Posted in: Jan 07,2024|
In a publication prepared by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), from 2012 to 2019, the number of truck accident cases with verdicts over $1 million increased by 235 percent over the previous period from 2005 to 2011. Drivers are trained, tested, and licensed; semi-trucks and tractor-trailers feature advanced safety and monitoring equipment; fleets must follow strict regulations, but accidents still happen. While every truck accident lawsuit is unique, several factors can directly impact how much most truck accident settlements are worth.
Fault & Liability
The determination of liability is crucial and the largest factor in determining the value of a semi-truck accident settlement. Injured parties are far likelier to receive larger settlements if the semi-driver or trucking company is predominantly responsible for the incident. Gathering evidence such as traffic reports or previous similar violations, expert witness testimony, eyewitness statements, and accident reconstructions plays a critical role in helping establish fault and liability after a chaotic accident.
ATRI’s research identified that Hours-of-Service (HOS) or log book violations, lacking a clean driving history, driving under the influence of controlled substances, fleeing the scene of the crash, and health-related issues resulted in ruling for the plaintiff 100% of the time.
Type of Crash, Injuries, & Damage
Per ATRI data, accidents involving cars spinning or rolling receive significantly larger verdicts than other collisions or sideswipes. Badly injured victims of semi-truck accidents can face a lifetime of substantial recovery efforts, featuring high treatment costs and medical bills, lost wages, and other unexpected injury-related expenses. Lawsuits and truck accident settlements become more expensive for operators based on the severity of the injuries inflicted—cases involving a spinal cord injury lead to much larger settlement sums than those that don’t, for example. Serious injuries, long-term disabilities, or fatalities generally result in larger settlements due to the associated higher medical costs and emotional toll. Semi-truck accidents involving children also lead to significantly higher settlements.
Insurance coverage limits of the involved parties can directly impact the case’s potential settlement. Higher coverage limits provide more financial resources to cover victims’ medical bills, property damage, and other associated costs. In semi-truck accidents, when an at-fault party has significant insurance coverage, the injured party stands a strong chance of receiving a more substantial settlement.
The FMCSA requires large truck owners and operators to carry minimum insurance amounts, ranging from $300,000 for fewer than 10,000 pounds of non-hazardous cargo to $1 million for tankers transporting oil.
Quality Legal Representation
Skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced semi-truck accident attorneys can negotiate more effectively, presenting a compelling case and navigating complex legal processes to obtain a higher settlement.
An experienced personal injury, wrongful death, and semi-truck accident lawyer will be able to advise plaintiffs on the best course of legal action based on their circumstances. Still, many parties involved often prefer to reach an agreed-upon settlement resolution between the two sides rather than proceed to trial. Settlements are typically faster, more efficient, and require fewer resources or stress. While a jury trial could result in more compensation than a settlement, it can be a risk to both sides. It could also result in less or no compensation after a long and delayed process.
Examples of Indiana Truck Accident Settlements and Trial Verdicts
Montross Miller successfully leverages our longtime expertise and robust experience across medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits to cases involving semi-truck accidents and personal injury. Our team conducts deep dives to collect relevant records and compile an accurate, comprehensive accident report. We often work closely with highly trusted industry experts in trucking operations, road construction, or other civil engineering subjects that may provide expertise in a truck accident case. Sometimes, we may even work with attorneys from other firms to ensure clients receive maximum dollars in relief to secure their families’ futures.
A 42-year-old father of three was driving eastbound on I-74 in Hendricks County, Indiana, when his vehicle was clipped by a passing semi-truck, causing a massive crash resulting in the plaintiff driver’s ejection from his vehicle. While no party disputed the plaintiff’s sustained catastrophic injuries, the national trucking company disputed that its driver was at fault. With experienced legal representation, a seven-day jury trial returned a verdict for the plaintiff for $18.5 million.
A 32-year-old mother of a young son stopped her car on a highway shoulder to assist a stranded motorist. While standing outside of the disabled vehicle, a semi-truck negligently hit and killed her. The truck driver claimed he slowed down and tried to change lanes, but the traffic alongside him prevented him from doing so. We obtained the electronic readout of his driver’s trip log, demonstrating that he had not braked for several miles leading up to the accident. The case settled for $3.4 million.
If you or a loved one were harmed or died in a motor vehicle accident involving a semi-truck, contact Montross Miller for a confidential, complimentary case evaluation.