When a truck accident occurs, the damages and injuries can be catastrophic. To recover fully for the damages you have sustained, your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the at-fault party’s insurance company or file a lawsuit against the negligent party in court. In a lawsuit following a trucking accident, the injured party will seek damages in court.
The 3 categories of damages in trucking accident cases include:
- Economic (special) damages
- Non-economic (general) damages
- Punitive damages
Economic (special) damages
These often represent most of the economic losses sustained by the victim of a trucking accident. Any expenses related to injuries, both directly and indirectly caused by the accident, may be covered, including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. If your injuries haven’t fully healed by the time the court case has concluded, a medical expert will be needed to establish the amount of medical expenses you expect to incur in the future.
Any expenses needed for the treatment of medical problems can be covered, including:
- Ambulance fees
- Hospital visits
- Doctor visits
- In-home care services
- Medical devices
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Adaptive medical devices
- Nursing care
- Inpatient treatment
- Transportation costs for medical appointments and treatments
If you’ve lost income or employment due to a truck accident and subsequent medical appointments, you may be entitled to compensation for those losses. In addition, an expert can testify how much wage loss you are likely to incur over the course of your lifetime because of your accident.
A truck accident settlement or award should factor in damage to your property as a result of the crash, such as your vehicle and any other personal belongings lost or damaged during the collision.
Non-economic (general) damages
Pain and suffering
These types of non-economic damages are meant to compensate victims for the discomfort they experience from the injuries sustained. Injury victims may recover compensation for mental discomfort, physical discomfort and any degradation in their quality of life or limitations on their ability to perform everyday activities. Calculating pain and suffering damages can be challenging because it’s difficult to assign a dollar value to emotional loss and loss of quality of life. An experienced truck accident lawyer will know the methods used for estimating these types of damages.
Loss of companionship
If you lost a loved one in a trucking accident, you may be entitled to damages for loss of companionship and/or consortium. If a spouse is unable to perform duties attendant to the marriage, then the non-injured spouse may be able to recover damages for those losses as well.
Lastly, some injury victims may be entitled to punitive damages. These are not intended to compensate a victim for their loss but rather to punish the wrongdoer for reckless or intentional wrongful acts. These are not available in all states and are not appropriate for every case.
In South Carolina, plaintiffs may seek punitive damages in personal injury lawsuits, although they cannot demand a specific amount. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant engaged in willful or reckless conduct.
In determining whether punitive damages are appropriate, the court will consider several factors, including:
- The extent and severity of harm suffered
- The degree of blame borne by the defendant
- Whether the defendant attempted to conceal the wrongful act
- Whether the defendant was aware of the risk created
- Whether the defendant was criminally charged or sanctioned
- The defendant’s ability to pay