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How Much Can You Get from a Semi Truck Accident Settlement?

semi truck accident

In a crash between a car and a semi-truck, it’s no surprise which vehicle will suffer more damage—and which driver is likely to sustain more serious injuries. After all, a loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds by law, compared to a car’s 4,000. And even an empty truck can average 25,000-35,000 pounds. It can also take up to 600 feet to stop a full truck going 65 miles per hour…possibly longer if roads are slick. 

semi truck accident
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A semi-truck accident settlement amount is typically more than one for a crash between two cars, due to the weight and size of these big trucks exposing other drivers to a greater risk of harm. However, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific or even an average dollar amount for a settlement. A victim who walks away from a crash with minor injuries could be owed compensation of $1,000 or less, while someone who suffers a permanent disability could be awarded millions. It is possible to calculate a closer estimate if you understand how the facts of a semi-truck accident case impact the settlement.

How Much Compensation Will You Get from a Semi Truck Accident Claim? 

A semi case can range from thousands of dollars to millions. But in most cases, settlement amounts are kept confidential, so there is little data on the topic to state something more precise. 

The attorneys at Kane Personal Injury can not be more specific, either, until they discuss what happened with the victim. (There is never a charge for our initial consultations.) Every crash is unique and compensation values depend on several factors, including the severity of the injuries, the cost of recovery, lost wages, property damage, and the extent of the semi driver’s negligence. 

Commercial truck accidents are more complex than car accidents because several entities may be negligent and therefore held liable.

  • The driver if they were going too fast, following too close, driving while distracted or under the influence, or were otherwise careless.
  • The trucking company if they failed to screen or train the driver, or if they are in violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) regulations regarding their drivers or vehicles. 
  • Third parties paid to maintain the vehicle or load its cargo.

Insurance claims and lawsuits can be filed with any or all of these entities, potentially increasing a final settlement by a substantial amount

The settlement amount may be reduced if the driver of the car is partly to blame for the crash. New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that each at-fault party is liable for their percentage of the blame. So if a car driver is found to be 10% responsible, they would only be able to collect 90% of the total damages.

While total compensation can vary, an experienced attorney like Kane Personal Injury who specializes in truck accidents will be able to determine who is liable, how to file claims with multiple at-fault parties, and can negotiate effectively to reach the best possible settlement.  

semi truck accident
Image by Denis Pomortsev by Canva.com

Comparing Minimum and Maximum Semi Truck Accident Settlement Amounts

To better illustrate how attorneys and insurance companies calculate a truck accident settlement amount, let’s look at what goes into a compensation package. 

First, all current financial costs are added up and ongoing costs are estimated. Keep in mind that some of these items may not apply to your case. And, costs vary based on the severity of the injury and the individual’s healthcare provider.

  • Immediate medical costs such as the ambulance, emergency room, x-rays, hospital stay, stitches, and surgery
  • Recovery costs such as follow-up doctor visits, physical therapy, equipment (crutches, wheelchair, etc.), and medication
  • Future costs such as home health care or an assisted living facility, long-term medical care, home modifications (for example a wheelchair ramp), mental health care (for depression, PTSD, etc.)

Next, a dollar amount is placed on lost opportunities.

  • Lost wages for work missed while recovering
  • Lost earnings capacity if the victim can no longer work at all 

Finally, a value is assigned to the victim’s loss of enjoyment and quality of life.

  • Non-economic costs include pain and suffering, emotional trauma and mental anguish, permanent disability, and disfigurement

Attorneys add up the bills received for medical services and calculate the cost of expected future services. They apply a multiplier (typically between 1 and 5) to this total to determine an amount for pain and suffering. The multiplier depends on the severity of the injury and how long it will take the victim to heal, with the highest multiplier used for permanent injuries. 

Let’s look at two examples on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Settlements for Minor Injuries

The cost for a fractured wrist that requires surgery is roughly $7,000 to $10,000. This amount includes the emergency room, x-rays, doctor fees, a cast, and physical therapy in addition to the operation. A typical semi truck accident settlement request would compensate the victim for the total amount of all bills in full.

Any lost wages for missing a few days of work due to the injury would be added to the out-of-pocket costs. For such a minor injury that will heal completely, however, the attorney likely would not ask for anything to compensate for pain and suffering or mental anguish. 

Settlements for Serious Injuries

A truck accident settlement for a more serious injury like a spinal fracture will likely cost $5,000 to $15,000 for non-surgical treatment. If surgery is necessary, it could cost $50,000 to $150,000. 

Recovery time for a broken spine will be much longer than for a broken wrist. During that time, the victim could miss weeks or even months of work. Those lost wages would be included in any settlement request. 

The severity of the victim’s condition and the possibility of debilitating long-term health issues make the addition of pain and suffering appropriate. The more serious the injury, the higher the factorial. For example, if the break does not require surgery and a full recovery is expected, the attorney might ask for pain and suffering that equals one or two times the total reimbursable costs. But if the victim is paralyzed for life, they may request five or more times the monetary costs. 

Semi Truck Accident Settlements in New Mexico

Some states impose caps on the amount that can be awarded in a personal injury settlement. New Mexico, however, does not have a maximum limit. To date, the largest amount of compensatory damages awarded in New Mexico history is $165 million. 

The settlement was the result of a landmark case involving a FedEx tractor-trailer. The semi truck accident killed a mother and her 4-year-old daughter and severely injured her 19-month-old son. The settlement consisted of $61 million to the mother’s estate, $32 million to the daughter’s, $32 million for the son’s injuries, and $40 million to the father for the loss of his loved ones.

Is Seeking a Truck Accident Settlement Worth It?

The nature of large semi trucks increases the possibility of serious, even life-altering, injuries for those involved. Big rigs can tip in strong winds, cause chain-reaction crashes, and underride accidents, all of which can be catastrophic for victims.

When the accident was due to the truck driver’s or truck company’s negligence, victims deserve compensation for their personal injuries. At the very least, this means reimbursement of medical expenses and time away from work. More serious accidents justify not only reimbursement but also payment for future ongoing care along with pain and suffering. 

If you or someone you love has been in a semi truck accident, contact Kane Personal Injury to discuss the merits of your case.