If you were hit by a commercial truck in Texas, you probably have a lot of questions. The one that people who were injured in truck accidents most commonly ask is, What is the average settlement for an 18-wheeler accident?
The fact is that there is no such thing as an average amount for 18-wheeler settlements in Texas. All 18-wheeler accident settlements highly depend on the specific facts of the situation.
Some factors you may have control over, and others you will not. It is important for you to know which circumstances you can control so that you can best maximize your chance at a good settlement.
Factors That Affect a Truck Accident Claim
Commercial trucks include not only 18-wheelers, but any number of large trucks used by businesses, such as tractor-trailers, tow trucks, tankers, emergency vehicles, etc.
Although there is no average settlement for an 18-wheeler accident, there are a number of factors that may increase or decrease the amount of your claim.
Circumstances of the Accident
The driver’s conduct is a crucial element of your claim, as you typically must prove that they acted negligently. Some examples of negligent behavior include:
- Carelessness or not paying enough attention to the road;
- Driving while fatigued;
- Poorly attached trailers or cargo;
- Vehicle maintenance failures; and
- Traffic violations.
Parties other than the driver may also be responsible for your accident, such as a company who improperly loaded the cargo, the manufacturer of a defective part on the truck, or an employer who provided inadequate training for the driver or required them to drive excessive hours.
Percentage of Fault
Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. What this means is that each driver is accorded a percentage of fault for the accident.
If the injured person is more than 50% at fault, they cannot recover any compensation for the accident. If they share some fault, but it is 50% or less, their proportion of fault will decrease the overall value of the damages they can collect.
Severity of the Injuries
Due to their size, 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks can cause catastrophic injuries.
Medical costs begin accruing from the first response to the accident, including ambulance rides, emergency room visits, and hospitalization—nevermind any actual treatments like surgery, prescription medication, imaging, or testing that you receive.
Often these injuries require ongoing medical treatment such as physical rehabilitation. The costs of your medical care from the point of the accident and your expected future treatment costs weigh heavily in the outcome of your case.
You might also be able to include the costs of travel to and from your treatments with your total amount of costs.
Value of Property Damage
Obviously, a passenger car or SUV is no match for a collision with an 18-wheeler. Trucking accidents often cause extensive damage to smaller vehicles, usually causing the driver’s insurance to consider them totaled.
An insurance adjuster will inspect your car and provide an estimate of the damage. You should also take your car to your own repair shop and have your own estimate done.
Other Possible Damages
Dealing with your injuries after an accident with an 18-wheeler will likely mean taking significant time off work for medical treatments. The wages you missed out on as well as your estimated future wage losses can be factored into the value of your damages.
There are also non-economic damages that make up the total compensation, such as pain and suffering. You may be entitled for compensation for your physical pain, emotional distress, accident-related PTSD, disfigurement and scarring, etc.
Your attorney can provide an evaluation of these damages based on the severity of your injuries and how they have impacted your and your loved ones’ lives.
Truck Driver Employer’s Insurance Policy
Most 18-wheeler lawsuit settlements involve more than one defendant. Generally, you will be negotiating with the truck driver, their employer, and their insurance company, though there may be other parties as well, depending on the facts of the case.
Usually, the trucking company’s insurance policy is big enough to cover your compensation. A truck driver that is not working for a trucking company may have to pay your claim through their own insurance.
In that case, individual insurance policies may not be comprehensive enough to cover your damages, and you may have to go after the truck driver personally.
How to Maximize Your Compensation
Being in the middle of personal injury truck accident litigation can be confusing and overwhelming.
There are so many moving parts, and this is likely an experience you’ve never had before. However, there are some things you can do to make sure your case has the best possible financial outcome.
Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
The most effective way to ensure that you’re getting the compensation you need and deserve is to hire an experienced personal injury trucking accident attorney.
You have only two years from the date of your accident to file a claim. It is essential that you begin the process right away.
Your attorney will investigate your accident, collect evidence and witness statements, and identify all the parties you should sue.
They will also negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf to get you the best possible settlement. If a settlement agreement is not possible, your attorney will take your case to trial and represent your interests in court.
Gather Evidence and Records
Your documentation may be the biggest key to proving your damages.
You must keep records of all your medical treatments and bills, any property repair bills, and any other costs associated with your injuries. You should also collect the police report and keep track of witness contact information and any photos of the accident scene.
Often, the insurance company involved will try to send you a settlement offer as soon as possible after your accident in the hopes that you will accept it and make the issue go away.
Generally, these first offers are low-ball amounts. Your best bet is to take the offer to your attorney to weigh your options.
You also need to be patient about how long your claim may take. The more complex the situation is, the worse your injuries were, and the more damages there are, the longer it may take to resolve.
You should try to explain the situation to your hospitals and doctors—you may be surprised that they would be willing to wait for payment or set up an affordable payment plan.
Follow Your Attorney’s Advice
Just as your doctor knows the best treatment plan to help you heal your injuries, your attorney knows the best way to litigate your claim. Follow their advice to the best of your ability. Your attorney has your best interests in mind.
Your attorney will also probably advise you to stay off social media, as all of your posts and pictures are subject to scrutiny by the defense. They will use any evidence they can find that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
You should also limit any interaction you have with the other side’s insurance companies. Your statements will be used against you in court if possible. If you're represented by an attorney, all communication with the insurance company will go through them.
Contact the Francis Firm
In your 18-wheeler truck accident claim, your attorney is your best asset. It is absolutely imperative that you hire an experienced truck accident attorney to represent your interests.
Injury-based lawsuits are complex and time-consuming. Even settlement negotiations can be lengthy and involved. The Francis Firm is made up of experienced Texas personal injury attorneys.
Michael Francis, our managing partner, worked as a defense attorney for some of the largest trucking companies for almost a decade. He now puts that expertise to work in representing their accident victims.
Your first consultation is free, and you do not pay any legal expenses unless you have a successful settlement or trial. Please contact us to discuss your case.