Most car accidents are caused by individuals who fail to abide by motor vehicle laws and/or criminal laws. Liability is often clear based on who failed to yield right of way. Punitive damages apply if the offending driver is DUI, acts intentionally, is driving more than 20 miles over the speed limit or otherwise acts with a reckless and wanton disregard for the safety of people around him or her. For these reasons, insurance companies will often settle claims for reasonable values without the cost and necessity of filing suit. If the claimant and the insurance company cannot agree on value for the case after the plaintiff has completed medical treatment, plaintiff can still file suit, as long as he or she does not let their claim expire.
Truck drivers must abide by the rules and regulations set by the Department of Transportation in addition to the motor vehicle laws that govern the average driver.
In truck accidents it may be obvious the truck caused the accident but not the reason why. It often requires an immediate in-depth investigation to determine why a truck accident occurred. If the truck driver or his company intentionally violated any of the regulations imposed by the Department of Transportation, was DUI or driving more than 20 miles over the speed limit, punitive damages may apply and would vastly increase the value of the case.
Such an investigation would include but is not limited to witnesses, access to the truck, company records, the drivers "log books" and the information that is taken from the "black box" that is now installed in all commercial trucks that provide important information on the driver's actions immediately prior to the collision. Often, a law suit needs to be filed immediately or very shortly after the initial investigation before evidence can disappear.
Most automobiles do not carry more than $100,000 in insurance coverage. As a result, there will not be enough money to cover all the damages incurred by the plaintiff or the plaintiff's estate if there was a severe injury and/or death. However, a plaintiff's lawyer can usually negotiate the liens down so that the plaintiff or the plaintiff's estate will receive a significant portion of the insurance proceeds.
Trucks are required to carry a minimum of $1,000,000 in liability insurance. As a result a badly injured plaintiff is more likely to recover all of his damages than if he had the same injures in an auto accident case.