How Much is the Average Semi Truck Accident Settlement?
A semi truck hitting a passenger vehicle can cause devastating personal injuries. When fault lies with the truck driver, a sizable personal injury settlement is possible. What type of settlement can be expected in these cases?
This article describes the average semi truck accident settlement, as well as the factors that influence the final dollar figure.
What is the Average Settlement for an 18-Wheeler Accident?
Generally, truck accident settlements often reflect larger dollar amounts because of the insurance requirements for commercial carriers, and the frequent multiple commercial entities involved in the liability claim.
Also, all US tractor trailer drivers are professionals who must have extensive training to hold a commercial driver’s license or CDL. To hold a CDL, truckers must carefully stick to safety regulations that are intended to protect the American public. Truckers are held to a higher standard than regular drivers. For instance, there are a maximum number of hours that truckers may drive on a given day. If they exceed those hours and hurt someone in an accident, criminal penalties can result, as well as personal injury liability.
Truck drivers are required to drive in a more cautious manner because they have a CDL. They also must exercise caution in adverse weather conditions.
After a serious truck accident, a police and legal investigation frequently uncovers evidence that the company and/or the driver failed to follow various state and federal rules. If the evidence indicates that the semi driver and company cut corners, juries often do not look upon these situations favorably when it comes time to render a verdict.
Truck Accidents and Minimum Liability Insurance Policy Limits
Liability insurance for semi truck drivers and companies is critical for public safety. It protects the public from truck accidents where the driver was negligent. The idea behind minimum liability insurance is that the trucking company can pay damages sufficient in many cases to make the injury party whole. This does not always occur in reality, however.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to have the following minimum coverage. Note that the minimum amount of insurance coverage depends upon the type of freight being hauled.
- Non-hazardous goods moved in vehicles <10,001 lbs: $300,000
- Non-hazardous goods moved in vehicles >10,001 lbs: $750,000
- Oil moved by private carriers: $1,000,000
- hazardous materials moved by private carriers: $5,000,000
These are the minimum requirements established by the FMCSA. Many commercial trucking companies require minimum liability insurance of at least $1,000,000, regardless of the material hauled.
Trucking Companies Often Opt for Minimum Coverage
The aforementioned policy minimums may sound like plenty of coverage, but the reality is often different:
- When rear ended by a semi truck, the car driver and passenger could suffer devastating injuries that cost millions of dollars to treat. Minimum coverage seldom covers serious medical problems such as traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, among others.
- Some trucking companies and owner operators may not have updated their coverage limits for years. Inflation and medical costs increase over time. The policy limits may not nearly cover the high medical costs the crash victim faces.
- In a truck accident settlement, victims may win damages that substantially exceed the minimum liability limits. A 2013 study determined that 42% of truck crash settlements paid exceeded FMCSA’s minimum insurance requirements.
The reality is that many truck accident cases require a personal injury lawsuit with an attorney to obtain sufficient compensation to cover the large amount of injuries involved.
Other Semi Truck State and Federal Regulations Affect Settlements
As noted earlier, all semi trucks in the United States are government by FMCSA regulations. But truck drivers are subject to other rules, such as the commercial driver’s manual published by all US states. In the Georgia CDL manual, for example, semi drivers are required by state law to stay in the two lanes on the right of an interstate. If the trucker is driving outside those two lanes, this is against the law. An accident where the trucker is riding in the far left lane could lead to a personal injury lawsuit with a higher settlement.
Another example: Georgia’s CDL laws state that a truck must not follow another truck, or a motor vehicle pulling another motor vehicle closer than 100 yards. If the trucker is distracted and hits the vehicle in front, this could net a larger settlement.
The combination of the various state and federal laws that truckers and companies must obey can result in larger settlements with the help of a truck accident personal injury attorney.
How Much in Damages Can Be Recovered in Typical Accidents?
This article assumes that fault in the accident is clear cut. For example, the semi truck driver rear ends a car driver at a stop light. This is a common truck accident that often is caused by a dozing or distracted trucker. In some of these terrible accidents, it is possible for the truck to literally run over the smaller vehicle. This type of accident also is referred to as an under ride accident. A rear end truck accident can net massive medical bills due to ER care, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, home health care and rehabilitation.
