Truck accidents tend to result in serious and sometimes fatal injuries to the occupants of other vehicles involved. These accidents cost victims both financially and personally. Recovering fair compensation after an accident is essential to helping you regain control of your life. The best way to ensure you get the money you need is to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer.
At the Morelli Law Firm, we can help if you have been injured in an accident. There are many damages you may be eligible to claim after an accident with a drunk truck driver. We can help you identify which damages apply to your case and help you calculate the true value of your claim.
There are three broad categories under which all accident damages fall. The first of these is economic damages. There are several different things that fall into this category. The key is that they all involve a direct financial cost to the accident victim. Common economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Household services
- Home or vehicle modifications
These damages cover any costs you have incurred to help heal your injuries. Calculating these expenses is easy as you simply add together the amount you have been charged.
Future Medical Expenses
These damages are a bit more complicated as they require an estimate of future medical costs you will have to pay. These can include additional surgeries, medications, medical equipment (replacement wheelchairs or prosthetics), and rehabilitation treatment. Generally, expert testimony is required to justify the amount the plaintiff is requesting for these damages.
The most common property damage claims in drunk truck driver accidents are the costs of repairing or replacing a vehicle. However, any personal property damaged in an accident counts. If you were transporting any items that got damaged, you can recover compensation for repairs or replacements.
When an injury keeps you from working, you can claim damages for the money you lost while you were not able to work. Like medical bills and property damage, this form of compensation is straightforward and easy to calculate.
Lost Earning Capacity
The damages awarded for lost earning capacity should compensate an accident victim when they cannot return to their job after an accident. These damages typically require expert testimony. Many factors are considered when calculating lost earning capacity, including:
- The age of the victim
- Whether they are able to return to work in a different occupation
- Previous training
- Previous schooling
- Expected retirement age
- Health prior to the accident
- Previous earning capacity
If an accident victim requires vocational rehabilitation to help them re-enter the workforce, they can recover compensation to pay for any of the various programs offered.
If your injuries force you to hire help for things in your everyday life that you previously managed on your own, these damages can cover all associated costs.
Home or Vehicle Modifications
If you were in an accident that resulted in a disability, you may have to have modifications made to your home or vehicle. Examples include putting in ramps or a wheelchair lift.
Non-economic damages cover losses you suffer that affect your quality of life rather than your bank account. In most lawsuits related to drunk truck driver accidents, non-economic damages account for the largest portion of a settlement payment. That is because the money awarded for these losses is meant to replace the irreplaceable.
The money awarded for these damages can often be hard to estimate and varies widely from case to case. Common non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Permanent disability
- Loss of companionship
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering can cover both physical and emotional damages. When an injury results in chronic pain, your quality of life will suffer. Additionally, a negative emotional state such as depression that results from your accident can fall under this category.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Most people think of war veterans when they hear talk of PTSD. However, this is a common condition that can result from a variety of traumatic experiences, including an accident caused by a drunk truck driver. PTSD affects people in several ways and often disrupts the victim’s lives while making personal relationships more challenging.
When a person is left permanently disabled by an accident, their life will never be the same. Whatever the disability, there will be a hit to their quality of life which will likely include not being able to enjoy certain activities that brought them joy in the past.
Loss of Companionship
When a loved one gets killed in an accident, surviving family members may be able to file a claim for wrongful death. Separate from this additional claim, if a surviving loved one was also a victim of the accident, they can claim damages for this loss as part of their personal injury lawsuit.
The final category is punitive damages. Punitive damages are far different from all of the losses listed above. The main difference is that they are not awarded as compensation for any loss suffered by the accident victim. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the liable party.
There are no subcategories that fall under the umbrella of punitive damages. They are only awarded in certain cases where the actions of the at-fault party were particularly egregious and performed with wanton disregard for public safety.
While punitive damages only apply in a minority of personal injury cases overall, they are quite common in lawsuits involving drunk truck drivers. An operator of a commercial truck who gets behind the wheel while under the influence is putting the lives of everyone they share the roadway with at risk.
In addition to likely having to pay punitive damages to accident victims in civil litigation, a drunk truck driver will probably be dealing with a criminal case as well. In these proceedings, they will face further fines and imprisonment.