According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were almost 169,000 large truck and bus crashes in 2017 with 54% of those accidents resulting in injuries. Because of the overall size and weight of commercial trucks, accidents involving these vehicles can be significantly more serious than those involving only regular motor vehicles. Even going slowly, the disparity between the overall bulk of commercial trucks when compared to cars still presents a high risk for excessive damage and/or personal injury for those involved in an accident. Because of this, settlements, when awarded, tend to be higher than in regular car accidents.
Establishing fault at the scene
Before any settlement can be reached, in any type of accident case, including trucking accidents, fault must be established. As a result, it is imperative to take the time to collect the proper information at the scene of the accident to help your attorney establish fault.
- Document everything immediately following the accident – take pictures, collect information from the other driver(s) involved, and call the police to the scene to make an official report. Don’t move anything or try to clean anything up.
- Look around for any witnesses and ask for their contact information. Make sure the police speak to them as well to collect a statement.
- Get a copy of the police report. Keep this as evidence for your attorney.
At this time, should you be experiencing any personal injuries, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. Don’t be uncomfortable calling an ambulance to transport you to the nearest hospital. As you receive treatment for your accident-related injuries, keep all medical records, doctor’s notes, and receipts together as your attorney will need this information to establish the nature and extent of your injuries and, ultimately, your damages.
Engaging a personal injury attorney early on is extremely helpful. Their knowledge of situations similar to yours will help ensure you gather all the evidence you will need for your case.
Working with your attorney to calculate compensation
In addition to helping you prepare your personal injury case in a commercial trucking accident, your lawyer will also help you calculate an appropriate settlement amount to ask for in your suit. This is done by looking at a few key factors related to your accident and your injuries.
The total cost of medical expenses is a big contributing factor in calculating your settlement since accidents with a commercial truck can lead to more serious injuries and higher medical bills. Personal injuries that lead to long-term or on-going treatment due to severe or life-altering injuries will be factored in as well. It’s important to document everything that relates to your medical treatment and keep copies of receipts, doctor notes, and medical records.
Should your injury be severe enough that you’re required to miss work, you are likely entitled to compensation for the amount of work and/or income missed. Keep track of all the time off you had to take and the total amount of lost wages you encountered as a result. Make sure you get clear documentation from your employer that includes your normal hours, your associated wages, and how much time you took off. If your injuries are such that you can’t return to work at all,
Pain and suffering
This dollar amount is established based on the overall details of your accident — examining your injuries, missed work, damages, and how it all will impact you and your family. There is no documentation to help establish this portion of your settlement, so it’s hard to prove how necessary it is to an insurance company looking to fight against as much of your settlement as possible. However, with the right attorney advocating for you, it will be easier to have this portion of your settlement considered.
While this may end up being a part of your medical expenses if you’re treated for a clinical issue related to your accident like PTSD, depression, or anxiety, it can end up as a separate item in your settlement calculation based on what you’re citing as emotional distress.
Sadly, because of the typical magnitude of an accident with a commercial truck, fatalities do occur more often than in accidents only involving cars. Should the unthinkable happen, you may be able to sue for wrongful death as a surviving family member, which may impact your total settlement request. Wrongful death suits can be filed by a direct family member, such as a spouse or child, against the driver of the truck or the trucking company itself.
Navigating the complexities of this type of personal injury case
No two accidents are ever the same, and because a situation involving a commercial truck is automatically more complex, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney to guarantee you’re asking for an appropriate amount of compensation based on the parameters of your accident. The seasoned team at The Patterson Cozzo Law Firm is committed to transparency, integrity, and a desire to work alongside you to ensure you receive the result that your case and circumstances deserve. Initial consultations are free and easy to schedule. Simply click here to fill out our online form.