It’s natural for plaintiffs to wonder how much they could get for their rear-end truck accident cases. Yet it is a more complicated question than you might think. There are a lot of factors to weigh to determine the full value.
Truck accident lawyers can give estimates during consultations based on previous case experience and any evidence you bring, but they are only estimates. Here are the things we look at to determine exactly how much a rear-end truck accident case is worth.
Do You Have a Case at All?
If you are 50% or more at fault in a personal injury accident in Texas, you have no case and cannot collect money. Lawyers look for things that could push a case that far in consultations to avoid taking a case they cannot win.
If you share partial fault and still win your case, your percentage of fault will reduce your winnings. If you won $100,000 but shared 25% of the fault, you’ll receive $75,000. This is called the modified comparative negligence rule.
Let’s assume for the rest of this article that you have no fault in the accident, but this is an important rule to know because it’s one of the strongest factors that can reduce your total compensation.
Damages: The Heart of Compensation
Damages is the legal term for all the negative consequences you experienced because of your accident. The reason the law grants victims compensation is to “make them whole” through financial payments. After proving you have a case, next we have to show the court or the insurer what damages you’ve suffered.
There are three major types of damages in rear-end truck accidents:
Economic damages are anything damages you’ve suffered that have an actual cost, usually proven by a bill, an estimate, or pay stubs. These include things like:
- Hospital and doctor bills
- Medical gear
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Repair bills for your vehicle and property
- Lost wages
- Lost potential income
- Disability payments
- Renovation costs if your disability access
In wrongful death cases, these can also include final expenses. One of the early tasks a lawyer does after taking on a case is gathering all the evidence that proves you had to pay a financial cost for your accident.
The law has long recognized that some forms of injury have a cost beyond the economic. Damages that cause lasting pain and suffering, disfigurement, or rob a person or a family of some form of enjoying life are non-economic damages.
There are several ways lawyers negotiate a price on these. Some use a multiple of the economic damages. Some fight for a per diem cost for as long as your injuries last. Your lawyer may discuss different options depending on your case.
Most systems for calculating non-economic damages are rooted in how much you receive from economic damages. Thus, the more costs you have to bear from your rear-end truck accident, the more your case will be worth overall.
Finally, a court may award punitive damages as a punishment to defendants who commit heinous acts. These are not guaranteed, and there are damage caps in Texas. The two limits are:
- $200,000 or twice the amount of economic damages, whichever is greater, PLUS
- The amount of your non-economic damages up to a limit of $750,000
If someone committing a felony caused your accident, then this cap is removed. Again, we can ask for these damages and suggest an amount, but it is entirely up to the court to decide if they will grant these.
With three sets of compensation in play, it’s easy to see why it’s hard to determine how much a rear-end truck accident is worth without a full investigation. You can also see there are many paths to getting all the value out of your case.
Know Your Auto Insurance Policy Limits
The last major factor is insurance policy limits. Insurance companies are only obligated to pay up to the policy’s limit. Fortunately, these limits are mucho higher in truck accidents than the standard minimum liability policy.
Also, there may be multiple parties to sue and umbrella policies that could bring in more compensation sources. If the insurance money runs out, there is also the option of suing the defendant directly. This has a chance of success if a trucking company employed the negligent driver.
Now you know some of the things that help lawyers decide how much a rear-end truck accident is worth. When you consult or work with a lawyer, you can ask them about these things and better understand how much you could get.