Trying to negotiate a settlement after a trucking accident can be complicated. This guide to truck accident settlements tells you everything you need to know.
What is a Truck Accident Settlement?
The vast majority of trucking accident cases are settled out of court between an insurance company and the injured party. Both are usually represented by attorneys.
What is a Statute of Limitations in Texas?
A statute of limitations is a time period during which you can file a lawsuit. Even if you intend to settle out of court, the statute of limitations is important, though – that’s because an insurance company won’t have any incentive to settle your case if there’s no chance you can take them to court over it.
The statute of limitations on a trucking accident in Texas is two years from the date of the crash. There are some exceptions, but they are rare – and you’ll need to talk to your attorney to find out if any apply to you.
The Stages of Settling After a Trucking Accident
After a trucking accident, your attorney will be in touch with the other party’s insurance company. Together, they’ll negotiate a settlement based on your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other factors. Unfortunately, sometimes insurance companies aren’t willing to pay a fair amount – and in cases like those, your attorney may advise you to file a formal lawsuit. Again, though, most trucking accident cases are settled out of court.
The other party’s insurance company will approach your attorney with a dollar figure it feels is “fair.” Your lawyer will share that number with you and give you legal advice – and he may say that the amount the insurance company isn’t enough.
You can keep negotiating with the insurance company until it comes back with a figure you can live with, unless the insurance company drags things out so long that you’re approaching the statute of limitations. In that case, your attorney may advise you to take them to court with a formal lawsuit.
Filing a Formal Lawsuit After a Truck Accident
If it becomes necessary to file a formal lawsuit, your attorney will pull together all the evidence and file the appropriate forms with the court. You must file before the statute of limitations has expired, which in most cases, is two years from the date of the accident.
When you file a lawsuit, you’re the plaintiff. The other party is the defendant.
Because you’re the person accusing the truck driver or trucking company of doing something wrong, it’s your attorney’s responsibility to prove it.
What Your Attorney Needs to Prove to Win a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Many truck accidents are caused by negligence or a violation of laws. For example, all drivers on the road are supposed to operate their vehicles responsibly – but in some cases, truck drivers operate their trucks irresponsibly or drive carelessly. There are several laws that try to keep truckers and trucking companies on the up-and-up, including those that require drivers to stop driving after a certain number of hours, possess specific types of driver’s licenses, maintain their vehicles and follow federal and state rules.
In order to win a truck accident suit, your attorney has to prove several things in court. He needs to show the judge and jury that:
- The truck driver or trucking company owed you a legal duty, either by operating the truck safely on the road, by maintaining the truck properly or by enforcing rules that ensure safe truck operation on the roads.
- The truck driver or trucking company breached that duty.
- The breach of duty caused your accident and your injuries.
- You have suffered injuries and damages from the accident.
How Much Can You Win a Trucking Accident Settlement?
No amount of money can make you heal faster or make up for the things you’ve lost as the result of a truck accident, but a fair amount can help pay your medical bills, fill in the gaps left by lost wages and provide you and your family with financial stability.
Your attorney will negotiate the best possible settlement for you – but if the insurance company isn’t willing to give you the compensation you deserve, you may need to take the case to court. There are two types of damages a court can award after you win a truck accident lawsuit: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are designed to compensate you for your financial losses. These can cover things like:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Domestic services
- Future lost wages
- Future medical expenses
- Increased living expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of opportunity
- Pain and suffering
- Rehabilitation or physical therapy
Punitive damages aren’t designed to compensate you for your losses. Instead, they’re designed to teach the guilty party a lesson. Often, the court awards punitive damages to deter other drivers or companies from bending the rules or breaking laws.
You still receive the money, and you can do whatever you want to do with it – it’s just that the courts award these damages for different reasons.
The Texas Damages Act limits how much you can get, though. It can’t exceed two times the amount of compensatory damages you receive, plus an amount equal to noneconomic damages, not to exceed $750,000.
Do You Need Help Negotiating a Settlement After a Trucking Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a trucking accident, we may be able to help you negotiate a settlement. Call us at (972) 535-5700 for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer. You could be entitled to financial compensation that helps you get your life back on track, and if you are, we can fight hard for you.