Truck-involved collisions often have more devastating results compared to car-on-car ones. It’s common for crashes between passenger cars and tractor-trailers to leave behind significant physical damage to the sedan or sports utility vehicle (SUV) involved and for these types of collisions to leave the non-commercial automobiles’ occupants with debilitating injuries or dead.
The catastrophic nature of truck-involved collisions often leaves passenger car occupants wondering what rights to compensation they have. Perhaps the best way to make sense of how much of a truck accident settlement you might be entitled to in your case is to learn about the different factors that go into determining demands you or your attorney may make and the offers insurers may extend in kind.
What Goes Into Determining a Demand in Your Truck Accident Case?
Almost every lawyer attempts to amicably resolve truck accident cases outside of court (referred to as pre-litigation) with insurance companies. These attorneys compile medical records and bills, photographs of property damage and injuries, documentation showing lost wages, and other information. They will also write a report summarizing losses and conclude that demand letter with a request for a specific settlement amount.
As suggested above, various costs may figure into the settlement amount your attorney demands on your behalf, including:
- Medical expenses
- Prescription costs
- Transportation to and from medical visits
- At-home caregiving needs
- Medical equipment costs
- Both current and future lost wages
The aforementioned expenses are economic losses, as they have a documentable monetary value associated with them. However, demands that attorneys make may also include non-economic losses, such as the following:
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Documenting non-economic losses can be challenging to do. One way you can substantiate your claim is by securing witness accounts of how your life has changed since your accident.
Which Factors Shape How Much an Insurer Offers To Settle Your Truck Accident Case?
Insurance companies have one sole focus. It is on making money. The less they pay out on a claim, the more profits they keep for themselves.
Insurers will seldom accept attorneys’ demand letters at face value and pay the settlement that they’ve requested. Insurance adjusters will often significantly undercut the demanded amount by making low-ball offers instead.
One situation in particular in which an insurer may be quick to deny liability is when a truck accident victim has suffered disfigurement or permanently disabling injuries.
It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to request that truck accident victims see one of their own doctors for an examination. Even in cases in which they don’t, insurers may claim that an injured party didn’t suffer their injuries in the accident but instead did so long before. An insurance adjuster may thus cite the pre-existing condition as the reason for not agreeing to a requested line item amount in the listing of either economic or non-economic losses.
Also, insurers often tend to deny liability for collisions. They may even go as far as to hire crash scene investigators or reconstructionists in hopes that they’ll discover that you contributed to your own injuries or that a motorist’s actions were largely to blame for their death (as opposed to the trucker).
Factors That Distinguish Between Truck and Car Accident Settlements
There are a few other factors unique to truck accidents that may also affect settlements, including:
- Multiple policy limits at play: Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state. This would typically mean that you’d only be able to recover compensation up to your policy limits if you were involved in a crash. However, you may be entitled to tap into a trucker’s, fleet company’s, or tractor-trailer manufacturer’s insurance policy limits to recover compensation if your damages exceed your own.
- A trucker’s pre-crash actions: Federal rules and regulations require truckers to do a few different things, including abstaining from consuming alcohol for a certain amount of time before driving, taking specified rest periods before, during, and after their shifts, and performing pre-trip inspections. Your lawyer may request documentable evidence that a trucker met these requirements after your accident, lending credence to your allegations of negligence and supporting your settlement demands.
How Damage Caps and Litigation Impact Truck Accident Settlements
Two other matters may shape the settlement offer you receive in your truck accident case, including your decision to pursue litigation or damage caps.
Damage caps are maximum statutory limits placed on how much an accident victim can recover to compensate for their losses. Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes § 8528 and § 8553 specify how:
- A $250,000 damage cap applies to lawsuits filed against state government agencies
- A $500,000 damage cap applies to local government agencies
The threat of an unresolved claim needing to be resolved via litigation instead of outside of court may also affect settlement amounts. Insurers tend to want to resolve personal injury cases amicably once attorneys get involved as they want to avoid costly litigation. An insurance adjuster may ultimately agree to a higher settlement amount than what they initially agreed to pay as a result.
An Attorney’s Role in Brokering a Settlement Agreement Between You and Insurers
You can count on your Shrager & Sachs truck accident attorney to have solid negotiation skills. This is important for your attorney to have when an insurance adjuster seems unwilling to reconsider their initial settlement offer.
Anyone who has suffered life-changing injuries or the loss of a loved one in a truck accident deserves to receive the best possible settlement to make their life as comfortable as possible post-incident. A settlement can aid in that.
Reach out to us to learn more about your legal rights to file an insurance claim or pursue litigation in your Pennsylvania truck accident case. It’s the first step in the right direction toward moving forward with your life.