Truck crashes can be especially dangerous compared to other types of accidents, with over 110,000 people injured in truck-related crashes in 2019. Additionally, 82 percent of deaths in truck crashes occur in passenger vehicles, such as a car or SUV, rather than a truck.
Stakes tend to be higher in truck-related crashes than in accidents involving only passenger vehicles. To better understand truck accident claims and how much they cost, check out this guide.
What Are the Differences Between a Truck Accident Claim and a Car Accident Claim?
The primary differences between truck and car accident claims are the severity of the damage and the cost involved. Because semi-trucks are so much larger and heavier than cars, when a collision happens between them, the damage tends to be acute and injuries may be more severe. Truck insurance companies also have higher liability limits than car insurance companies.
In addition, truck accident claims tend to involve more time and money than car accident claims. Because trucks are typically commercial vehicles owned by a company and driven by an employee of that company, the company may fight harder to protect its finances and reputation.
Liability may be a more complicated question, as trucking companies are often responsible for the conduct of their employees. This does not apply if the driver is an independent contractor, so the employer may argue that the driver is not an employee. Sometimes, if a specific part on the truck fails, the court holds the manufacturer of the part responsible.
The causes of truck accidents are also often different from car accidents. For example, tire defects are responsible for about 30 percent of all crashes involving trucks.
What Causes Truck Driver Errors?
Because truck drivers are often on a clock when delivering cargo, they may drive unsafely to reach their destination in time. While there are regulations on how long truck drivers can drive to prevent accidents related to sleepiness and inattention, these same regulations mean they have to meet their company’s schedule in other ways, such as speeding or taking dangerous shortcuts. Finally, some truck drivers may lack the proper training needed to operate their vehicles safely.
What If You Share Blame for the Accident?
Indiana is a modified comparative fault state, meaning that you can still claim damages even if the accident was partially your responsibility, as long as it is not more than 50 percent your fault. The court lessens your award depending on how at fault you are. For example, if you are 20 percent at fault for the incident, the court deducts your damages by 20 percent. In other words, if the total damages equal $100,000, you would receive $80,000.
What Is the Average Compensation for a Truck Accident Claim?
Because many settlements are not public, it is impossible to cite a specific figure, but it’s relatively common for millions of dollars to be at stake. The amount varies depending on several factors:
- Legal fees
- Pain and suffering
- Property or vehicle damage
- Lost income
- Medical expenses
How Much Will Your Attorney Charge You for a Truck Accident Claim?
Many attorneys will not charge you any fees up front but instead take a percentage from your total compensation. This is why many consultations are free. Lawyers use these discussions to determine whether you have a case, as they make little to no profit in a case they lose and so are inclined to earn you the most compensation possible.
But there are some general fees that you may incur. Factors such as whether your attorney argues at trial, their level of experience, how long the case ultimately takes, and the difficulty of the case determine these fees. Travel, settlement negotiations, and any time spent gathering evidence are often expensed.
Your attorney may also charge you administrative fees, which include any work done by associates affiliated with your attorneys, such as office employees or paralegals.
Why Don’t Personal Injury Lawyers Charge an Hourly Rate?
Many personal injury lawyers do not charge an hourly rate because of the nature of personal injury cases. Lawyers assume you are already paying high amounts for medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repair costs, so it is easier on your finances if they take the bulk of their fees as a cut for your overall compensation.
What Are the Steps Involved in a Truck Accident Claim?
When you are first able, contact the insurance company and report the incident. The representative may ask you questions about the crash, but you are not obligated to answer any questions that may make you liable. It is safe to answer basic facts about the accident, such as where and when it occurred, but you have the option to decline to answer any questions that may hurt your case or you do not feel comfortable answering.
The truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurance company may also attempt to contact you. If you already have an attorney to represent you, you may tell the agent to contact him or her with any questions.
Both the insurance companies involved and your attorney will gather evidence about the case. Such evidence may include a police report, witness statements, vehicle damage assessments, cell phone records, driver log books, medical records, and any photos or video that captured the accident.
Negotiations then happen between you and the insurance company. If they go well, you may be able to settle out of court. However, if there are any disputes, you may need to go to court.
What Are Some Tips for Truck Accident Claims?
According to the Indiana Department of Insurance, there are several basic items to consider when filing an insurance claim. These include:
- Do not rush into a settlement and consider your options carefully. You may wish to consult a lawyer before settling.
- Prepare questions for the insurance company if there is disagreement about the policy in question. If the company denies your claim, it is best to know the specific language in the policy that is the basis for the rejection. This can be useful if you want to dispute it.
- Keep records of your correspondence. Write down the date as well as the name and title of the person with whom you’ve spoken in addition to details of what he or she says. It is also a good idea to keep track of your expenses.
- Provide the insurance company with accurate information. If there are discrepancies or problems with the information you’ve given or if you can’t provide all the information the company needs, this may cause a delay in the process.
- Do not delay the claims process. There may be a time limit on how long you can wait until a claim is no longer valid.
- Be aware of the specifics of your policy. Know the particulars of your deductibles as well as what’s included or excluded.
Consult With an Attorney
While you can pursue truck accident claims on your own, utilizing the services of someone with experience handling such matters may be more practical. If you’re involved in a truck accident, a lawyer can help you earn the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation at Hensley Legal Group to better understand your options going forward.