Large trucks can cause significant damage when involved in vehicle accidents. Court-awarded damages typically cover costs related to any injuries and property damage stemming from the accident. After a truck accident, however, many people find themselves wondering exactly what type of compensation they may seek in a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
The compensation available in a personal injury claim depends on the circumstances of the accident. It’s difficult to predict exactly what compensation an injured individual will receive following a truck accident, even if he or she received the same injuries as a victim in a similar accident. To determine the amount of compensation available in your particular claim, you must ask yourself several important questions.
- How severe were your injuries? In some truck accidents, injured individuals escape with relatively minor injuries. In others, you may suffer severe injuries that cause long-term limitations on your life and your ability to work. Generally, severe injuries lead to higher amounts of compensation than minor injuries.
- How much do your injuries limit you? In some cases, you may find yourself dealing with serious limitations after your accident. In other cases, you may quickly return to work and normal activities in spite of relatively serious injuries.
- What does the insurance policy cover? Many insurance policies offer a maximum compensation amount for any accident. If your accident involved multiple cars, it may decrease the amount of compensation available to you.
- Who caused the accident? If the truck driver caused your accident, the truck driver’s insurance company will be on the hook to compensate you for the accident. On the other hand, if you contributed to the accident, a court may reduce your compensation amount according to your level of culpability.
Serious injuries—such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and amputations—may bring with them significant medical bills. Luckily, if a truck driver caused your accident, the driver’s insurance company bears responsibility for paying your medical bills. With serious injuries, calculating medical bills becomes more difficult. Make sure to save important records that will allow you to better keep up with all of your costs, including:
- Every medical bill associated with your accident, including the initial ambulance transport to the hospital and the emergency room visit to any surgical costs, hospital stays, and other medical expenses
- Physical therapy bills
- Durable medical equipment—including wheelchairs, crutches, and assistive devices—that you need to help cope with your injuries
- The cost of modifications to your home or vehicle needed to compensate for your disability. You might need wheelchair ramps, grab bars, or assistance devices for your stairs to make it possible for you to get around your home after your accident, especially if you experience permanent injuries.
- The cost of private medical or nursing care, if needed. You might, for example, require private nursing care to sit with you if you suffered a traumatic brain injury or if you are able to return home, but your injuries make you unable to care for yourself.
When you suffer serious injuries, you may be unable to return to work immediately. With a traumatic brain injury, for example, you may need to stay home until you fully recover from your accident and can think and react normally again. If you suffered broken bones, you might not be able to return to a physically demanding job until you fully heal from your injuries.
Even if you can return to work soon after your accident, you may miss time at work for a variety of factors related to your injuries. Surgeries can keep you out of work for several days or weeks, and appointments with your doctor and physical therapist may cause you to miss work for a few hours or an entire workday at a time.
Keep track of the time you miss from work due to your injuries, including sick or personal time that you must take during your recovery. Make sure to keep a record of time missed due to your injuries versus time missed for other reasons. The insurance company may reimburse you for many of those lost hours.
Lost Earning Potential
Some injuries prevent you from returning to work altogether. An amputation or paralysis, for example, may prevent you from returning to your previous job if it requires heavy lifting. In some cases, a traumatic brain injury may cause long-term cognitive difficulty that can make it difficult for you to return to your former profession. In this case, you may choose to claim lost earning potential due to your inability to return to your former job.
Pain and Suffering
After many truck accidents, the pain and suffering portion of the resulting personal injury claim may represent the highest percentage of the settlement the victim will receive. Most insurance companies calculate pain and suffering based on the cost of your medical bills and the lost income you face as a result of your injuries. However, other factors can increase the amount you receive for pain and suffering. Make sure to consider the following:
- How has the accident impacted you? Have you suffered embarrassment as well as physical pain and suffering due to the accident?
- How much has the accident prevented you from participating in events that you normally would enjoy?
- Are there activities that your accident has prevented you from enjoying that brought you a great deal of joy prior to the accident?
Talk with your lawyer about the impact the pain and suffering from the accident has caused throughout your entire life. Certain events may increase the compensation you receive for pain and suffering after your accident.
Get the Legal Help You Need
After a truck accident, you may struggle to determine what amount of compensation to seek in your personal injury claim. Working with an attorney can help you more effectively calculate the exact amount of compensation to seek, and in many cases, increase how much compensation you actually receive.