How Much Will a Truck Accident Lawsuit Cost Me?
Whether you were T-boned by a semi at a red light or a fatigued truck driver inadvertently lost control of their wheel during a storm, there are few things more harrowing than experiencing a truck accident.
Yes, all vehicular accidents are distressful, but due to the innate nature of their size, truck accidents are particularly daunting—especially if significant or even catastrophic damage was done to your vehicle or if you or your passengers suffered from injuries.1 At this point, you may be wondering what to do after a truck accident. While anguish, panic, fear, uncertainty, and even rage are common responses to a truck accident, here’s the promising news: You may be in a position to receive compensation for your losses.
To build and defend a solid case, however, you may need to hire a truck accident lawyer. This begs the question, how much will a truck accident lawsuit cost me? Read on to find out about the process, truck accident liability, and costs of a truck accident case.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Lawyer for a Truck Accident?
By and large, most lawyers who take on vehicular accidents—typically, auto accident and personal injury lawyers—work on a contingency basis.2
In other words, rather than asking for a retainer and an hourly fee for their expertise and legal counsel, they’re compensated if they win the case, and you’re rewarded for your losses.
In this, well, case, your lawyer may receive between 20 and 40% of the car accident settlement you receive, with most arrangements coming in around 30%. For example, if you’re awarded $100,000 in damages, your lawyer would be entitled to $30,000.
That said, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll walk away with a cool $70,000 in cash in your hand. In addition to paying your lawyer this predetermined percentage of your semi-truck accident settlement, your lawyer will hold the monies in a trust and use a portion of it to pay off debts with entities such as:
- Medical facilities and offices
- Experts who may have been brought on as witnesses in the case, such as physicians and economists
Fortunately, this may work to your benefit: Any lawyer worth their salt will have the knowledge and skills to potentially negotiate down these debts, which, in terms of medical bills, can be stratospheric.
However, it’s important to be aware that not all lawyers work on truck accident suits on a contingency-fee basis. This emphasizes the importance of researching truck accident lawyers before making a decision.
What is the Average Settlement for Truck Accident?
With all of this established, the next natural question is, how much do victims of truck accidents usually receive?
Data on the average truck accident settlement varies widely, depending on the source and the results of the truck crash, with reports of payouts ranging from $0 to $101 million.3 (Yes, you heard us right.) To phrase it differently, every crash is as unique as the drivers and occupants involved.
The average settlement for a truck accident is contingent upon several factors. Let’s review how settlements are calculated, and the circumstances that are considered when arriving at a number.
How is Compensation for a Truck Accident Calculated?
What happens when a truck driver has an accident and how is compensation determined? Compensation for a truck accident, as well as other vehicular accidents, is designed to cover the expenses associated with the event. These include (but are not limited to):4
- Medical expenses – Medical expenses take into account the entirety of the injuries endured from the accident (or they should). In other words, if you suffered from a fractured wrist that required surgery, your compensation would include emergency treatment, subsequent appointments, surgery, and follow-up care, such as physical or occupational therapy.
- Lost wages – Whether or not you suffered lasting injuries from the truck accident, chances are, you took some time off from work—to call your insurance company, file a police report, and schedule repairs for your vehicle (if your vehicle was salvageable), to name just a few. In other cases, a truck accident may leave a person unable to work for an extended period—or, in worst-case scenarios, be incapable of returning to work at all. A settlement is intended to compensate for this lost earning potential.
- Property damage – Property damage refers to the damages that may have been done to your vehicle, whether it’s as minor as a dented bumper or as considerable as needing a completely new car.
- Emotional distress/pain and suffering – Vehicular accidents aren’t just filled with terror during and immediately following the collision. Research demonstrates that survivors may be prone to a handful of lingering psychological ramifications, such as:5
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)6
- Suicidal ideations
All of these consequences can wreak havoc on every major domain in your life, including your career, relationships, finances, physical health, and ability to feel comfortable and safe enough to drive or even ride in another vehicle.
If it’s been found that you’ve suffered emotionally from the truck accident, your personal injury lawyer will aim to ascertain how much you should be compensated for your pain and suffering—which may be compounded if you’ve also suffered from a disfigurement from the accident, such as scars.
What Factors Affect the Amount of a Truck Accident Settlement?
It’s important to keep in mind that, when it comes to insurance, settlements, and lawsuits, a collision with a commercial truck, such as a semi or a tractor-trailer, unfolds a bit differently than your “standard” accident.
Because trucking companies, and the insurance companies that cover them, are notorious for investing substantially in legal representation to avoid paying out a settlement—or a car accident settlement that falls short of the amount that one is entitled to receive and deserves.
