What Damages Can I Recover in a Truck Accident Claim?
A truck accident can change your life. There are the obvious consequences: your vehicle might be totaled. Your injuries leave you in pain, facing a lengthy recovery, and unable to work. You might have PTSD or severe mental anguish in the wake of your accident. Then there are the financial consequences. Many accident victims and their families are not prepared for the astronomical costs they face after being in a truck accident. The accident wasn’t your fault, so you shouldn’t be left with the bill. Unfortunately, you are unlikely to receive full, fair compensation from the at-fault parties without the help of a truck accident lawyer.
A truck accident lawsuit is often the only path to justice for accident victims. While a truck accident lawsuit cannot reverse the damage that has been done, it can provide you with the resources you need to rebuild your life and protect you from financial struggles.
Even if the truck driver’s insurance company offers you a settlement, don’t agree to anything before speaking with a truck accident attorney. There are typically multiple defendants involved in a truck crash case and several different types of damages for which you deserve compensation. An experienced truck accident lawyer from Munley Law can calculate the full extent of your recoverable damages and fight to get you every dollar you deserve.
What Compensation Can I Receive in a Truck Accident Case?
Damages in most truck accident claims can be divided into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover concrete financial losses like medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages are intended to compensate accident victims for the physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional distress they experience as a result of the crash. Non-economic damages often make up the bulk of a personal injury claim.
In rare cases, accident victims may be able to sue for punitive damages. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate the victim, but to punish the defendant for gross negligence and prevent future wrongdoing. In order to sue for punitive damages, you must be able to prove that the defendant knowingly acted with reckless disregard for human life, or otherwise committed willful misconduct. Your truck accident lawyer will examine the facts of your case and complete a full investigation of the defendant driver and transportation company to determine if punitive damages are appropriate in your case.
Truck accident victims may face astronomical medical bills. Truck accidents often cause serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, internal damage, amputation, disfigurement, and more. Even those with health insurance can find themselves facing massive unexpected costs and even medical debt.
A truck accident lawsuit can help you recover compensation for the medical expenses you have incurred thus far, as well as the medical bills you will continue to incur in the future as a result of your accident. Medical damages in a truck accident case include compensation for:
- Ambulance or LifeFlight – Without air ambulance insurance, a LifeFlight transport to a hospital in an emergency can cost up to $25,000
- Emergency room treatment
- Hospital stays
- Prescription medications
- X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasound
- Specialist visits and treatment
- In-home nursing care
The amount of medical damages you receive will depend on the extent of your injuries and the medical care required. Some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, for example, can cost well over one million dollars in medical care over the course of a lifetime. This is why it is extremely important to have a lawyer who will consult with medical experts to calculate the total lifetime cost of your injury, not just its immediate effects.
Be sure to follow all instructions from your doctor and keep records of all treatment and medical bills.
Long Term Care
Injuries sustained in a truck crash can have lifelong effects. Crash victims may need extended medical care like physical therapy in order to regain mobility and range of motion. If the crash resulted in a traumatic brain injury, the victim may need to work with physical and occupational therapists to learn to walk again and perform tasks for daily living such as clothing, bathing, feeding oneself, and enjoying former occupations. In the most severe cases, crash victims may need in-home care or round-the-clock supervision for years to come, prosthetic limbs, and/or modifications to their home or vehicle. Home modifications to accommodate disability include wheelchair ramps, stair lifts, accessible bathrooms, widened door frames, lowered countertops and light switches, and assistive technology. Vehicle accommodations might include a van with a wheelchair lift, or specially equipped vehicles whose gas and brake pedals can be operated by hand instead of with the driver’s feet. Needless to say, these kinds of modifications are very expensive.
After a truck accident, you might not be able to work for weeks or even months. It’s entirely possible that you may not ever be able to do your job again, and will have to find other, less physically demanding work. Your inability to return to work or to perform the same job can impact your lifelong earning potential and quality of life. Truck crash victims can collect compensation for lost wages as well as lost earning power. Your truck accident lawyer will consult with economic experts to calculate damages based on a number of factors including the industry you worked in and your average salary, the amount of time you were placed out of work, missed time from work due to medical treatment, physical therapy, and specialist visits, any modifications to your duties and your pay resulting from your injuries, and more. The damages you collect for lost wages can compensate for the gap in your income, and provide you with resources needed to pay bills, and learn a new skill or trade when you are ready to return to work.
Pain and Suffering in a Truck Accident Case
Often, the most significant portion of a personal injury lawsuit is composed of pain and suffering damages. But what is pain and suffering and how is it calculated? How do you put a price on the trauma you have experienced as a result of a truck accident?
