If you’ve been injured in a truck wreck, you may have received an initial settlement offer from the insurance company. Or you might be wondering what the insurance company would offer if you if you hired a lawyer and pursued a trucking accident lawsuit.
Either way, it’s natural to wonder about the “true” settlement value of your case and to look for an “average settlement” figure you can use to compare with the insurance company offer. In this article, we’ll explain 4 major factors that insurance companies use to calculate settlement offers, but we’ll also discuss why an average of past settlement figures doesn’t necessarily mean much for your case.
Why an “Average” Settlement Value Doesn’t Matter for Your Case
First, the good news: there is an easy way to get a specific answer to the question, “What is the potential settlement value of my case?” — one that accounts for all the unique facts of your situation and gives you a reliable and informed estimate. However, you can’t get that answer from a blog article or any other online resource.
That’s because the settlement or trial value of every truck accident case depends on unique facts and circumstances. Even if you could gather settlement figures from all the truck accident cases in Oklahoma in recent years and calculate an average, the number you came up with wouldn’t have any meaningful connection to the potential settlement value of your case.
The best way to figure out the possible settlement value of your case is to contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer and set up an initial consultation. If you’ve been injured in a truck wreck in Oklahoma, the team at Atkins & Markoff can listen to your story and learn about the unique facts of your case. Then, we can give you a personalized assessment of the value of your claim and your prospects in negotiations or at trial. Best of all, we can do it for free and at no financial risk to you.
If you’re not ready to contact an attorney yet, that’s okay. But you need to remember that time is of the essence in any truck accident case. A time limit, known as the “statute of limitations,” applies to your case, and the trucking company will have its own team of investigators and lawyers combing through the evidence and looking for anything they can find to protect their employer and undermine your case.
So, the sooner you contact an attorney, the better your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and other losses.
If you’d still like to learn more about some of the factors that can affect the settlement value of a truck crash case before you contact an attorney, keep reading.
How Insurance Companies Calculate Settlement Offers
In general, insurance companies offer settlements to victims so they can avoid an expensive trial as well as the potential bad publicity that comes with it.
This means that the settlement value of your case is closely tied to its prospects at trial. If the insurance company believes your case has a high chance of success at trial and that a jury might agree on a large amount of money for compensation, they’re more likely to make you a higher settlement offer that addresses the full costs of your injuries. But if the company thinks it would win at trial or your case wouldn’t result in significant compensation, they probably won’t offer you much.
To figure out where your case falls on that spectrum, you have to get inside the mind of the insurance company. To do that, you need to consider four main factors.
Factor #1: The Extent of Your Injuries
Semi truck crashes tend to be extremely destructive, and they often inflict severe injuries on victims. Courts take into account the total costs of those injuries when they provide compensation to victims after a successful trial, which means the insurance company will do the same when considering a potential settlement offer.
In general, the total value of your medical bills will probably make up the majority of the compensation, known as “damages,” that you could receive at a trial. And since the insurance company wants to avoid going to trial, your medical bills will also make up the majority of the settlement value as well. If your injuries required multiple surgeries and lots of rehabilitation, and if doctors believe you will require additional future medical care, all of this can add up to enormous financial costs. A personal injury claim might be able to compensate you for some or all of these expenses, and the costs of a lawsuit could easily be worth it.
On the other hand, if you only suffered minor injuries in your truck crash, it might not be in your best interest to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Of course, you might be dealing with emotional trauma and mental health issues after a crash, but these types of harm can be difficult to prove in court and even harder to put a concrete dollar figure on. By themselves, they might not justify the costs of filing a lawsuit even though they are very real. And because settlement values are related to trial prospects, if a case isn’t worth filing a lawsuit over, you probably can’t expect much in terms of a settlement offer either.
Again, the best way to learn about the value of your case is to speak with an experienced truck wreck lawyer.
Factor #2: Other Economic Losses You Suffered Because of the Crash
Medical bills aren’t the only costs that victims can receive compensation for after a truck wreck. If you suffered serious injuries, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to work for some time after the crash. Some truck accident victims even need to change jobs or careers based on their injuries (like paralysis or traumatic brain injuries). And some can never work again. All of this can lead to significant monetary costs in terms of lost wages and opportunities, and these costs can factor into the settlement value of your case since the court can award damages for them if you successfully argue your case at trial.
It’s important to note, however, that damages from lost wages depend on those wages existing in the first place. If you had a steady job that paid you well at the time you suffered your injuries and are now unable to work because of the crash, you’ll have a strong argument for compensation to address your lost wages. If you were unemployed at the time of the crash, it might be harder to make this argument, although not necessarily impossible. If you were just between jobs when the wreck happened and had a good chance of returning to work, you might still be able to successfully argue that the damages from your lost wages are real and significant.
In addition to lost wages, a personal injury lawsuit can also compensate you for other costs, like the money you spend traveling for medical treatment or modifications to your home to accommodate for disabilities that resulted from the wreck. And if you’ve gone through emotional pain and suffering, the court has methods to provide further financial compensation to address this as well. If any of these factors apply to your case, they can increase the potential settlement value.
Factor #3: How Much You Were at Fault for the Crash
In a successful trial, after the court determines the total amount of damages available in your case (medical bills plus other economic losses and pain and suffering, along with punitive damages, which are less common and we won’t cover here), it will modify that total based on how much you were at fault for your own injuries.
The relationship between fault and how the court modifies the damages is very direct: if the jury determines the driver or trucking company was only 50% responsible for the crash, then you’ll only be eligible to recover 50% of the total damages.
So, if the insurance company believes that they can successfully argue that your actions contributed to the crash, they’ll probably reduce the settlement amount that they’re willing to offer you.
Factor #4: Your Legal Representation
Again, because the settlement value of your case is tied to its trial value, the insurance company will only make you a reasonable settlement offer if they believe they might lose at trial. Even if you have a case that involves lots of damages and where the truck driver or trucking company seems to be entirely at fault, the insurance company won’t take you seriously if they don’t think your case presents a threat of successful litigation.
One of the main reasons why the insurance company might believe they can beat an otherwise strong case is if you have no legal representation or inadequate legal representation. Insurance companies have access to records on all attorneys. They’ll know if the lawyer you hire doesn’t often take cases to trial (or if they don’t often win in trials), and they’ll offer you a lower settlement as a result. This is yet another reason why it’s important to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer with a history of successful results both in settlement negotiations and at trial if you want the best chance of getting a fair settlement offer from the insurance company.
We hope that understanding these factors prepares you for what to expect as you explore your legal options and evaluate any settlement offers. However, it’s important to remember that these factors are just the beginning. Truck crash cases are incredibly complex, so this article can only provide some general guidelines as to how lawyers and insurance companies evaluate cases and estimate their value. And remember, there’s only one reliable way to get an accurate and personalized assessment of the potential settlement value of your case: talk with an experienced truck wreck attorney as soon as possible.
Contact Atkins & Markoff for Help if You’ve Been Injured in a Truck Accident in Oklahoma
After a serious truck crash, it’s important to contact an experienced trucking accident lawyer right away so they can begin investigating your case and preserving the evidence. At Atkins & Markoff, we have the resources and experience to handle complex truck crash cases. We’re here to listen to your story, and we’ll fight relentlessly to get you justice and compensation if we can take your case.
If you’ve been seriously injured or even lost a loved one in a crash involving a tractor-trailer or other large truck, contact Atkins & Markoff today by calling 405-607-8757 or by filling out our quick and simple online contact form. We’ll get back to you right away. Your initial consultation is free, and we handle all personal injury cases on a “no-recovery, no-fee” basis, so you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we get you a settlement or win your case in court.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.