What Can You Be Compensated for in a Tractor-Trailer Accident?
As we discussed in our overview on semi-truck accidents, hundreds of thousands of tractor-trailer crashes occur yearly on American roads. Statistics from 2014 show that, in Oregon alone, a truck crash occurred almost every six hours, with as many as 16 truck crashes in one day. Of course, as with any motor vehicle collision, both bodily injury and property damage can result. Unfortunately, however, because tractor-trailer trucks are so massive in size, weight, and height, especially when compared to passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, and motorcycles, damage resulting from a semi-truck crash can be disastrous, if not fatal. Luckily, the law recognizes that innocent victims should be made whole, and provides the appropriate mechanisms to hold accountable those who negligently and intentionally cause harm. In this article, we’ll discuss some common forms of compensation available to victims of a trucking accident.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Oregon law distinguishes between economic and non-economic damages, but allows recovery of both. Economic damages are monetary losses which are objectively verifiable. For example, medical treatment by a doctor, which results in a bill, meets this definition. Non-economic damages are subjective, non-monetary losses, such as pain and suffering. Non-economic damages are often more difficult to prove. Below we’ll give some examples of each type of damage.
Examples of Economic Damages
If your motor vehicle has suffered damage as the result of another’s negligence, the law provides that you are entitled to compensation for reasonable repairs. If the vehicle is a total loss, you are entitled to payment for the full value of your vehicle. In the case of a total loss, special laws apply which are designed to ensure that the insurance company pays you a fair value. If you have questions or need assistance, we are familiar with these special laws and can help. In some cases, you are entitled to reimbursement for the reasonable use of a rental vehicle while your automobile is being repaired, or while the insurance company is making a total loss determination.
Bodily Injury Damages
Some examples of damages related to bodily injury include the following:
- medical, hospital, and nursing bills;
- rehabilitative services;
- burial and memorial expenses;
- lost wages;
- impairment of past and future earning capacity; and
- reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for substitute domestic services.
Serious Injury and Future Damages
In some tractor-trailer crashes, we have seen catastrophic injuries requiring ongoing rehabilitative services and other medical care. Some victims need vocational rehabilitation. We have observed cases involving traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, and other injuries which result in a lifetime of needed care. Determining the damages in such cases can be especially complex. When appropriate, we have negotiated structured settlements designed to provide our clients with the appropriate steam of income for life.
Examples of Non-Economic Damages
Some examples of non-economic damages include the following:
- mental suffering;
- emotional distress;
- injury to reputation;
- loss of care, comfort, companionship and society;
- loss of consortium;
- inconvenience; and
- interference with normal and usual activities.
Non-economic damages are much more difficult to assign a value. For example, how much should a person be compensated for enduring incredible pain? How do you prove to a jury the amount of pain endured? Or what about a person whose injuries make it difficult to hug a loved one or engage in intimate activity with a spouse? These losses are real, and the law recognizes that the victim suffering such losses can be made whole only with a fair recovery from the responsible party. We have dealt with these difficult issues many times, and can help you explain the depth of your loss to an insurance adjuster or a jury.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you have questions, or would like a free consultation, please call us to speak with one of our experienced trucking attorneys. We’ll use all the tools at our disposal to ensure that you are made whole under the law and that the responsible party is held accountable.