Semi-truck accidents are notoriously dangerous, causing an abnormally high risk of death and serious injury. Those involved in a collision with an 18-wheeler should get the settlement they deserve, but how do they do so?
Hiring an attorney is a priority in order to get what you deserve from a semi-truck accident settlement. A lawyer can help you understand what a fair settlement figure is and fight for that settlement. For more information, reach out to a charleston truck accident lawyer.
What Damages Do Semi-Truck Accidents Cause?
The two most damaging outcomes of a semi-truck accident are injuries and the loss of life. These outcomes can cause a ripple effect of other damages, with nonfatal injuries leading to:
Whenever you suffer an injury, you should receive medical care to diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate the injury. When injuries are serious—as they often are in truck accident victims—the cost of medical care may be great.
Your accident-related medical bills may stem from:
- Ambulance or helicopter transport from the accident scene
- Emergency observation and treatment
- Appointments with general practitioners, specialists, and physical therapists
- Medical equipment
- Alterations to your home or vehicle to accommodate disabilities
The medical journey is unique to each truck accident victim. An attorney can work with your doctors to account for all of your medical damages.
Pain and Suffering
Lawsuits allow truck accident victims to seek compensation for pain and suffering. Studies have found a clear link between motor vehicle accidents and post-traumatic stress disorder. Victims may also suffer physical pain and other emotional or psychological trauma.
There is no telling how long the scars of your accident may linger. An attorney can work with mental health professionals to understand and seek fair coverage for your pain and suffering.
When a semi-truck strikes another vehicle, property damage is a virtual certainty. An attorney may recover compensation for all property damage related to your semi-truck accident, including repairs for the engine, body, or other damaged vehicle components.
You may also get compensation for other damaged property, such as:
- Your cell phone
- Ruined clothing
- A watch
- Personal items you were carrying in your vehicle at the time of the accident
An attorney can also seek justice if your loved one passed away in a semi-truck accident. A wrongful death suit allows victims to seek coverage for economic and non-economic damages. Funeral expenses, medical expenses, lost financial support, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium may all be recoverable in a wrongful death case.
Factors That May Affect the Amount of Your Settlement
Regarding settlements and verdicts for semi-truck accidents, financial recoveries can vary significantly from case to case. The victims can obtain different financial recoveries even when two accidents appear similar.
Several specific factors can affect the value of your settlement or verdict. Your recovery may hinge upon:
- The type and severity of your injuries: No two injuries are the same. While a broken bone is significant, it may not be as life-altering as a disabling injury. Life-changing injuries may warrant a substantial settlement—after all, the cost of living with a severe injury can overwhelm you.
- Whether you lost a loved one: Losing a loved one changes the dynamic of a semi-truck accident case. If your loved one has passed away unexpectedly, a financial recovery can never replace that person. However, the financial recovery will reflect the magnitude of the loss.
- Your timeline for recovery: The longer it takes for your injuries to heal, the longer you may suffer financially, psychologically, and emotionally. For example, your recovery timeline may determine how much income you lose. Your timetable for healing is one factor that your attorney will consider.
- The extent of property damage: There can be a major financial difference between a car with minor damage and a totaled vehicle. The extent of damage to your vehicle and other personal property will be a key factor in your case.
When it comes to a semi-truck accident case, every detail matters. Your attorney will make a comprehensive record of your damages, assigning a monetary value to each one. After composing this record, your lawyer will fight for the settlement or verdict you deserve.
How a Lawyer Can Seek a Semi-Truck Accident Settlement for You
The trauma of a truck accident may leave you feeling down. Healing, rest, and self-care should be your priority. Handling a lawsuit or insurance claim may simply not be practical for you right now. Fortunately, you can lean on a lawyer to pursue your financial recovery.
An attorney with truck accident experience should move your case forward as efficiently as possible. Your lawyer will handle every step of the process, which may include:
Gaining a Full Understanding of Your Accident
Your lawyer will lay the groundwork for your case with an investigation. They’ll want a clear picture of your accident—What happened? Who saw the accident happen? And, of course, who is at fault?
During their investigation, your lawyer may:
- Seek out evidence, which may include video footage of the accident, photographs of the accident scene, and the police report documenting the collision
- Interview witnesses to the accident
- Interview witnesses to events that led to the accident—like negligence by a trucker or trucking company
- Get evidence from the trucking company, including but not limited to black box data from the truck.
As they secure evidence and witness accounts, your lawyer will begin building your case. For the most part, the evidence will tell the story.
By the end of their investigation, your attorney should know who is liable for your accident. Negligence is a key term in an injury case. When someone is negligent, they act unreasonably based on the circumstances. When this negligence causes harm to others, the negligent party is generally liable for the damages.
