I will be honest – I can’t predict. I think that juries – and insurance companies – will be very interested in a number of different factors, including the extent and permanency of your injury (amputation is more than a broken arm), the total of your medical bills, your lost wages, whether you were at fault, the horror of your accident, and – sorry about this, but it’s true – whether the jury will “like” you.
But you can try the same case to different juries, and get different results. Same thing with insurance adjusters, and judges.
But if you want an interesting perspective from someone who is – at least a little bit – outside the traditional system, try reading some of the comments of Kenneth Feinberg.
Kenneth Feinberg – on Morning Joe, a talk show that my wife and I watch every morning – said that for the case he is now working on, it’s the time you spent in the hospital.
Who is Kenneth Feinberg? He is the administrator for the 9/11 victims fund, for the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund, the One fund (compensating victims of the Boston Marathon bombing), the fund to compensate the victims of the Aurora shooting, and other funds set up to compensate victims of massive tragedies.
And his job is different from that of the typical adjuster, or juror, because when he makes an award, he is usually applying some standard other than the personal injury law of the state where the tragedy occurs. It might be a charity, or a compensation fund set up by statute (which is part of what happened with 9/11. He may have more or fewer funds than he thinks the victim would be able to get at trial.
But he usually has a set amount of dollars to award to a number of people. His job is to break it up in amounts that will hold up in court.
And what case is he working on now? It is the One Fund, compensating victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Most of the funds he is planning on distributing are from private donations, but it’s really too early to tell.
And he has different strictures. One is the fact that it is too early to know how much will be available. So he probably has a lot of concerns addressing survivors’ immediate needs – mortgages, special medical care, living expenses, things like that – rather than long term awards for pain and suffering.
What does this tell you about what a jury will award you for a truck accident? Probably not that much – because of all the different factors that go into a jury’s award.
But it might tell you something about what an insurance adjuster will do. The fact that one person spends two weeks in the hospital in intensive care may be more impressive than the $75,000 in medical expenses someone else incurs for a back surgery.
And it gives me an argument if the case does go to a jury: “Mr. Johnson spent two straight weeks in the hospital after this accident, and still came out needing more surgery. I am lucky – but there are a lot of people who don’t have to spend that long in the hospital their whole life.”
If it makes you stop and think, that’s good.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. One of the most important things about what I do is maintaining a fresh perspective. If you’ve been in an accident with a truck, call me at 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.