Any auto accident has the capacity to cause severe injuries, but big truck accidents involving semi-trucks or tractor-trailers have an even greater capacity for bodily harm. They can weigh anywhere between 35,000 lbs to 80,000 lbs, and they can deal a lot of damage at high speeds.
A commercial truck accident case could end in a massive settlement for any surviving victims or a deceased victim’s family, but what determines the settlement amount? In this article, we will explain the factors that can come into play in a semi-truck accident case in New York.
If you have suffered from injuries as a result of a trucking accident, our law firm can help you recover damages for your losses and hold those responsible for the accident accountable. With 40 years of experience in personal injury law and a long history of successful cases, we strive to represent our clients well. Call us at (518) 456-0082 to schedule a free consultation today.
How Many Semi-Truck Accidents Happen in the U.S. Every Year?
The number of semi-truck accidents that occur each year in the U.S. has gradually increased over the past 10 years. From 2016 to 2021, the number of commercial and non-commercial truck accidents that resulted in injury increased by 15%.
In 2021, truck drivers were involved in 117,300 accidents resulting in injury and 5,700 accidents resulting in death. New York accounted for 108 of the fatal truck accidents that year. The trucking industry accounted for 9% of all vehicles involved in a fatal car accident in the U.S. in 2021.
What is the Average Semi-Truck Accident Settlement?
Truck accidents vary in severity, and so do truck accident settlements. Truck accident settlement payouts can range between $0 and $80 million, but the average truck accident settlement in the U.S. is around $40,000.
The average settlement payout is not what everyone should expect from every semi-truck accident, however. The payout varies with each trucking accident case and can be much greater than or less than the national average settlement price.
Any big box truck accident victim should seek legal representation to ensure they receive fair compensation for any lost wages or medical bills incurred due to the wreck. A truck accident attorney can also help a victim sue the truck driver involved for punitive damages if the driver acted with blatant disregard for the safety of others.
Factors That Affect Semi-Truck Accident Settlements
Like any personal injury claim, the settlement amount depends on several factors, including whether or not the truck accident caused serious injuries or death. While a truck driver’s insurance company may be forced to pay for a victim’s medical bills in the event of a minor injury, they may be required to pay additional damages for any pain and suffering the victim endured (or would endure in the future) as a result of any severe injuries.
Not every insurance company engages in bad-faith practices, but some may offer victims in trucking accident cases a lower amount of compensation than what they deserve. They may also pressure victims into accepting that amount shortly after the accident.
It’s important for victims to seek legal representation following an accident with a large truck or tractor-trailer. An experienced personal injury lawyer can ensure the accident victims will receive a fair settlement amount in relation to the damages they suffered. The Albany truck accident case lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck are prepared to help victims recover damages and receive fair compensation for their losses.
Percentage of Fault
In any trucking accident, there is someone at fault, whether that be the truck driver, the truck owner, the truck’s manufacturer, or another motorist involved in the wreck. Sometimes, there are multiple parties who are partially responsible for the wreck. After an accident, a percentage of fault is assigned to all parties who caused the accident.
If the accident was mostly caused by actions that fall under the scope of the driver’s employment, then the trucking company that employs them would be responsible for the wreck. The company’s insurance would pay settlements in any truck accident claims filed by victims of that wreck. A trucking company can be found to be at fault if they fail to hire qualified drivers, adequately train their drivers, or maintain their vehicles properly.
If the accident occurred because of a truck driver’s negligence, however, the truck driver may be responsible for damages caused by their actions. This can include reckless driving, distracted driving, and drunk driving. In New York, it is illegal for anyone to drive a tractor-trailer or other commercial truck if they have a blood alcohol content of .04% or greater.
Truck accident settlements also depend on the severity of the injuries caused by the accident.
For example, if the victim only suffered from minor injuries, such as soft tissue injuries, uncomplicated bone fractures, or neck injuries like whiplash, the trucking company won’t have to pay that much in a settlement. If the driver suffered from any serious injury, such as a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury, a personal injury lawyer could help them recover a higher settlement amount. Serious, incapacitating injuries from semi-truck accidents can include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, compartment syndrome, traumatic amputations, complicated bone fractures, and organ rupture.
Like other auto accident cases, the average truck accident settlement can also include compensation for damage to your car or other motor vehicle. The truck driver or their insurance company would be financially responsible for any damage to property done by the accident. A truck accident lawyer could help victims file a claim for their damaged property, but the victim can also file the claim themselves.
Medical Bills and Physical Therapy Bills
Following a truck accident, the people involved will most likely require medical attention, leaving them with medical expenses to pay upfront and/or later down the line. In a personal injury claim against the semi-truck driver responsible for the wreck, the driver may be found liable for damage and may be required to cover past or future medical bills for any injuries they caused. This can include any outpatient care bills or physical therapy bills that the victim incurs due to injuries caused by the accident.
Pain and Suffering
While some people are lucky enough to walk away from a commercial truck collision with only minor injuries and medical bills, a trucking accident has the capacity to cause life-altering injuries and lifelong disabilities. In that case, victims of those injuries could potentially sue the truck driver or any trucking companies involved for the pain and suffering caused by the accident. If the victim experiences disfigurement, scarring, severe physical pain, or a loss of enjoyment of life, they may be entitled to this additional compensation.
A truck accident settlement can include compensation for any lost wages the victim experienced due to the accident. The truck driver or their insurance company would be responsible for compensations equal to the amount of work the victim was forced to miss due to their injuries.
In truck accidents with less severe injuries, the victim may only miss a few weeks of work, resulting in a lower amount of lost wages to be compensated for. However, in a personal injury case where the victim sustains a severe injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, they may be unable to work for months or years or even completely lose the ability to earn money due to their injuries. In this situation, the vehicle collision victim may be able to recover more significant compensation.
If a trucking accident caused the death of one or more individuals, the family of the victim could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver. In a wrongful death suit, the family could recover financial compensation for medical expenses the individual incurred before death, funeral expenses, and compensation for emotional distress.
Like all non-commercial vehicles, a commercial vehicle such as a semi-truck or tractor-trailer must be insured. Most trucking companies will have general liability insurance to protect their company and their truck drivers from basic trucking risks and any property damage, injury, or death their drivers may cause. Other commercial vehicles may also have liability insurance, such as a tractor-trailer owned by a business and used only for transporting their own goods or equipment.
If the truck involved in a wreck is insured, the insurance company may be liable for any compensation awarded in a truck accident settlement. In the event that the truck’s driver or their company does not have insurance and they were at fault for the accident, the company or driver may be entirely responsible for paying victims the settlement amount.
How Long Does it Take to Receive a Semi-Truck Accident Settlement?
After a truck accident claim, victims may have to wait months or even years. A truck accident victim can expect a settlement anywhere between 6 months to 4 years after the crash occurred. A trucking accident victim may have a better chance of receiving a settlement sooner if they hire a law firm with experience in handling truck accident cases.
Call Albany Semi-Truck Accident Lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck Today
Semi-truck accidents can be devastating for those involved and their family members due to the capacity for damage that these kinds of wrecks have. A tractor-trailer collision could cause great bodily harm, and victims may endure pain and suffering for the rest of their lives as a result.
If you or a loved one was in a motor vehicle accident with a semi-truck or other commercial truck, Albany truck accident attorneys at Bailey, Johnson & Peck are here to help. Call our personal injury law firm today at (518) 456-0082 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.