On average, accident settlements with commercial trucks tend to be higher than those with other vehicles. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, commercial trucks tend to do a lot more damage than they receive. Those involved in accidents with trucks sustain serious and even life-threatening injuries.
The second reason is that trucking companies carry commercial insurance policies that have higher policy limits than your typical driver. A typically commercial insurance policy has between a $500,000 and $1 million limit.
Drivers in New Hampshire know that they’re not required to carry auto insurance. In fact, NH is one of few states in the country that doesn’t require coverage. Vermont, on the other hand, requires that its drivers carry a policy limit of $25,000 per individual and $50,000 per accident.
Insurance Policy Limits and Individual Drivers
One issue that flies under the radar is the role that auto insurance plays. Insurance tries to limit your recovery during a traffic accident.
For instance, let’s say that you have $100,000 damages but the individual who hit you only has a $25,000 policy limit. You have the choice of either accepting the $25,000 or suing the individual directly. If you reject the insurance settlement and sue the individual directly, a jury may award you $100,000 for your damages, but the individual you sued can turn around and declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy which would essentially discharge all of their debt to you.
For that reason, attorneys generally research the individual to determine if they have any assets on which to draw for a settlement before rejecting an insurance payout that may only cover a small portion of your real damages. You can also draw on your own underinsured auto insurance policy to recover damages.
Insurance Policy Limits and Commercial Businesses
The above scenario works out much differently when you’re dealing with a business. If you have damages in excess of a policy limit, you can sue the business knowing that they likely have assets on which to draw. In addition, if they declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy, their entire business is dissolved in the process. All of their assets are liquidated to pay out their creditors, one of whom will be you. You may recover some, but not all of the money owed and the business will cease to exist.
For that reason, businesses generally do not want to file for Chapter 7. They instead would file under Chapter 11 which forces them to repay their debts over a period of time or they would simply settle the case in litigation.
Talk to a Vermont Commercial and Individual Traffic Liability Attorney
Whether you’re dealing with a commercial trucking company or an individual driver, our job as your attorney is to maximize the value of your claim. In some cases, this will mean preventing the money owed you from being discharged in Chapter 7. It might also mean filing claims on multiple policies including your own underinsured driver policy and the at-fault driver’s policy. Give us a call to set up an appointment today.