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Settlements In 18-Wheeler Accident Cases
When a settlement takes place, the defendant offers a certain amount of money to a plaintiff to compensate the plaintiff for his or her injuries, without being compelled to do so by a judge or jury. The plaintiff, in return, then agrees not to file any other lawsuit against the defendant to try and get any more money in the future. Accepting a fair settlement offer is of great benefit to a plaintiff, because it allows him or her to get their compensation quicker, and without having to go through the uncertainty of a trial. Make no mistake, uncertainty is always a part of the trial process; especially when a panel of randomly selected jurors is charged with deciding the fate of a claim. More info on this website
Defendants are well aware that they are under no obligation legally to offer payment to a plaintiff. Because of this, it can be extremely hard to get a just settlement offer without the help of an experienced trucking accident attorney working for you. Such an attorney will make sure a crystal clear message will be sent to the defendants – settle with us, or you will be taken to court and you might lose a lot of money. When defendants become nervous, they are more apt to offer a plaintiff a fair settlement amount rather than risk losing a great deal more money in a trial.
Whatever you do, you have to be on the alert for a bad settlement offer. In fact, you’ll probably get one before you even hire a lawyer. A defendant knows that, should you accept their offer to settle out of court, you will not be able to enlist legal help to take legal action against them for more money at a future date. Defendants are notorious for preying on confused, frazzled plaintiffs – plaintiffs who may be crying out for a quick infusion of cash. Those plaintiffs face an ever-increasing pile of bills for medical expenses, to repair automobiles, etc., and they are also likely facing the stress of lost work wages since they haven’t been able to return to their job due to their injury. Therefore, it is an all too common occurrence for defendants to dangle a carrot of easy, quick cash in front of an injury victim, and those victims, all too often, accept. As a result, the defendant is getting off extremely lightly, and will basically be off the hook from a legal standpoint. Again, if you receive one of these offers and accept it, it will be legally binding. If the defendant in your trucking accident case has offered you an out-of-court settlement, please do not accept it until an experienced trucking accident lawyer has had the chance to look it over. The attorneys with our Law Office know the true monetary value of your case and can tell you whether or not the defendant’s settlement offer is a fair one.
There are a variety of reasons that cases do not settle out of court. When that happens, a plaintiff’s only way of getting the just restitution he or she deserves is by taking the case to a trial. Because the injury victim bears the burden of proof in litigation involving a trucking accident, he or she will have the more difficult task of the two sides in a trial. In order to have a chance at winning in a trial, you have to provide compelling evidence to prove each of the four elements of every claim involving a truck accident. These elements, explained in detail below, are duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Duty – In order to establish duty, you, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant in the case owed that plaintiff a duty to behave in a cautious enough manner so as not to bring harm to you. This is typically a fairly straightforward element because nearly all people owe other people the duty to act as would a reasonable person in regard to not harming others. This could mean not performing unreasonably dangerous actions, or taking distinct precautions in order to protect others from experiencing harm.
Breach – The next thing you must prove is that the conduct of the defendant resulted in a breach of the duty of care that was owed to you. Should the “reasonable person” duty of care apply in regard to your case, then proving breach means proving the defendant performed some sort of action that a reasonable person would not have performed. In order to establish that a breach occurred, you have to provide evidence to show the court exactly what the defendant either did or did not do. A judge or jury will then consider all of the circumstances surrounding your case and then decide whether or not the actions of the defendant can be considered a breach of the duty of care that you were owed.
Causation – The third element you must prove is causation. It is not adequate to merely prove that the defendant was in breach of the duty of care you were owed. You must also prove that the actions of the defendant caused the injury you are suffering from. To prove this element, however, you have to have a great deal of rock-solid, compelling evidence. There are multiple entities that play a role in preparing a truck for any kind of trip. An error on the part of any one of them could result in an accident. Because there are so many potentially responsible parties, many defendants will commonly attempt to sway a judge or jury that another party, or even the plaintiff, was to blame for causing the accident. You will have no chance of winning your lawsuit if you do not produce compelling enough evidence that can put the blame squarely on the defendant.
Damages – This fourth and final element refers to the monetary amount that you will collect from the defendant should you be successful in establishing the other three elements of your case. Plaintiffs can be compensated for a variety of damages, including loss of earning capacity, lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other financial losses incurred due to the accident. However, you must accurately calculate the amount of money that is owed to you, and provide evidence that supports those calculations, in order to be able to win damages. More than likely, the defendant will also calculate how much you are owed, and that number will be significantly smaller than the one you come up with. It is imperative that you present compelling proof that your calculations are correct, and you’re not merely looking for a handout. And you must also prove that the defendant’s calculations are nothing more than, basically, a desperate attempt to avoid taking responsibility for the accident that injured you.
The process by which damages are calculated can often be an incredibly intricate and complex one. Should you still be receiving ongoing medical care, it can be very tough to, on your own, be able to estimate how high your medical expenses will ultimately get. It is even more difficult to put a “price tag,” so to speak, on the more subjective types of damages such as pain and suffering. And it can be even more difficult to try and accurately calculate your long-term losses such as loss of future earning potential because you have to consider the value of money over time, potential merit raises, possible raises you may get for taking certain educational courses, and other factors. However, the trucking accident attorneys with our Office are very familiar with how to calculate damages, since we’ve been doing it for the last two decades. We know how much a judge or jury will likely decide how much your case is worth, and can make sure you do not get shortchanged.
Our trucking accident lawyers are here to help you, whether your case reaches an out-of-court settlement or it goes to trial. We know how to compel the defense into making our clients settlement offers that are fair, and also know how to devise strong strategies should the case wind up in court.