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If you suffered bodily injury in an accident with an 18-wheeler, and the other driver was at-fault, you have a better chance of reaching a satisfactory settlement than you do against a defendant in a typical car accident. This is due to the regulations unique to semi operators, which include higher limit insurance and the fact that parties beyond the actual driver typically share responsibility in paying accident claims.
What Are My Damages in an 18-Wheeler Accident?
In a personal injury claim, plaintiffs have two types of damages available to them: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages reimburse you for expenses like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Additionally, difficult to quantify damages like pain and suffering qualify as compensatory damages.
Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the defendant's behavior is proven especially egregious, reckless, or negligent. This includes situations such as the driver committing DUI, driving at reckless speeds, or engaging in dangerous practices such as texting while driving. The intention of punitive awards has two parts. The first is punishment of the egregious behavior and the second is the idea that this punishment acts as a deterrent against future reckless actions.
Are Medical Expenses Covered in an 18-Wheeler Accident?
Medical expenses include the costs of all medical treatment you received related to the injuries you sustained in the accident. This includes doctor or hospital visits, insurance co-pays, prescription medications, lab fees, and even transportation to and from treatment. Additionally, any future medical bills your doctor expects are included in your medical expense claims. This includes such items as physical therapy and follow-up medical care.
Are Lost Wages Covered in an 18-Wheeler Accident?
Lost wages refers to both lost income due to injuries sustained in the accident as well as future lost wages. Even if you received pay for your missed work time in the form of sick leave, this still qualifies as lost wages. With future income, commonly called loss of earning capacity, damages are based on whether your injuries affected your future income potential. For example, if you perform a physical job and your injuries forbid this type of work, this might qualify as lost earning capacity.
Are Property Damages Covered in an 18-Wheeler Accident?
You are entitled to reimbursement for any physical property damaged in the accident, such as damage to your vehicle and even your clothing. Reimbursement includes repair, if your vehicle is not deemed a total loss, or compensation equal to the damaged item's fair market value.
What are Non-Quantifiable Damages?
A number of expenses that are difficult to measure qualify for compensatory damages. These include pain and suffering, emotional distress (also known as mental anguish), loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium. There is no set method of calculating these damages, though in some cases a multiplier is used. In this instance, the amount of damages is multiplied by a number, usually between 1.5 and 4, to arrive at a pain and suffering amount. Using a multiplier only provides a rough estimate and does not apply to all cases.
Pain and suffering damages seek to reimburse you for pain and discomfort you experienced both during and after the accident, as well as any ongoing pain directly related to your injuries. Emotional distress compensates you for the psychological repercussions after an accident, which commonly include anxiety, fear, and insomnia.
Loss of enjoyment refers to everyday activities you no longer enjoy due to your accident, including exercise and hobbies. Loss of consortium refers to any negative affects experienced in your relationships, usually with a spouse or a child, due to your injuries. This may include sexual dysfunction or loss of companionship.
18-Wheeler Accident Settlement Examples
To demonstrate the wide variability in damage awards in this type of personal injury case, we offer four examples of settlements, as well as a few details about the case itself.
- After a collision with a tractor-trailer, one plaintiff sustained an injury to his shoulder, requiring surgery. His settlement totaled $275,000.
- After a rear end collision with an 18-wheeler, a man's injuries required fusing neck vertebrae. His settlement totaled $350,000.
- A woman hit head-on by a semi suffered multiple injuries, including two broken legs and multiple fractures. She underwent numerous surgeries and spent several months in the hospital before undergoing rehabilitation to regain her ability to walk. Her settlement totaled $1,850,000.
- A man struck by a semi due to a part defect suffered severe injuries, including the amputation of one of his legs. His settlement totaled $3,750,000.
Schedule a Free 18-Wheeler Accident Consultation
If you are the victim of an accident with a semi, schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. He or she will advise you on the merits of your case and help set reasonable expectations as regards possible damages.