Rear Ended by a Semi Truck—Can I Get a Settlement?
Large trucks—called semis, big rigs, tractor-trailers, and 18 wheelers—can cause devastating injuries to other motorists on the road.
After being rear-ended, you probably have sky-high medical bills and might even be unable to return to work.
Fortunately, you can receive compensation for your injuries, but you should meet with a Denver truck accident lawyer to carefully analyze your situation.
To receive a settlement, you need to be able to show that someone was to blame for running into you. Typically, injured motorists blame one of three parties: the driver, the trucking company, or the truck manufacturer. What they need to prove will depend on who they are assigning fault to.
Drivers cause a large percentage of accidents. Generally, you will allege that the driver was negligent, meaning he did not operate the truck with sufficient care. There are many ways truck drivers can be negligent:
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Or, driving while distracted, such as by reading a text message
- Driving while fatigued
- Failing to keep the truck properly maintained
- Failing to load the cargo properly, which results in a rollover or jackknife
- Following too closely behind you
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
The trucking company
Sometimes, you might also be able to hold the trucking company responsible for the collision, especially if the company was careless in how they hired or trained their truck drivers. For example, trucking companies should perform background checks on applicants before hiring them. These background checks might reveal prior performance problems or criminal history that makes the applicant a poor candidate for operating a piece of heavy machinery like a tractor-trailer.
Often, injured motorists can sue both the truck driver and the trucking company, which can make it easier to obtain a full and fair financial settlement.
The truck manufacturer
Finally, some accidents might be the fault of the truck manufacturer. For example, if the brakes fail, they might have been defective. Drivers can also lose control of their trucks if there is a problem with steering or with the windshield wipers. If a defect caused the crash, you can hold the truck manufacturer legally liable for the accident.
Analyzing Your Own Fault
Did you do something that contributed to the semi truck rear-ending you? For example, you might have cut in front of the truck or slammed on your brakes without warning. If so, you could be partially at fault for the accident.
Colorado law bars injured victims from receiving compensation if they were more at fault for the accident than the truck driver. For example, you might have been 51% responsible for the fender bender. If so, you would not be able to win a lawsuit and, therefore, should not expect to be able to get a settlement.
However, if you are 50% responsible or less, you could still receive compensation, but the amount you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault. If your injuries are worth $40,000, and you were 50% responsible for the accident, you can expect a settlement offer of about $20,000. If you were 20% responsible, then you would receive $32,000. Be sure to talk with your Denver truck accident lawyer about whether your own negligence or recklessness contributed to the accident in any way.
Calculating the Amount of Your Likely Settlement
Every accident is different, so there is no “average” settlement amount that injured motorists can receive. Instead, you and your Denver truck accident lawyer will need to sit down and calculate your economic and non-economic injuries.
Injured motorists can receive reimbursement for all sums spent on medical care, including:
- Transportation to the hospital
- Surgery costs
- Doctor’s visits
- Hospital stays
- Prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter medication
- Equipment like crutches, braces, wheelchairs, etc.
- Rehabilitation costs
If your injuries are particularly serious, you can also receive money for future medical care, such as ongoing rehabilitation or an at-home attendant.
When an injury keeps you from returning to work, you can receive compensation for the amount of wages lost. Gather proof of income (pay stubs or checks) and calculate how much work you missed. If your injuries are catastrophic—such as damage to your spinal cord or brain—you might not be able to return to your old job, so you can receive lost future wages as well.
Motorists can receive compensation to cover the costs of repairing or replacing their vehicle. Hold onto repair estimates or proof of how much a new vehicle will cost. You will need this information when estimating how much you can receive.
Not all injuries are easily measured in dollars and cents. Nevertheless, Colorado law allows you to receive compensation for certain intangible harms, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Colorado also allows compensation for physical impairment and disfigurement, which can include losing a limb, scarring, and the loss of the ability to talk or reproduce.
Estimating your non-economic damages is tricky. However, an experienced Denver truck accident lawyer can analyze your injuries and rely on their knowledge to arrive at a best guess. Generally, the greater your economic losses (medical expenses, lost wages), the greater your non-economic losses.
You do not have an unlimited amount of time to pursue a settlement. Remember, the only incentive a driver or trucking company has to settle is the threat that you will file a lawsuit. However, Colorado law gives injured motorists only three years to file a lawsuit. The clock starts running from the date of the accident.
If you delay, then a judge can toss your case out of court. This means you cannot hold the defendant legally liable for your injuries, regardless of how at fault they were.
Rear Ended by a Semi? Contact the Law Office of Steve Roberts
Truck accidents can cause devastating injuries to the spinal cord, brain, and internal organs. Injured motorists need compensation to begin pulling their lives back together. At the Law Office of Steve Roberts, we understand truck accidents. We have helped many clients obtain the compensation they deserve. To schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation, please contact us today.