In a typical rear end truck accident personal injury case, below are the factors involved in determining the claim’s total value:
- Total cost of all medical expenses; these can be substantial because a big rig can cause devastating injuries that take months or years to resolve.
- Lost wages from work. These include past, current and future wages. The latter is possible for those who are left disabled after the accident.
- Compensation for earning potential lost due to the truck accident
- Pain and suffering, both mental and physical.
- Property and vehicle damage.
Typical Semi Truck Accident Settlement Factors
There are four major factors that affect the amount of the accident settlement in major truck crashes:
- Liability: Every state has its own laws pertaining to contributory negligence. For example, California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means the defendant (the trucker) is liable only for his percentage of fault. If a jury finds that the car driver was 20% responsible for the rear end truck crash, the final settlement amount would be reduced by 20%. Contributory negligence laws also can bar the accident victim from receiving any compensation, if it is determined that the plaintiff is 51% or more at fault. A personal injury attorney typically is required to determine how a state’s contributory negligence laws affect the potential settlement amount.
- Injury severity: Truck accident injuries often have high dollar injury claims. These higher figures will be reviewed carefully by the insurance company or defense attorney. Generally, the more serious the injuries, the higher the odds of getting a larger accident settlement. However, it is common for defense counsel to comb through the plaintiff’s medical history looking for preexisting conditions that the company can hang the injuries on.
- Deaths: Trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded. Fatal truck accidents are common: 3,852 people died in large truck crashes in 2015. If the accident leads to a death, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed. These lawsuits frequently lead to larger settlements; some states allow punitive damages as well. This is in the case of wanton, reckless driving behavior.
- Insurance policies in effect: How much insurance money is available? Given that more than one commercial entity often is involved in these crashes, it could be a higher amount. But as noted earlier, many trucking companies only carry the bare minimum coverage. Serious truck accident injuries easily can exceed those limits.
Semi Truck Accident Settlement Examples
Below are real examples of truck accident settlements and verdicts where the truck driver was found at fault:
- Tractor trailer driver negligence: $54,420,000: A 12-person jury decided in favor of the family of a 50 year-old woman who died due to a trucker’s negligence in the service of PFG Milton, Inc. The jury awarded $10,420,000 in compensatory damages, and $44,000,000 for punitive damages.
- Truck driver negligence at intersection: $12,000,000. This case was a pre-trial settlement; occurred at an intersection between two semi trucks where one allegedly ran a red light. Traumatic brain injury.
- Truck driver wrongful death verdict: $9,300,000. Elderly woman hit by a semi truck after rendering aid on the side of the road.
- Commercial truck negligence: $6,500,000. Settled shortly before trial for woman’s death that rear ended a poorly maintained commercial truck.
The above results far exceed the minimum liability limits required by the FMCSA. When faced with serious semi truck accident injuries, seeking experienced legal counsel is advised.
Truck Accident Settlement Calculator:
Have you been involved in a truck accident causing injury? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Truck Accident Settlement Calculator.
Summary of Truck Accident Settlements
It is true that many semi truck accidents result in higher settlements. Of course, the bottom line is that money, while helpful, will never compensate a person for the loss of a loved one. Money also will not always make an injured person whole.
Every semi truck accident and settlement is completely unique. Anyone who has suffered injuries due to trucker negligence will usually face an aggressive insurance company that will attempt to minimize liability. If the case goes to court, the trucking company attorneys also will attempt to minimize any potential settlement or verdict. Remember if in doubt, it is vital to get legal counsel to properly safeguard your legal rights.
Frequently Asked Questions:
In the unfortunate event you’re associated with a mishap between two traveler vehicles, injuries sustained may be serious but when you include a semi truck with huge amounts of cargo results are generally extreme and grievous. Some real life examples of semi truck settlements include:
- $430,000 semi truck crossed over into other lane causing a head on collision suffering broken bones and separated shoulder requiring surgery.
- $875,000 semi truck hit a pedestrian suffered broken bones and torn spleen.
- $2,275,000 woman and her son were walking on the side of the highway due to car complications when a semi truck hit them killing the mother and leaving the son with severe injuries.
- $10,500,000 semi truck was driving and tipped over dumping all the sand it was carrying out onto a womans’ vehicle killing her.
- $1,200,000 semi truck failed to yield slamming into a womans’ vehicle causing several injuries to her ankle, wrist and knee.
