Fully loaded semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and even when they are empty, they weigh well over 30,000 pounds. The force a heavy truck imparts in a collision makes truck accidents particularly deadly. Over 4,000 people die in truck accidents across the United States each year.
As someone who earns income for your household, you might worry about how your family would survive financially if you were to suffer a catastrophic or fatal injury in a truck accident. In this blog post, we address those concerns and explore how an experienced truck accident injury attorney can help to ensure that even in the worst-case scenario, your family will be taken care of in the aftermath of a devastating truck accident.
Insurance Coverages for Truck Accidents
When considering the financial wellbeing of your family after you get hurt in a truck accident, insurance often comes to mind. Here are some of the types of insurance that may provide a financial cushion for your family in the aftermath of a truck accident.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
Pennsylvania law requires anyone who registers a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth to carry a minimum amount of personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance coverage. This coverage could represent one source of compensation paid to your family for the loss of your income and the cost of paying for your medical care after a truck accident.
PIP insurance in Pennsylvania, however, typically only provides limited financial protection, and does not cover the full amount of a family’s losses after a loved one suffers severe injuries in a truck accident. So, although a PIP might compensate your family for some crash and injury-related expenses, chances are you could not rely on PIP coverage alone to take care of them after getting hurt.
Health insurance plans will typically cover a truck accident victim’s medical expenses up to policy limits, subject to deductions and co-payments. Even those out-of-pocket costs and limits can put a significant financial burden on a family, however. Also, health insurance does not typically cover the cost of some common expenses that a family might face after a truck accident, such as the cost of a stay in a long-term care facility, which can add enormous financial burden.
Public and Private Long-Term Disability Insurance
Various forms of insurance offer long-term disability coverage to replace a portion of your income if you get badly hurt in a truck accident and cannot return to work. Workers’ compensation insurance, for example, offers long-term disability coverage for truck accident injuries you suffer while working. Private supplemental long-term disability coverage can protect you further against disabling injuries you suffer in circumstances that are not work-related.
Finally, public insurance benefits, like Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), can provide some financial support for your family if you sustain injuries that prevent you from working. However, these coverages rarely replace your income dollar-for-dollar, so your family might still face financial strain even after receiving their benefits.
If a truck accident takes your life, then any life insurance you carry may pay your family benefits. Of course, life insurance represents a cost that many families cannot afford, and may pay enough money to protect your family’s financial future.
Taking Legal Action for Truck Accident Injuries
Suffering severe or catastrophic injuries in a truck accident likely means you’ve missed weeks, maybe months of work. If the accident led to a permanent disability you likely won’t be able to return to your job. At the same time, the medical expenses not covered by PIP insurance continue to pile up.
Taking legal action seeking compensation from anyone whose dangerous decisions or actions led to the truck accident can offer another avenue for ensuring that your family gets taken care of after you suffer severe injuries as an accident victim. Every legal claim differs in its particulars, but generally speaking, an injured victim (represented by an experienced truck accident injury attorney) has legal rights to seek compensation to pay for:
Current Medical Expenses
Truck accidents inflict injuries that require costly medical treatment. Medical expenses after a truck crash typically include ambulance service, emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgery, aftercare and long-term therapy, doctor visits, diagnostic tests and scans, pain medication, and travel to and from the hospital/doctor. Victims of truck accidents can usually seek compensation for the full amount of medical expenses related to crash injuries they suffered through no fault of their own.
Estimated Future Medical Expenses
If a truck accident leaves you permanently disabled, you will likely incur additional medical expenses related to your truck accident injuries for years to come. These treatments may include ongoing physical, occupational, and mental health therapies to help a victim cope with the dramatic life changes caused by the crash. Some injuries also require multiple expensive surgeries.
Many truck accident victims have no choice but to spend extended time in a long-term nursing care facility where they can receive around-the-clock care. Because ordinary health insurance usually does cover the cost of long-term care stays, experienced truck accident injury lawyers know to seek to recover those costs in a legal action.
Current Lost Wages
Truck accident victims routinely miss weeks or months of work while they recuperate from their injuries. They often exhaust their paid leave quickly, leaving them lacking an income when they can least afford to go without. In a legal action for damages after a truck accident, victims can seek to recover the full value of their paid time off and of any income they could not earn as a result of their injuries.
Future Lost Earnings
Suffering severe truck accident injuries can also leave a person permanently unable to work in their former capacity, or at all, because of a disability or impairment caused by the crash. Experienced truck accident injury lawyers often work with financial planning experts to estimate the amount of money a crash victim would have earned in the future, but for their crash-related disabilities, and then seek compensation for that amount in a legal action for damages.
