The average truck accident settlement can vary based on the circumstances of the crash. Each case involves different factors that can greatly impact the overall settlement amount. Learning about these factors that can impact a settlement and the different types of damages involved could help you determine how much your semi-truck accident case may be worth.
Factors That Can Impact Your Truck Accident Settlement
There are multiple factors that can have an effect on truck accident settlements. Some of these factors include:
- The nature of the accident and injuries — One factor that impacts a settlement is the extent of the accident. The settlement amount is likely to be higher if the accident results in more serious injuries, as medical treatment costs influence the amount of economic damages available to victims. Also, the more serious the injuries, the higher the risk of permanent disability, which will also impact the final settlement amount.
- The degree of liability of those involved — The settlement in an Illinois truck accident will also depend on who is liable and the extent to which they’re liable for the accident. This is because Illinois uses a modified comparative fault system, so a victim’s settlement will be reduced by his or her percentage of liability. Some truck accidents could involve a liable truck driver who is solely responsible for the accident. Others could have several liable parties. Mechanics, trucking companies, municipalities, and other drivers could all be partially at fault for an accident, depending on the circumstances. Knowing the common causes of truck accidents in Illinois can make it easier to determine liability in your case.
- The role of liability insurance coverage — If a truck accident involves a trucking company or another driver with liability insurance, the level of coverage could further impact the settlement amount. Some insurance policies may have plenty of coverage, but the insurance company may also make offers below what the case is worth.
- Whether the case is a claim or a lawsuit — Most truck accident cases, like other vehicle accidents, wind up settling during the claims process. The parties involved typically want to avoid going to court, where the case can become more expensive and drawn out. However, if necessary, a semi-truck accident lawyer will take the case to court, which can lead to a significantly higher settlement.
What Role Does the Insurance Company Have in the Settlement Process?
Most truck accident cases involve insurance companies. If you another party is liable for damages in a trucking accident, the victim files a third-party claim against the liable party’s insurance company.
The insurer then opens a claim and assigns an adjuster to handle the case. The adjuster reviews the case, determines the total settlement amount, and either makes an offer to the claimant or denies the claim, depending on the evidence involved and who is liable. While adjusters and insurers may seem helpful and appear to want to reach a favorable settlement, they often make low offers that fall far below the actual value of the case.
In some cases, insurers act in bad faith, meaning they either make a lowball offer or deny a claim when the case is valid and worth more. Insurers often want to make the lowest offer possible to avoid large payouts. When negotiating a claim with insurers, working with an accident lawyer may be in your best interest to avoid accepting an unfair settlement offer.
What Rights Do Truck Accident Victims Have in Illinois?
Following a truck accident in Illinois, victims sustaining either injuries or property damages have the ability to recover compensation from liable parties. There are many potential liable parties in these accidents, including truck drivers, other drivers, local governments, state or federal governments, trucking companies, mechanics, and others whose wrongdoing may have resulted in the accident. Working with a lawyer with experience in these types of cases helps protect victims’ rights and keeps a truck accident case on track.
Challenges in Obtaining a Truck Accident Settlement in Illinois
There are a few key challenges that may come your way when trying to reach a semi truck accident settlement in Illinois.
For instance, negotiating a fair settlement with insurers could prove challenging when going through insurers. Adjusters and the companies backing them want to avoid paying large sums of money to victims to protect their bottom line, meaning they will work hard to either minimize your claim or deny it altogether.
Another challenge could involve collecting sufficient evidence to support your claim. To prove liability and the extent of the damages endured, you must gather and submit enough evidence to warrant a full settlement. Some forms of evidence that help demonstrate liability include medical records and bills, police reports, witness statements, footage of the accident, and photos of the scene of the accident.
These and other challenges make it difficult to build a successful case, which is why you may need the help of an accident lawyer.
When Should You Get a Lawyer?
There are situations when hiring a truck accident lawyer is in a victim’s best interests.
Some of these situations include:
- You’re not used to negotiating a claim with insurers — Insurance companies don’t have a victim’s best interests at heart. They will work to reduce the amount of your settlement or find reasons to reject the claim to avoid paying. However, they may do so in bad faith, meaning they don’t have a valid reason to diminish or deny the claim. Attorneys know the tactics that insurers use when negotiating and can help victims reach a fair settlement.
- You are unable to obtain enough evidence — Evidence is a crucial component of any truck accident case, making it necessary to gather as much viable evidence as you can to support a claim or lawsuit. A lawyer knows what you need for a successful case and help you obtain crucial evidence.
- You need to take the case to court — The majority of accident cases settle during the claims process, but some get complicated as insurers or liable parties may refuse to settle a claim. In these cases, you will need to go to trial, making it essential to know the important points of a personal injury case. A knowledgeable attorney with trial experience can represent you during a court case and help you navigate the legal process.
How Long Does the Settlement Process Take?
The length of the truck accident case will depend on the specifics of the case and whether it ends during the claims or legal process. A truck accident case could take anywhere from weeks to years to settle, with the case taking longer if it involves extensive damages or disputed liability.
In any case, you should begin a claim or lawsuit as soon as possible following an accident to put you on the path to a potential settlement sooner and avoid running out of time to file. The amount of time you have to file is called the statute of limitations, which for accident cases in Illinois is two years from the time of the accident or discovery of injury.
Compensation for Truck Accident Victims
You can recover multiple types of damages in truck accident and other personal injury cases, including:
Economic damages are the financial losses resulting from an accident, accounting for the direct costs associated with injuries and other damages. Economic damages in these cases include medical expenses, lost income, ongoing care, accommodations for disabilities, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and the cost of replacing or repairing damaged property.
In addition to economic damages, truck accident victims may recover non-economic damages that pertain to more personal losses. These are harder to calculate than economic damages because of their less tangible nature, but it is possible for lawyers and insurance companies to quantify them in an accident settlement.
Examples of these damages include pain and suffering resulting from injuries, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, loss of relationships, and psychological anguish resulting from an accident.
In rare instances, victims may recover punitive damages. Only the courts can award these damages with the intention of punishing defendants for egregious acts resulting in serious injuries, extensive damages, or death. The goal is to prevent the defendant and others from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
Gaining more knowledge about the factors that go into the average truck accident settlement can help you figure out how much a case is worth. Many elements can contribute to a settlement and lead to a favorable outcome for victims in these and other types of personal injury cases.