A large number of semi-trucks in Indiana and many other states carry $1 million or more in insurance coverage on their rigs (note: under federal law, semi-trucks and other types of commercial vehicles are required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage). Sounds like a lot, right? Certainly enough to cover the injuries you sustained, any lost wages, as well as your pain and suffering. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
At Wagner Reese, we have helped enough semi-accident victims in Indianapolis to learn that no matter how large of a settlement we are able to recover, no amount of money makes their experience “worth it.” In fact, given the opportunity, most would trade all the money away if it could erase the accident from having ever happened. In most instances, a crash with a semi-truck only means an increased likelihood that loss of life or permanent injury will occur. No amount of money can justify the pain caused by either.
How Much Money Can Victims Receive after a Semi-Truck Accident?
Despite the terrible reality of being involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, it’s natural to wonder how much a semi-truck accident injury claim is worth.
The value of a semi-truck accident claim generally involves four factors:
- Injuries and medical treatment
- Whether or not a death occurred
- The amount of available insurance money
We will examine each of these four factors below, however, know that your case might be worth much more or less depending on the circumstances of your specific accident.
It’s critical to understand that the only true way to determine what your semi-truck accident case is worth is to speak with an experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyer who has handled and tried cases throughout the state of Indiana.
Liability: Was the Semi-Truck Driver at Least 50% at Fault?
Every state has different laws with regard to contributory negligence. This simply means that depending how much fault is assigned to you, there is a possibility that your overall compensation will be reduced or your entire claim will be denied.
For example’s sake, under Indiana’s comparative fault law you must be able to prove the driver of the semi-truck was at least 50% at fault or you risk being denied a single dollar from the defendant’s insurance company.
Semi-Truck Accident Example
A former client was traveling in a passenger car west on State Road 67 when they attempted to slow for a left-hand turn on Huntzinger Blvd. According to the police report, a witness said that it appeared our client came to an abrupt stop in an attempt to make the turn onto Huntzinger. Despite the fact that the semi-truck driver failed to keep a proper distance and struck our client in the rear, the insurance company attempted to assign 30% fault on our client.
For example’s sake, we will use false dollars to show how this would affect a potential recovery. Assuming the case was worth $250,000, the 30% liability factor means that you would lose $75,000, making your case only worth $175,000.
Without an injury attorney on the side of our client, there is little likelihood that they would ever have been able to convince the insurance company that the truck driver was 100% at fault. Our goal is to fight for every percent of liability and every dollar.
One of Wagner Reese’s goals for semi-truck accident claims is to assign 100% fault on the driver of the truck. That said, it will be a fight, as insurance companies are extremely aggressive with accidents involving semi-trucks. Why? Because of the large amount of money and exposure involved.
In an attempt to lessen the amount of money they owe a victim for their injuries, we have witnessed insurance companies resort to questionable tactics and interpretations of state and federal laws for semi-trucks. If they are successful in pinning fault on you, you stand to lose a large percentage or all of your claim.
NEVER accept the insurance company’s interpretation of how you were partially or fully to blame for the accident. ALWAYS talk to an aggressive injury attorney that understands semi-truck liability. We are able to evaluate the accident report and perform an independent investigation that may help you escape any fault, increasing the value of your semi-truck accident claim.
Injuries & Medical Treatment
Because there is a larger sum of money at stake with a semi-truck accident, it means that your injuries and medical treatment will be heavily scrutinized by the insurance company. Consequently, the severity of your injuries and the related medical treatment represent the most significant part of your semi-truck accident case. And, while it’s commendable that some people try to wait-out their symptoms to see if they begin to feel better with time, this is never a good strategy.
“When it comes to an accident claim, especially one involving a semi-truck, the insurance company doesn’t reward noble intentions.” -Jason Reese, Indianapolis semi-truck accident attorney
As mentioned in the beginning, most of our clients suffer severe injuries after being hit by a semi-truck, but we also represent clients that incurred soft-tissue injuries (neck and back pain) that aren’t as easily detectable. In these instances, it’s imperative that a person visit the ER immediately after the accident so that they can be evaluated by a doctor and begin to have a documented source of treatment. Soft-tissue injuries often get worse before they get better, and it’s not uncommon for the first signs of pain to develop several days after the accident. If you wait to be seen by a doctor, the insurance company may deny or reduce the value of your case, claiming real injuries would have required an immediate trip to the hospital.
