After being hit by an 18-wheeler, it’s common to wonder how much your truck accident settlement is worth. Will you receive enough money to pay your medical bills, cover the wages you lost while healing, and fix your car’s property damage – or even purchase a new car to replace your totaled one? Unfortunately, as our South Carolina truck accident lawyer explains, a case’s value isn’t always clear from the get-go because no two cases are identical, and the smallest details can affect valuation.
Factors That Can Affect Truck Wreck Settlement Values in South Carolina
1. Severity of Injury
Because of their size and weight, when 18-wheelers are involved in a car crash, the results are often catastrophic, and the victims suffer serious injuries. The severity of these injuries can greatly affect the value of the case because of something called “lost enjoyment of life.” Does your injury keep you from doing things you once loved – like running, cooking, or even driving? Do you have flashbacks of the wreck or experience anxiety when traveling on the highway? The mental anguish and lost enjoyment of life you’re experiencing could affect the final settlement.
2. Medical Expenses
Medical expenses are different than damages paid for lost enjoyment of life because there is a hard number associated with the accident that you – or your health insurance provider – must pay. However, if the wreck was not your fault, why should you be forced to cover your current and future medical costs?
The simple answer is: you shouldn’t. So, medical expenses are included when considering how much compensation should be demanded. Unfortunately, auto insurance companies are often hesitant to cover future medical costs, so our team utilizes victims’ doctors and medical experts to prove what future treatment - and the cost of future treatment - will look like for our clients and what will happen if they are unable to receive such care.
3. Lost Wages
After a truck wreck, it’s likely the victim will be unable to go back to work immediately, which means they won’t receive a paycheck. In South Carolina, the at-fault driver’s insurance company must compensate the victim for lost wages if the situation meets three conditions:
- If the other driver was indeed at fault;
- If you’re able to prove that your injury kept you from being able to work; and
- If you can verify how much money the accident kept you from making.
4. Punitive Damages
Though punitive damages are rare, they can be awarded if there is clear and convincing evidence that the at-fault party had conscious disregard for the safety of others. To obtain punitive damages, it is helpful to have a skilled truck accident lawyer on your side because, believe it or not, the at-fault party will not simply admit they knew their actions were intentionally reckless.
Punitive damages require thorough investigation to uncover why the accident happened. Did the company hire drivers with dangerous driving records? Did they falsify time logs to increase profit? Was there a history of substance abuse? Injury lawyers can reveal facts like these by requesting records, holding depositions, and working with investigative experts.
How Trucking Insurance Minimums Can Affect Your 18 Wheeler Accident Case
One major factor that can limit the compensation tractor trailer accident victims receive is insurance minimums for 18-wheelers.
Trucking companies are required to carry the minimum insurance limits of $750,000. While this may seem like a lot of money, if multiple parties were involved and injured in the wreck, $750,000 may not go far in covering all victims’ damages.
For example, let’s say a semi truck driver was texting and driving in a congested section of the interstate and rear-ended the car in front of him that held a family of four. The force of his truck then caused that family’s car to hit the vehicle in front of them that held two more passengers. Suddenly, the tractor trailer’s insurance is obligated to cover the property damage of two cars as well as any medical expenses those six injured people incur.
If even one of the victims suffers a broken bone, a traumatic brain injury, or, worst of all, death – which is all too common in a truck accident – the $750,000 will not be enough to provide sufficient compensation for all of the affected people. The U.S. government has debated raising these minimum insurance policies for years, but as of 2019, no change has been made and victims of tractor trailer crashes are still vulnerable.
Nevertheless, an experienced semi-truck accident attorney can look for additional sources of insurance coverage, such as umbrella, secondary, or excess liability policies, to help recover damages.
A South Carolina Truck Accident Attorney Can Help You Receive a Fair Settlement
Tractor-trailer accidents can be traumatic experiences that leave injured people and their families scared and uncertain about what to do next. Our firm is here to take that burden off your shoulders and to guide you through your case. We have helped numerous people hold trucking companies accountable in the form of a full and fair settlement.
Though not all accident cases require a lawyer, people who were involved in serious semi-truck accidents usually greatly benefit from hiring a South Carolina personal injury lawyer. Not only will our team stand up against corporate trucking companies and their insurance providers, but we also can secure evidence to maximize your case value, help you find the best medical care, and negotiate medical bill reductions with health insurance and medical providers to increase your net recovery.
Our team handles life-changing and catastrophic injury cases every day, so we know how to handle the twists and turns that come with complex injury litigation. Insurance companies will attempt to pay as little as possible for the trauma and pain their clients have caused you. We don’t want that to happen, and we know you don’t either. Our offices are conveniently located in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, and we have been proudly servicing clients throughout the surrounding areas. Contact us online today or call us at 803-790-2800 (Columbia, SC) / 843-427-2800 (Myrtle Beach, SC).