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What Type of Compensation Can I Get After a Truck Wreck?

05/05/2021

Truck accidents are not uncommon in Colorado. They often result in minor injuries, severe injuries, or more catastrophic injuries depending on the crash impact. In 2019, a total of 4,119 people died in large truck crashes. Out of that number, 16% where truck occupants, 67% were car occupants and passenger vehicles. 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. 

The bottom line is a truck accident is more fatal for other road users than for semi-truck drivers. To this end, victims of truck collisions are entitled to a settlement sum for injuries, pain, and suffering they endured. As a victim, it is often best to work with a truck accident lawyer in these cases to ensure you get the maximum compensation.

Two trucks are involved in a head-on collection in Denver

Below, we discuss the truck accidents and the type of compensation available to a victim. 

What Are the Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Colorado?

Traffic accidents involving a semi-truck, tractor-trailer, or delivery trucks occur for the following reasons:

  • Malfunctioning Brakes: Most trucks have air brakes designed to stop the vehicle at about 100 feet when traveling at a speed of 30 to 40 miles per hour. However, brakes do malfunction, and when they do, accidents happen. Remember that brake malfunction can still occur even if the truck driver continuously pumps the brakes to slow the vehicle down. 
  • Blind Spot Accident: Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers are known for having blind spots. These "No zone" areas potentially cause collisions. This is why most trucking companies attach warning stickers to the vehicle's back. The sticker often warns that if you can't see the truck driver in the side mirror, they can't see you also. Thus, it is best to keep an adequate distance between smaller vehicles and trucks. 
  • Drunk Driving: Driving while intoxicated is one of the common causes of truck collisions. In Colorado, drivers, including truckers, must maintain a blood alcohol content of .08%. Drivers who drink and drive face severe penalties, and in the event of an accident, victims can claim compensation. 
  • Distracted Driving: Like in most auto accident cases, distracted driving is a common contributor to truck crashes. It takes only a three-second distraction for collisions to occur. Hence, truck drivers must keep their eyes on the road and avoid all forms of distractions like eating, texting, or calling. 
  • Tire Blowout/Bald Tires: Due to the long-distance traveled by semi-trucks and their cargo size, they often experience tire blowouts. When a tire blowout happens, and the driver fails to steer the vehicle properly, accidents occur. Crashes from tire blowouts can result in serious injury or death. 

Other causes of truck accidents include: 

  • Mechanical failure
  • Manufacturer's defect
  • Speeding
  • Fatigue and drowsy driving
  • Overload cargo
  • Falling debris

After accidents of this nature, it is vital to consult a truck accident attorney. The attorney will assess if you have a strong claim and present the compensation options available to you. 

Common Injuries Sustained in Truck Accidents

Injuries sustained in truck collisions are the same as those suffered in most motor vehicle accidents. However, because semi-trucks are bigger and heavier than other vehicles on the roadway, their injuries are often more catastrophic. 

Some of the common injuries sustained by truck accident victims include: 

  • Broken bones
  • Head injuries 
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Internal injuries like organ damage and internal bleeding
  • Cuts and lacerations 
  • Rib and torso injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis

In more severe cases, injury victims die from the wounds sustained in the collision. In such an instance, any legal action would be on the ground of wrongful death. Firouzbakht Law Firm has an excellent team of wrongful death attorneys to help victims' families get financial compensation.

What Compensation Is Available After a Truck Wreck? 

Following truck accidents with devastating injuries or death, there are different types of damages (compensation) available. While monetary compensation does make up for the pain and suffering victims go through, it goes a long way in alleviating it. 

Generally, there are three types of damages available to truck accident victims. 

Compensation Can I Get After a Truck Wreck

Economic Damages

The insurance company or court calculates economic damages to a specific dollar amount. It mostly covers medical bills from the treatment of the bodily injury to when the victim attains maximum medical improvement. It also includes past and future medical costs, lost wages, and burial, and funeral expenses.

