• By: Hank Stout
  • Published: October 2018

Truck Accident Cases: What kind of settlement can I expect?

Average Semi Truck Accident Settlement
Driving down the freeway on an average day in Houston, Texas, you will see all types of an auto accident—fender-benders, rear-end collisions, head-on collisions, T-bones, wrong way drivers, drunk drivers, distracted drivers, and drivers that run a red light.

Also, given the number of people that live in and around Houston and the various businesses that operate on the Gulf Coast, Houston is home to a great deal of commercial vehicle and 18 wheeler traffic.

When these large commercial vehicles are involved in a semi-truck crash, the results are oftentimes tragic and life-altering. A standard vehicle weighs an average of 4,000 pounds, while a large truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. These collisions are especially dangerous due to the size, weight, and forces applied by these large trucks.

What is the Average Semi-Truck Accident Settlement?

When speaking to a client involved in these types of wrecks, we often get the question of “what is the average semi-truck accident settlement?” Or, “what kind of settlement can I expect?” While this is an important question to address, let us first address what you should do before turning your attention to this topic.

As an initial matter, since you are reading this, we will assume you are no longer at the scene of the collision. If you are still at the location of the collision, click here for some helpful tips and suggestions.

As an initial matter, if you were involved in a trucking accident then you should seek medical attention right away. Do not wait several weeks to get checked out. Do not wait in hopes that the pain goes away. If you do not have health insurance and cannot afford a doctor, contact a truck accident lawyer who may be able to help you with getting the treatment you need.

Injuries Involving Commercial Truck Accident Settlements

The impact of a big rig is much greater than a standard motor vehicle.  Therefore, the severity of an injury may vary based on the accident. Soft tissue injuries consist of sprains and strains and can be thought of as minor injuries causing an increase in pain over time.

More extensive pain may consist of a neck injury, head injury, brain injury, post-concussion syndrome, fractured bones, or even surgery. It is imperative for accident victims to seek medical attention as soon as you start feeling any pain, discomfort or change in your body.

A truck accident attorney can help you file a personal injury claim.

When evaluating what kind of settlement to expect from your truck accident cases, you must consider a number of different factors including liability, damages, pain and suffering and the ability to pay.

With respect to liability, what happened and how it happened matter. Also, in trucking cases, there are a number of different regulations that one needs to consider when determining why the trucking accident occurred.

  • Was the truck driver driving too much?
  • Did he or she violate the hours of service regulations?
  • Did the driver falsify his logs?
  • Was the driver under the influence at the time of the collision?
  • What is the safety history of the company?
  • Were there defects in the driver’s semi-trailer truck?
  • How fast was the driver going and what were the conditions of the roadway at the time of the accident?

When you have a strong liability case (i.e. you can clearly demonstrate why the other side is at fault for the accident), the more likely it is that you will receive full and fair value for your claim.

Another liability factor to consider is whether you will be found to be responsible for part of the accident case. Texas law follows what is commonly referred to the proportionate responsibility rules. This means that your recovery, if any, can be reduced by the percentage you are found to have been found at fault for the accident resulting in your damages.

Also, if you are found to be 51% responsible for your injuries then under Texas law you are prohibited from recovering any money.

The next factor you must consider is the number of damages you sustained as a result of the collision. Meaning just because you were in a truck wreck, doesn’t mean that you will receive a large settlement.

You will need to analyze the following:

  • Were you injured?
  • What injuries did you sustain?
  • How will those injuries affect you and your ability to earn a living?
  • Did you miss time from work?
  • Are you able to perform your job duties?
  • What, if any, disfigurement did you sustain as a result of the collision?
  • Did the driver or a passenger die?
  • Do you have a wrongful death case?
  • Did you consider the pain and suffering or post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of your injuries?

In determining damages in the context of a lawsuit, it is important to remember that the question you are trying to answer is “what would a jury award for certain elements of damages?” Meaning a jury is not asked, “how much money do you want to award to the plaintiff.”

Typically, a jury is asked a set of questions that cover the various damage elements involved in a personal injury matter.

Common Questions asked about Semi-Truck Accident Settlements

In Texas, the questions typically asked are as follows:

“What sum of money, if paid now in cash, would fairly and reasonably compensate Plaintiff for his injuries, if any, that resulted from the occurrence in question?

  1. Physical pain and mental anguish sustained in the past.

Answer: _______________

  1. Physical pain and mental anguish that, in reasonable probability, Plaintiff will sustain in the future.

Answer: _______________

  1. Loss of earning capacity sustained in the past.

Answer: _______________

  1. Loss of earning capacity that, in reasonable probability, Plaintiff will sustain in the future.

Answer: _______________

  1. Disfigurement sustained in the past.

Answer: _______________

  1. Disfigurement that, in reasonable probability, Plaintiff will sustain in the future.

Answer: _______________

  1. Physical impairment sustained in the past.

Answer: _______________

  1. Physical impairment that, in reasonable probability, Plaintiff will sustain in the future.

Answer: _______________

  1. Medical care expenses incurred in the past.

Answer: _______________

  1. Medical care expenses that, in reasonable probability, Plaintiff will incur in the future.

Answer: _______________”

Once you determine what range of money a jury will likely award then you will have a better idea as to what the settlement value of your case is worth. The settlement value will almost always be less than what a jury would likely award because the other side has no incentive to settle for more than what they would have to pay if you were to take the case to a jury.

When the parties agree generally on what a jury will likely do there is a strong chance of getting your case settled without going to trial. Trials typically only occur when the parties cannot agree on the liability facts, the range of damages or both.

The third element that must be considered to determine what type of compensation settlement to expect is a party’s ability to pay. Meaning just because the verdict awards you millions of dollars that don’t mean you will actually recover such amount. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cases where there is not enough insurance to pay for all of a person’s losses.

By way of example, if you suffered a million dollars in damages, but there is only $100,000.00 in insurance coverage and the at-fault party doesn’t have any other assets, then your recovery will likely be limited to $100,000.00.

File Your Truck Accident Lawsuit with a Houston Truck Accident Attorney

The elements of liability, damages, and the ability to pay are critical in determining the value of a case or claim. Without all three elements, a case has little to no value given the nature of our legal system. If you would like to discuss your injury and accident case with a truck accident lawyer from Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm feel free to give us a call at (713) 987-7111 or send us an email to discuss your claim.

About the Author

Hank Stout is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Hank earned his doctor of jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law and has been actively trying personal injury cases for over ten years. He was recognized by Thompson Reuters as a Rising Star from 2012-2014 and has been recognized as a Super Lawyer since 2014 (a distinction given to less than 1% of the lawyers in the state of Texas). He has earned a Superb rating by Avvo, and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To learn more, read Hank's full bio here.

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