11 Things You Can Sue For in a Truck Accident
Thanks to its perfect weather and low cost of living, Florida has seen a steep rise in residents over the past several years. Whether you’re a native or have recently moved here, you have probably seen the effect this has had on Florida’s roads. The higher population means that there are more cars on the road, which unfortunately means more accidents.
But along with cars, the state has seen a rise in the number of large trucks on the road. These trucks provide our stores with food and supplies and help keep the gas stations stocked. With the rise in trucks on the road, there has also been a significant increase in the number of accidents involving large trucks. In one recent year, 3,272 accidents involved commercial vehicles in Orange County alone. That’s over a 17 percent increase from the year prior. Across the state, truck accidents caused 27 fatalities and 126 incapacitating injuries. If you have been in an accident with a large truck, the law allows you to pursue financial compensation. Below, we’ll outline what this compensation may include.
After a Truck Accident, What Can I Recover?
After an accident involving a large truck, the last thing you want to do is think about the accident. Any accident is scary, but one with a massive vehicle like a commercial truck is frightening. It’s natural to look at what type of compensation you may recover after an accident. Medical bills don’t come cheap, and the costs of an accident extend far beyond the financial ones. So what exactly can you sue for after a truck accident?
1. Medical Bills
According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the average cost for the first year of a spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia is over $500,000. The estimated lifetime costs surpass two million dollars. The average cost of a serious brain injury is about the same. Even seemingly minor injuries, like muscle strains or broken bones, can easily cost upwards of $10,000. Medical bills are one of the most expensive components of a personal injury case. Common costs include:
2. Doctor Visits
Serious injuries may require several years of follow-up care. For some injuries, your care may involve many specialists. A personal injury attorney can help you connect with these specialists and help you seek reimbursement for these costs. Covered care may include:
- Follow-up treatment
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Physical therapy
- Massage therapy
- Mental health counseling
Prescription medication can be expensive. However, if you have undergone a serious injury, it may be medically necessary. The American Medical Association estimates that prescription medications account for approximately 10 percent of all healthcare costs. If your injury requires more than one medication, the costs can add up quickly. Commonly prescribed medications after a motor vehicle accident include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Pain relievers
- Antibacterial creams and ointments
4. Medical Supplies
After you leave the hospital, medical supplies can help you get back on your feet. Your doctor may recommend certain supplies, and even send them home with you, but what he or she may not tell you is that these products don’t come free. A wheelchair can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Hospital beds can cost upwards of $10,000. These are costs that you should not have to cover yourself. A personal injury suit can help you cover the cost of:
- TENS units
- Hospital beds
- Vehicle lifts
5 Medical Transportation
The average ambulance ride can easily cost over $1,000. If you need air transport, your bill will likely run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Medical transport is extremely expensive and can quickly use up all of your PIP coverage. If you need transportation to and from doctor visits after you are released from the hospital, that’s another expense. You can include all of these costs in your personal injury suit.
6. Lost Wages
If you rely on income from your job to support your family, an accident can make it difficult to pay your bills. Minor injuries may result in a few missed days at work, potentially costing you hundreds of dollars in lost income. Long-term absences will result in even more of a loss. The law allows accident victims to request lost wages if the accident results in missed time at work. In some cases, you may have a claim for lost wages, even if you were an at-home provider. In this case, we would look at the cost to pay someone to do the tasks that your injury prevents you from completing, including yard work, cooking, and cleaning.
If you are unable to return to work, you may be eligible for future wages. When calculating this cost, the insurance adjuster will consider:
- Your age
- Your income
- Your experience and transferable skills
- Costs for retraining
7. Home Improvements/Modifications
When a serious injury leaves you disabled, you may need to make modifications to your residence before you can return home. These are not normal or typical costs that you would expect to put into your home. As such, a personal injury attorney would argue to have these items included in your personal injury case. Necessary renovations may include:
- Wheelchair ramps
- Widened doorways
8. Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages in personal injury claims can be very variable. There are so many factors that can determine the monetary value of your pain and suffering. No two cases are the same. The same injury can have completely different effects on one person’s life versus another’s. As personal injury attorneys, we will look at the type of pain, the intensity of the pain, how long your pain persists, and whether there is an expectation of recovery.
