Semi-truck accidents can be dreadful. In March 2023, a crash involving semi-trucks shut down a part of Interstate 15, leaving three people dead in northern Utah.
Truck collisions often lead to devastating injuries, fatalities, and significant property damage, creating a heavy financial burden for the victims or their surviving loved ones. In such a scenario, you’d want to make the most of your accident settlement and ensure it covers any lost wages/ongoing medical expenses.
But each traffic collision is unique, meaning there’s no standard value for truck accident claims. The expected payout can depend on several factors, including liability, the extent of damage, and the driver’s employment status, among others.
Confused? We’ve got your back. Let’s walk through six factors that play a role in determining your Utah semi-truck accident settlement.
Truck Accident Attorney in Utah: 6 Factors Influencing a Truck Accident Claim
If you’ve recently been in a truck accident, you’re probably wondering how much you can recover through your personal injury claim. Your truck accident attorney in Utah will evaluate several complex factors in this regard, including:
1. The Severity of Your Injuries
You’re almost certain to suffer some injuries in a semi-truck accident. If you’re lucky, you may be able to escape with a simple case of whiplash or a few bruises and scrapes. But many victims of trucking accidents are left with broken bones, head/brain trauma, burns, and disfigurement.
In case you fractured your collarbone and missed two weeks of work through no fault of your own, you’d likely receive damages for your medical bills and lost wages. However, a serious ailment, such as permanent spinal cord damage, might require years of ongoing treatment and physical therapy.
Additionally, you could be stuck with other nuanced- but no less harmful- collaterals. Think loss of earning potential and reduced quality of life.
The goal of most damage claims is to seek compensation for losses: economic and otherwise. Hence, the severity of your injuries will definitely dictate the value of your claim.
2. Damage to Property
When large commercial trucks collide with smaller vehicles, the latter typically sustains extensive damage. Your vehicle may be totaled, meaning the repair costs will reach or exceed its fair market value.
Note that the final compensation will vary based on your vehicle’s make and model. An insurance adjuster will inspect it for damage and provide an estimate. You can also take your vehicle to an independent car shop for an alternate quote.
3. Fault and Liability
Utah relies on a modified comparative fault rule with a 50% bar to determine legal liability in accident cases. Simply put, you can only recover damages if you are less than 50% responsible for the accident. Moreover, your settlement will be reduced by the percentage of liability you bear.
Take this as an example. Suppose you collided with a truck and sustained damages worth $100,000. But further investigation reveals you were 20% responsible for the crash. Here, you could still seek a settlement, but you would only be eligible for 80% of the damages, or $80,000.
Understanding comparative fault takes a fair bit of legal proficiency. You’ll want a knowledgeable Utah truck accident lawyer in your corner to inform you of the laws relevant to your case. This way, you can proceed without mistakes.
4. The Driver’s Condition
Although every Utah semi-truck accident is unique, it’s easy to see some trends when you examine the various causes of these collisions. For instance, many trucking accidents occur due to driver fatigue or alcohol use. These are common issues within the commercial trucking industry and can influence your personal injury case.
If the at-fault driver fell asleep at the wheel, they may not be solely responsible for the accident. In fact, their employer may have pressured them to break federal regulations mandating shift lengths and breaks for truckers.
Again, in case the driver was off-duty at the time of the accident, it’ll be much harder to blame the employer. Your best bet would be to consult a semi-truck accident attorney in Utah and seek their advice.
5. Whether You Sought Prompt Medical Attention
Tightfisted insurance companies will use any means necessary to undermine your claim and stick you with a lowball settlement. If you don’t seek medical care after the truck accident, the insurers can claim your injuries weren’t serious enough.
Not all trucking injuries are readily apparent. Remember to get a medical examination as soon as possible after the crash to check for any internal damage. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about any symptoms you may be experiencing and jot them down in a journal.
6. Your Statements Following the Accident
Anything you say in the wake of a Utah truck accident can significantly impact your insurance claim. One of the biggest mistakes victims make is admitting fault unintentionally.
Admitting fault in a truck accident threatens your chances of receiving fair compensation. Here are a few actionable tips to sidestep this trap.
- Avoid polite apologies
- Be truthful to the police by giving them objective details of what happened.
- Never say you’re ‘fine’. As innocent as this seems, it’s likely that the insurance company can (and will) use it against you.
- Never agree to provide a written/recorded statement detailing your version of the events.
- Do not talk to adjustors without a lawyer present.
- Get in touch with a truck accident attorney in Utah as quickly as possible.
The Bottom Line
One of the most common questions we get is “How much can I get as settlement for my trucking accident?” The truth is, there’s no straight answer to this question. The best you can do is use these factors to tally up your damages and arrive at a rough estimate. However, this is difficult to do without sound legal counsel.
The Utah truck accident lawyers at Henriksen & Henriksen have been helping victims for decades. We believe you deserve a fair shot at pursuing justice for your injuries, and we’re here to provide it for you. As a family-owned legal firm, we promise to treat you with compassion, respect, and kindness. Get in touch with us today for more information!