Yes, you can file a settlement claim for a semi truck accident. In the event that the truck driver or trucking organization was careless in causing the mishap, you are able to file a claim to receive the compensation you are entitled to for the damages caused by the accident. Not only is the truck driver liable for your damages, but your attorney can go after other liable sources such as the drivers company, the company of the product being hauled, the semi trucks owner, the drivers employer and if the cause of the accident was due to product malfunction you are able to sue the manufacturer. Anybody involved and injured in a semi truck mishap is able to file a personal injury claim for any damages brought about by the accident. In the event that the truck driver or trucking company was careless in causing the mishap, you are entitled to recover the damages from the accident.
After becoming involved in a semi truck accident, there are steps you need to take to ensure you receive a fair settlement. Steps you should take to help you while filing a claim include:
- Documenting all of the truck drivers information such as name, company they work for and the insurance provider.
- Receive medical treatment and strictly follow all doctors orders without any gaps between treatment.
- Keep track of all expenses during recovery time including medical expenses, loss of income, property damage, estimated future medical expenses that will include ongoing treatment, and all other expenses. Document well so that you can solid proof of these expenses.
You should speak with a personal injury attorney who specializes in semi truck accidents to provide you with proper guidance and allow you to receive the maximum amount of compensation.
Car accidents can be as hassle in itself with the stress of dealing with the other driver and their insurance policy and suffering from any injuries sustained. However, a semi trucking accidents are more common than you think with numerous blind spots and often drowsy drivers who have been on the road for several hours. If you are looking to file a settlement claim for your injuries sustained after being involved in a semi truck accident, contact a personal attorney so you may receive the most compensation. In doing your research, it would be wise to connect with a personal injury attorney who also specializes in trucking accidents. It is often a requirement to obtain a personal injury attorney when filing a trucking accident claim to ensure you are compensated enough to cover the large amount of damages involved.
If you are the victim in the unfortunate event of a rear end collision on a motorcycle, you are able to file a claim for the damages and injuries sustained by the negligence of the driver. Unfortunately, since motorcycles do not provide much protection between you and the vehicle that caused the accident, victims often sustain extremely severe injuries with a lengthy recovery time. After being involved in a motorcycle accident, it is very important to seek medical treatment immediately and remain on a strict medical regiment as ordered by the doctor. In order to file a claim for a motorcycle accident, you should speak with a personal injury attorney who specializes in motorcycle accidents. Some real life examples of motorcycle settlement verdicts include:
- $300,000 a truck cut off the motorcyclist causing torn ligaments in the knee and other soft tissue injuries.
- $355,000 a speeding truck pulling a trailer turned out in front of the motorcyclist killing the plaintiff.
- $1,600,000 motorcycle accident due to loose gravel causing crushed vertebrae.
Semi trucking accidents are disastrous due to the massive size of the vehicle and often leave victims involved with major property damage and devastating personal injuries. If you have been involved in a rear end semi trucking accident and suffer from injuries due to the negligence of another, you are entitled to compensation. Unfortunately, trucking accidents are not uncommon and in most cases, the driver of the small automobile is generally the person who will suffer the most severe or life threatening injuries. It is important to seek out professional medical treatment as soon as possible and speak with a person attorney to find out what options you have regarding your rear end semi truck settlement. Semi truck settlements regularly turn out to be larger settlement sums as a result of the insurance protection policies that commercial businesses are required to have.
If you become involved in a truck accident as a result of negligence from another and endure personal injuries, you might be curious as to how much compensation you are entitled to. Trucking accidents can be devastating and leave you feeling overwhelmed and struggling to pay for the expenses caused by the accident. A truck accident settlement calculator is a tool to help you obtain an estimated settlement value for your accident claim. If you have been in a trucking accident and curious as to the value of your claim might be, you can use a truck accident calculator to receive that estimate. The calculator will factor in specific variables such as special damages and general damages. Special damages are expenses that include medical bills, loss of income, and property damage. General damages are calculated by pain and suffering and emotional distress. In order to ensure you receive a fair settlement offer, it would be wise to use a truck accident settlement calculator to get some sort of estimation and be educated as to what a fair value for your settlement will be. If you are planning on settling without an attorney, always keep in mind that insurance companies will try and offer you the least amount of compensation as possible.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident and you are curious as to how much compensation you may receive for your injuries, you can use our trucking accident calculator. Our trucking accident calculator uses a general formula that includes adding the following items together:
- Total medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Income lost from missed workdays due to injuries
After the total expenses have been added, a multiplier 1-5 representing pain and suffering is applied to the total above. When deciding what the multiplier will be, you must take a look at how severe your injuries are. If the injuries you sustained result in ongoing pain requiring months or longer to recover, affecting simple everyday tasks the multiplier applied will be higher. If the injuries sustained are less severe, the number will be lower on the scale.
