How Will My Family Be Taken Care of After a Truck Accident?By Stewart J. Guss on February 19th, 2020
Truck accidents can leave you suffering from devastating, life-altering injuries: spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and multiple broken bones, just to name a few. What’s worse, each year, more than 4,000 people die in truck accidents. If you suffer severe injuries or die in a truck accident, how will your family survive? Who will take care of them if you’re incapacitated or gone due to a negligent truck driver? Understanding the resources at your disposal can help provide you with peace of mind. To learn more about your cases options speak with a truck accident lawyer today.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Truck Accident with Injuries
After a truck accident, you may be faced with substantial bills and expenses. Not only that, you may not be able to return to work following your accident. If you were the breadwinner of your family, losing that income could leave them stranded without a lifeboat. A truck accident claim can help pay the bills associated with the truck accident and replace your lost wages and lost earning potential.
Truck drivers must carry much higher insurance minimums, including both bodily injury and property damage coverage, than drivers of passenger vehicles. Drivers of vehicles that weigh less than 10,001 lbs must carry $300,000 in coverage, while drivers of vehicles that, when combined with their freight, weigh 10,001 pounds or more must carry a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage. This vital insurance coverage will help provide for your family financially in the event of a truck accident.
The funds you receive following your accident, however, will vary based on your expenses following the accident. When putting together truck accident claims, most lawyers include:
- Medical expenses from the accident. Your medical expenses begin when you receive ambulance transport from the scene of the accident to the hospital. Unfortunately, ambulance expenses often represent a mere drop in the bucket compared to all the expenses you will face following your accident. You may also need to consider the cost of hospitalization, scans and tests, surgical treatment, a stay in a long-term care facility, and therapy after your accident, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, and psychological therapy. You can also include medical equipment and needed modifications to your home, like widened doorways or wheelchair ramps, in your truck accident claim.
- Lost wages. How much do your injuries prevent you from working? Lost wages can add up fast, especially if you work in a job that does not provide sick time. Including your lost wages as part of your claim can help you provide for your family and get back on your feet.
- Lost earning potential. If your injuries permanently prevent you from returning to your former profession, you may claim lost earning potential as part of your truck accident claim. Seeking lost earning potential can allow you to return to school, seek future certifications, or simply provide for your family as you progress through your recovery.
Other Resources After a Truck Accident With Injuries
When you suffer serious injuries in a truck accident, you may need immediate financial assistance. Bills start piling up in the blink of an eye. Worse, since you cannot work, you may not have cash coming in at all. What resources can help you provide for your family?
If your truck accident leaves you disabled, filing for disability is a valid way to obtain desperately-needed funds. Disability payments may not live up to your previous income, but they can help. If you qualify for disability, you may also qualify for state-sponsored insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid, which can help pay any medical bills you may have to deal with in the future.
Your Health Insurance
If you have private or employer-sponsored health insurance, it can help offset many of your medical costs, preventing you from bearing that burden entirely on your own.
Hospital-Sponsored Bill Forgiveness Programs
Many hospitals, especially hospitals attached to local universities, offer bill forgiveness programs that help provide aid for patients who do not make enough money on their own to cover their medical expenses. If your medical bills exceed a certain percentage of your income, the hospital may forgive part or all of your bills.
Even if you take advantage of these programs, you may still bear responsibility for some expenses that go along with your recovery, including supplementary medical equipment or services provided by third parties.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance
In some states, drivers must carry personal injury protection insurance. These no-fault states require each driver to take financial responsibility for their own medical bills up to the minimum amount of PIP coverage, usually at least $10,000. In addition to providing coverage for medical bills following an accident, personal injury protection insurance also covers lost wages, which can help ensure that you can provide for your family during your recovery.
Returning to Work
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employer cannot discriminate on the basis of your disabilities, including disabilities acquired following a truck accident. Your employer doesn’t have to hold your position for you indefinitely, nor does your employer have to make a job for you if you can no longer perform the tasks the employer originally hired you to perform. In some cases, however, employees—even employees with serious injuries—can return to work after their accidents.
