If you or a loved one has recently been in a bad truck accident, you’ve no doubt had a difficult time. Dealing with the aftermath of a semi accident can be stressful at best and devastating at worst. It feels like there’s so much you have to do to get your life back on track — while bills start piling up.
As you go through this process you might ask yourself if there’s a way to recover some of your losses, even if only monetarily. For this reason, many truck accident victims want to know what the average settlement for a personal injury case in Indiana is. We always provide the same answer: It depends.
There isn’t really an average settlement amount because every truck accident case differs. Each one has multiple factors to consider and it takes professional scrutiny from a truck accident attorney to determine just how much your case is worth.
The difference between settling and going to trial
Before we get into more details about semi truck accident settlements, we should explain the difference between a settlement and going to trial. These are the two main resolutions you can seek in a personal injury case.
Truck accident settlements
In a settlement, the parties involved in the accident negotiate and come to an agreement about who should provide compensation and how much. There’s no need to go to a courtroom or before a judge, as the negotiations take place between the parties’ legal teams.
Settlements are voluntary, meaning the parties are not legally forced into agreeing. But settlements are legally binding, so if the parties do agree to the settlement, they must adhere to it.
The advantages to settlements include:
- More efficient and cost fewer resources to prepare
- Provide a resolution more quickly than trials
- Less stressful than trials
The disadvantage of settlements is:
- They cannot be changed once parties agree
Truck accident court cases
When the parties involved in a truck accident can’t reach a settlement, it may have to be resolved through a trial. The trial happens in front of a jury, who listens to arguments, hears evidence, and listens to witness testimony from the parties involved, then makes a decision. The jury delivers a verdict which states the amount of damages to be awarded.
The advantages of going to trial are:
- You may be able to receive more compensation than with a settlement
- The defendant must admit guilt
The disadvantages of going to trial are:
- The case could take years or suffer multiple delays
- Jury-awarded verdicts can result in less or no compensation
Knowing whether a settlement or going to trial is the best decision for your case takes an experienced truck accident attorney. A personal injury lawyer with trial experience will be able to advise on what to do in your situation.
Why truck accidents are so complex
Every truck accident case is different because there are so many factors to consider. Unlike in a collision with two passenger vehicles, where there may be two insurers involved, with a truck accident there may be multiple insurance agencies to deal with.
Determining fault also tends to be much easier with passenger car accidents; with truck accidents, there could be multiple parties at fault.
In a truck collision, fault could be with one of the drivers of the passenger cars or with the truck driver. But the people operating the vehicles may not be the only ones to blame in a truck accident. Other factors could include:
- Something on the truck could have malfunctioned, preventing the truck driver from operating the truck safely. That would be the fault of the company that maintains and services the truck.
- There could have been an issue with the way the truck’s cargo was loaded, causing the driver to lose control and cause an accident. That would be the fault of the shipping company or the company that owns the cargo.
- The truck driver may have been forced to work an illegal extra shift by their boss, or asked to start operating a semi before they were totally ready because the trucking company was short-handed. That would be the fault of the trucking company.
With the above examples, you can see how quickly a truck accident personal injury case becomes complex and nuanced. All of these factors come into play and there may be multiple parties involved, making the estimation of a settlement amount difficult to do without digging more into the case’s specifics.
Damages you can claim from a truck accident in Indiana
When negotiating a settlement for a truck accident claim, a lot depends on the damages you can claim from the incident. Damages are losses that you’ve suffered that you may be entitled to receive compensation for.
Common damages in Indiana truck accidents are:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and decreased earning capacity
- Physical and emotional pain
- Lost consortium
- Vehicle replacement costs
- Disfigurement or disability
- Psychological trauma
If you can claim some of the above damages, that will factor into your settlement amount as well. Your attorney will be able to help you assess the damages and calculate a monetary value for non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering or psychological trauma.
Factors that play a role in your truck accident settlement amount
The amount you get in your semi truck accident settlement will depend significantly on several factors in addition to the above damages. These factors include:
- Insurance coverage type
How much insurance and what kind do the parties involved in the crash have? If one driver was 100% at fault and they had Indiana’s required minimum liability coverage, the most you can be awarded is $25,000.
In a truck accident, more than one party may be at fault including a large trucking company with a lot of insurance coverage and assets. In those situations, the settlement amount is likely to be higher.
- The at-fault driver has no insurance
If the at-fault party or parties don’t have auto insurance, you will have to use your own insurance policy to file for damages. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may be able to file a claim to make up the difference.
- Type of accident
Damages are higher for more serious accidents. Rollover wrecks and head-on collisions are usually higher-value claims, and multi-car pile-ups that can result from truck accidents usually lead to a higher settlement as well.
- Vehicle that caused the accident
If the commercial semi truck was the one that caused the accident, you may be able to get a higher settlement — truck drivers are required to carry up to $1 million in coverage.
In cases where the potential settlement is large, the seriousness of your injuries will help determine how much you get. The highest value injuries are typically catastrophic injuries such as paralysis, loss of limb, traumatic brain injury, or permanent disability.
How a truck accident attorney can help
If you’re confused about what steps to take after a serious truck accident or want to know if you can get compensation, the best thing to do is contact a personal injury attorney. Not only can they guide you through the process and advise you on how to deal with your insurance company and the other parties involved in the crash, but they can also negotiate a settlement on your behalf.