- Truck accident cases typically settle for more than car accident cases because the injuries to the victims and the damage caused to passenger cars and trucks are usually much more severe.
- The value of your case depends on how badly you were injured, the amount of your past and estimated future medical bills, your suffering, and whether your injuries have or will result in a loss of income.
- Punitive damages can be a large part of the value of a semi-truck case. To be awarded punitive damages, it must be proven that the trucker or his/her company consciously ignored or disregarded the safety of other motorists.
This article will address some of the issues that Georgia accident lawyers face when placing a settlement value on a truck or commercial vehicle accident case.
What is the average settlement value of a Georgia trucking accident?
We are often asked what is the average Georgia truck accident settlement. Unfortunately, there really is no average settlement value for a truck accident case. What we do find is that truck accident cases typically do settle for more than car accident cases because the injuries to the victims and the damage caused to passenger cars and trucks is usually much larger.
Large trucks weigh up to forty tons. Even a small accident or impact with a large tractor-trailer or semi can cause a serious injury or a wrongful death. Therefore the severity of the impact and the injuries caused is often the largest factor lawyers look at when calculating how much a truck accident case is worth.
The most serious Georgia truck accident cases can be worth millions of dollars. If you are disabled or permanently injured by a trucking company, for instance, if you will walk with a limp or you will have pain throughout your life, your case may have a very high value.
How is Compensation Calculated in a Trucking Accident Claim or Case?
Compensation in a trucking accident case is intended to represent the amount of your injury and to make amends, by providing a monetary award equivalent to your loss. Therefore, the value of your case depends on how badly you were injured, the amount of your medical bills, your future suffering, how much your past medical expenses are and what they will be in the future, and whether you will lose income in the future.
Factors that drive much large truck accident settlement values tend to be whether the injuries suffered are catastrophic, involving loss of a limb, paralysis, one or more surgeries or a wrongful death. In such cases, lawyers may hire a life care planner or other experts to talk about the future medical costs. In certain cases special experts may be used as well, such as functional capacity experts who may testify about your physical limitations and economists who may provide an estimate of future lost income.
How Does the Amount of Insurance Affect Georgia Truck Accident Case Value?
Another factor in the value of a trucking case is the amount of available insurance. Most large trucks and their companies carry at least one-million dollars of insurance. Not all trucking accident cases are worth a million dollars, but many are, due to the severity of the injuries involved. In particular, wrongful death cases or very serious injuries involving loss of a limb or multiple surgeries may be limited by the amount of insurance. One of the first things that a careful lawyer does is to find all layers of trucking insurance and other sources of financial recovery.
Many trucking companies carry umbrella coverage or excess insurance policies, providing additional coverage. Large companies may also have the assets and resources to pay more than their policy limits. One of the first things to do after a truck wreck is to ask for and discover all sources of insurance.
How Do Violations of Trucking Regulations Increase Settlement or Verdict Value?
Because the large size of trucks and the safety concerns involved, trucks are heavily regulated. The failure of a trucker or his company to follow or comply with trucking regulations is a major factor that goes into putting a value on a trucking case.
A trucking company that hires a driver who has a history of causing accidents or is not qualified to drive a big-rig may risk additional damages in the court room based upon punitive damages, or simply because jurors may become angry at the carelessness of the trucking company.
The quality and honesty of trucking records also can also be a factor in calculating damages. Truckers who falsify their driving logs to hide excessive hours or to hide the fact that they were speeding may face punitive damages or enhanced compensatory verdicts.
When our law office or another Georgia lawyer is placing a settlement value or an expected Jury Verdict range on a trucking case, whether the truck was in violation of State and Federal trucking rules and regulations is a main consideration. A case in which a trucker violates hours of service rules, or where the trucking company has a history of maintenance violations may be worth more a case where a driver made an error and committed simple or single act of negligence.
How Do The Actions of The Trucker or the Company Increase or Decrease Case Value?
Another factor in placing a value on a case is the type of mistake or error made by the trucker or the Company. For example, did a truck hit you because of brake failure because the trucker or his company failed to maintain or replace faulty brakes? Did the trucker fall asleep because he or she had just driven for 16 or 18 hours? Discovering this information can add significant value to a trucking accident case.
On the other hand, the value of your Georgia trucking case may also depend on whether the trucker has a defense that may reduce your chance of winning the case in a courtroom. Can the trucker successfully argue that a passenger car cut the truck off in traffic? If so, a trucking case may have significantly less settlement value, or could even be lost at trial.
When Are Punitive Damages Available in Georgia Trucking Accident Cases?
Punitive damages can also be a large part of the value of a Georgia semi-truck case. In Georgia, to be awarded punitive damages you must prove that the trucker or his company consciously ignored or disregarded the safety of you or other motorists. So, while punitive awards are not available in every case, some of the things that can lead to punitive awards include discovering that the trucker was using illegal stimulants, that he or she was falsifying his or her log books, that the company knowingly hired unqualified drivers or that the company hid critical information about the wreck.
Unless a truck accident victim acts promptly to request and preserve evidence, it is not uncommon for evidence that is within the control of a driver or the trucking company to disappear. If, after proper efforts to discover and preserve evidence are made by the victim or a lawyer, evidence still gets destroyed, the diver or business may be subject to penalties or the risk of a larger jury verdict.