“Pain and suffering” is a legal term that refers to the physical and mental suffering that injured victims experience after an accident or act of negligence. It includes the physical pain and discomfort that the victim experienced at the time of the accident and in the aftermath. Truck accidents can result in catastrophic physical injuries and extreme pain, as well as long-lasting physical pain and discomfort during the recovery and treatment process. It also refers to the mental anguish and emotional distress the victim experiences as a result of their injuries. Examples of mental pain and suffering can include anxiety and depression, extreme stress, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief, cognitive changes resulting from a brain injury, insomnia, and more.
There is no exact formula to calculate pain and suffering damages. There are no bills or receipts to reflect the extent to which you have suffered because of your injuries. How does one put a price on constant back pain, or the inability to enjoy life the way you did before? One method lawyers and insurers sometimes use is the “multiplier” method. Using this method, you would multiply the total amount of your medical bills and other related costs by a number between 1.5 and 5, depending on the severity of your injuries, to arrive at the monetary value of your pain and suffering. However, each victim’s situation is different, and this method is not appropriate in every case. To calculate pain and suffering damages, your truck accident lawyer will work with medical experts and review your medical records and doctor’s notes. They will also present photographs and personal documentation such as journal entries and personal statements outlining how the injuries have affected your life. Perhaps you are no longer able to care for your children or grandchildren the way you did previously. Or, you cannot enjoy the daily activities that once gave your life meaning. The more evidence and detail you can provide, the stronger your case will be.
If your case goes to trial, the jury will bear responsibility for determining the proper compensation for your pain and suffering.
In the most tragic cases, truck accidents result in loss of life. In cases like these, the victim’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the at-fault parties accountable for their loved one’s demise. In a wrongful death lawsuit, claimants can sue for economic and non-economic damages as in other personal injury lawsuits, but there are some important differences, too. Family members filing a wrongful death lawsuit can sue for damages suffered by the decedent, as well as damages suffered by the surviving family members in their loved one’s absence.
Economic damages in a wrongful death truck accident case can include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of the victim’s expected future earnings
- Loss of family benefits such as health insurance
Surviving family members of the deceased can also sue for the pain and suffering that their loved one experienced in the truck accident that led to their death. The other major type of non-economic damages in a wrongful death case is loss of consortium.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium, also known as loss of companionship, is a special type of pain and suffering that refers to the ways in which the surviving family members suffer due to their loss. Loss of consortium can include loss of care, parental guidance and nurturing, and loss of love and affection. Family members can also sue for the financial value of the services the decedent performed in the household.
How Much is My Truck Accident Case Worth?
There are many factors that will affect the total amount of damages you can collect after a truck accident. Lawyers will consider the extent of your injuries and resulting medical bills, as well as the many ways your injuries have affected and will continue to affect your life. For this reason, the monetary value of your case may not be calculated for months, as the full effects of your injuries may not be immediately apparent.
Another factor that affects the total amount of damages you can collect in a truck accident case is the available insurance coverage. In many personal injury cases, the amount of compensation you can sue for will be limited by the defendant’s insurance policy. However, in a truck accident, there are often multiple defendants and more expansive commercial insurance coverage.
What is Contributory Negligence?
Another factor that can affect the amount of damages you receive is contributory or comparative negligence. “Contributory negligence” refers to the amount of fault the plaintiff shares for the accident that led to their claim. The laws concerning contributory negligence vary by state. For example, in Virginia, plaintiffs are barred from suing for damages if they are found to have contributed (even in a small way) to the accident that caused their injuries. This is a “pure contributory negligence” rule. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, follows a modified comparative negligence rule. In states with modified comparative negligence, plaintiffs can bring a claim for damages as long as they were less than 51 percent at fault for the accident. If the plaintiff is partially at fault for the crash, their damages will be reduced in accordance with their share of the blame. For instance, if your case is worth $100,000 and you were found 20 percent at fault, you would only be able to recover $80,000 from the defendant.
Having an experienced and highly skilled truck accident lawyer on your side will help ensure that you are not assigned more blame than you deserve for your accident and that the defendant does not avoid liability.
Munley Law Can Help You With Your Truck Accident Claim
If you are having trouble collecting damages from the insurance company, you have the ability to file a personal injury lawsuit to get the compensation you need. The truck accident attorneys at Munley Law have been helping truck accident victims throughout the nation for more than 60 years. We will fight on your behalf to make sure you receive a fair compensation for your claim.
Don’t wait. Contact Munley Law today for a free consultation. Choose carefully.
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