Commercial vehicles are subject to special safety rules because of the potential for a semi-truck to cause life-threatening and fatal injuries during a crash. Big rigs routinely weigh up to 80,000 pounds and have safety issues such as blind spots and slow to stop.
People injured because of the carelessness of a professional truck driver who was driving a tractor-trailer, garbage truck or other commercial vehicle may be able to obtain certain legally recognized damages under Texas law.
There are three types of damages legally available to those who have been injured by a negligent trucker. Those are economic damages, human damages, and exemplary damages.
Economic Damages After a Big Rig Injury Crash
Economic damages are those sustained by the victim that relate to the medical treatment that is necessary for the injuries caused by the accident and also the losses related to earning capacity which is often mistakenly called “lost wages.”
Texas instituted “tort reform” several years ago that changed the calculation of both reasonable and necessary medical expenses and also the losses related to earning capacity. These changes were not helpful to Texas families and did not result in reduced medical or insurance costs.
Economic damages are submitted to a judge or jury in separate and distinct time lines. The periods before the date of the verdict and future damages that may occur after the verdict. An example would be if a victim of the truck crash were expected to incur necessary medical bills in the future, the jury would be asked to determine what that number should be for the future.
Often, truck accident lawyers use life care planners to value future medical needs of a victim.
Human Damages Because of a Semi-Truck Injury Wreck
Human damages are those that directly affect the person and can vary greatly depending on the judge or jury that decides the numbers and impact on the victim’s life. This type of damage is hard to estimate because it is up to a jury to decide what should be awarded for each damage element. The victim, their family, and doctors or other medical providers can testify about the impact of the injuries on the victim, but it is up to the finder of fact to determine the amounts.
Legally recoverable human damages in Texas can include the following:
- Physical Impairment before trial
- Physical Impairment that will in reasonable probability be sustained in the future
- Disfigurement before trial
- Disfigurement after trial
- Physical Pain and Mental Anguish before trial
- Physical Pain and Mental Anguish in the future
Additionally, other damages may be available such as those to a spouse when the husband or wife has been seriously injured. In some cases, spouses can obtain damages for the loss of household services and also the loss of consortium both past and future.
About Exemplary Damages from Trucking Accidents
Finally, exemplary damages in Texas may be awarded in cases where the truck driver or the trucking company has acted maliciously or with gross negligence for the safety of the motoring public, or their truck driver. The factors that are considered by the judge or jury include:
- The nature of the wrong.
- The character of the conduct involved.
- The degree of culpability of the wrongdoer.
- The situation and sensibilities of the parties concerned.
- The extent to which conduct offends a public sense of justice and propriety.
- The net worth of the defendant.
Punitive damages in trucking accident cases must include more than simple driver error to be submitted to the court. Further, the jury must unanimously agree on the award and amount of exemplary damages. Texas law limits the amount of recovery available for punitive damages to the greater of:
- two times the economic damages; plus,
- an amount equal to any human damages (non-economic) not to exceed $750,000; or
Contact a Houston 18 Wheeler Accident Attorney to Discuss Your Case
If you or a family member have been seriously injured in an 18 wheeler accident, and are looking for an attorney for an 18 wheeler accident near Houston, call for a no obligation consultation regarding your rights and options. We charge no fee unless we recover money for you. Additionally, home and hospital consultations are available for those who are unable to travel to our offices because of your injuries.