A trucking industry report suggests that damages awards for the victims of truck accidents have gone up significantly since 2010. It also found that the number of jury awards of more than $1 million has gone up more than ten times over the past 14 years or so.
According to data released by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), from 2010 to 2018, monetary awards ordered paid by juries to truck accident-related personal injury lawsuits went up an average of 51.7 percent per year. Also, from 2006 to 2010, there were 26 jury verdicts against trucking companies that exceeded $1 million. From 2015 to 2019, there were nearly 300 million-dollar verdicts.
Some of these larger awards were in cases where the plaintiff was a child. A child who is permanently disabled in a collision with a tractor-trailer might expect to pay millions of dollars in the future on medical bills, construction to make their home disability accessible, wheelchairs and other equipment, and professional home care. In other cases, non-economic and punitive damages played a role.
Beyond compensation for medical care and lost wages
Non-economic damages include ways your life was affected by the accident that are not as easy to put a dollar figure on—things like pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, and emotional distress. Punitive damages refer to damages awarded by juries when they find the defendant’s negligence was especially egregious. They are a way of imposing a financial penalty on the defendant to deter the individual or business from acting that way again.
For years, business groups have sought to limit non-economic and punitive damages from personal injury lawsuits. Georgia used to have such a cap on non-economic damages, but the state Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the cap was unconstitutional.
How to find out what compensation you are entitled to
Figuring out the level of compensation you deserve after getting badly injured in a truck accident is vital. An experienced personal injury attorney, especially one who regularly works with victims of 18-wheeler crashes, will be able to review your case and give you an honest estimate of what you could expect from a settlement or litigation.