Fatal Truck Accident Settlements: What to Expect?
On average, commercial trucks weigh around 80,000 pounds and are 72 feet long. Because of their enormous size and weight, trucks are more likely to cause severe injuries, immense property damage, and death when they are involved in accidents.
In 2020 alone, nearly 5,000 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents. About 72% of these crashes involved “collisions with a vehicle in transport” as the first harmful event. Victims either die on the scene or succumb to severe injuries on the way to the hospital.
Did your loved one die in a truck accident caused by someone else’s negligence? If so, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you obtain the compensation your family deserves.
Contact our truck accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.
How Often Do Fatal Truck Accidents Occur?
The 2020 data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) paints a picture of how often fatal truck crashes occur, where they happen, and who is most likely to die in them:
- 4,842 fatal accidents involving large trucks
- 62% of fatal truck accidents involved two vehicles
- Most of these accidents occurred on interstate highways and in rural areas
- 37% of all fatal accidents happened at night (6 PM to 6 AM), and 82% occurred on weekdays
- “Collision with a vehicle in transport” was the first recorded even in 72% of large truck crashes
- 53% of fatal truck crashes involved singles (trucks pulling one semi-trailer)
- There was only one fatality in 90% of large truck accidents, and most of these victims were non-truck occupants
- 14% of victims were not wearing safety belts (826), of which 356 died in the crash (43%)
What Can Cause a Semi-Truck Accident?
A truck accident can arise from many forms of negligence, including:
- Speeding: Driving above the speed limit is the leading cause of all motor vehicle accidents, including truck crashes. Speeding increases the likelihood of colliding with another vehicle due to losing control or a simple miscalculation. Furthermore, it reduces a driver’s ability to react to sudden dangers, such as a vehicle in front of a truck stopping abruptly.
- Distracted Driving: Inattention can easily lead to an accident. Distracted driving behaviors, such as texting, calling, eating, or navigating, can prevent a truck driver from reacting to hazardous situations on time, such as a passenger car merging into their lane.
- Fatigue: Many truck drivers cause accidents due to fatigue, which is mostly the fault of trucking companies rather than the drivers themselves. When a person is tired, they are more likely to have poor focus, poor coordination, and lack of good judgment while driving.
- Intoxication: Drinking or doing drugs often decreases a person’s coordination, motor skills, vision, and decision-making. As a result, driving becomes riskier and more prone to accidents.
- Reckless Driving: Many truck collisions are caused by improper lane changing, tailgating, brake-checking, and other irresponsible and aggressive behaviors.
- Poor Truck Maintenance: Mechanical failures can cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle. Improper maintenance can lead to dangerous events, such as tire blowouts, brake failures, engine issues, malfunctioning warning lights, etc.
- Environmental Hazards: Uneven roads, potholes, uncleared debris, roadkill, and other environmental dangers increase the risk of an accident, especially at high speeds.
Common Injuries in Semi-Truck Accidents
Truck accident cases often involve significant injuries, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord trauma
- Burns, bruises, lacerations
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Crushing injuries
How Do You File a Claim for a Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident?
If your loved one dies in a trucking accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the legal right to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver, trucking company, or other negligent parties. However, you must prove the following are true:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to your loved one. All drivers must act reasonably and prudently to avoid injuring others. Tractor-trailer drivers owe a higher legal duty due to the inherent dangers associated with trucks.
- The defendant breached this duty of care. You must prove that the commercial truck operator acted negligently (breached their legal obligation), causing or creating a risk of harm to others.
- Your family and loved one suffered a significant injury. Aside from the death of your loved one, you must show that your family suffered substantial emotional, mental, and financial harm from their demise.
- The defendant’s negligence directly led to your family’s damages. You must prove that the defendant’s actions directly caused your family’s losses, such as your loved one’s medical expenses, lost wages, loss of companionship, etc.
A commercial truck accident lawyer from our law firm will determine if you have grounds to file a valid claim.
What is a Fatal Truck Accident Settlement?
In personal injury law, a settlement is an agreement wherein the defendant agrees to pay an agreed-upon amount to the plaintiff. A fatal truck accident settlement is financial compensation for a victim’s family that sues the defendant for wrongful death.
What is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action against an entity or individual who causes the death of another person through negligence. These claims or lawsuits are usually brought by family members, dependents, or legal executors of the deceased’s will.
Who is Liable for Your Trucking Accident Case?
Depending on the case’s circumstances, there may be multiple parties responsible for your loved one’s death, including:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The loading or maintenance team
- The manufacturer of faulty truck equipment or parts
- Other passenger vehicle drivers
- The local government
Regardless of who is directly at fault for the truck collision, the defendant’s insurance company will most likely be liable for your damages. Truck drivers and trucking companies usually use their general liability insurance, while regular drivers have personal auto insurance policies to minimize liability for negligence-related accidents.
What is The Average Truck Accident Settlement?
