Truck accidents can result in significant damage. Court-awarded compensation generally covers costs of any property damage and injuries sustained in the crash. However, most victims are usually confused about the damages they should seek after a truck accident. This is understandable because no person can know all the compensation types in a truck accident injury case.
You want to with a skilled injury lawyer at San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm. Our expert attorneys will help you determine what types of damages to expect and help you file your claim. Allow us to help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Truck Accident Compensation Varies From One Person to Another
Before we look at the types of compensation available in truck accident claims, you need to understand that these damages are awarded based on the facts of a given collision. It is difficult to tell precisely what compensation a victim will obtain after a truck collision, even if they suffered similar injuries as other victims in the same accident. For the insurance adjuster or jury/judge to establish the compensation type and amount to be awarded in your claim, several factors have to be considered, including:
The severity of your injuries: You may have escaped with minor injuries after a truck accident. Alternatively, you may have suffered severe harm that would cause lifelong restrictions on your health and the ability to carry out your daily duties or go to work. Usually, severe injuries translate to higher compensation amounts compared to minor injuries. Additionally, visible injuries are likely to persuade the judge more to see that you’re suffering, making him/her award a substantial compensation amount.
To what extent your injuries restrict you: In certain situations, you may need to deal with severe limitations after the crash. In others, you might quickly resume work and usual activities despite your relatively severe injuries.
What the insurance company covers: Most insurance companies grant a maximum amount of compensation for any collision. If your crash involved several cars, it might lower the compensation amount given to you.
Whose fault it was that the accident happened: If the accident occurred due to the truck driver’s negligence, then the driver’s insurance provider will be required to compensate for your injuries. On the contrary, if you’re also to blame for the crash, a judge may lessen your total compensation amount as per your degree of liability.
Your life expectancy: If you’re young, it means your life expectancy is higher. If this is the case, then you’re most likely to recover a higher compensation amount.
The available proof for your case: With evidence like pictures of injuries, you’re likely to obtain higher compensation. Even though you may have suffered subjective damages like pain & suffering, having substantial evidence will often convince the jury/judge to grant a higher amount.
Your believability: As mentioned above, the damages for pain & suffering are subjective. Thus, the judge may be attracted to your likeability, therefore grant a significant compensation amount. If the judge can sympathize with you or your situation is relatable, you’re likely to receive a much higher compensation compared to when the vice versa is true,
Your trustworthiness and credibility during the case proceedings: Lying about any injuries you have sustained may convince the judge that you don’t deserve to be compensated. Thus, you have to be honest from when your case begins to the end.
Types of Compensation in Truck Accidents
After you have established negligence in your lawsuit/claim, what kind of damages will you receive? Your lawyer will compile a list of what he/she estimates the value of your injuries and losses to be. The personal injury law outlines several compensation types that your injury lawyer will try to obtain on your behalf after bringing your truck accident claim/suit. Let us look at them in detail.
Economic damages are also known as special damages. These are easily calculable since they compensate for things that can be assigned a definite dollar amount. Once your lawyer reviews all your case details, they will likely request you to give information about all your current economic, out-of-pocket costs. These may include but aren’t limited to:
When you sustain severe injuries, you might be incapable of returning to work right away. For example, if you have a TBI, you may be forced to stay off work until you recover completely. And if you sustained broken bones, you may be incapable of returning to your physically demanding work until you heal entirely from them.
Even if you’re able to resume your job duties immediately after the crash, you might miss substantial time at work for several reasons related to the injuries. Surgeries may prevent you from reporting to work for several weeks, and the doctor and physical therapist appointments make you miss work for a whole workday or a few hours at a time.
Keep track of all the hours you miss work because of your injuries. This includes personal time or sick leaves that you have to take during the recovery period. Ensure you maintain a record of the time missed because of your injuries versus the time missed due to other reasons. This will help you determine how much income you have lost during this period. You may be reimbursed for the wages you lost because of the hours you missed work. Damages for lost income compensate for your regular salary or pay, bonuses, commissions, allowances, overtime pay, and self-employment wages.
