Large truck accident fatalities have increased steadily in recent years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Law Review report. Combine over 80,000 pounds of metal with negligence, speeding, poor vehicle maintenance, or other contributing factors, and the results can only be disastrous for anyone unlucky enough to be involved.
The devastating scale of these accidents has resulted over time in correspondingly large settlement payouts to people injured in them. A few verdicts have been in the hundreds of millions, but many verdicts of $20 million or more have been awarded, and are becoming more and more common.
Truck Accident Verdicts in the Southeast and North Carolina
CaseMetrix, a company dedicated to providing information on verdicts and settlements, reported that there were five times as many verdicts of $20 million and over in the Southeastern states between 2015 and 2019 than there had been in the previous five years. This is a dramatic increase.
In North Carolina, there were 14,802 large truck accidents in 2017, with 164 fatalities. A quick glance at local news reports shows that some of the verdicts resulted in payouts in the tens of millions. For example, a 2019 Orangeburg County, South Carolina, case, in which a father and son were injured in a large truck accident, resulted in a $33.6 million verdict. There are many similar stories.
What Is Causing This Rise?
Since 2015, the average truck accident award has quadrupled. There are a few possible reasons for the large increase in payouts. Some believe that they are due to plaintiff’s attorneys presenting jurors with accounts of the grisly details of these accidents and urging them to use their verdict as a wider message to urge greater caution and improve safety standards. Attorneys could also be seeing the recent big awards and asking for larger payouts on their own cases as a result.
The infamous 2014 incident in which a large Wal-Mart truck crashed into six vehicles might also have contributed. The accident injured several people, among them comedian Tracy Morgan, and killed another. The children of the deceased received $10 million. This high-profile case drew attention to an impressive payout for a large truck accident and may have raised expectations for subsequent cases.
Yet another possibility is that litigation financing, a fairly recent service offering, is allowing plaintiffs to engage in a long legal battle without a big financial cost upfront. Formerly, they may have had to settle earlier rather than pursue a verdict because their financial resources just couldn’t match those of the big trucking companies.
Contact Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C.
Because of the sheer size of these enormous trucks, 18-wheeler and other heavy truck accidents are almost always devastating, and often fatal. You need a legal team that will stand up confidently to these large companies and perform the legal services necessary to seek full compensation.
A native North Carolinian and a fourth-generation lawyer, Ralph W. Meekins literally had the desire to help those who are not able to help themselves as well as to be a practical life adviser to people in his blood.