What Are the Different Kinds of Truck Accident Claims?
Truck accidents cause severe injuries that have a long recovery period, or, in some cases, that will never heal completely. Monetary compensation can help, giving you the resources you need to pay your medical bills, make modifications to your home, and adjust to your post-accident life. But, how do you get that compensation? In this blog post, we explore the various types of damage claims common to a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a truck accident.
Medical Bills and Associated Medical Expenses
Medical expenses add up fast following a truck accident. Victims who suffer spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis, for example, may spend more than $750,000 in the year immediately following the accident. Organ damage, amputation, or traumatic brain injury can also result in significant medical expenses. The cost of medical care may include a range of factors:
- Your initial hospital visit. You may have required ambulance transport from the scene of the accident to the hospital emergency department. Simply calling for an ambulance may result in significant expense in some areas, especially if your city uses privately-contracted ambulance services. You may also need to pay for your time in the emergency room and any immediate medical care that you received after the accident.
- Your hospitalization. With significant injuries comes significant time in the hospital for many victims of truck accidents. A five-night hospital stay may result in charges of $10,000 or more. If you require significant medical interventions, including surgical procedures or extensive equipment in order to help keep you healthy, your costs may increase.
- Surgeries. Broken bones, amputations, and organ damage may all require immediate surgery to help repair the damage and improve your recovery. In some cases, your injuries may require multiple surgeries.
- Physical therapy. After an injury, you may suffer from weakness and stiffness in the affected body part. Many people with serious injuries go through doctor-recommended physical therapy to help restore strength and flexibility. Physical and occupational therapy may also help injured individuals learn to live with their injuries and how to function as independently as possible in spite of ongoing or lifelong injuries.
- Modifications to your home or vehicle. Some injuries require changes to your home for you to live comfortably and as independently as possible. You may, for example, need to widen your doorways or add ramps to the outside of your home if you need a wheelchair after the accident. You may need to install grab bars in the bathroom or use a special type of shower to make it easier for you to take care of yourself. Include these modifications under medical expenses associated with your accident.
- Anticipated future medical expenses. For some people with serious injuries, medical expenses may continue long after the initial injury. In some cases, you may file your claim shortly after your injury or find that the insurance company offers you a settlement. In others, you may face the need for ongoing care. You can include anticipated medical expenses as part of your medical expense claim.
It’s not just expenses that add up after an accident. In some cases, while your bills rise your income also falls, doubling your financial pain. Even after minor injuries, you may need to stay at home for a few days to recover. For employees who don’t have paid time off, however, those lost wages can cause financial catastrophe. Worse, many people find that they can’t return to work for weeks or months following an accident that causes more severe injuries. Several factors help determine the lost wages you may claim.
- How many hours at work have you missed because of your injuries? This may include both missed time at work as a direct result of the accident and missed time at work on an ongoing basis following the accident. You may, for example, return to work, then need to miss more time at work to receive and recover from surgeries.
- Do you need limited hours at work when you first return? In some cases, you may return to work for a just few hours a day, but find you are unable to make it through a full workday due to pain from your injuries. In the case of traumatic brain injury, you may struggle to maintain focus or keep up with your normal job responsibilities. Lost wages may include the hours that you can’t work while you recover.
- How much do you make at your job? Are you paid an hourly wage, or do you receive a regular salary? The higher your income before the accident, the greater the amount of money you can expect to recover as lost wages.
- What income was lost as a result of your missing time at work? In order to claim lost wages as part of the damages you suffered in your accident, you will need to have, in fact, lost wages. Therefore, you must consider what income you lost as a result of the time you missed at work. This may include compensation for lost vacation time or sick time that you might have used differently if you had a choice. You may also consider whether you have lost a job due to your injuries: a temporary position that let you go for failure to show up, for example.
Lost Earning Potential
Some people recover from their injuries and return to work within a few weeks or months of a truck accident. Others, however, may discover that they can not return to work in their former capacity. Individuals who suffer paralysis, for example, may no longer work in positions that require physical labor. Patients who struggle to recover from traumatic brain injuries may not be able to complete daily tasks in an office setting. Eventually, you may discover that you simply can’t return to work after your accident or that you can’t perform your previous job duties, requiring you to take a position that doesn’t pay as much as your former job. If you can’t go back to your previous job or if you lose the ability to work altogether, you may file a claim for lost earning potential.
Most insurance companies calculate lost earning potential based on your income at the time of the accident. You may, however, receive an exception if you were nearing a promotion, had recently received a promotion, or had recently accepted a lower-paying job in an effort to make ends meet.
Pain and Suffering
Often, pain and suffering constitute the largest percentage of a truck accident claim. Most insurance companies use a formula to calculate pain and suffering. It may include:
- How much pain have you suffered as a result of your injuries? Injuries that cause serious pain, especially those that result in lifelong pain or difficulties, may lead to higher levels of compensation.
- How much have your injuries limited your daily activities? Have your injuries prevented you from participating in activities you used to enjoy? Do your injuries limit your enjoyment of life? Do they prevent you from returning to work? These factors can influence the compensation you receive for pain and suffering.
- Did you suffer emotional damages along with physical damages? For some people, life after significant injuries carries embarrassment as well as pain and suffering. Emotional damages may offer increased compensation for pain and suffering after your accident.
Loss of a Loved One
Losing a loved one in a truck accident can cause immense pain and suffering for the surviving family. Did you lose a loved one in a truck accident? If your loved one could have filed a personal injury claim if they had survived, the surviving family may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Typically, an immediate beneficiary files the claim. Immediate beneficiaries include minor children of adult parents, aging adult parents of an adult child, or the spouse. Other beneficiaries may include family members who depended on the deceased to provide physical or financial support.
- Loss of income. If the deceased individual provided a significant percentage of the income for the family, this amount may factor into the claim.
- Loss of services provided. Many stay-at-home parents provide valuable services to the family in spite of their lack of income. Child care, transportation, and home care all add up fast when that individual dies, and those expenses may factor into your claim.
- Loss of companionship. The loss of a spouse often causes devastation in the surviving spouse. The loss of that companionship may factor into the claim amount.
- Medical expenses. If the accident victim did not die immediately, the medical expenses they accumulated prior to their death may factor into the claim amount.
Who Bears Responsibility for Paying Your Claim?
The types of damages you can claim do not change based on who bears responsibility for paying your claim. In some cases, however, the responsible party may affect the amount of compensation you can receive for your injuries. Who bears responsibility for your accident? Several parties may share in that responsibility.
- The truck driver. Often, in the case of a truck accident, the truck driver bears responsibility for your injuries. Did the driver fail to follow appropriate traffic signals? Did he run a red light or stop sign? A truck driver who suffered from distraction due to cell phone use, eating or drinking behind the wheel, or attempting to navigate with the GPS may also bear responsibility for the accident, as can drivers who chose to indulge in drugs or alcohol before driving. Often, privately-employed truck drivers carry their own vehicle insurance, which may cover your claim.
- The company that employed the truck driver. Sometimes, the truck driver doesn’t bear sole responsibility for the accident. Some trucking companies have unrealistic expectations for their employees. They may, for example, demand that their employees spend too many hours on the road, even requiring them to alter their logbooks so that no one can tell they were driving for too many hours. The company may require drivers to stay on the road in spite of illness, tiredness, or weather conditions that impact their ability to drive safely. Many times, these unrealistic expectations contribute heavily to truck accidents.
- The truck’s manufacturer or mechanic. Mechanical failures often cause serious issues for trucks, which need more space to maneuver and more road to stop. When a manufacturer’s defect occurs, catastrophic accidents may result. Mechanical issues can also lead to serious accidents when trucks hit the road. If the manufacturer fails to remedy a defect that leads to an accident, that manufacturer may bear responsibility for injuries suffered during the accident. Mechanics who bear responsibility for maintaining the vehicle should also take note of any potential problems. If they provide improper maintenance or fail to notice a defect they should have seen, based on the maintenance they conducted on the vehicle, the mechanic may bear responsibility for those injuries. Mechanics also bear responsibility for their own work: if they send a truck back on the road with improper repairs and that lack of proper repairs leads to an accident, the mechanic may bear partial responsibility.
- Bars and restaurants that over-served truck drivers. Worldwide, 50 percent of truck drivers admit to drinking behind the wheel. If a bar or restaurant knows that a trucker will get back on the road after drinking and they over-serve them anyway, the bar or restaurant may bear partial liability for the resulting accident.
Do You Need a Lawyer After Suffering Injuries in a Truck Accident?
If you suffered severe injuries in a truck accident, an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve from those who caused you pain. Do not wait to find skilled legal counsel. The clock is running on your ability to take legal action. The sooner you have a lawyer on your side, the better your chances of getting the money you need to move forward with your life. Contact Dolman Law Group today or call (727) 451-6900. We will schedule a free consultation to discuss your accident, your injuries, your financial damages, and the compensation you deserve.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765