One of the most common questions we get during our free consultations is about the value of a case. How much is it worth, and when can they expect to get that amount? Will we need to go to trial?
There are a few issues with these questions: one, there is no easy way to take a look at a case and come up with a fair number. If we could, there would probably be much less of a contentious relationship between personal injury attorneys and insurance companies. Secondly, while most cases are settled, and most truck accident attorneys will focus on reaching a settlement before even filing a lawsuit with the Arizona courts, there is no telling how difficult it will be to close the gap between the insurance company’s offer and our calculations about what we believe you truly deserve (which, again, will take time to determine).
Take a look below to get a better idea of what goes into truck accident settlements, including the calculation process, negotiation phase, and some factors that go into whether or not a case goes to court.
Contact us as soon as possible to request your own free consultation with an experienced truck accident lawyer about your case.
How Much Is My Truck Accident Case Worth?
Commercial truck drivers have insurance policies with liability coverage limits that far exceed the standard passenger driver’s policy simply because they operate massive vehicles with a greater risk of serious injury to someone in a passenger vehicle. These limits often exceed $1 million, but unfortunately, a high limit does not mean that it will be easier to get everything you deserve.
The value of a truck accident claim is based on the facts and evidence that we can gather about your damages — as well as the actual calculations. Truck accident cases can vary greatly from situation to situation, and many of these unique factors may often be overlooked by someone other than an experienced Tucson truck accident lawyer.
Generally speaking, common damages in an Arizona truck accident settlement are medical expenses, lost wages or income, pain and suffering from serious injuries, emotional distress, physical or mental disabilities, or many unique damages in the event of wrongful death.
Depending on the specifics of each case, there may be other damages that can be included.
Can We Settle?
There is no way to accurately calculate the percentage of personal injury cases that are settled, simply because the details of a settlement are not disclosed. Still, some estimates suggest that nearly 95% of all cases are settled before trial, and 50% of all cases are settled before a lawsuit is even filed. However, while these statistics can give you a general idea of the personal injury landscape, they have little bearing on your unique case, especially following a serious truck accident.
Your lawyer will need to consider property damage, emotional injuries sustained in the trucking accident, both current medical bills and potential future medical expenses (which may require an expert’s testimony based on your medical records), impacts to a victim’s earning capacity due to severe injuries, and a range of other future expenses. Wrongful death cases stemming from large truck crashes also include things like the loss of consortium and future losses of financial contributions from the deceased. The insurance adjuster will make a counter-offer to kick off the negotiation process.
The negotiation process for tractor-trailer accidents is lengthy and arduous and can take several weeks to several months to reach a fair settlement.
It’s also important to remember that during this period, the insurance company (or their legal counsel) will attempt to limit the amount of compensation you receive, as they do with any serious accident. At the same time, your attorney will continue to gather evidence and mount an argument for the total amount of compensation they believe you are entitled to.
The Difference Between Settlements and Lawsuit Awards
Something that many people need to be aware of when going into a personal injury case is that a settlement typically results in a smaller award than the total amount your attorney has calculated. There are a few reasons for this: primarily, settling avoids a costly and time-consuming process of waiting on the court’s schedule; secondly, and perhaps more important, is that it allows both parties to retain control over the situation, whereas a trial would leave the final decision up to a disinterested third party (a judge and/or jury).
If your attorney stayed firm on their initial calculation throughout the negotiation process, it is likely that any good-faith negotiations would fall apart and ultimately lead to a court case, which could take years.
There are instances where a personal injury attorney may choose to move forward with a lawsuit following a Tucson truck accident, particularly when they believe that there is a good chance of winning a larger award at trial than the current offer.
This larger sum often involves punitive damages, which are only awarded by a judge or jury, and only in cases where the at-fault party acted in a particularly reprehensible manner that they believe a financial punishment will deter any further reckless behavior. This may be an instance where the driver was drunk, or perhaps was permitted to operate an 18-wheeler when they were not even fit to be driving smaller vehicles.
There are plenty of examples of when other drivers act dangerously enough to warrant punitive damages. If your accident is one of these situations, then your attorney will let you know.
Is The Truck Driver Always Liable For Truck Accidents?
Trucking accidents are often very complicated for a number of reasons, including the sheer size of tractor-trailers and the many specific regulations and laws that come with truck driving. People who drive semi-trucks are some of the most experienced drivers on the roads. They have commercial licenses to operate large trucks that come. There are additional requirements, such as strict Hours of Service, which are limitations to the amount of time they can drive.
The legal process following a large truck accident is often as complex as the regulations that drivers must follow due to the many protocols and factors that go into the case. There are many instances where it is found that the responsible party is not the driver but may be the trucking company, truck manufacturer, warehouse team contracted to load the trailer or countless others involved in the shipping industry that runs on commercial trucks.
Police reports often provide general information from the accident scene but will not include information pulled from the vehicle’s electronic control module (ECM), or “black box” that will show whether the driver was speeding, which caused them to lose control and cause, for example, a head-on collision, whether or not they applied brakes in the tractor-trailer in time, and more.
Contact Our Firm Today
The truck accident lawyers at Wattel & York have years of experience handling truck accident claims against trucking companies, drivers, and anyone else deemed responsible. Contact us now to get the support you deserve.