When using a trucking accident calculator to receive an estimated settlement value for your injuries, you must first understand how to use the calculator. You will be asked to answer a few questions regarding the amounts spent as a result of the accident. You will need to enter in how much your medical bills are for receiving treatment following the accident. If you did not receive medical treatment, the calculator will calculate your injuries on a daily rate. You will also be asked to enter your estimated future medical expenses if ongoing medical treatment is required to treat your injuries. Next you will need to enter in property damage which includes the amount spent on repairs to your vehicle. If you were unable to attend work during your time of recovery, you will be asked to enter in the amount of wages you were unable to receive due to your absences. Not only will you be asked to enter in the loss of income during recovery time, but also to enter the estimated future loss of wages from treatment necessary for your recovery. Once you have answered all of the questions regarding expenses spent and lost due to your injuries, the calculator will estimate a multiplier 1-5 representing pain and suffering endured from the injuries. The lower the number, the less severe the injuries with a quicker recovery time. The higher the number, the more severe injuries, that result in a long lasting recovery. Once the multiplier is applied, you will have your estimated settlement value.
Yes, you can get whiplash from a side impact crash. Whiplash occurs when the victims head and neck is jolted rapidly in a quick forward and reverse motion causing pain, stiffness, headaches and dizziness. There are many different types of injures you can sustain from a side impact crash. Every crash is different therefore, affecting each victim differently. Because of the absence of safety features installed in the side panels of vehicles, side impact collisions cause a large variety of injuries. Some common injuries sustained from a side impact collision include:
- Back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Hip and leg injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Muscle and ligament tears
- Chest and rib injuries
Does a commercial semi truck insurance policy have higher payouts than a personal car insurance policy?
Commercial semi truck insurance policies tend to be worth more than a passenger vehicle insurance policy. They can be worth millions. This is due to the large size of the truck and amount of coverage that is fundamental due to the harm and damages such a massive vehicle can administer. The insurance policies for a commercial semi truck are typically very large and can lead to million dollar payouts to any injured victims and for this reason, commercial trucking insurance companies will do everything in their power to find fault in anyone but their policy holder.
A semi-truck accident can get a little complicated when insurance is involved. A company either employs the driver of the truck, or they own the truck and are self-employed. If the driver works for a trucking company, they are covered under their companies insurance. This implies if the truck driver is employed, you can sue the company with the possibility of an increase in settlement value. Semi truck insurance policies are designed to cover all employees while personal auto insurance policies cover the specific individual registered to the vehicle. The similarities include much of the same generic coverage such as property damage and towing.
Typically in a car accident, one or sometimes both drivers can be found at-fault. If you are involved in a semi-truck accident things become a little complicated. Truck drivers are covered under a different type of insurance therefore allowing the trucking company to take partial responsibility. Meaning, if a company employs the truck driver rather than the driver being self employed it is possible for you to sue the company. But what if YOU are the truck driver and a passenger vehicle hits your semi truck? If you become involved in any type of accident where the other driver was found at-fault for negligence, you have the option to sue for damages. It is unlikely that the driver of the semi-truck will become injured but not impossible.
After being involved in a trucking accident, it’s important to know what type of attorney you should contact to handle your claim. In the unfortunate event that you were involved in a semi-truck accident caused by the carelessness of another driver, you will need a truck accident attorney who is qualified and knowledgeable with complex claims to guarantee maximum compensation owed. Trucking accidents typically leave victims with severe physical injuries along with totaled vehicle damages. Trucking attorneys are experienced in investigating the liable party, personal injuries, finding falsifications in trucking records, recovering compensation for property damage, loss of wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering. You can hire a personal injury attorney as well however, there are trucking attorneys that focus on this specific type of accident.
If you have been involved in a semi-truck accident, do not delay visiting a medical professional and seeking legal advice. You can never truly know how much your case may be worth without the professional help of a personal injury/trucking accident attorney. You have the option of handling it yourself however, without an attorney you will more often than not receive less compensation. Oftentimes, people are afraid of hiring an attorney due to attorney fees however; many personal injury attorneys will provide a free consolation. A lawyer is helpful when negotiating settlements while insurance companies are notorious for payout settlements being the lowest amount possible.
Every truck accident is different. Several factors must be accounted for when determining a settlement value on your trucking accident. When configuring a settlement value, you must factor in these variables to decide the worth:
- Who is liable?
- Severity of injuries
- Medical expenses
- Were there any fatalities?
- Insurance coverage
It’s important to understand liability when being involved in a trucking accident. If the driver of the commercial vehicle is found less than 50% at fault, it’s possible you will not receive any compensation from their insurance. But let’s say you were found partially at-fault and the police report states you were 20% at-fault. Whatever the case was worth, 20% liability factor would be deducted from the value.
Understanding how compensation is divided in the unfortunate event of a semi-truck accident varies from a regular car accident or even motorcycle accident. In all semi-trucks, they have a little mechanism called a black box that can determine several factors such as the speed in which the truck was going. This is helpful when determining whom the at-fault party is and will decide how compensation is disbursed. Commercial vehicle accidents can have devastating results and have a tendency to have large settlement amounts. In the case of a commercial vehicle and non commercial vehicle accident depends on liability. Compensation can be decreased due to which parties were contributory to the accident. If you were in the car as opposed to the semi-truck and you were proven to be 51% or more at-fault, it’s possible you may not receive any compensation from the commercial vehicles insurance company.
Being involved in a collision is a traumatic event in itself. Now add 18 wheels instead of 4 and a commercial vehicle insurance company and things become a little more complicated. However, when determining fault in a semi truck accident you will ask the same series of questions as if it were a regular car accident while investigating and determining who the at-fault party is. A semi-truck driver must obey a series of rules including:
- Must not drive tired and must take proper breaks
- Age (must be 21 or older)
- Truck inspections are mandatory
- Cargo secured safely to ensure safety of others on the road
- Must not use cell phones or other distractions while driving
- Follow all other general traffic laws
It is important to remember that although, many truck driver’s work for a trucking company, oftentimes the driver is an independent contractor implying that the trucking company is not responsible for the driver’s mistakes.
We see large commercial vehicles or otherwise know as semi-trucks everyday during our daily drives. They are large heavy vehicles and in unfortunately events may not stop in traffic quite quick enough leaving you a commercial truck rear-end victim. These trucks can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds depending on what they are carrying, making a rear-end collision dangerous due to the extreme weight. You have the option to sue a commercial truck after being rear-ended if you wish to pursue, but it is recommended to hire a personal injury attorney to ensure you are owed the genuine amount of compensation. Commercial trucking companies generally have their own insurance companies and will fight for their drivers to pay out as little as possible to the victim.
Trucking accidents can be complex when it comes to estimating a settlement amount. Each trucking company has an insurance company in which they will defend their drivers and themselves by utilizing strategies to reduce compensation. There is no one exact settlement amount due to every accident being different with multiples different factors to determine how much a victim may be owed.
- Severity of injuries
- Lost wages
- Compensation for any lost earning potential resulting from the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
However, here are some examples of semi-truck settlements:
- Victim owed $183,215 after a semi-truck hit him leaving him with neck, back and head injuries.
- Victim owed $600,000 after a semi-truck accident. The accident happened at night and the truck did not have proper reflectors. Victim sustained head injuries.
- Victim owed $2,000,000 after semi-truck crashed during a rainstorm leaving her with multiple fractures to her legs and just about had her arm amputated.
After being involved in a semi truck accident, victims are typically left with serious misfortunes and damages, which is why people often wonder how long it will take to settle a trucking accident claim. After a semi truck accident, knowing when you will receive compensation is significant to the victims in regards to paying off expenses that occurred during the accident. Every claim has a timeframe and some may take longer than others depending on a few general variables. However, it can be confirmed that a semi trucking accident will generally take longer than a regular car accident lawsuit. Some common factors to help get a better understanding on how long the timeframe may be include:
- The investigation process/ determining fault
- Insurance negotiations
- Damage done during the accident
- Medical expenses/wages lost/future medical expenses (many truck claims last a long time because serious injuries can take a while to resolve).