The process for obtaining compensation after a truck accident depends on your case. It’s not a single set of steps but rather a variety of strategies and options that a skilled lawyer can pursue to get you the most money possible. Your role in the process is to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer to handle your claim.
Here’s an overview of various potential elements of the truck accident claim process and how an experienced attorney can navigate them to secure maximum compensation for your losses.
Overview of Your Rights as a Truck Accident Victim
In general, anyone who suffers losses in a truck accident has the legal right to receive compensation from a party whose dangerous decisions, actions, or inaction caused the crash. A crash victim may also have the right to claim payment from others legally obligated to answer for an at-fault party’s conduct.
In handling a truck accident case, a lawyer has two initial objectives: to figure out who has liability and how much their injured client should receive as compensation.
Who may have liability to you?
Various parties could have liability for the losses caused by a truck accident. It all depends on the circumstances because every truck crash is unique. The type of party who owes compensation in one case may not have any obligation to pay in another.
An experienced truck accident attorney evaluates the particular circumstances of a client’s crash to figure out who may have a legal obligation to pay damages.
For example, a lawyer may find that liability lies with:
- A truck driver whose careless actions behind the wheel caused the crash.
- A trucking company that failed to train its driver or maintain the big rig that crashed.
- A trans-shipper that failed to secure cargo on a trailer properly, triggering a crash when items fell off in transit.
- A government entity or private road owner responsible for unreasonably dangerous road conditions that contributed to the cause of a wreck.
- A liability insurance company that insured a party at-fault.
These are just a few examples. Parties like these may have an obligation to pay out of their own pockets for your damages. You may also have the legal right to pursue multiple parties at once for the harm you suffered.
What compensation could you obtain?
In general, you have the right to receive payment for all physical, emotional, and financial harm you suffered because of a truck accident. It might surprise you to learn just how broad your rights are.
Depending on the particulars of your crash and injuries, a skilled truck accident lawyer may secure compensation for your:
- Past and future medical expenses related to treating your injuries and any subsequent health complications.
- Costs incurred repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle or property.
- Other out-of-pocket expenses flowing from the accident or the injuries you suffered in it.
- Lost income and job benefits (including vacation or sick days you used) from missing work with your injury.
- Loss of future earnings or career opportunities due to a temporary or permanent disability caused by the crash.
- Physical pain and discomfort caused by your injuries or medical treatments.
- Emotional distress and post-accident mental health struggles like anxiety or PTSD.
- Diminished quality of life and daily inconvenience.
- Struggles from living with scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.
When circumstances warrant, a skilled lawyer may obtain exemplary or punitive damages to punish the at-fault party’s extreme or intentional misconduct or statutory damages resulting from the at-fault party’s violations of laws or regulations.
Case Investigation and Advocacy
A truck accident usually triggers an official investigation, perhaps more than one. The police typically respond to the scene of a truck crash. Other investigators such as federal trucking regulators might also take interest. But the conclusions those investigators reach might not provide sufficient information to prove your case for damages.
Experienced lawyers frequently conduct independent investigations into the truck crashes that injured their clients. They may also retain forensic and trucking industry experts to assist them. These investigations aim to locate and preserve evidence to prove how a truck accident happened and who should bear the blame.
Lawyers also represent their clients’ interests in connection with official crash investigations. Investigators may want to speak with the victim about what happened, and a lawyer can guide the client through that process. Sometimes a lawyer may seek to participate in official proceedings to ensure their client’s perspective receives appropriate attention.
The lawyer’s job, in all instances, is to advocate for their client and put them in the best possible position to secure meaningful compensation from as many liable parties as possible.
Insurance Analysis and Oversight
Trucking accidents almost always trigger coverage under at least one insurance policy, usually many. The driver who crashed and the truck and trailer owners commonly carry liability insurance to cover victims’ damages, and a significant portion of the victim’s compensation will come from these sources. Victims frequently also carry auto or health insurance to cover some of their losses.
A skilled truck crash lawyer knows the importance of understanding the scope of insurance coverage for a victim’s losses. Lawyers can investigate who has insurance, how much they carry, and the extent of coverage. They can also take over all communications and dealings with insurance companies on a client’s behalf to ensure fair treatment and full payment.
Formal and Informal Demands for Compensation
Obtaining money for a truck accident victim requires a demand for payment. Demands take many forms.
