“Ask The Hammer” – Exploring the Legal Matters That Matter Most

Welcome to the podcast radio show with truck accident lawyer Darryl Isaacs, “The Hammer.” Do you have a legal question for The Hammer? Send your questions via Facebook or Twitter using #askthehammer or use the contact form on this page. You can also give the offices of Isaacs & Isaacs a call at 800-800-8888. We’d love to use your questions on the show!

Episode 8: What Is My Truck Accident Case Worth?

Questions answered in this episode:

Favorite quote from this episode:
“I can tell you what what factors that the victim can take that will increase the value of their case. First of all, when they seek medical treatment that they follow the doctor’s orders…”

Listen to this episode using the Soundcloud player below, or connect via iTunes, Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud or Google Play.

Episode 08 Transcription

[music]

Host:
Welcome to ask the hammer of the podcast exploring the legal matters that matter most. I’m your host Jeremy Kocal. As always we are here with attorney Darryl Isaacs – The Hammer – ready to tackle the most popular questions about law.

Host:
Today’s episode: How Much Is My Personal Injury Case Worth? We’ll talk about what to do if a trucker and company deny responsibility for a collision, calculating financial compensation [00:00:30] after an accident, how insurance policies play into the bigger picture, and elements that make big rig and semi truck claims higher value cases. All right let’s dive into the conversation.

Host:
So Darryl, after someone is involved in a collision with a big rig or a semi truck or a large commercial vehicle like a bus, how do you go about proving that the responsibility or liability is with the truck driver and the company for the injuries in the accident that occurred?

The Hammer:
Well you know, you investigate it. I mean, you know, let’s say there…they’re required [00:01:00] to keep logs and let’s say they haven’t slept in the required amount or let’s say in the logs you’re supposed to carry a certain weight on the truck and they come to find out they’re carrying more weight. Or let’s say you’re driving and you run a stop sign or you’re going too fast or… there are so many ways to determine. Most cases once we get involved, we usually get a truck expert to investigate everything and make sure we’re doing everything we need to do. Everybody’s required to carry automobile coverage. [00:01:30] And so you want to make sure you get the maximum amount.

Host:
And if they’re denying liability, what are your next steps?

The Hammer:
File a lawsuit. Just start getting your evidence that way. I mean you don’t always need to file a lawsuit right away, but sometimes they might say, you know what, we don’t feel we’re responsible or we’re not going to want to do the right thing. So sometimes you have to do it.

The Hammer:
Every case is different and every case is different facts. And so much depends [00:02:00] on the injury, the recovery, you know did the person have high wage loss? Did he have no wage loss? Was she retired? There’s not really a one size fits all answer that — You know if you have a knee surgery and you get hit by somebody who’s texting ‘your case is worth a hundred thousand.’ So every case is totally different.

The Hammer:
I can tell you what what factors that the victim can take that will increase the value of their case. First of all, when they seek medical treatment [00:02:30] that they follow the doctor’s orders whatever the doctor says get therapy – they go to therapy. They don’t miss appointments. You know, if the doctor says wear a brace, they wear a brace. If the doctor says stay off work and you know elevate your leg. Any time a person follows the medical advice, it helps because if they don’t — or let’s say they’re supposed to go to 30 therapy physical appointments and they miss 10 – then if the case is tried then the defense attorney can show the jury – well if they really were in that much pain or they were hurt that bad why they missed his appointments? So, the biggest [00:03:00] thing they can do is whatever medical advice the doctors prescribe, they follow it.

Host:
Is there a general formula or do you have specialists that come on to kind of say, OK this is what we kind of think the forecast of your medical recovery is going to be and this is how we tally up what we think it’s going to cost and therefore that’s what we’re going to seek in damages?

The Hammer:
What you do is you try to value every case regardless of insurance coverage. The easier one’s is if the person, let’s say misses six months working and they make X amount of wages — you can take that six [00:03:30] month times what they missed. You know what you’re seeking for their lost wages. The harder part’s the pain and suffering. You know everybody endures pain differently. How do you put a dollar value on the pain? And then also, let’s say one of the damages is they have a permanent injury. It turns into a permanent impairment. So, how do you value the permanent impairment? So a lot of times what you kind of do is you just will gather all the medical evidence, you know, and legal evidence as well. We [00:04:00] know the missing $30,000 in lost wages, and then the medical bills that they’re out of pocket might be $60,000. So there’s $90,000. And then let’s say pain and suffering. That’s hard to put a value.

