Injury Claims: What’s My Truck Accident Case Worth?
Personal injury, wrongful death, and auto accident lawsuits are civil claims filed over alleged wrongs. In essence, they allege that a party (the defendant) caused a victim (the plaintiff) damages for which they should be held financially responsible. If someone hurts you and it’s their fault, they should be held responsible for the resulting damages.
While that’s a simple concept in theory, it’s not so simple in practice. These claims – especially when they involve commercial trucks and tractor-trailers – require intensive investigations, record retrieval and review, fault and liability analysis, and sometimes negotiations with insurance companies, while victims recover, make ends meet, and repair their lives.
As our attorneys at Power Rogers & Smith know, truck accidents can be physically, emotionally, and financially destructive for families. That is why one of the most common questions we receive is the anticipated value of a trucking accident case.
The answer, just like the cases themselves, depends on a lot of different factors.
Case Value for Truck Accidents: Unique Factors Matter
Because trucking wrecks often result in catastrophic injuries, they can result in substantial settlements or verdicts.
However, there’s simply no way to make an accurate prediction about the value of any particular claim, particularly early on and especially without any individualized assessment. That’s due to many unique factors at play, including:
Severity of Injuries
Victims who suffer cuts and bruises may have real losses (ER assessments, stitches or physical therapy, missed work wages, etc.) but they pale in comparison to the damages brought about by severe and catastrophic injuries like lost limbs or permanent brain injuries.
Broken bones, spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, and other serious injuries can result in long recoveries, expensive surgeries and treatment, and significant time away from work, and as such can increase the value of damages sought in claims.
Victims of preventable crashes can seek compensation for past losses such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional injuries they incurred after the accident and up to the time their case is resolved. Some cases, especially those involving severe injuries or death, mean plaintiffs may continue to face losses caused by their accidents in the future, if not for the rest of their lives.
When victims and families have damages related to future medical needs, permanent disabilities, lost earning potential or financial support, and other damages, they need to be accounted for in the final case value. These future losses, of course, are also case-specific. A young victim who suffers a permanent disability will need to account for years of lost income and medical care. An older individual who’s already retired, though still entitled to future damages when losses are expected to persist, will have settlement value calculations that look a little different.
Attorneys commonly work with medical experts to provide testimony and insight regarding the prognoses, recovery time, scope of injury or impairment, and expected needs of victims, and they can take steps to carefully calculate other future projected losses.
In a perfect world, victims of unfortunate tragedies would be fully and fairly compensated. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Not only must victims prove fault and liability when bringing claims against a defendant they say is to blame, they must also ensure there’s sufficient insurance coverage available. This can be a problem when at-fault parties are uninsured or underinsured or victims have extensive damages which exceed available policy limits.
A judge or jury can award damages against at-fault parties, but if they have no money, victims won’t be able to recover compensation.
Experienced attorneys should be able to help their clients explore any and all viable avenues for recovering the full amount of compensation they need – whether it’s through trucking operators with larger commercial policies, multiple / third-party defendants that contributed to a crash, their own UM / UIM insurance (if they have this additional coverage), or other options.
Denials & Disputes
A case where victims are unable to prove fault and liability ultimately has little value in terms of any settlement or verdict. What’s more, denials and disputes from at-fault trucking companies and insurance carriers can put any final damages award or negotiated settlement at risk.
For example, defendants may argue victims contributed to their own accidents in some way or that another party (with less available insurance coverage) is to blame. Trucking operators and insurers also want to minimize their losses and generally do what they can to pay as little as possible. Again, experienced attorneys should be equipped to handle these critical challenges.
Other Case-Specific Factors
There are numerous other case-specific factors which can influence the overall value of a claim. These might include:
- Age, income, remaining working years, and other financial matters unique to victims;
- Arguments from defendants about severity of injuries and their impact on victims / future expected associated costs;
- The degree to which a victim is at fault (if at all) for their accident.;
- Scope of victims’ physical pain and suffering;
- Nature and extent of emotional suffering endured by victims and families;
- Whether defendants’ conduct was “egregious” or so inexcusably wrongful that it warrants punitive damages.
Power Rogers & Smith is known for our unwavering commitment to clients, and for helping them recover over $4 billion in compensation – more than $800 million than our closest competitor since 2000. Our success record includes multi-million, record-setting results in many difficult cases, including a $100 million trucking settlement, the largest injury award for a single family in the state of Illinois. Learn how our proven team help you: (312) 313-0202.