Your employer may:
- Allow you to work from home. Some jobs will allow you to work remotely following an accident to prioritize your recovery. This means you can work from the comfort of your bed, couch, or favorite armchair! Working from home may also allow you to set a more convenient schedule.
- Allow you to return to work with limited duties. Some employers will accommodate you by changing your schedule or your responsibilities at work to fit your abilities. This could mean working shorter shifts or in a different department, permanently or temporarily.
- Make modifications or provide equipment to allow you to return to work. Sometimes, a special chair or desk can make it possible for you to complete your work duties. Other times, you may need some assistive equipment to make it possible to do your job. By working with your employer, you can find accessibility options that allow you to return to work.
Many options can help you pay the bills while you recover from your injuries even if you cannot return to work on a full-time basis. Working with your employer, however, can make it easier for you to provide for your family during your recovery.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim If You Die in a Truck Accident
Because of the large size and heavy weight of big trucks, many accidents result in death. What happens to your family if you die in a truck accident? Their first line of defense is a wrongful death claim. Immediate family members—your spouse, or your children if you do not have a spouse—can file a wrongful death claim to receive financial compensation following your death in a truck accident. A wrongful death claim typically includes:
Any medical expenses you acquired before your death. You do not have to die during the truck accident itself for your family members to file a wrongful death claim. They can file if you die of your injuries, even if you die weeks after the accident itself. Providing coverage for those medical expenses can take the financial burden off of your family members’ shoulders after your death.
The loss of your income. If you provided the primary source of income for your family, your death in a truck accident can hit hard. Your grieving family will be struggling to make ends meet. Fortunately, a wrongful death claim can help. While claiming lost income cannot provide for your family for the rest of their lives, it can, in many cases, allow your children to grow enough to provide for themselves, let them get old enough to go to school while your spouse works, or allow your spouse to pursue a new degree or certification to make it easier to return to work.
The loss of the services you performed for the family. Sometimes, the services you perform for your family matter just as much as or more than the funds you provide through your job. Not only that, many of those services cost your family a substantial amount to replace.
When filing a wrongful death claim, family members can include the costs of:
- Home and yard maintenance
- Auto maintenance
- Care for a senior loved one
Loss of companionship. In addition to financial losses, your family members will miss your presence and your advice. While nothing can compare to this priceless companionship, they can be compensated for this grief as part of a wrongful death claim.
Funeral and burial expenses. Funerals can cost a substantial amount of money, especially if you did not plan ahead. While funeral and burial expenses do not represent a substantial amount compared to your lost income or the loss of the services you provided for your family, knowing the truck driver’s insurance company will pay for those expenses can provide you with peace of mind.
Other Resources to Help Your Family
Following a truck accident, your family needs to make up for the lack of your income. Some resources will depend on your other family members’ incomes and the age of your children at the time of your death.
Such resources may include:
- Social Security. Social Security can provide a source of funds for your loved ones after your death. Survivors’ benefits can help provide vital financial compensation for your loved ones after your loss.
- Life insurance. Check your life insurance policy to see how much coverage it will provide for your family members following your death. You may feel protected by a company-sponsored life insurance policy. Check with your employer, however, to see how much coverage your family receives after your death. In many cases, you may find it prudent to take out a personal life insurance policy that will offer additional protection for your family members, especially if you have young children or if you and your staff have significant debt.
Being affected by a truck accident is always tragic. Whether you suffered serious injuries that left you unable to work or you’ve lost a loved one, filing a truck accident or wrongful death claim can help provide a great deal of financial restitution and cover many of your bills..
After the accident, contact an attorney as soon as possible to begin the process of filing a truck accident claim, collecting evidence about the accident, negotiating with the insurance company, and receiving access to more resources that can help support your family during this difficult time. Act now. They deserve it.