Semi-Truck Accident Compensation Explained

Legal Avenues: Semi-Truck Accident Compensation Explained

Tarun Sridharan Legal Editor & Attorney Contributor Read Time: 8 minutes

Legal Avenues: Semi-Truck Accident Compensation Explained

Semi-trucks are a regular feature of American roadways.  If you’ve been injured in a collision involving a large truck, then you could be entitled to semi-truck accident compensation under the law.  These cases are unique, both with respect to the legal opportunities and the challenges you may face.  As such, it’s important to work with an experienced, truck accident settlement attorney who knows how to navigate the litigation process effectively.

That being said if you’d like to learn more about some of the basics of semi-truck accident compensation, read on!

Semi-truck accidents are Uniquely Dangerous

Semi-trucks are uniquely dangerous.  Not only do they cause a disproportionately large number of accidents, but the accidents they do cause very often lead to severe and life-changing injuries.

  1. Semi-trucks are unwieldy.  This can make it difficult for them to maneuver safely on the roadway, leading to a higher number of accidents.
  2. Semi-trucks are massive and heavy.  As such, the force of impact is substantial when a collision occurs.  This can crumple vehicles and cause severe injury (or even death) upon impact.

Given the severity of injuries that often result from a truck accident, it’s that much more important to pursue your legal options so that you can recover fair compensation for all your losses.

Damages in a semi-truck accident dispute

Damages are meant to compensate you for the losses and property damage you sustained as a result of the truck accident case.  As such, they vary substantially from case to case, as the losses will differ depending on many factors.  In any case, recoverable losses may include the following types:

  • Wage loss
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Medical expenses (i.e., medical bills)
  • Property loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • And more

Suppose you’re unemployed when you get into a truck accident.  You can’t then claim wage loss damages, as you would not have taken any time off work (and therefore sustained a loss in lost wages) to be compensated for.  By contrast, someone who works a high-paying job — who is forced to take a year off to recover — will likely have a substantial wage loss claim.

What is punitive loss?

Punitive damages are not quite like other forms of damages (i.e., wage loss, medical expenses, etc.), which are intended to “compensate” the injury victim by replacing their losses through financial remuneration.

Instead, punitive damages are intended to “punish” the defendant and discourage others from engaging in similar behavior.  That being said, punitive damages are paid out to the injury victim and do result in a financial windfall.  In that sense, they can be conceived as “bonus” damages.

Punitive damages are therefore worth pursuing in your accident settlements and any case where they may potentially be available.  Courts only award punitive damages at their discretion, however, and that too in cases where the defendant’s behavior is deemed sufficiently egregious or malicious to qualify for the “punishment.”  Given the possibilities and complications, it’s worth consulting your accident attorney for guidance on pursuing punitive damages in your case.

Why are most injury disputes resolved through settlement?

According to many industry observers, nearly 95 percent of injury disputes are resolved through either legal representation or a settlement agreement.  This can surprise many people unfamiliar with the legal process and its challenges.  So, why are the majority of injury disputes concluded through settlement, instead of at trial?

Litigation has several disadvantages for (at least some of) the parties involved:

  • Financially costly
  • Time-demanding
  • Mentally exhausting
  • Uncertain outcome
  • Negative publicity
  • And more

For example, consider how litigation “feels” to a trucking company being sued for discrimination in the workplace.  The business defendant may not only spend a year or more in litigation, paying substantial fees to defend themselves in court, but this will distract their organization from their core business — pulling away key resources.

Further, even if the business defendant were to litigate the case thoroughly, there’s no guarantee that they’d win if they go to court.  And if they’re forced to pay out compensation to the plaintiff, the court may require that they pay more than expected.  This uncertainty is extremely frustrating, especially for a business that is attempting to handle its operations in a predictable, process-driven manner.

Finally, discrimination lawsuits are bad publicity.  Even if the business is “innocent,” the lawsuit itself will be reported on and the general public may draw their negative conclusions regardless of the actual outcome of the case.  This could damage the brand and impact their ability to sell their goods/services.

