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18-Wheeler Accident Settlements in Austin

Being involved in any type of motor vehicle accident is frightening, but collisions involving 18-wheelers may be especially traumatic. The injuries and damages sustained in commercial trucking accidents are often much more serious than other types of accidents.

The load limit for 18-wheelers is 80,000 pounds: sixteen times the weight of an average automobile. When these trucks are involved in an accident, that weight adds to the force of impact, turning what might be a less serious collision with a smaller vehicle into a major accident.

Additionally, commercial drivers and their employers may engage in dangerous behaviors that can impact the seriousness of a collision. For instance, driver fatigue is a factor in many semi-truck accidents. Drivers are often pressured to work long hours without adequate rest, causing them to fall asleep at the wheel.

When an accident results from driver fatigue, the damage can be quite serious, since truck drivers will have limited time — if any — to respond to the situation and try to right their course by braking or swerving out of the way. Distracted driving, driving under the influence of illegal substances, lack of proper training, and improper vehicle maintenance could also be factors.

If you have been involved in a commercial vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries in a commercial truck accident settlement — but you should strongly consider working with a personal injury lawyer to make sure you are making the best decisions for your case. Eighteen-wheeler accidents often require extensive investigation in order to locate all parties who are at fault or otherwise might be held legally accountable for your injuries.

Your attorneys will have to prepare your case in a way that exposes the insurance company to significant risk, which can be expensive and challenging, in order to make sure you are fully compensated for your short- and long-term harms and losses.

An expert personal injury law firm — such as our team here at FVF Law in Austin — will help you make informed medical decisions, fully evaluate the extent of your financial and quality of life damages, thoroughly investigate your case, and help you recover compensation for your damages. Trying to do this without expert legal help could cost you hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars in some cases.

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Damages in 18-Wheeler Accidents Can Be Extreme

The average settlement for 18-wheeler accidents is generally higher than that for other types of collisions, mainly because damages in these cases can be so extensive, but also because juries are not afraid to hold 18-wheeler companies accountable for their misconduct. It is not uncommon for an 18-wheeler accident to result in serious, catastrophic injuries or even death.

While 18-wheeler accident settlements can vary vastly depending on the circumstances of the case — particularly your role in and responsibility for the accident in question — there are several types of damages you may be able to recover.

  • Medical costs. A serious accident often results in medical bills, and in the case of a permanent or catastrophic injury, those costs can be quite high and last a lifetime.
  • Lost wages and future earnings. Victims can recover damages if an injury caused them to lose work or reduced their potential for earning. An injury that permanently affects an individual’s ability to do their job may serve as grounds for compensation for future earnings.
  • Loss of quality of life. A serious accident can temporarily or permanently alter a victim’s quality of life. In some cases, plaintiffs may be able to sue for their pain, emotional trauma, and general inability to live their life to the fullest.
  • Other expenses. Living with an injury may result in additional costs. For instance, injured parties may need to pay others to assist them with day-to-day tasks, such as a grocery delivery service, cleaning service, or transportation provider.

Possible Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents

Every accident is unique; however, there are certain contributing factors personal injury attorneys regularly see in commercial trucking accidents. While many commercial truckers are safe, responsible drivers, the nature of the business often leads to excessive risk-taking and negligence, on the part of both drivers and the companies that employ them. These factors may include the following:

  • Driver fatigue. It is not uncommon for commercial vehicle drivers to work long hours, with very little time off between drives. Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets guidelines to allow drivers time to rest, some carriers actively encourage drivers to ignore or abuse these rules, resulting in drowsy driving and increased accidents.
  • Substance abuse. Driver alcohol and drug use is a contributing factor in a portion of commercial driving accidents. A meta-analysis of worldwide commercial driving studies found that alcohol and amphetamine use was rampant among drivers. These substances inhibit truckers’ abilities to follow safety guidelines, often causing accidents.
  • Distracted driving. Distracted driving is a factor in a huge number of motor vehicle accidents, and commercial drivers are not immune. Phone calls, texting, and cell phone use — as well as eating and other distracting behaviors — can sometimes cause commercial vehicle accidents.
  • Overweight or improperly loaded vehicles. Eighteen-wheeler accidents can occur when cargo is improperly loaded or secured. Overweight and poorly loaded vehicles can become top-heavy and difficult to maneuver. Inadequately secured cargo can fall, colliding with surrounding vehicles.
  • Improper or insufficient training. In some cases, carriers may “train” drivers to abuse safety regulations, or they may fail to offer adequate training for new drivers.
  • Reckless driving. Drivers rushing to drop off cargo may engage in risk-taking behaviors behind the wheel, such as speeding or unsafe lane changing. These actions lead to accidents in some cases.
  • Negligent hiring. Carriers and other employers often ignore warning signals about past misconduct and put drivers with a history of dangerous behavior back on the roads.
  • Poor maintenance. Whether the carrier cannot afford to maintain their vehicles, or would just rather expose the public to danger rather than lose income by taking a truck out of service for maintenance, poor maintenance can lead to disastrous crashes.

