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Trucking Accidents: What Is a Downtime Claim?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Truck drivers may do work for large transportation companies and haul products or supplies for even larger manufacturing companies -- but many of them own their own trucks. And if they're in an accident that damages their truck, that can mean repair time that the driver isn't out making money.

Drivers can, however, file what is known as a "downtime claim," and get reimbursed for those losses from the insurance company for whoever was at fault in the accident. Here are more details on downtime claims, whether you might qualify, and how to file them.

Proving Your Damages

As noted above, certain states require insurers to compensate truck drivers for lost profits while their truck is being repaired, so long as the driver wasn't at fault in the accident. But how do you calculate those profits, and how do you substantiate those calculations?

You can look at your gross income over a period before the accident (as short as 90 days or as long as one year), and subtract expenses, like gas, tolls, maintenance, etc. Then, you can determine your daily net income by dividing that figure by the number of days you drove over the past period, then use that to determine your losses for each day your truck is out of commission.

Downtime claims will require some documentation, so be sure to keep track of:

  • Tax returns, invoices or billing statements, and profit and loss reports to prove prior income;
  • Accident reports, insurance settlements, and repair estimates and bills to prove loss following an accident; and
  • Any attempts to mitigate your damages.

Mitigating Your Damages

That last part is very important to any downtime claim. Along with the requirement that the person filing the downtime claim was not at fault for the accident, you are also required to mitigate your damages, which is legalese for minimizing your lost wages and profits while the truck is off the road.

You may need to prove that you tried to rent a replacement truck, even if renting was too expensive or the type of truck you needed was unavailable. Essentially, you will need to demonstrate that nothing you did delayed the repair or replacement of your truck and that another replacement truck or rental was not possible or financially feasible during the time your truck was down.

From demonstrating your losses to mitigating your damages, downtime claims can be complicated. To make sure you're fully compensated for the time you can't drive, talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer about your downtime claim.

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