Given all of this, most defendants (and plaintiffs) would rather negotiate an agreement themselves and avoid the hassle, uncertainty, and challenge of litigation.

How long does an injury claim take to settle?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here.  A truck accident injury claim can be settled in a few weeks, or a few months, or it may even take a year or more.  Whether a trucking accident or accident settlement happens early depends on several different factors:

  • Hostility of the defendant
  • How damaging negative publicity would be to the defendant
  • Whether you have sufficient evidence to establish liability and your damages claim
  • How sympathetic you appear as a plaintiff
  • The financial resources of the defendant
  • And more

What happens if you get hit by an uninsured driver in Texas?

If you are hit by a motor vehicle by an uninsured truck driver — in Texas or anywhere else — then you’ll be facing a strategic challenge in your dispute. Commercial truck drivers are not generally uninsured, but let’s examine this possibility.

See, when the truck driver doesn’t have insurance, even if they’re liable for your injuries, you may not be able to secure enough of a payout to cover your losses.  That leaves you in a difficult position.  To secure adequate compensation, you’ll therefore have to explore other options.  You can sue other potentially liable parties, or even submit a claim with your insurer (if you have uninsured motorist coverage on your plan).

Depending on the law firm and facts of the case, your options may include:

  • UIM Coverage
  • Employer of the driver who hit you (trucking company)
  • Auto manufacturer
  • City Government
  • Other drivers who contributed to the accident (in a multi-vehicle scenario)
  • Private property owners whose property contributed to the accident
  • Treating medical professionals if they engaged in malpractice
  • And more

This is known as a “deep pockets” strategy.  You benefit from suing or otherwise involving parties who have sufficient insurance coverage to pay out your losses.  These parties may also be incentivized to avoid the negative publicity of a lawsuit (i.e., an auto manufacturer may not want to have its brand dragged through the mud publicly, and trucking companies might want to avoid the brand damage of their driver being sued for auto accident). They may therefore be more willing to agree to an early, favorable settlement.

Truck accident attorneys usually work on contingency

Truck accident attorneys — like other plaintiffs’-side personal injury attorneys — often work with their clients on a contingency basis.  Contingency fee arrangements create a positive incentive dynamic and also lowers the barrier to entry for bringing a lawsuit.  What exactly does this fee arrangement entail?

In a contingency fee arrangement, the attorney doesn’t take any money upfront.  Instead, they agree to represent your interests in the lawsuit and agree to take a percentage cut of the compensation you ultimately receive.  That being said, they only get paid if and when they successfully secure compensation.  If you don’t receive any compensation from an insurance company for your losses (through a court judgment or a settlement or any other mechanism), then they don’t get paid at all.

You could go through an entire lawsuit without paying a dime.  That levels the playing field for plaintiffs who don’t have sufficient finances to cover an expensive lawsuit!

Further, because your attorney gets paid a percentage fee (which can range anywhere from 25 to 40 percent, or more), they are incentivized to litigate your case efficiently and to try and maximize your compensation.  The more you get paid, the more they get paid, after all.

If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck accident, then you could be entitled to sue for damages as compensation.  Bringing a legal action for damages isn’t always straightforward, however, as the case can transform over time — new facts may be brought to light, and defendants may strategically maneuver through the dispute in unexpected ways.  That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced semi-truck accident compensation attorney as you move forward.

Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 to get connected to a local truck accident attorney in just 10 minutes or less.  They’ll provide a free legal consultation, during which you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your case in detail.  Based on these discussions, they’ll be able to give you insights into some of the opportunities and challenges you may face as you pursue litigation, as well as your strategic options and next steps.

There’s no obligation to work with the attorney if you decide against it.  So there’s no downside to picking up the phone and calling in to get started.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Our offices are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we can assist you no matter when your accident occurs.

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