November 14, 2019
Pitts Carr and Alex Weatherby
How much is a truck accident worth?
Folks naturally want to know at the outset, how much is a truck accident worth? This is true on both the plaintiff and defense sides. It makes sense. A genuinely injured person wants to know how much compensation to expect in the future, if any. A truck company wants to know their exposure so they can adequately prepare.
There is no magic formula for determining the value of a tractor trailer accident in Georgia. Unlike worker’s compensation cases, in which statutes generally control the amount of compensation received, in a personal injury case, there is no statutory value assigned to an injury. Instead, it is generally left to “the enlightened conscience of the jury.” This means that the jury could award the injured plaintiff anything, $5.00, $5,000, the list goes on.
While there is no established formula, there are a few things to look at. In general, a truck accident victim will be looking to recover: medical bills + lost wages + pain & suffering. For medical bills, the expenses must be casually related to the accident. This means that preexisting conditions, degenerative conditions, prior injuries, and injuries that occur much after the accident are not generally recoverable. It also means that traumatic injuries caused by the truck crash are recoverable. An easy to understand example of a traumatic injury is a fracture. There are exceptions to every rule, so a solid Atlanta truck accident attorney could give you a better idea.
In addition, the medical expenses must be reasonable. A lot of times folks think that the higher medical expenses, the better. And, it is true that a person with $300,000 in medical bills will generally recover more than a person with $3,000 in bills. However, there has been a recent trend as of late for lawyers to send their clients to injury centers, which charge exorbitant rates for routine procedures.
We do not believe this is the best course for several reasons. First, the law requires that medical expenses be reasonable. The fastest way to a $0 recovery is when the jury gets the impression that the medical providers were selected to inflate medical bills, rather than for medical bills. Second, it increases the amount of liens that the injured party must pay back. This means that the injured party’s take-home will often be less than a person who treated for genuine prices. Third, we want to be certain that our clients are receiving the best care possible. In general, top doctors do not inflate bills.
In addition to medical bills, a plaintiff will seek to recover their lost wages. If a person misses work due to a tractor trailer wreck, this will typically be a recoverable item of damages. The injured party must have been working at the time of the accident and must have missed work due to injuries related to the accident.
The biggest unknown in evaluating a personal injury case is pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is awarded by the “enlightened conscience of the jury.” Pain and suffering “means the physical and mental injury, pain, and suffering” of the injured person. Things such as the level of pain, activities the party can no longer engage in, sadness, anxiety are generally recoverable under pain and suffering.
The more serious the injury is, the larger the pain and suffering verdict is like to be. For example, in a recent trial that we completed for the plaintiff, the jury awarded $3,007,379.90 in pain and suffering for a mother that died in a car accident. This was a horrific and tragic case, which resulted in a larger pain and suffering award for the mother. In a typical truck wreck case, the pain and suffering award will be much lower than this.
In some unique cases, there may be an avenue for punitive damages or attorney’s fees. These are exceptional cases that do not generally apply to the average truck wreck.
A knowledgeable Georgia truck accident lawyer, like us, can help you navigate all aspects of your case, including these. We specialize in truck accidents representing both genuinely injured folks and reputable companies.