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Trucking Accident Settlements: What to Expect

You likely have questions about potential settlements if you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident. These situations can be intimidating, especially if the collision results in serious injuries or fatalities.

This article will walk you through what to expect from truck accident settlements. The article will address liability, settlement types, and the potential amount of money you may receive.

Understanding Truck Accidents

Truck accidents often involve commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles include:

  • Large trucks
  • 18-wheelers
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Big rigs

Due to their size and weight, these vehicles can cause significant damage in collisions. Accidents involving trucks often result in severe injuries, property damage, or even wrongful death.

In such cases, the truck driver or the trucking company may be the at-fault party. Trucking companies typically carry extensive insurance policies, as mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This means the potential settlement value could be significant if you're an injured party in a truck collision.

Role of Liability in Settlements

Liability, or who's at fault, is a critical factor in any personal injury case, including truck accident cases. The liability insurance company will examine evidence such as police reports, witness testimonies, and accident reconstruction to determine fault. Suppose the trucker or trucking company is found liable for your personal injury claim. In that case, you may be entitled to a settlement for your:

  • Injuries
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Other related expenses

In some states, like Florida, you can still receive compensation even if you're partially at fault. However, your settlement amount may be reduced by the percentage of fault you're found to bear.

This concept is known as comparative negligence or comparative fault. According to this principle, the damages you can recover as a plaintiff are reduced by a percentage equivalent to your degree of fault for the accident.

Suppose you're involved in a truck accident in Florida. The total damages are $100,000, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, after assessing the evidence, it's determined that you were 20% at fault for the accident and the truck driver was 80% at fault. Under Florida's comparative negligence law, your compensation would be reduced by 20%. This reflects your share of the blame.

The key takeaway is that even if you're partly to blame for the accident, you can still recover damages. This differs from contributory negligence states, where you may be barred from compensation if you're even 1% at fault.

The Settlement Process

The settlement process typically begins with filing a truck accident claim with the appropriate insurance company. A personal injury lawyer can guide you through this process. A lawyer can help ensure the insurance company doesn't undervalue your claim.

Your attorney will calculate the value of your claim based on factors such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • The severity of your injuries

In cases of severe injuries such as spinal cord damage or traumatic brain injury, the settlement value can be high.

Insurance companies typically respond to claims with a settlement offer. Consult with your lawyer before accepting any offer. Initial offers are often lower than the fair value of your claim. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance company for fair settlement value.

Filing a Lawsuit

If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, your attorney may advise proceeding to a truck accident lawsuit. A lawsuit can result in a higher payout.

As with a settlement offer, a trial can compensate you for punitive damages and loss of consortium. Punitive damages are awarded as a punishment to the defendant for particularly egregious or reckless behavior. Loss of consortium damages allow you to recover for the effect your injuries have had on the relationship between you and your spouse, such as loss of companionship or ability to maintain a sexual relationship.

However, a lawsuit is a longer and more involved process that can take years to resolve.


Once you file a lawsuit, both sides begin the discovery process to gather evidence. This might include:

  • Gathering documents
  • Depositions (sworn answers to questions transcribed by a court reporter)
  • Physical or mental examinations

Discovery is often time-consuming as each party tries to build the most robust possible case.

Pretrial Motions

Each party can file motions to shape the scope of the trial. These can include motions to:

  • Dismiss the case
  • Exclude evidence
  • Request a summary judgment (a judgment without a full trial)

Depending on the complexity of your case, this process can extend the length of the lawsuit.


If your case isn't settled or dismissed before this point, it proceeds to trial. At trial, each party presents its case. This presentation includes opening and closing statements, evidence, and witness testimony. A judge or jury then determines the outcome of the case.

Post-Trial Motions and Appeals

Even after your trial concludes, there might be further legal steps. If you're the losing party, you can file post-trial motions. You can even appeal the judgment, further prolonging the process.

A lawsuit has potential benefits, though. A successful lawsuit can result in a higher payout than the settlement initially offered. The court may award greater compensatory damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

However, there's also more risk involved with a lawsuit. There's no guarantee of winning. If you lose, you may get less than the original settlement offer or nothing. That's why having a truck accident attorney guiding you through the process and weighing the potential risks and rewards is essential.

Settlement Types: Lump-Sum vs. Structured Settlements

When agreeing to a truck accident settlement, you typically have two options:

  • A lump-sum payment
  • A structured settlement

A lump-sum payment involves receiving the entire settlement amount at once. This can be beneficial if you have high immediate medical bills or other pressing financial needs.

structured settlement involves receiving the settlement amount in regular payments over time. This can provide a steady income, which is particularly useful if you have truck crash injuries that prevent you from working.

Lump-Sum Settlement

If you want to pursue a lump-sum settlement, you'll go through the following process:

  1. Calculate Damages: First, your personal injury lawyer will help you calculate the total cost of your damages. This includes medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and any other relevant costs.
  2. Negotiate Settlement: Your attorney will then negotiate with the insurance company or the at-fault party, providing evidence to support your claim and settlement demand.
  3. Agree on Settlement Amount: Once you reach an agreement, the defendant (or their insurance company) will issue a check for the agreed settlement amount. This is your lump-sum settlement.

Structured Settlement

If you want to pursue a structured settlement, you'll go through the following process:

  1. Calculate Damages: As with a lump-sum settlement, your attorney will help you calculate the total cost of your damages.
  2. Negotiate Settlement: In negotiations, your attorney will argue for a structured settlement. This typically involves a larger initial payment, followed by a series of smaller payments over an agreed-upon period.
  3. Agree on Settlement Amount and Structure: Once both parties have agreed on the total settlement amount and the structure of the payments, a structured settlement agreement is created.
  4. Purchase of Annuity: The at-fault party or their insurance company purchases an annuity (a financial product) from a life insurance company. The annuity is set up to provide regular payments for the agreed-upon period.
  5. Receiving Payments: You'll begin receiving payments as agreed in the settlement, providing a steady income stream.

Whether a lump-sum or structured settlement is better depends on your circumstances. Consult with your attorney about your current financial needs, future prognosis, and financial management skills to determine which option is best for you.

Average Truck Accident Settlement

Determining an average truck accident settlement is challenging. Each case is unique. However, truck accident settlements tend to be higher than car accident settlements. This is due to the larger insurance policy limits and the potential for more severe injuries.

Ultimately, the amount of money you can expect depends on the specifics of your case, including:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The impact on your quality of life
  • The degree of negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company

Seek Legal Advice

Truck accident cases can be complicated and stressful. A personal injury attorney can provide valuable legal advice, potentially conduct a free case evaluation, and guide you through the process.

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