Commercial truckers are required to maintain insurance with a $750,000 liability, but some truck accidents can be cataclysmic and demand more. To complicate an insurance settlement or lawsuit in a truck accident even further:
- The truck driver may be an independent contractor and personally obligated to cover your losses
- There may have been a defect in the truck, in which case the manufacturer may be sued
These are just two potential complications, which underscores the importance of having a compassionate, knowledgeable, and trustworthy truck accident lawyer in your corner.
Now, back to the topic at hand. The following factors play a crucial role in determining the amount of a settlement:
The Driver at Fault—and the State in Which You Live
As it goes without saying, not every collision with a semi-truck is due to the truck driver. If you are partially at fault and live in a state that adheres to the comparative negligence (or contributory negligence) law, and you were partially at fault for the semi-truck accident, the damages awarded would be reduced by the amount to which you are found liable.
Other states follow the:7
- “Pure” fault law, in which the truck accident victim can still pursue damages even if they were mostly to blame for the accident
- Modified comparative fault law, in which the truck accident victim can pursue damages if they were responsible for 49% or 50% of the collision, depending on the state
- No fault law, in which neither party can sue the other for damages, regardless of who is at fault—in these states, drivers are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
Needless to say, where you reside may determine the amount of the settlement you may receive if you and your lawyer prevail, which will then answer the questions: How much will a truck accident case cost me? Establishing who is at fault, though, can be tricky—especially if there were no witnesses at the scene.
Extent of Injuries
The severity of injuries you’ve endured as a result of a collision with a truck is an enormous determining factor in how much a settlement will turn out to be.
Forbes reports that crash victims of car accidents average $29,700. However, truck accidents exist in a different caliber. As we touched upon above, truck accident verdicts can result in a victim collecting millions. However, this is often at the cost of their health, well-being, career, or other devastating loss.
The mention of “millions” here isn’t necessarily to get your hopes up; as we said, every accident is distinct, and negotiating your compensation with a trucking company and their insurance provider or the driver themselves would be best handled with a competent and empathetic lawyer by your side.
How Soon Should I Pursue Legal Representation After a Truck Accident?
The sooner, the better. Indeed, it’s widely advised to reach out to a lawyer as soon as you have the capacity to do so. It’s also recommended to refrain from disclosing any definitive information to your insurance company or the insurance company of the other driver, until you’ve spoken with a lawyer.
And yet, you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses months and possibly years after a truck accident—if, for example, the injuries you suffered proved to be more extensive than you and your medical team originally thought, or PTSD has emerged that has cut into your earning capabilities (to say nothing of its impact on your personal life). This will depend on your particular state’s statute of limitations.8
Let Mighty Steer You in the Right Legal Direction
Truck accidents can range from mild to calamitous. They’re also more prevalent than you might imagine, with data showing that they’ve been on the rise in the last several years.9 But the fact that they’re ubiquitous is of little comfort when you’ve suffered emotionally, physically, professionally, or financially.
Mighty is here to ease your angst. If you've been involved in a truck accident and are seeking legal support and representation, head over to Mighty's Truck Accident Attorney Directory to find a trusted attorney in your area today.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Fatality facts 2020—large trucks. https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/large-trucks
- Motor1.com. Is an auto accident lawyer worth hiring? https://www.motor1.com/reviews/550183/auto-accident-lawyer/#how_much
- Consumer Notice.org. Truck accident lawsuits | liability, verdicts and settlements. https://www.consumernotice.org/legal/truck-accident-lawsuits/
- Forbes Advisor. Typical car accident settlement amounts (2023). https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/auto-accident/typical-car-settlement-amounts/
- WebMD. Impact of car accidents can be long-lasting. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20010820/impact-of-car-accidents-can-be-long-lasting
- Forbes. PTSD from a car accident: everything you need to know. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/auto-accident/ptsd-car-accident/
- Forbes Advisor. What is an at-fault accident? https://www.forbes.com/advisor/legal/auto-accident/at-fault-accident/
- NOLO. What is the car accident statute of limitations in California? https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-the-car-accident-statute-limitations-california.html
- PolicyAdvice.net. 24 disturbing truck accident statistics. https://policyadvice.net/insurance/insights/truck-accident-statistics/
Written ByMaly Ohrenschall
VP of Customer Experience
About the author
Maly is a seasoned professional with over 15 years of experience in the insurance sector, specializing in multi-line claims and customer service for personal injury cases. As the leader of Mighty’s Client Experience team, she leverages her extensive background to ensure clients involved in auto accidents receive the highest level of care and support. Maly’s expertise plays a crucial role in delivering exceptional service and fostering long-lasting client relationships.
About the reviewer