When an 18-wheeler truck is involved in an auto accident, the claims process is different than that of a standard auto accident. In part, this is because there are more potentially liable parties. Since 18-wheelers tend to cause more severe damage, there is a greater need for legal action to recover full compensation so the victim can get the treatment they need.
However, before you file a lawsuit for compensation, the truck company’s lawyer or insurance adjuster will likely contact you to discuss a settlement. It is inadvisable to speak about this settlement without the guidance of a truck accident attorney. They will ensure that you take the best route to get all of the compensation owing to you.
Remember that insurance adjusters are looking to pay as little as possible. By avoiding a trial, they can often pay you a lower sum than what a judge would require them to give you.
Truck Accident Claims Guide
Here is a breakdown of facts about truck accidents. Review this information and call a truck accident attorney to begin the claims process.
Determining Fault After a Truck Accident
You need to determine fault before proceeding with a lawsuit so you know who to file against. It can be difficult to determine fault in an 18-wheeler accident since there are many parties not physically present who can help cause an accident.
In most cases, the at-fault party’s insurance company will need to be contacted, as they will be the ones paying out damages. They will attempt to undermine your story or shift blame to reduce or avoid paying you full compensation.
Your truck accident attorney will assist you in determining fault. Together, you will collect evidence from the scene of the accident, including photos of the damage and your chronology of the events that occurred.
After this, your attorney will seek the black box data and an inspection of the vehicle involved in the accident. Trucking companies often attempt to destroy this data since it can prove their liability in the accident. You will need to contact an expert truck accident attorney who can file an injunction to ensure the data is preserved.
You may find any of the following parties at fault individually or collectively:
- The driver
- Trucking company
- Manufacturer of an individual part
- Truck designer
- Owner of the goods being shipped
- Recipient of the goods being shipped
- Government entity responsible for road management
Once you and your attorney have identified the liable party, you will need to file a legal claim to request damages.
Before you manage to file your claim for 18 wheeler accident, it is likely that the trucking company’s insurance or legal team will contact you to negotiate a settlement. They will likely offer 40% of what your claim is worth, without consideration for future medical expenses.
You should never accept the first settlement offer from an insurance company without discussing it with your lawyer first. They will advise you as to whether or not it is a fair offer. Remember, your lawyer is on your side, the insurance company is not. They are focused on saving money for themselves, even at the expense of your health.
Calculating Damages After an 18-Wheeler Accident
Before you accept a settlement for an 18-wheeler accident, you will need to calculate your damages. Damages include both financial and non-financial costs that you suffered as a direct result of the accident.
You can compile financial costs through collections of receipts, bills, and lower paychecks that will reflect the costs you have had to pay. These financial costs are typically in relation to your medical expenses and recovery. These include:
- Medical bills
- Corrective surgery
- Loss of pay due to time off of work for recovery
You will need to seek expert medical treatment to get a diagnosis before pursuing financial damages for medical expenses.
Additionally, you are entitled to non-economic damages. These are losses that are not financially quantifiable. These include:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Amputation and scarring
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Loss of earning potential
Finally, your lawyer can advise if punitive damages are applicable in your case. These can only be applied if the negligent party was so irresponsible that their behavior was nearly criminal. A judge will ultimately make this determination; however, it is important to consider when determining settlement amounts.
Average Claim for 18-Wheeler Accident
There is no set average amount that can be awarded in an 18-wheeler accident claim. This is, in large part, due to the variety of factors that affect the total. Your attorney will consider the following factors when providing you with an estimate of how much they believe your claim is worth:
- Severity of injuries
- Long term rehabilitation requirements
- Loss of ability to work at the same capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- How much pain and suffering you endured
- Severity of property damage
- Cost of treatment
- If there was a loss of life
- If the other party was criminally negligent
To collect these damages, you will need to first prove negligence, liability, and the costs that the accident had.
For assistance determining how much your 18-wheeler accident is worth, contact Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath for an estimate. Our free, no-obligation consultations can help you decide how best to pursue a legal claim for damages.
18-Wheeler Truck Accident Lawyer
After an 18-wheeler truck accident, your first call, once you are safe, should be to a West Palm Beach truck accident lawyer. Your lawyer will guide you through the insurance process to ensure that you do not accidentally infringe upon your own rights to collect damages.
While you recover physically from the accident, your legal team will be working to ensure that the insurance company handles your 18-wheeler truck accident case fairly.
To hire an expert truck accident lawyer in Florida, call us today.