What Damages Can You Recover After a Truck Accident in Pennsylvania?

March 29, 2024

Truck accidents frequently leave victims and their families facing substantial losses. These losses, which can be both financial and non-financial in nature, can impact victims and their family members’ lives for years to come. As a result, recovering just compensation is extremely important, and making informed decisions about asserting your legal rights starts with understanding how much you are entitled to recover.

In truck accident cases, the damages that are available vary depending on whether you are seeking just compensation for non-fatal injuries or filing a claim for wrongful death. Additionally, as we discuss below, the specific amount you are entitled to recover will depend heavily on your individual circumstances. With this in mind, while it is important to prioritize your physical and emotional recovery, it is also important that you seek help from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

Damages Available to Victims of Non-Fatal Truck Accidents in Pennsylvania

When you have a claim for injuries you sustained in a truck accident in Pennsylvania, you are entitled to just compensation for all of the financial and non-financial losses you have sustained—and will sustain—as a result of the accident. The ability to recover just compensation for your future losses is extremely important, as these losses could far exceed the costs of the accident to date if your injuries have long-term effects or require long-term care.

Common financial losses in serious truck accident cases include:

  • Medical expenses (regardless of your insurance coverage or ability to pay)
  • Other out-of-pocket costs
  • Loss of income and benefits

Non-financial losses are those that impact your life in ways other than having a negative impact on your bank account and financial stability. In many cases, financial and non-financial losses are closely related, and it is important not to overlook the non-financial damages you are entitled to recover. For example, if you suffer injuries that will result in permanent scarring or disfigurement, you are entitled to compensation for your treatment costs and the non-financial effects of living every day with a permanent reminder of the crash. Along with damages for scarring and disfigurement, other non-financial damages available to truck accident victims in Pennsylvania include:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship, consortium and enjoyment of life

Damages Available to Families After Fatal Truck Accidents in Pennsylvania

If you lost a loved one in a fatal truck accident in Pennsylvania, the process of filing a claim will be different from the process of filing a claim after a non-fatal accident. The damages that you and your family are entitled to recover will be different as well.

In wrongful death cases, Pennsylvania law generally requires that the victim’s personal representative file a claim on behalf of the victim’s estate. If the claim is successful, the damages recovered will then be distributed to the victim’s heirs or beneficiaries. If the victim left behind an estate plan, the damages recovered should be distributed according to his or her plan. If the victim did not leave an estate plan, then Pennsylvania’s intestate succession laws will dictate which family members are eligible to receive a portion of the settlement or verdict.

Just like truck accident victims, grieving families can recover compensation for their present and future losses. To learn more about the damages that families can recover after fatal truck accidents in Pennsylvania, you can read: What Damages Are Available to Family Members in a Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Case?

What About Punitive Damages?

If you are coping with the aftermath of a serious or fatal truck accident, you may also have questions about punitive damages. Under Pennsylvania law, punitive damages are available in some (but not all) cases.

Pennsylvania law allows truck accident victims and their families to recover punitive damages in cases involving gross negligence and other forms of egregious misconduct. For example, while the availability of punitive damages is determined case-by-case, these damages may be available in cases involving:

  • Drunk driving or drugged driving (including driving under the influence of over-the-counter or prescription medications)
  • Road rage and other intentional dangerous acts behind the wheel of a commercial truck
  • Ignoring known safety issues with a commercial truck
  • Ignoring known issues with a truck driver’s qualifications or safety record
  • Other errors and omissions that reflect a careless disregard for others’ safety

When you engage a law firm to handle your (or your family’s) truck accident case, the firm should assess the availability of punitive damages based on the circumstances involved in the accident. If sufficient grounds exist, your law firm should then use the available evidence to seek punitive damages in addition to the “compensatory” damages discussed above.

How Much Are You Entitled to Recover?

In truck accident cases, the amount of compensatory and punitive damages available depends entirely on the cause of the accident and the accident’s effects. There are no “standard” amounts in either category. The amount of punitive damages available (if any) will be based on why the accident happened. Your (or your family’s) compensatory damages will be based on the physical, financial and emotional costs you and your loved ones incur.

Knowing how much you may be able to recover is critical for making informed decisions about your next steps. With this in mind, it is important that you speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer before you make any decisions about what to do (or what not to do) next. Once you receive a preliminary assessment of the value of your (or your family’s) claim, then you can decide whether it is worth proceeding with the next steps in the process.

Discuss Your Case with a Pennsylvania Truck Accident Lawyer for Free Today

If you would like to know more about pursuing a truck accident claim in Pennsylvania, we strongly encourage you to get in touch. With offices in Allentown, Bethlehem, Doylestown, Easton and Stroudsburg, we represent truck accident victims and families statewide. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible, please call 888-777-7098 or tell us how we can help online today.