According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, commercial motor vehicles caused 162 fatalities in 2022 alone. While this statistic is alarming, it fails to illustrate the true economic losses caused by 18-wheeler accidents in Missouri. The loss of a loved one is only the beginning of an arduous, financially burdensome road that involves funeral expenses, missed wages, and unpaid medical bills. Many 18-wheeler accidents are so severe that even surviving motorists suffer permanent, life-altering disabilities.

If an 18-wheeler accident has caused catastrophic injuries or the loss of a loved one, you might be wondering about potential compensation. The truth is that internet research only gets you so far. Like accident data from the Department of Transportation, average settlement statistics fail to explain the economic and non-economic damages that may be available to you after a big rig accident.

If you suffered injuries in an 18-wheeler accident, you may be wondering about the average settlement for this type of personal injury case. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about truck accident settlements, including factors that can impact your claim, how we calculate settlement amounts, and how a truck accident lawyer may be able to help.

Are you interested in filing a truck accident claim? The personal injury attorneys at Tom Wilmowski can help. Contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with a compassionate attorney today.

Factors That Can Impact Your 18-Wheeler Accident Claim

When it comes to truck accident cases, there is no hard and fast rule for how much to award plaintiffs. Numerous factors can affect the total compensation you receive after an 18-wheeler accident. Carefully consider each of these factors, and you may find it easier to calculate the approximate value of a fair settlement. 

The Extent of Your Injuries

The first factor to consider is the extent of your injuries. Specifically, you need to add up all the medical expenses you incurred as a direct result of the tractor-trailer accident. This includes not only the emergency room visit after the accident, but also follow-up visits with your family doctor, rehabilitative treatment, chiropractor appointments, physiotherapy, counseling, and any additional appointments with specialists. 

You should also consider the cost of emergency transport from the scene of the accident. According to Very Well Health, ambulance trips cost an average $1,300 in the United States. Despite being a hefty bill, it pales in comparison to the cost of air ambulance trips via helicopter. Helicopter transport is especially common after crashes in rural Missouri, and the American Action Forum estimates a median price of $36,000 per trip.

Some injuries require no further treatment after the initial healing process, while others may cause you to incur ongoing medical expenses for the rest of your life. When calculating total medical expenses, it is important to consider how your injuries might affect you for the foreseeable future. Your auto accident lawyer in Missouri can help you pursue compensation that covers all future accident-related medical care, including rehabilitation, physical therapy, medications, and much more. 

Your Total Missed Wages

Motorists injured by 18-wheelers in Missouri also have the right to pursue fair compensation for their missed wages, and this loss can seriously threaten the financial security of both high-income and low-income residents. Even a few weeks of missed work can translate to genuine economic hardships. For a low-income individual living paycheck-to-paycheck, these pressures could lead to the loss of shelter, food, and other necessities. For high-income individuals, a few weeks of missed wages can translate to tens of thousands of dollars in lost earnings, unrealized investment opportunities, bankrupt businesses, and various other consequences. Fatal or permanently disabling injuries lead to lifetimes of lost earnings. 

To accurately calculate a potential 18-wheeler accident settlement, you’ll need to add up all lost wages. Review pay stubs or tax returns you have received over the past few years and determine your average weekly earnings. Multiply that amount by the number of weeks you missed as a result of the accident, and you can approximate your total losses.

While this basic calculation may prove sufficient for moderate injuries, permanent or long-term injuries may be more complex. You may need to wait until your Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) before you can accurately predict how your injury will affect your ability to earn income in the future. MMI represents the point at which your injuries will no longer improve, and your doctors can help you determine when you reach this stage in the healing process. 

For example, you might have suffered a serious head injury after your 18-wheeler accident. In the months following your crash, you might need to re-learn how to walk, talk, and speak due to serious brain damage. At a certain point, doctors may conclude that your condition will not improve any further – and that they have “done all they can.” With MMI reached, you can then calculate future lost wages based on your current condition. 

If you have lost a loved one to a fatal 18-wheeler accident in Missouri, an injury lawsuit can provide you with the income they would have earned throughout their career. This type of compensation often proves especially crucial for widows attempting to raise orphans after losing primary breadwinners. 

Funeral Expenses

If you lose loved ones in a fatal 18-wheeler accidents, you may be met with unexpected and exorbitant funeral expenses. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial was about $7,850 in 2021. A funeral with cremation, on the other hand, had a median cost of about $7,000. Of course, families may wish to spend more (or less) depending on their unique priorities and religious views. The important thing to remember is that an a wrongful death lawsuit (a type of personal injury lawsuit) should cover all funeral expenses. 

Accident-Related Property Damage

While medical expenses and lost wages may seem more pressing for injured motorists, property damage is also a legitimate concern. This is especially true after an impact from a semi-truck, which can easily demolish a smaller vehicle. Generally speaking, insurance companies label vehicles as “total losses” if they incur more than $7,500 of damage. The cost of this write-off is usually 20-40% less than its Kelley Blue Book (KBB) value. The most popular vehicle in Missouri is the Ford F-150, with a KBB value of about $36,500 for the 2024 model. If this vehicle were totaled in an 18-wheeler accident, it would lead to total property damage of approximately $25,500. 

