This is the next post in our series of articles on the handling of Peoria, Illinois injuries involving a semi. Our last article discussed the importance of expert witnesses in trucking accident cases. It is important to understand that the Court will require expert testimony in regard to issues involving specialized knowledge or skill. The rules of evidence do not allow non-experts to testify about such matters. Retaining an attorney, with experience in handling experts, is important as it helps to ensure that information is presented to the jury in an understandable way. In this post we will address another topic that is a common question amongst victims – the calculation of damages in such matters. If you or a loved one have been injured then contact us today to speak with a lawyer.
We have previously discussed how damages are calculated after a car accident. Many of these same concepts apply to matters involving a semi-truck. A victim will generally be entitled to compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses. These amounts will extend to future losses as well as income already lost and bills already incurred. If the victim is found to have been partially responsible for the accident, then they will still be able to recover damages as long as their share of the fault does not exceed that of the defendant. A victim’s compensation, however, will be reduced by an amount equal to their share of responsibility for the wreck. This means, for example, that if a victim suffers $100,000 in damages, and is found to be thirty percent responsible for the wreck, then they will receive $70,000 ($100,000 – 30%). The amount which a victim will be awarded in any given matter, as well as their share of fault, is determined by the jury.
Additional factors can apply to the calculation of damages after one has been hit by a big rig. These factors stem from the fact that trucking accidents can involve multiple defendants. These defendants can include the driver of the truck, the owner of the vehicle, and other potential entities. By establishing the negligence of the driver, a victim will generally recover damages. If the victim is also able to establish that the owner of the semi was negligent in their hiring and supervision of the driver, then a victim will establish additional fault on the part of the defendant(s). This, in turn, can reduce any share of the blame that is assigned to the victim and, as a result, the calculation of comparative fault can change. Furthermore, if the trucking company is found to have engaged in reckless practices which put the public at risk, then there may be a possibility of punitive damages.
The foregoing concepts are best explained by way of example. Suppose Joe Plaintiff was driving a vehicle on which the brake lights were non-functional. Now suppose he is rear-ended, and severely injured, by a big rig. The truck driver and his employer argue that he would have stopped sooner if the Plaintiff had functioning brake lights. Discovery, however, shows that a) the truck was following Plaintiff too closely to begin with, b) that the truck was speeding, and c) that the truck driver was texting at the time of the accident. The jury decides that the victim has suffered $500,000 in damages but also decides that the victim should be considered ten percent responsible for the crash due to his non-functioning break lights. This means that the victim will receive $450,000 ($500,00 – ten percent). Again, how any jury will rule is always going to depend on the facts of the matter.
If you or a loved one have been injured then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria trucking accident lawyer. My office practices heavily in the area of personal injury law and we pride ourselves on providing a high level of service. We understand that this is an important time in your life. We will give your case the attention it deserves. Our firm also serves clients in the Illinois cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington.