Last month, I wrote a bit about Jury Verdict Research, which conducts studies of jury verdicts around the country.
A recent Jury Verdict Research study of trucking accidents found that truck accident victims recover damages in 60% of personal injury trials and receive a median compensatory award of $90,000. I find the 60% number a surprise. With all of the weapons plaintiffs’ lawyers have now to prove a case — and figure out if we have one in the first place — it is hard to fathom how we can lose 40% of these cases.
The average truck accident case involving a disc injury was $122,532. In contrast, the average median verdict in a head-on truck collision case in the study was $532,034.
This is trial verdict data. But it does offer a lens into the settlement value of truck accident cases because the estimated trial value of the case is how settlements are calculated.
How to Increase the Settlement Value of Truck Accident Cases
Trucking companies want to maximize their profits. This often means cutting safety corners and trying to pay out as little as possible. With respect, trucking companies have a model that has served them well: delay, deny, defend. Some of this is just to hold onto their money a little bit longer. But there is also a real tactical litigation reason to delay: much of the evidence to make plaintiffs case can disappear over time. That is why it is critical to get on these cases early.
Ultimately, the best way to maximize the trial and settlement value of truck accident cases is applying the only thing insurance companies understand: pressure. We have seen settlement values go up over 20-fold because in cases where there is no dispute over responsibility just because the insurance company is feeling the pressure we are putting on them.
You have to press them on the insurance coverage and you have to dig for more coverage against these fly-by-night trucking companies by going after the broker and shipper.
Premium Truck Accident Settlements
It is also worth pointing out that truck accident case should settle at a premium. What do I mean by that? With the exact same injuries, a truck accident case should be work more than a car accident case. Technically, if the focus is just on the harms and losses suffered by the victim, it should not matter how the injuries were caused and who caused them. But the real work is very different. First, there should be a slight difference notwithstanding the same injuries because getting hit by a truck is often more traumatic than getting hit by a car. But the bigger influence on the settlement value of truck accident cases is that is easier for a jury to give a higher award against a trucking company than a grandmother from Towson. This fact changes the trial value of the case which, in turn, increases the settlement value of the claim.