A commercial vehicle accident can cause widespread damage, catastrophic injuries, and the tragic loss of life. Victims of truck and passenger bus crashes deserve compensation for their injuries. A skilled commercial vehicle accident attorney can help them get it by pursuing insurance claims and lawsuits on their behalf.
Many commercial vehicle accident cases end in a settlement. In this blog post, we explore what a commercial vehicle settlement is, how it happens, and some ways an experienced lawyer can help crash victims secure the maximum payment for their injuries and losses.
The Basics of Commercial Vehicle Accident Settlements
A settlement is an agreement to resolve a pending or potential legal claim. In a typical commercial vehicle accident settlement, the party at-fault for the crash (or someone answerable for that party’s conduct) agrees to pay money to the crash victim. In return, the crash victim agrees to release the party at-fault from further liability for the victim’s injuries and losses, and to terminate any pending lawsuit seeking damages.
A settlement is a final, binding agreement. In most cases, it permanently ends any legal action for damages arising out of a commercial vehicle accident. For that reason, it’s important for crash victims to make sure to negotiate the best possible settlement payment. You usually cannot re-open or revise a settlement, even if you later discover the settlement payment was not enough to pay for your needs.
Most of the time, settlements of commercial vehicle accident claims get paid by the insurance companies that issued liability insurance to the parties at-fault for the crash. Sometimes, however, settlement payments come directly out of the at-fault party’s own pocket.
How Settlements Happen
In the aftermath of a commercial vehicle accident, victims hire experienced truck and bus accident lawyers to represent them in securing compensation from the parties at-fault. By investigating the accident, the lawyer can determine who may owe damages to the victims. Every commercial vehicle accident differs, but the parties who may owe damages for causing a crash might include:
- A truck or bus driver who made dangerous choices behind the wheel that led to an accident.
- The truck or bus company that operated the vehicle and employed the driver, especially if it failed to maintain the vehicle in safe condition or to train the driver appropriately.
- An automotive manufacturer that supplied defective parts installed in a truck or bus, if those defects led to an accident.
- A government agency that failed to fix or warn the public about hazards that made a road unsafe for bus or truck travel, leading to an accident.
These are just some examples, of course. An experienced lawyer for commercial truck and bus accident victims works to identify all parties who might face liability for a crash, in order to give victims the best possible chance of securing payment.
Having identified the parties at-fault who owe damages to injured commercial vehicle crash victims, a lawyer will demand payment for the victims’ injuries and losses. The demand can take various forms, including an informal demand letter, an insurance claim, and/or a formal lawsuit filed in court. No matter the form the demand takes, it often prompts a response from the at-fault party and its insurance carrier and, eventually, to settlement negotiations.
Lawyers and insurance company representatives negotiate settlements, sometimes aided by a neutral mediator. Oftentimes, a negotiation involves a series of settlement offers and counteroffers. Lawyers for commercial vehicle accident victims advise their clients about whether to accept or reject each offer. However, the choice to settle or not belongs to the victims.
Once a settlement has been agreed between the parties, the lawyers put its terms into a written agreement. Once the parties have signed it and money has changed hands, the settlement is final.
What Settlements Pay-For
Commercial vehicle accidents inflict a wide range of physical, emotional, and financial pain on their victims. One of the most important jobs a crash victim’s lawyer has involves understanding the full scope of that harm, and then calculating the amount of money appropriate to compensate for it.
Every case differs. However, in general, commercial bus and truck crash victims can demand a settlement payment that compensates them for:
- Past and future medical expenses related to treating their injuries.
- Other past and future out-of-pocket expenditures they would not have made were it not for the accident and their injuries.
- Wages and income they did not, or will not, earn because their injuries keep them out of work temporarily or permanently.
- Their pain, suffering, damaged relationships, and overall diminished quality of life due to the accident and their injuries.
Sometimes, the conduct that led to a commercial truck accident will have been so extreme, outrageous, or malicious, that the victims’ lawyer will have a viable claim to receive punitive damages. The law allows courts and juries to award punitive damages as a way to punish the worst forms of misconduct. In settlement negotiations, lawyers who have a strong case to make for punitive damages may demand extra money — in addition to damages that fall into the categories above — to account for the possibility that a court would award them.
Hiring a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer Can Help You Get a Favorable Settlement
Victims of commercial vehicle accidents who want to obtain a favorable settlement will need skilled, experienced lawyers to assist them. A commercial vehicle accident is no ordinary fender-bender. It commonly causes massive damage and harms multiple victims. It also frequently features multiple parties who may have legal liability to pay the victims’ damages, and who will try hard to avoid financial responsibility.
To give themselves the best possible chance of a top-dollar settlement, victims should contact an attorney who has years of experience handling commercial vehicle accident claims, and who has a track record of success to show for it. The sooner victims get a skilled lawyer involved in their claim, the better their chances of achieving a settlement that pays them the money they deserve.