Semi-trucks are extremely heavy vehicles. They can cause significant damage and injury in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, most of this damage is suffered by the occupants of other vehicles on the road.
This can leave accident victims in a perilous situation. Your car may be totaled, you may be facing immediate and ongoing medical expenses, and you may have to miss work while you recover. In other words, your life has been upended.
However, these circumstances do not automatically result in a viable lawsuit. Several different factors will determine if you have a case for damages.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in an accident with a big rig, Colombo Law can help. Contact a truck accident attorney at our office in Morgantown, West Virginia, for a free consultation.
The Truck Accident Was Not Your Fault
“Who is at fault?” is one of the most important questions in the wake of any accident. Liability is based on the principle of negligence. To recover compensation, you must be able to demonstrate that carelessness on the part of the truck driver (and/or another party or parties) caused the crash.
Although a truck driver, a trucking company, a parts manufacturer, and/or others may be principally responsible for the accident, you do not have to be completely faultless to have a claim. The West Virginia comparative negligence rule allows claimants to recover partial damages for accidents in which they were partly at fault.
Understanding Comparative Negligence
To explain comparative negligence, let’s start with an example: A tractor-trailer pulls out in front of you, causing a collision. The truck driver is clearly at fault, right?
But what if you were speeding? While the truck driver may still bear the majority of the blame, it could be argued that your speeding makes you 10 percent or 20 percent at fault for the accident.
With comparative negligence, this does not mean that you cannot recover compensation. Instead, it means that the total amount of compensation you can recover is reduced by your percentage of fault.
For example, if your damages equal $100,000 but you are deemed to be 20 percent at fault, you would only recover $80,000 in compensation.
In West Virginia, claimants can recover damages if they are determined to be 50 percent or less at fault for an accident or injury. Although negligence on your part may limit your recovery of damages after a truck accident, it is still in your best interest to consult an attorney.
You Were Injured or Lost a Loved One in a Truck Accident
Another key component of a truck accident claim is proving that you and/or a member of your family suffered harm in the crash. Unfortunately, truck accidents often cause serious injuries that can be expensive to treat and result in long-term (and even permanent) hardships. You and your family may be entitled to compensation for these injuries in a truck accident claim.
Read More: Can I Sue for Being Hit by a Semi Truck?
The worst situation that can arise from a truck accident is the death of someone you love. If you and your family face this tragic scenario, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
You Suffered Damages as a Result of the Truck Accident
Finally, you must be able to prove that you and your loved ones suffered damages due to the truck accident. “Damages” is the legal term for the losses you experience as a result of an injury.
The damages in a truck accident claim are generally divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the financial losses you are facing because of an accident. These may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Ongoing medical expenses
It is important to note that economic damages not only cover your current expenses but also any future expenses you will face because of your injuries.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are meant to compensate accident victims for the pain and suffering they experience because of an accident. These damages may include:
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional trauma
While it is difficult to calculate how much you deserve in compensation for non-economic damages, working with an experienced truck accident attorney can help.
Do I Need to Sue for a Truck Accident?
If all of these factors apply to your situation after a truck accident, you may have a viable claim. However, that does not necessarily mean that filing suit is your first and only option.
Most accident claims are resolved through out-of-court settlement. If the insurance company offers a fair settlement, you may be able to recover compensation without filing a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, insurance companies usually do whatever they can to pay as little compensation as possible. You need to work with a truck accident attorney who is willing to file a lawsuit on your behalf and take your case to trial as needed.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today
Truck accident claims are complicated. The question of whether you have a lawsuit hinges on a number of different factors, all of which are difficult to navigate on your own when you are trying to recover from serious injuries or the death of a loved one.
For more than 20 years, Colombo Law has been a leading advocate for truck accident victims. Our attorneys know the challenges in these cases, and we provide you with the knowledge, guidance, and support you need. We have achieved significant verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients in injury and wrongful death claims involving semi-trucks.
Please call Colombo Law today at (304) 599-4229 for a free case review. Our truck accident attorneys serve clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.