Non-Economic Damages

This financial compensation covers sufferings that cannot be calculated to a specific dollar amount. Unlike medical bills, where receipts and medical records show how much you spent, there is no such proof for how much you suffered. For this reason, insurance companies calculate non-economic damages by picking a number from one to ten.

Then they use the figure to multiply the total sum of economic damages. Thus, if they pick five, and the economic damage is $100,000, your total compensation would be $500,000 after the multiplication. In summary, non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment. 

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages do not involve negotiations with the fault party's insurance company. Rather, it is compensation awarded by the court in cases where there's evidence of gross negligence. The court awards it against drivers who were careless and failed to exercise the required duty of care. Punitive damages are a warning to other truck drivers to avoid the same conduct. There is no fixed sum and depends solely on the discretion of the court. 

What Factors Influence the Compensation Amount Awarded?  

While the above shows the varied compensation you can get following truck accidents, several factors affect the total settlement sum. Some of them include the following: 

The Severity of the Injuries

What a person with minor wounds will get is not the same as someone with devastating injuries. The more severe your injuries, the higher the compensation amount you're entitled to. This is why personal injury lawsuits have different settlement sums, as no two cases are the same. 

How Much the Injury Limits You 

If the injury is catastrophic, like spinal cord injuries, it will play a key role in the compensation sum. Usually, insurance adjusters would consider the impact of the crash on your life, whether you'll need physical therapy, and for how long. If you also need long-term medical care for your entire life, they will also consider it during settlement negotiations. The same is true for civil lawsuits where a judge has to decide. 

What the Fault Driver's Insurance Policy Covers

Several insurance companies have different policies that the truck driver or trucking company can buy. For example, if it is bodily injury insurance coverage, it would cover the accident victim's medical expenses. If it is property damage liability coverage, then it would cover damages to the victim's car. 

Despite the above, some drivers do not have adequate insurance coverage. In such an instance, you will get only what their policy covers, even if it's inadequate. However, you can file a lawsuit to get the balance, in which case the driver would pay out of pocket. But if the driver has no fund to pay the judgment sum, you might not get more than their insurance policy cover. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim. 

Who Caused the Accident

The party who caused the accident is responsible for paying damages to the accident victim. Colorado is a fault state, meaning that the negligent driver will use their insurance to pay all the other driver's bills. However, Colorado practices a modified comparative negligence system. 

The state's law provides that if a driver is 50% at fault for a crash, they give up their rights to receive compensation. Thus, if you share half of the fault in an accident, you are not entitled to compensation. If the fault party has 51% fault and you have 49%, you will make a financial recovery. 

Note that what amounts to fault differs from accident to accident. Hence, it is vital to work with a personal injury attorney with experience handling truck accident claims. They will work with the police and insurance adjusters to ensure you don't go from being an accident victim to a fault party. 

Who Pays Compensation Following a Truck Accident? 

A van is hauled due to an accident in Denver

This is one of the frequently asked questions by truck accident victims. Generally, the fault driver's insurance company handles the settlement negotiations and pays an agreed sum. If the fault driver does not have insurance coverage, they will pay out of pocket. The latter means they will pay using their money. 

If the truck driver works for a trucking company, and the accident occurred during working hours, the company's insurance would handle the compensation. But if the crash happened when the driver was not supposed to be working, they would pay out of pocket or through their insurer. 

Lastly, time is crucial when bringing a compensation claim. In Colorado, if you want to file a personal injury lawsuit, you have two years from the date the injury occurred. For wrongful death claims, the time frame is the same; it starts running when the victim dies. Work with an experienced attorney to ensure you commence your claim within the right time. 

Were You Involved in a Truck Wreck? Consult Firouzbakht Law Firm

Trucks are a necessity as they deliver life essentials from state to state. However, truck drivers' negligence sometimes causes accidents, and when they do, victims are entitled to compensation. This is what Firouzbakht Law Firm is here for. 

We have a team of lawyers willing and ready to listen to you and help you get the justice you deserve. With us, you can focus on healing while we handle the negotiations to get you the maximum settlement. Let's get started; call us today for a free case review. 

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