Calculating lost income will require you to submit different kinds of evidence, including:
- Proof of your income before the accident, like pay stubs
- Missed workdays
- Testimony of an economic or forensic expert
- Tax returns billing statements (for self-employment income)
- Employment contract
- Employer’s guiding principles on commissions, overtime pay, and bonuses
- A letter from your employer
- Evidence that you satisfy the terms and conditions of earning a promotion, bonuses, or overtime
Past, Current, and Future Medical Bills
Truck-related crashes can be severe, causing a victim multiple injuries that range from minor to serious based on the accident’s severity. Severe injuries like amputations, TBIs, and spinal cord injuries may come with substantial medical bills. Fortunately, if another person other than you caused the crash, their insurance provider bears the responsibility of paying for all the medical costs associated with your injuries. With severe injuries, calculating medical expenses is a challenging task. Ensure you save critical treatment records that will enable you to keep tabs on all your incurred costs, including:
- Each medical bill connected to your crash, like, ambulance transportation to the medical facility, ER visit, hospital stays, surgical charges, x-rays, chiropractic treatment, etc
- Durable medical equipment like crutches, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices necessary to help you cope with your injuries
- Physical or rehabilitative therapy costs.
- The expenses of the necessary modifications done to your vehicle or home to cater to your disability. You may need to buy grab bars, wheelchair ramps, or any other assistance devices for your stairs to enable you to move around the home and house after your collision, particularly if you sustained permanent injuries.
- The nursing or private medical care cost, if necessary. For instance, you may need a private nurse to be close all the time if you sustained a TBI or if you’re able to go back home, but the injuries make it incapable of caring for yourself.
- The costs you will incur while traveling to doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and to buy any prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Also, note that a truck accident may leave you with injuries you will need to treat after the crash or require medical care for the rest of your life. If you sustained these kinds of injuries, you might be eligible for future medical expenses. Your medical professional’s report showing the degree of your injuries, the period the injuries could last before they heal, and the amount it would cost you to recover will help establish the kind of care you will need. This will, in turn, determine the amount of compensation you should be awarded for future medical bills.
Loss of Future Earning Capacity
Certain injuries inhibit you from going back to work forever. For example, paralysis or amputation may stop you from resuming your former job post if it needs heavy lifting. Or, if you sustained a TBI, it may lead to lifelong cognitive difficulties that could make it challenging for you to go back to your previous profession.
In a situation like this, you may opt to claim damages for lost earning capacity because of your incapability to resume your job. These damages compensate for the wages you’ll lose in the future as a result of the injuries. Calculating the compensation amount for loss of future earning capacity is a bit more complicated compared to calculating lost income. Your lawyer may need to consider the opinion of a forensic accountant or economic expert. He/she may also need to factor in your doctor’s opinion to determine how the injuries impact your capability to work. Other elements that will affect your compensation amount under this category include:
- Your age
- The period the injury will last
- The timeframe within which you may resume your duties
- Your life expectancy
- Your past wages
- Terms and conditions of your employment contract
- Your career interests and goals
- Your performance appraisals
- The career advancement chances that you had before the crash
- Witness testimonies, for instance, your employer, doctor, co-workers, friends, family, a vocational and rehabilitation expert
You could recover loss of future earning capacity damages even if you’re a school-going victim of a truck accident. If you are not employed, the judge/jury will consider any skills you possess or would have gained after your studies. They will then calculate the potential salary depending on what the other graduates who have the same expertise as you earn. Then, they will establish the extent to which the injuries you have sustained will impact your career. For instance, if you’re studying to be a lawyer in the future, but the truck crash leaves you paralyzed, you’ll be incapable of practicing your career. This means you’ve lost your potential to earn income in the future.
Property damage expenses are the costs you incur on your motorbike, vehicle, bicycle, mobile phone, clothing, and other individual possessions that were destroyed following a truck collision. Property damage costs are part of the economic losses since you’ll need financial compensation for your bike or car replacement or repair. The reimbursement amount you will obtain here depends on the value of the damaged property and the extent of the damage done.
If you were the one providing for your children and caring for them, and you’re incapable of doing so anymore, you may be eligible for childcare services damages. Your child/children will still need to have a person to look after their needs before you recover fully from your injuries.
Non-economic damages are also called general damages. They are usually a little more challenging to calculate since they compensate for the intangible things that may not be easily assigned an actual dollar amount. For instance, the pain your injuries cause can only be estimated in dollars depending on your healthcare provider’s prediction, but there isn’t an invoice attached to it. Examples of non-economic damages are:
Pain & Suffering
After most truck crashes, the pain & suffering share of the injury claim might represent the biggest fraction of the compensation you will obtain. Most insurance providers calculate pain & suffering depending on the costs of the lost wages and medical bills you face due to your injuries. But other aspects can increase your settlement amount for this kind of damages, including:
- How the collision has impacted you. For instance, did you suffer embarrassment and physical pain & suffering because of the crash?
- To what extent has the collision inhibited you from taking part in the events you usually would enjoy?