Factors That Affect Eighteen-Wheeler Accident Settlements in Austin

It is difficult to point to an average semi-truck accident settlement amount, in part because many factors can affect your case and the amount of compensation you receive.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you investigate these variables and understand how they may impact both your ability to seek recovery and the type of damages you are able to claim. Here are some things to consider that can influence compensation amounts:

  • Party responsibility. Investigating culpability is a vital part of any motor vehicle accident case. Your lawyer will thoroughly investigate the accident to determine who was at fault. If you share some of blame for the incident, it will influence your ability to seek damages. On the other hand, if others are to blame for your accident, they can be held liable for your damages, and even punished with punitive damages if recklessness can be proven. Examples of reckless conduct would include drunk driving or falsifying driver logs.
  • Extent of damages. How badly you were hurt and how significantly it has affected your life will also play a role in your settlement. Costs associated with the injury, loss of quality of life, and loss of past or future earnings are all possible damages for which you may be entitled to compensation.
  • Failure to observe, or abuse of, driving regulations. If your lawyer is able to prove that carrier negligence directly or indirectly caused your accident, that business may be deemed a public hazard, which may in turn impact the compensation you receive.
  • Insurance policies. An individual or organization’s ability to pay for damages sometimes depends on their depth of coverage with insurance providers. A personal injury law firm can help you uncover the details of those policies and seek appropriate compensation.
  • Your lawyer’s willingness to fight. Insurance companies are in the business of avoiding risk. If your personal injury lawyer has the resources and experience to work your case in a manner that could result in a large jury verdict at trial, the insurance companies will pay you more to settle your case to avoid those risks.
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How Long Do 18-Wheeler Accident Settlements Take in Austin?

Just as unique factors in your case affect how much your settlement will be, the length of time it takes to reach a settlement is dependent on a variety of factors. Some of the factors that determine how long your 18-wheeler accident case settlement will take include:

  • The number of people injured. The large size and heavy weight of 18-wheelers can result in a number of people getting injured, possibly in more than one accident. In many 18-wheeler accident cases, there are several victims all negotiating and discussing settlements with the at-fault party and their insurers. This can cause settlements to take much longer.
  • The discovery process. In 18-wheeler accident cases, the process by which your legal team thoroughly investigates the accident to prove negligence is called “discovery.” This process can be complicated and lengthy, as your truck accident lawyer will need ample evidence to prove negligence, inadequate employee training, bad business practices, or ill-maintained semi trucks.
  • The severity of your injuries. If your injuries are very serious, it could take much longer to reach a settlement. This is because severe injuries take longer to diagnose and treat, and it can take time to determine how severely impacted your life will be by your injury. It’s important for legal teams to take time to accurately assess your damages and losses.
  • The responsiveness and compliance of other parties. Accident cases involving 18-wheelers require a lot of communication with all the parties involved, including the truck driver, their employer, the trucking company’s insurance provider, and more. Your settlement process timeline greatly depends on the compliance and responsiveness of all parties involved.
  • The litigation process. All personal injury cases require negotiating between the victim’s and at-fault party’s legal team. If an adequate settlement cannot be reached, your case could go to a jury trial, which will likely add significant time to your case.

Schedule a Free Consultation With an Austin Truck Accident Lawyer

Regardless of the details surrounding your case, it’s important to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Attorneys can help explain your options and rights, and guide you through the process of filing suit.

A client-centered Austin law firm like FVF Law can also provide resources to help you seek medical care, while protecting and documenting your case in a manner that will expose insurance companies to significant risk. We will take pains to investigate your case thoroughly — and fight for your rights if negligence or recklessness was a contributing factor.

Contact us today for a free consultation. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner we’ll be able to prepare a strategy that protects your interests.

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