Your attorney may use the evidence to support your claim and uncover the elements of compensation you would not have considered on your own.
Do Not Accept a Settlement From the Insurance Company
You want the claim to end as soon as possible when you have serious issues. You may be tempted to accept the other driver's insurance company's first offer. Following a semi-truck accident, the company representing the truck driver will send you a settlement offer immediately after the accident. At this time, you do not know the compensation you deserve.
When the offer arrives, discuss it with your attorney before accepting. Your attorney will help you know the full value of your claim. The attorney will keep track of your medical expenses, hospitalization, surgeries and procedures, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Keeping track of all your expenses will help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Follow Your Attorney's Advice
Your lawyer wants your claim to succeed and for you to receive maximum compensation for the losses. Therefore you want to adhere to the attorney's advice to the best of your ability. The advice includes:
- Moderating what you Post on Social Media
You may be tempted to share details of your life on social media, including your injuries. You may be tempted to share the activities you participate in and discuss your claim. Leaking the information on social media would bring a difference in how the insurance company handles your case. During your recovery, you also want to limit what you share about other activities on social media.
- Monitoring your Interactions with the At-Fault Insurance Company
Your attorney will advise you on speaking with the liable party's insurance company. The attorney will tell you the statements you want to avoid making.
- Knowing When to Accept a Settlement Offer
When your lawyer advises you on when to receive the settlement offer you want to accept, the offer may not include the funds you thought you deserved as your compensation. However, your attorney represents your best interest and cannot advise you to settle without a valid reason.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
When injured in a truck accident, you might be frustrated with calculating the damages for your compensation. You can ease your frustration by working with a criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you recover huge awards.
At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we have helped numerous people obtain the compensation they deserve. We fight vigorously to ensure our clients receive fair compensation. We are here for you if you seek to file a compensation lawsuit after a truck accident in Los Angeles, CA. Contact us today at 310-935-0089 for a free case evaluation.