The Hammer:
But the other scenario is, let’s say you’ve got a case, person had surgery. They missed $50,000 wages and their medical bills are $100,000. So right away you’re at $150,000. And the tortfeasor are, let’s say in Kentucky, that the person who caused the accident. Well Kentucky law only requires $25,000 in coverage. [00:04:30] So right away, the most you could get from that insurance policy is $25,000. You know, what are you going to do then? So then you have to look at, well did the person who sustained the injuries and the damages, do they have some type of insurance coverage we can go after? Or let’s say that the person who hit you is working for you know a big plumbing truck, well then maybe they have a commercial policy. So instead of $25,000 you’ve got maybe say a million to go after. I wish I could say there’s a simple formula – if you have this accident and [00:05:00] here’s what it’s worth. Just no two cases are alike.

The Hammer:
One case comes to mind.- Gentleman was hit by a drunk driver and had knee surgery and the insurance company after getting the $50,000 policy from the tortfeasor — the person who sustained the knee injury also had a $100,000 in what’s called underinsurance. So we collected $150,000 for him. Now I believe his case was worth more than that. That’s just all the insurance coverage there was to go after.

Host:
Liability insurance – is that something that [00:05:30] you would need to investigate and see what that coverage is? Is that what you’re talking about when you look into these things?

The Hammer:
Well sure. Every case you have to find out how much liability coverage. And you know it’s our job to try to make sure we get as much coverage as possible — that’s the only thing we can do for the person. Some companies have excess coverage. They have umbrellas, million dollar umbrellas, but you always investigate the liability company and then you investigate the insurance company.

Host:
You’ve mentioned that some of these big truck cases – 18 [00:06:00] wheeler, big rig, semi truck cases you know, the possibility of these settlements being quite large. Is that typical?

The Hammer:
Well, like there’s one case where you know a lady unfortunately, she passed, she was deceased. She had the accident died almost instantly. You know, the trucking company had a million dollars and they paid the million. Then we had another one that comes to mind where you know a person, he had sustained three or four injuries to the body where they required surgery. [00:06:30] And I think he had, I can’t remember off top of my head, three or four surgeries, but due to the fact that he missed a lot of work and he was permanently impaired and was never going to be able to work again. — I believe his claim settled for like $2.7 million.

The Hammer:
Obviously the more you’re injured the more the case is worth. You know, these truck cases, I mean they sometimes — because you’re talking about extreme amount of weight, you know, in the vehicle and the injuries sustained are just horrible. And they’re high dollar, some of them are very high dollar cases. And you know, then you might have a case where a truck hits a car and you know a [00:07:00] person walks away with minimal damage or minimal injuries and they’re very lucky. They may not have a claim worth much, but they have their health.

Host:
We turn once again to social media and the questions that you would like to ask The Hammer. Today’s question is from Twitter: What are my next steps after I’ve not only been injured, but my vehicle has been destroyed and my property has been damaged as a result of the accident?

The Hammer:
Well sure. I mean property damage is different. You don’t have to have an injury to get property damage. If your vehicle is damaged, there’s formulas they can come up [00:07:30] with. Like if the vehicle exceeds the repair of what the vehicle’s worth, then the insurance company can just give you what’s called ‘salvage value’ and take title, and you know, every state usually has different laws regarding that. Property damage is a totally separate claim than the personal injury claim.

Host:
If you have a legal question you’d like to ask The Hammer, reach out to us on Facebook, on Twitter or by visiting the Web site IsaacsAndIsaacs.com.

Host:
And here’s our legal [00:08:00] disclaimer: This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever. If you have specific legal questions, contact an attorney to discuss specific legal matters about your case. The attorneys of Isaacs and Isaacs operate nationally with their primary offices in Louisville, Kentucky. Listeners should note that legal services may be performed by others.

Host:
Join us next time with Darryl Isaacs on Ask the hammer. Thanks for listening.

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