Auto accident settlements have significant variations, especially across different states and jurisdictions. Hence, it is difficult to determine an average settlement for trucking accidents. However, you can expect a semi-truck accident settlement to be higher than the average car crash because of the following reasons:
- Tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks are much larger than passenger vehicles; they are more likely to cause serious injuries, property damage, and death in an accident.
- Trucking companies are businesses, and this commercial element may allow for more significant financial recovery.
- Semi-truck accident victims usually suffer catastrophic injuries and long-term consequences.
- Death claims usually end in higher settlements than other claims involving injuries.
What Damages Can You Recover from a Fatal Trucking Accident?
If your loved one dies in a trucking accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you could recover financial compensation for the following losses:
- Medical Bills: Your family’s out-of-pocket expenses for your deceased loved one’s hospitalization, medication, surgery, therapy, and other medical bills incurred before death.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: Funeral and burial or cremation costs and associated expenses.
- Lost Wages: Salaries, wages, benefits, and revenue lost due to the accident.
- Loss of Financial Support: Compensation for the financial support lost due to the victim’s passing.
- Property Damage: Repair and replacement expenses for property damaged or lost in the accident.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the physical and emotional injuries the victim suffered before they died, such as physical pain, emotional trauma, mental anguish, etc.
- Loss of Consortium: Compensation for a victim’s spouse’s emotional trauma and other hardships they experience after losing a spouse.
- Punitive Damages: Additional compensation used to punish defendants for gross negligence or recklessness.
What Factors Can Affect Your Truck Accident Case?The main reason it is difficult to determine an average semi-truck accident settlement is that many factors come into play. For instance, an accident victim may receive higher compensation because they have more dependents than someone single. Furthermore, there are no specific dollar amounts for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help determine how much you should receive for your semi-truck accident case. Your compensation may depend on the following factors:
- The Victim’s Age: Generally, injured victims receive higher settlements when they are younger. The same typically applies to victims of fatal truck accidents. The primary reasoning behind this is a more significant part of the victim’s life is affected by the accident.
- The Defendant’s Level of Negligence: A truck accident case may result in higher compensation if the tractor-trailer driver acted far beyond reasonable or prudent behavior.
- Comparative Negligence: If a person is partially at fault for the accident, their percentage of fault will reduce the compensation amount. States have varying rules on contributory negligence. In Illinois, victims or family members can receive compensation as long as the victim is less than 50% at fault for the accident.
- The Extent of Damages: Like any personal injury claim, a trucking accident lawsuit will heavily depend on the extent of the victim’s losses, including lost wages, pre-death medical expenses, pain and suffering, and the family’s emotional trauma.
- Surviving Family Members: In some cases, a semi-truck accident settlement is higher for victims that leave behind young children, disabled spouses, dependent parents, etc.
How Long Does It Take to Obtain Compensation for a Trucking Accident Claim?
The average truck accident settlement can take several months up to a few years. Parties will conduct thorough investigations and often go back and forth with compensation offers. Once all parties agree to the settlement value, the insurance company will have a set number of days to pay, depending on your state laws.
Sample of Trucking Accident Cases
The following are truck accident settlements from real cases that may give you an idea of an average settlement in a commercial truck accident case:
2015 Highway 17 Commercial Truck Collision
On July 2015, Daniel McGuire lost his life in a truck accident on Highway 17 in Santa Cruz, California. The tractor-trailer driver, Ravinderpal Singh, said the brakes failed as he drove downhill, causing him to collide with other trucks and cars before jackknifing. The family received a $9.5 million settlement.
2016 US 41 Tractor-Trailer Crash
A central Georgia jury awarded $3.75 million to the family of Wallace Harris, a driver who died after a tractor-trailer crashed into his vehicle on the US 41 in Vienna, Georgia. The defendant allegedly parked his truck in the center turn lane with the hazard lights on. According to the investigation, the deceased veered into the center lane, leading to the crash.
2018 Gainesville Garbage Truck Accident
In 2016, 20-year-old Abigail Dougherty was struck by a garbage truck while bicycling on NW 17th Street in Gainesville, Florida. The driver allegedly failed to yield, check his mirrors, or slow down as he turned into that avenue. Dougherty’s parents received $20 million.
How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
Recovering a fair truck accident settlement is often a hurdle, as truck companies and insurance providers will want to pay as little as possible to claimants--or even refuse liability altogether. Our truck accident attorneys will help you recover maximum compensation by:
- Investigating how and why the accident occurred
- Identifying liable parties
- Calculating the extent of your losses, including punitive damages
- Collecting evidence to support your claim
- Filing your claim with all insurance companies involved
- Negotiating a fair settlement
- Filing a lawsuit and representing you in court, if necessary
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With a Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Trucking accident cases often involve serious injury and death. If an accident victim dies from another person’s negligence, surviving family members have the right to pursue compensation.
Estimating a potential settlement based on average semi-truck accident verdicts is usually challenging. To determine how much your family should receive in compensation, seek legal representation from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC.
Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. This agreement ensures you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.