Your lawyer will identify all parties with legal responsibility for your accident.
Negotiating a Settlement
Settlements can be a comparatively simple end to a semi-truck accident case. Generally, settling is quicker and simpler than going to trial. However, defendants rarely settle voluntarily. Your lawyer may need to fight at the negotiating table—and they should fight.
If your lawyer cannot secure a fair settlement offer, they reserve the option of going to trial.
Taking Your Case to Trial (if Necessary)
Trials are not necessary in every semi-truck accident case. However, if your lawyer determines that a trial is in your best interests, they should never hesitate to take your case to court.
While trial can be a lengthy, complicated, and high-stakes process, it may be worth it. Your lawyer will present evidence, question witnesses, and work to convince a jury that you deserve a financial recovery.
An attorney is a protector of your rights. As they seek your financial recovery, your lawyer will defend you from the defendants’ lawyers, insurance companies, and any other parties who want to see your case fail.
What Does It Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
You can hire a truck accident lawyer who requires no upfront fee. Many lawyers will instead offer contingency fee arrangements. With contingency fees, the lawyer receives a percentage of the settlement or judgment. You won’t owe your lawyer a fee if the case does not succeed.
Contingency fees offer several benefits to semi-truck accident victims.
You may feel financial pressure because of your accident, and a contingency fee structure can:
- Ensure that your lawyer is not another source of financial pressure
- Ensure that your attorney works hard to secure compensation for you—they don’t get a fee unless you win
- Protect you from paying for ineffective legal representation
With this sort of fee, it will cost you nothing out of your own pocket to hire a lawyer.
What Criteria Should I Seek in a Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer?
When you hire a lawyer, you should put stock in your instincts. There are some objective criteria that you can use, too.
You may seek a truck accident attorney who:
- Has won semi-truck accident cases before
- Has a provable record of financial recoveries
- Belongs to a firm with ample resources
- Has strong client testimonials
- Makes you feel assured during your consultation
A lawyer should be capable, and results can prove that. An attorney should also have great dedication and loyalty to clients. Testimonials, and answers you receive to your questions, can help prove that.
Who Is Liable for Your Semi-Truck Accident?
When a semi-truck accident happens, the cause may not be immediately obvious. Your attorney will work quickly to diagnose the cause of your accident. Driver error, vehicle defects, and dangerous road conditions are all potential reasons for an accident.
Liable parties in truck accident cases can include:
- A trucker
- A trucking company
- A truck manufacturer
- A mechanic or maintenance professional
- Any other party that contributed to your accident
When a trucker causes an accident, their employer is generally liable. Once your lawyer has gathered the relevant facts in your case, they will explain who is liable for your damages.
Truck Accident Cases Can Be Especially Difficult—More Reason to Hire an Attorney
There are notable differences between semi-truck accident cases and other accident and injury cases. The potential complexity of truck accidents is one notable difference between, for example, a car accident case.
Cases like yours can be particularly complicated because:
- Trucks are complicated: While a car, SUV, or pickup truck is largely self-contained, a semi-truck is not. Just look at the Code of Federal Regulations’ rundown of truck components. There are many different trailer types and a complex network of components connecting the trailer to the truck’s cab. Much can go wrong within this network, and your lawyer may have to diagnose what went wrong and who is responsible.
- Trucking companies may resist a fair settlement: Trucking companies have to look out for their financial interests. This generally means resisting settlements and may mean pushing back against paying your settlement. Yours is likely not the first case the trucking company has dealt with, and they may have a team of attorneys ready to fight your case.
- The trucking company may possess valuable evidence: Remember how that trucking company might actively fight your settlement? Well, that same trucking company may have evidence that is critical to your case’s success. Your attorney may need to take legal action to obtain such evidence.
Any injury case has the potential to be complicated. With semi-truck accidents, though, the likelihood of an open-and-close case may be lower than most.
Having an attorney to handle the legal process is always in your best interests. Your lawyer will manage the legal process. You can focus on your recovery from injuries and on piecing your life back together.
Is There Risk if I Choose Not to Hire a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney?
Yes, there are several serious risks in trying to handle your semi-truck accident case without an attorney. Lawyers spend all of their working days fighting for clients. Day in and day out, your lawyer will be pursuing justice for you and other clients.
You, on the other hand, have other obligations to tend to. A lawsuit may only be one of many responsibilities, personal and professional, that you manage daily. With your attention spread thin and your health compromised, your case may suffer.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case
Once you hire a Charleston truck accident lawyer, you can focus on other responsibilities. You won’t have concerns in the back of your head about your case. An attorney will update you as the legal process evolves, and you can avoid the stress of a complicated semi-truck accident case.
For more information, contact us.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.