- Is there an activity that the collision has barred you from enjoying, which used to bring you a significant amount of joy before the accident?
Speak with your attorney about how the pain & suffering from your truck crash has impacted your entire life. Specific events might increase the settlement amount you obtain for pain & suffering after the collision.
Mental anguish includes certain forms of non-economic damages that you suffer after a catastrophic truck accident. They may comprise distress, fright, anxiety, trauma, grief, or depression. Mental anguish can be severe in certain people, particularly those who have sustained lifelong injuries, and can be the genesis of disorders like depression.
Disfigurement happens in situations of severe collisions and may include excessive scarring, loss of hearing ability, eyesight, limbs, fingers, toes, and other extreme bodily changes that may have stemmed from a truck accident. It’s hard to live with a disfigurement, particularly when someone else caused the accident. That’s why it’s included in the general damages, and the law permits you to be compensated so you could have a given degree of closure of what you lost.
Given injuries make a person lose the ability to carry out various duties. If you find it challenging to do the different things you used to do perfectly before the truck crash, you may have been physically impaired. Physical impairment is a compensable loss under a California injury claim. The compensation amount to include in your physical impairment claim is based on the severity of impairment itself. It also depends on the available recovery chance and the impairment that has impacted your quality of life.
Loss of Consortium
Damages for loss of consortium are typically awarded to your spouse and children if you have suffered severe injuries. Loss of consortium means the connection or relationship the victim had with their children and spouse has been affected. If you can’t have a normal relationship with your family because of your injuries, the situation can be devastating. It is only fair to be compensated for the love and affection your family is missing from you.
The Cost of Lost Services
This type of compensation comprises the loss of your ability to render services or do routine household chores as you used to do before the collision. If you used to trim your fence or mow the lawn all by yourself, you might need to find someone to assist you if you’ve sustained severe injuries. Certain injuries make it difficult for the victim to clean his/her home or perform usual duties, leading them to incur extra costs in finding another person to do it for them. If this is the case with you, you should include the expenses you have incurred in your injury lawsuit.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
You could make a financial claim for your loss of present & future enjoyment of daily activities, like, your company of friends, daily exercise, hobbies, and other leisure activities. Your injuries may prevent you from enjoying holidays and special occasions, for instance, if you cannot prepare your family thanksgiving dinner or dance with your partner in celebration of your anniversary.
Damages for loss of enjoyment of life depend on the value that can be placed on activities you are incapable of enjoying in the present and future. It takes a significant amount of effort to bear how much accident injuries have negatively impacted your well-being. Use emotional language and detailed, genuine descriptions of your well-being before & after the crash to express your loss.
Punitive damages are awarded in rare cases. They are typically granted in addition to non-economic and economic compensation you obtain if your claim is successful. Courts give this kind of compensation not to reimburse the victim for anything, but to punish the negligent party that acted intentionally or maliciously with disregard to human life. They are also awarded to discourage other people from acting similarly as the negligent party.
For example, if a trucking company or driver knowingly & willfully ignored the safety rules and regulations, they will likely be required to pay punitive damages. This type of compensation is mostly awarded when the accident victim didn’t survive or sustained life-changing injuries because of the liable party’s negligence.
There’s no fixed formula for calculating punitive damages amount. When determining whether to grant punitive compensation or not, and the amount to be awarded, the jury/judge considers the following:
- The extent to which the defendant’s conduct was reprehensible
- Whether there’s a reasonable connection between the punitive damages amount and the victim’s injuries
- How much is enough to punish the liable party and deter future wrongful behavior, taking into account the at-fault party’s financial condition
Wrongful Death Damages
By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, eligible family members of the deceased truck accident victim have the legal right to seek to recover damages for their loss. If the claim is successful, they can recover compensation for:
- Burial and funeral costs
- Medical expenses for the period the victim underwent treatment before their demise
- Loss of financial support and insurance benefits
- Loss of companionship, love, affection, support, and guidance
- Loss of intimate relations
- Loss of consortium
Contact a Competent Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
Truck accidents are among the most dangerous types of collisions, as the risk of sustaining severe injuries is high. When you have suffered injuries, minor or severe, you should understand how to maximize your legal options. One of these options is filing an injury claim so you can be compensated for your loss.
You may find it challenging to establish what compensation type and amount to seek in your injury claim. Working with a lawyer can help you to determine all this effectively, and in most cases, increase the damages you obtain.
At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we have experienced truck accident lawyers who have worked with clients affected after being hit by trucks. We are readily available for any help you may need. Call us right away at 619-478-4059 to share the details of your case, and receive legal counsel.