Non-Economic Damages

Once you have calculated your total economic damages, consider your non-economic damages. These are psychological or emotional losses such as pain and suffering, PTSD, depression, anxiety, humiliation, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of purpose of life, and loss of consortium. You may also hear all-encompassing terms such as “emotional distress” or “pain & suffering.”

PTSD is an especially common issue for survivors of 18-wheeler accidents. After your crash, you may no longer wish to drive due to the psychological trauma of the incident. You may also require psychiatric counseling for the foreseeable future as you attempt to treat this legitimate mental health disorder. 

Another common non-economic damage after an 18-wheeler accident is disfigurement. There are many forms of disfigurement, including burns, amputations, and scarring. Medical bills associated with these injuries may fail to illustrate their true cost, and survivors may struggle with lifelong mental health issues as a result of their disfigurements. 

Although non-economic damages do not create documentable financial losses in the form of receipts or wage stubs, they can still lead to compensation. Specifically, insurers may calculate your total settlement by multiplying your economic damages by a value that represents your non-economic damages. This “multiplier” varies depending on the severity of your non-economic damages. 

Settlements vs. Injury Trial Awards

Finally, consider whether your compensation will come in the form of a negotiated settlement or an injury trial award. The former is far more likely, and over 90% of civil cases conclude with settlements before ever reaching trial. Settlement calculations are also more predictable, and they can follow a set formula. On the other hand, trials are inherently unpredictable, and you never really know how a jury will react to your specific situation. They might award you much more than you would have received via a settlement – or they might award you much less. A jury might even neglect to compensate you altogether. 

Determining the Damages You Can Recover After an 18-Wheeler Accident

Injured plaintiffs may suffer a wide range of damages after an 18-wheeler accident, and one of your first steps should be to determine which damages you can claim. As a general rule, all plaintiffs must suffer some kind of physical injury to file lawsuits – and medical expenses form the basis of all further damages.

If you earn a living, you will likely claim missed wages, although this might not apply to retirees or children. If you were operating a vehicle, you can pursue compensation for property damage, but not if you were struck as a pedestrian. Funeral expenses only apply to fatal accidents, and non-economic damages are highly variable. That being said, most injured victims can claim emotional distress due to the inherently traumatic nature of an 18-wheeler accident. 

Responsible Parties in an 18-Wheeler Accident

After an 18-wheeler accident in Missouri, you may have the opportunity to hold various parties liable. The most obvious negligent party may be the 18-wheeler driver, who may have caused the accident due to distraction, intoxication, or recklessness. However, a trucker usually acts as a representative of a trucking company, and you may also sue this company directly.

Unlike the average trucker, an average trucking company has access to more comprehensive insurance coverage and significant assets – and they may provide more favorable settlements compared to individual drivers. Missouri is also a comparative negligence state, and you can hold numerous parties accountable (including other motorists) for contributing to the same accident. Perhaps most notably, you can pursue an 18-wheeler lawsuit even if you partially contributed to your own accident. 

Common Injuries in an 18-Wheeler Accident

Commercial truck accidents can lead to serious, catastrophic injuries. Their sheer mass means that even at low speeds, 18-wheelers can destroy vehicles they come into contact with and endanger the lives of both passengers and truck drivers. Here are some of the common injuries in 18-wheeler accidents:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic head injuries (TBIs)
  • Fractures
  • Burns
  • Lacerations
  • Contusions
  • Facial scarring
  • Organ damage
  • Whiplash
  • Sprains and strains
  • Amputations
  • Eye injuries

Even when a commercial vehicle accident doesn’t result in severe injuries, accident victims can suffer huge financial losses. In many cases, filing a personal injury claim is the only way for them to recoup their losses.

How Much Is the Average 18-Wheeler Accident Settlement?

In 2021, the National Safety Council (NSC) released a particularly illuminating set of statistics on the average cost of motor vehicle accidents. According to this data, the average total economic cost of a fatal 18-wheeler accident is $1,778,000. The average cost of a disabling 18-wheeler crash is $155,000, while moderate trucking injuries cost between $24,000 and $40,000. Keep in mind that these statistics represent a combination of medical expenses, missed wages, funeral expenses, and property damage costs. 

Factor in the non-economic damages, and the average “comprehensive” cost of an average 18-wheeler accident becomes much higher. The NSC states that in 2021, the average comprehensive cost of a fatal 18-wheeler was $12,474,000. Non-economic damages increase the cost of a disabling truck accident to well over $1 million, and even a moderate injury may cost over $200,000 when you factor in emotional distress, PTSD, and similar factors. 

Contact an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer in Missouri

There are many factors to consider after an 18-wheeler accident in Missouri, and calculating damages only represents one aspect of your upcoming injury claim. Before you even consider a settlement, you may need to diagnose your injuries, determine fault, and collect viable evidence. An experienced commercial truck accident attorney in Missouri can help you achieve all of these goals, and they may provide you with a ballpark estimate of your potential settlement during an initial consultation. To begin the legal process with confidence and efficiency, reach out to Tom Wilmowski to schedule a free consultation.