ALWAYS be checked out by a doctor after a semi-truck accident.
Ultimately, the more severe your injuries are, the more valuable your case. A person who incurs $200,000 in medical bills and has permanent injuries or scarring is going to collect a larger settlement than someone who is rear-ended by a semi-truck and only has $12,000 in medical bills.
Do You Have Prior Injuries?
It’s not uncommon for the insurance company to request medical records prior to your accident in an attempt to uncover any related health conditions or previous injuries that they can attribute to the pain you are currently experiencing. If they are successful, they will attempt to reduce the amount they owe you.
One of the first steps Wagner Reese takes as your attorney is to revoke the insurance company’s request for priors and ensure that all prior medical documents are coordinated through our office.
Don’t Miss a Doctor’s Appointment
When we represent a client, we also closely monitor their ongoing recovery and medical status to ensure the case remains as strong as possible and their health isn’t compromised. It’s absolutely vital that you do not miss a doctor’s appointment and follow any instructions given to you by your doctor. This includes going to therapy, seeing specialists, and doing any home exercises that are assigned to you.
Missing an appointment creates a “gap in treatment,” and insurance companies can effectively reduce the value of your case by demonstrating that your injuries weren’t severe enough to require ongoing, regular treatment.
Was a Death Involved?
The size and force of a semi-truck simply increase the odds that a crash with a big rig will result in fatal injuries. Each year in the U.S., thousands are killed in semi-truck accidents, ultimately leading to semi-truck wrongful death lawsuits. Every state has specific laws regarding wrongful death lawsuits and the damages that can be recovered.
In Indiana, the general guidelines regarding the amount of money that can be recovered in a semi-truck wrongful death lawsuit are as follows:
- If the victim is 23 or older, single, and without dependents, Indiana law limits the recovery to $300,000. This money can be recovered by surviving parents or adult children.
- If the victim is married or has children who are financially dependent on them, then a jury is not confined by a wrongful death cap.
- Indiana also does not limit the number of damages if a child is killed by a semi-truck accident. That said, Indiana defines a “child” as someone under the age of 20, or between 20 and 23 and enrolled in an accredited school/university, etc.
It’s also important to note that Indiana does not limit the amount of medical bills a person can recover for in a wrongful death accident involving a semi-truck.
How Much Insurance Money Is Available?
NEVER attempt to investigate semi-truck insurance policies without the help of an experienced semi-truck accident attorney. Why? Because there is the possibility that “multiple policies” exist and the adjuster or trucking company may never inform you.
As stated in the beginning, a large number of semi-trucks will carry at least $1 million in coverage; however, there is also the possibility that less or more exists, depending on state and federal regulation.
One of the first actions we take on behalf of our clients is to investigate the truck’s insurance coverage. In many instances, we have uncovered more than one policy, which means a much larger amount of money is available and victims with severe injuries are more likely to be appropriately compensated.
When does more than one policy exist for a semi-truck? The most common example of a truck having more than one insurance policy is when the cab is insured under a different policy than the trailer. This is not as uncommon as some people may believe.
Again, if you don’t have an experienced semi-accident lawyer investigate this on your behalf, it’s possible you could be losing out on an additional $1 million in potential compensation.
Discuss the Value of Your Semi-Accident Case
Wagner Reese is an Indianapolis-based law firm that has handled several serious semi-truck accident claims for Hoosiers throughout the state of Indiana. We will never attempt to settle your semi-truck accident case without discussing the potential value with you first.
Call Wagner Reese today and ask to speak with one of our attorneys about the value and details of your semi-truck accident claim.
We never charge a consultation fee and we are available 24/7 by phone at (888) 204-8440 or fill out our free consultation form.