If you’ve been in a semi-truck accident, one of your most pressing questions is likely, “How much compensation could I get?”.
Every accident is unique — two people in the same truck accident will often sustain different injuries, some more severe than others. That means there’s no “average” amount of truck accident compensation victims are entitled to.
That said, there are common factors that help determine how much you might receive in a semi-truck claim.
We take a look at what they are.
What Damages Are Included in Truck Accident Compensation?
Damages is the term for the money awarded in a compensation claim. Damages can range from a couple of thousand to millions of dollars depending on the strength of your evidence and the severity of your injuries, including how much they’ve impacted your day-to-day life.
Damages always fall in at least two categories, although there is a third type of damages available if you file a semi-truck accident lawsuit.
The first type is economic damages.
Economic damages are the quantifiable losses you’ve experienced due to your accident and injuries. Several expenses fall into this category, including:
Your Medical Bills
Because trucks are both large and heavy — a fully loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds — victims of truck accidents often sustain severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment. This can include surgery and physical therapy. In some cases, you might need to use a wheelchair or adapt your home to support you to be independent. Common adaptations might include adding a wet room or lowering kitchen worktops so you can prepare food unaided.
However, even a relatively minor injury will still incur medical costs, including emergency room fees, follow-up consultations, prescription medication, and transport to and from appointments.
Your truck accident compensation should cover all past expenses and costs you’ve yet to incur. For example, you might need occupational therapy for the foreseeable future or need to take medication for the rest of your life. Your personal injury lawyer can enlist medical experts to calculate the cost of your future medical bills so you can recover them as part of your claim.
Your Lost Earnings
Whether you fracture your leg or sustain a severe head injury, you’ll likely need time off work after your truck accident to recover.
You can claim both past and future lost wages as part of your truck accident compensation.
You can calculate your lost wages by multiplying your hourly rate by the number of hours you’re out of work. If you take an annual salary, divide it by 365 to work out your daily rate, and multiply it by the number of days you cannot work.
Property Damage Bills
The sheer impact of a truck collision will likely do significant damage to your vehicle — or even total it.
You’re entitled to recover the costs of repairing damage to your property in your truck accident compensation. Make sure you keep receipts or quotes from the auto shop as evidence of damages for your claim.
Non-economic damages is the second type of truck accident compensation you’re entitled to. Unlike medical bills and lost wages where you have receipts or payslips to show how much they’re worth, non-economic damages don’t have a definitive value.
These damages are designed to compensate you for the impact your injuries have on your overall life, such as pain and suffering you might experience, mental anguish, loss of companionship or consortium if you’ve lost a relative or loved one, and loss of enjoyment — such as if your injuries prevent you from doing activities you previously enjoyed.
Non-economic damages are typically calculated by taking your total economic damages and adding a multiplier between one and five. This is difficult to calculate, as insurance companies use independent formulas to determine how much truck accident compensation you should receive.
However, the general rule is the more your injury impacts your life, the higher the multiplier will be and, therefore, the more compensation you’ll receive.
For example, if you sustain a severe spinal cord injury that leaves you partially paralyzed and unable to walk and live independently, you’ll receive far more in non-economic damages than if you broke a bone that caused you pain for a few months but otherwise healed without further complications.
As stated, there is a third type of damages available to truck accident victims, but they’re only awarded if you file a truck accident lawsuit and take your case to court.
Personal injury claims rarely get to this stage, but you might choose to go to trial if you have a strong case and the at-fault party’s insurance company won’t budge from an unfair offer.
Punitive damages are awarded by a jury and designed to punish or make an example of a defendant. For example, if a truck driver was intoxicated when they caused your crash, a jury might decide to award punitive damages to deter other truck drivers from engaging in similar behavior.
How Liability Affects Your Truck Accident Compensation
Truck accident compensation claims are complex, as multiple parties can be liable. This can impact how much compensation you receive.
The most common at-fault parties are:
The Truck Driver
As many auto accidents are caused by driver error, truck accidents are commonly caused by drivers. A driver is at fault when they are negligent or reckless on the road, and this can comprise many behaviors, including:
- Texting while driving
- Using stimulants to stay awake during long shifts
- Working longer than federal guidelines allow
- Driving while fatigued.
The Truck Company
It’s easy to assume that the truck driver is responsible for your accident, but other parties may be liable. For example, if a truck driver causes an accident because they’re fatigued but are under pressure from their employer to work longer shifts and make more deliveries, the truck company could also be responsible.
However, this can be difficult to prove, and a trucking company may argue that the driver was an independent contractor (rather than employed) or that they were not acting under the scope of their employment when they caused the crash.
The Cargo Company
Semi-trucks carry large loads and must be secured to prevent cargo from spilling onto the road or upsetting the truck’s balance.
If a cargo company fails to secure a load and it causes an accident, they could be held liable.
However, liability isn’t typically straightforward. In this example, the cargo company may claim that both the trucking company and the driver should have checked the load was secure before heading out onto the road. They may even claim cargo was secure when it was initially loaded and place the blame on another party.
This can make it difficult to determine who should be held accountable, and this is important for your claim, as it impacts who you can pursue for truck accident compensation.
The final consideration when determining how much truck accident compensation you could receive is your own liability.
Few truck accidents are 100% a single party’s fault. More likely, one party will be majorly at fault, with one or several other people or parties contributing slightly to the accident.
For example, if you’re in a truck accident because the driver of the vehicle was distracted, but you were driving too slowly and sitting in the driver’s blind spot, you may be partially liable. If you maintained the proper speed, the truck driver might have seen you and been able to react in time to avoid a collision.
In some states, this is enough to prevent you from claiming compensation entirely.
However, South Carolina follows modified comparative negligence laws. This means that as long as you are less than 51% at fault for your accident, you can still claim compensation. Your total compensation will then be reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if your settlement totals $200,000 and you are found 25% culpable for your accident, you will receive 75% of the settlement — or $150,000.
As we’ve explored, truck accident compensation claims are complex. With many factors determining how much money you might receive, there is no “average” amount any one person is entitled to.
However, our truck accident lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina, can look at the specifics of your case and use our experience and expertise to tell you how much you could receive in a claim.