The pain and suffering can interfere with your day-to-day life in many ways. If you were an avid runner before your accident, but now simply getting out of bed causes you pain, that’s a big loss for which your compensation should account. Common “costs” for pain and suffering include:
- Immediate physical pain
- Chronic pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
9. Loss of Enjoyment
We all have things that we enjoy. These things help get us through our days and make us happy. When a serious injury prevents you from doing the things you love, you deserve fair and just compensation. We often don’t look at how much pain can interfere with our ability to enjoy a task. A neck injury can make reading unenjoyable. A back injury can make going for a run impossible. A personal injury attorney can help you prove your loss and illustrate the effect it has had on your life.
10. Loss of Consortium
Personal relationships are important. When you build a life with someone, you expect them to be there for you. But what happens when an accident makes it so you can’t have a conversation with your spouse? When the emotional trauma makes those you love pull away and unable to provide support to you or your children? Loss of consortium deals with the emotional loss and the loss of a relationship because of a serious injury or death.
11. Wrongful Death
Burying a loved one is never easy. After a sudden loss, money is the last thing on your mind. But it quickly becomes a reality when you are faced with funeral costs, mounting bills, and the sudden realization that you have no way to pay these bills. Money should not be something you have to think about when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. A personal injury suit can help you recover much of the costs associated with an accident, including:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Outstanding medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Lost wages
How Can I Recover Damages?
The only way to recover damages from the at-fault party is to file a personal injury lawsuit. Florida law allows accident victims two years to file a suit against the responsible party or parties. After two years have passed, you generally cannot recover damages if you have not yet filed a lawsuit. This is why it is very important to talk to a truck accident lawyer right away.
A truck accident attorney can help you collect evidence and negotiate with the truck driver’s insurance. If the driver’s employer played a role in the accident, your attorney can file a suit against the employer, as well. Your injuries matter. If the other party’s insurance is unwilling to pay an appropriate settlement, a truck accident attorney will argue your case in court.
How Much Can I Recover?
As attorneys, we are frequently asked: “How much is my case worth?” This is a completely reasonable question. Injured individuals want to know how much they can expect to recover so that they don’t have to worry about whether or not they can pay their bills.
Unfortunately, there is no simple formula to determine how much a specific case is worth. You’ve likely heard that the insurance company will take your actual costs and multiply them by a certain percentage. While this is true—to a point—it doesn’t factor in all potential extraneous variables. Your attorney’s job is to show just how much the accident has changed your life. Insurance adjusters will try to look at the case more conservatively. They will consider the following:
- The degree of your injuries: How much pain has your injury caused? Is your injury permanent? How much does your treatment cost? Objectively speaking, a traumatic brain injury will typically be “worth” more than whiplash, for example.
- The parties involved: How many vehicles were involved? Was the truck driver’s employer negligent? Did a defective part contribute to the accident? Truck accidents often involve multiple at-fault parties, all with varying degrees of liability.
- The circumstances surrounding the accident: Was the driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs? Was he or she speeding or driving beyond the FMCSA maximum work hours? If the driver’s actions were so egregious that the court feels the need to punish him or her, you may receive punitive damages.
- The evidence: For you, a personal injury case is a way to get back on your feet and pay for the costs of your injuries. For the insurance company, it’s nothing more than a cost. The insurance company will want to get away with paying out as little as possible. Because of this, it will consider its odds of “winning.” Does the evidence leave room for doubt? Are you a reliable witness? These factors can cause the insurance company to make a lower than reasonable offer.
- The amount of insurance available/policy limits: When it comes down to it, an insurance company will not pay out more than the policy limits. An experienced attorney will look at all available policies (including your own) to make sure that you have access to the funds to cover your costs.
An Experienced Large Truck Attorney Can Help
Insurance companies are notorious for offering accidents victims less than what they deserve. This isn’t fair, and it isn’t right. When someone else’s negligence causes you personal injury, you deserve the maximum compensation available. A truck accident attorney can help you make sure that’s exactly what you get.
No one can understand the impact that the accident had on your life like you, and you will be an important part of your personal injury case. Regardless, you shouldn’t have to negotiate with the insurance company or fight through endless rounds of red tape on your own. Right now, what you should be focused on is your recovery.
Truck drivers have a big responsibility every time they get on the road. When they fail to meet this responsibility, it’s our job to hold them accountable. If you have been in an accident involving a large truck and have questions, contact an experienced truck accident attorney for more information about your legal rights.
Orlando, FL 32814