This is a question that many of our clients ask and the answer depends on several different factors.
General Considerations for Valuing Semi- Truck Accidents
Truck accident valuations differ significantly from a car to car crash for these reasons:
- A higher standard of care comes with being a professional driver of an 80,000-pound vehicle. The federal motor carrier safety regulations which have been adopted largely by the state of Texas provide specific safety rules for both the truck driver and the company. Violation of the safety rules can be powerful evidence at trial and for this reason 18-wheeler accidents tend to be valued higher than the same accident with the car to car.
- Damages are usually significant given the disparity of weight between the typical 18-wheeler and the vehicles it strikes. Simple physics suggest that the injury potential goes up exponentially with the increase in weight of the vehicle. Serious injuries such as broken bones, spinal cord injury requiring surgery, head injury or other significant trauma are more likely than not when an 18-wheeler is involved. The severity of the property damages is a factor in assessing damages.
- Commercial vehicles require commercial liability insurance policies that are much larger than the Texas minimum liability policy required for passenger car. Most small to medium-size trucking companies carry a minimum liability policy of $1 million and some have policies much larger. Medium-sized to larger trucking companies usually have excess policies way beyond the primary limits.
Because a commercial policy is involved in truck accident cases and the heightened duties of both the trucking company and the professional driver, cases involving an 18-wheeler and personal injury are usually valued higher than the same damages with a car to car crash.
Factors for Determining Fair Damages
We have been winning tractor-trailer accident cases for over three decades and have become the go to law firm in the greater Houston area for this type of case. Because of our expertise in suing truck drivers and trucking companies, we are able to fight for maximum compensation in the limited number of cases that we agreed to take. In every case, the amount of damages is dependent upon many different factors. Here are a few considerations:
- The amount of medical expenses- past and future
- The treating physician’s diagnosis and prognosis for the future
- Objective test findings by the treating doctors
- Lost wages- past and future
- Disability and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of mobility
Determining Fair Value for Your Case
We use our decades of experience in handling truck crash cases to analyze the severity of the damages for each of our clients. Factors such as the permanent nature of an injury or the recovery Timetable are important considerations. Injuries that are lingering and of a permanent nature tend to be significant factors in considerations by juries. The doctor’s testimony regarding needing future expenses in the costs associated with the treatment are very important in damage assessments.
Juries and the trucking company’s insurance adjusters tend to value the doctor’s testimony more than what the injured victim has to say. Although juries give great weight to treating physicians, and serious damage cases the defense always retains a doctor who will testify to minimize damages.
Other factors that are considerations in damage assessment or whether or not surgery was needed, and hardware installed. Surgical cases are much easier to show a jury the extent of the injury and need for the treatment. Operated cases also tend to minimize the defense tactic of hiring a doctor who justifies surgery is not necessary and the injured person malingering.
Each case is analyzed once the complete medical records have been obtained and the doctors opinions known. There is not a formula that is generally accepted in dealing with a truck crash case.