If you suffer severe truck accident injuries, not only might you lose the ability to financially provide for your family, but you might also struggle to perform many of the household tasks you handled before your injury.
A legal action for damages after a truck accident can seek to recover the cost of services you hire to fulfill the tasks you can no longer perform, such as:
- Snow removal service
- Lawn and landscaping service
- Pool maintenance service
- Cleaning service
- Grocery delivery service
- Childcare or daycare service or nanny
These are merely examples. A legal action can seek to recover compensation for virtually any new service-related cost you incurred because of your truck accident injury.
Some truck accident victims are fortunate enough to return home at some point, but permanent disability can make their lives quite different. Often, they need to modify their homes to make them more accessible and accommodating a disability. This can mean widening doorways, building wheelchair ramps, installing grab bars in the bathroom and shower areas, and purchasing a hospital bed. These and similar modifications can cost thousands of dollars, further contributing to financial issues for a household. Fortunately, a legal action for damages can seek to recover the cost of these modifications.
Truck accident injuries do not just inflict out-of-pocket costs on you and your family. They also cause significant physical and emotional pain, and significant life disruption, for which you and your family also deserve substantial compensation. Lawyers refer to these harms as non-economic damages, and depending upon the severity of your injuries and disabilities, they can amount to many multiples of your out-of-pocket costs. Experienced truck accident injury attorneys have the know-how to calculate and pursue an appropriate amount of non-economic damages in a legal action.
Punitive (sometimes called exemplary) damages serve to punish the party whose extremely reckless or harmful actions caused a truck accident, and to deter future similar conduct. An attorney advises truck accident injury victims about whether they may seek to recover punitive damages from the parties whose actions did them harm.
Taking Legal Action After a Fatal Truck Accident
Truck accidents often inflict tragic, fatal injuries. If you were to lose your life in a truck accident, then chances are good your surviving family members would have the right to seek compensation through a legal action known as a wrongful death action. The damages your family might recover from this type of lawsuit include many of the same expenses listed above, such as medical costs, lost income, replacement services, and non-economic damages (including for loss of your companionship and guidance). In addition, your family may seek to recover compensation to pay for funeral and burial expenses.
How an Experienced Truck Accident Injury Lawyer Can Help
To protect your family financially, make sure your loved ones know to call an experienced truck accident injury attorney as soon as possible after you suffer severe or fatal injuries in a crash. Hiring a lawyer does not always top the list of priorities for families in the stressful days after an accident, but in fact it is one of the most important tasks to accomplish right away to ensure your family’s financial wellbeing.
Every accident has its own features, but as a general matter, a skilled truck accident injury attorney can:
- Investigate an accident to determine how it happened and whose dangerous decisions or actions contributed to it. Those individuals or entities may have legal liability to you and your family in a legal action. Skilled lawyers know the importance of conducting a thorough investigation, to make sure they identify every party with potential legal liability, since each party represents a potential source of payments that can protect your family’s financial future.
- Advise your family on the proper steps to take in the aftermath of a truck accident that leaves you badly injured, to protect your and their legal rights. Crash victims and their families sometimes make missteps that cost them dearly, such as by agreeing to a quick settlement or by making statements to an insurance adjuster that undermine their rights. A lawyer steers victims and families away from these pitfalls and keeps them on track to recover the maximum available compensation from parties with legal liability.
- Negotiate with defense lawyers and insurance companies who represent parties with legal liability to you and your family. Many truck accident-related legal claims settle through these negotiations, which can get a substantial amount of money into your family’s hands quickly and efficiently.
- Litigate in trial courts when negotiations do not lead to a successful agreement to settle a case. Trust only a lawyer with years of experience representing victims of truck accidents and their families to handle the process of filing and pursuing a lawsuit. Truck accidents often involve complicated fact patterns and legal issues, and require the skilled advice and action of a lawyer with a track record of getting results in and out of the courtroom.
You can also assure your family that hiring a skilled truck accident injury lawyer will not add to their financial burdens. An initial consultation with a lawyer is always free-of-charge, and lawyers for truck accident victims and their families virtually always work on contingency, which means clients pay no money up-front and lawyers receive a fee only if their work recovers money on their clients’ behalf.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today
Truck accidents have the potential to cause massive physical, emotional, and financial devastation for you and your family. Make sure your loved ones know that the law protects them against struggling financially in the aftermath of a truck crash that leaves you severely or fatally injured. Tell them to contact an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible to learn about their legal rights and to safeguard their financial wellbeing.
The Levin Firm
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd,
Two Penn Center, Suite 620
Philadelphia, PA 19102