- Sending an informal request to an at-fault party or that party’s lawyer requesting payment for a victim’s damages;
- Submitting a formal claim with an at-fault party’s liability insurance company (at third-party claim) or to the victim’s insurer (a first-party claim); or
- Filing the necessary paperwork in court to start a lawsuit against an at-fault party or insurance company.
A lawyer may decide to take just one of these actions or pursue several at once or in succession. It all depends on the unique circumstances of the truck crash that injured the lawyer’s client. A skilled lawyer for a truck accident selects the strategy most likely to achieve maximum compensation as efficiently as possible.
Litigation and Negotiation
Regardless of the form a request for payment takes, it typically triggers a response from the at-fault party or that party’s insurance or legal representatives.
The answer may:
- Accept liability and agree to pay the amount requested.
- Deny liability and refuse to pay.
- Partially accept or deny liability
- Request more information.
Everyone hopes for the first of these responses, but unfortunately, it’s the least common. More often, at-fault parties deny liability or take the middle ground and request clarification. And that’s okay. Receiving a denial or a neutral response doesn’t mean you won’t get paid. It just means that the other side prefers to investigate and negotiate rather than open their checkbook immediately.
Insurance Claim Steps
If the lawyer requested payment for your truck accident losses from an insurance company via a third-party or first-party claim, the insurer must investigate and respond fairly and promptly as state law requires. An insurer that violates state law by engaging in unfair claim settlement practices may owe additional damages and face regulatory penalties.
Insurers frequently request additional information from a claimant. A lawyer can collect and provide that information as appropriate. A lawyer can also follow up with an insurance company to ensure a claim stays on track and gets paid on time and in full.
If the lawyer requests payment of your truck crash damages by filing a lawsuit, the response is called an Answer. It initiates the litigation process. Litigation is the legal term for resolving a dispute via formal court procedures.
Those procedures usually involve:
- Discovery, in which the parties request and exchange information about each other’s claims and defenses.
- Motion practice, in which parties submit written and oral arguments to a court asking it to decide the case, or an aspect of it, in their favor.
- Trial, in which the parties present evidence and arguments in court to a judge and jury.
Litigation of a truck accident claim can involve multiple parties and voluminous evidence. Hire a lawyer with extensive experience litigating truck crash cases to maximize your chances of a favorable resolution.
No matter how your lawyer advances your demand for payment informally, via an insurance claim, or through litigation at some point, it will lead to negotiations between the parties over a potential settlement. A settlement is a private, out-of-court agreement to resolve a legal dispute.
In the typical truck accident settlement, the injured crash victim receives compensation from an at-fault party or insurance company. In exchange, the victim releases the paying party (or parties) from further liability and drops any pending lawsuits against them.
Most, but not all, truck accident claims end in a negotiated settlement. (Those that don’t typically end up being decided by a court during litigation motion practice or by a jury at trial.) Lawyers and insurance representatives typically handle settlement discussions. They may negotiate by email, over the phone, or in person. Negotiations can happen at any point in a case, from just after the first demand for payment to the eve of (or even during) trial.
Sometimes, a neutral third-party known as a mediator will facilitate the parties’ discussions. But no one—not a mediator, court, or lawyer—can force a party to settle. Only the injured victim and liable party decide whether to agree to a settlement.
Lawyers for the parties put settlements in writing. The parties then sign the settlement agreement and perform their duties under it. Settlement funds may arrive immediately or in a few weeks, depending on the terms of the agreement.
A settlement agreement usually ends a truck accident case. Once the parties have signed and performed the agreement, it’s virtually impossible to re-open it. For that reason, you should only enter into a settlement if you know it’s the best deal you can get in your circumstances.
The most reliable way to receive that assurance is to hire a skilled truck accident injury attorney with years of experience negotiating top-dollar settlements for clients like you.
Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer is Easy and Affordable
The aftermath of a truck accident can feel overwhelming for victims and their families. They often don’t know where to turn for help or who to trust. And they frequently face severe financial strain due to medical expenses and a loss of income.
Hiring a lawyer shouldn’t add to that stress, and it won’t if you contact an experienced truck accident attorney. Lawyers for truck crash victims offer free consultations for you to learn about your rights and options. They also take cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning that they work in exchange for a percentage of the money they get you. You don’t have to pay them an upfront fee or hourly rates. You only pay if they win for you.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Don’t wait another minute to seek the legal help you need after a truck accident harms you or someone you love. A lawyer may need to take immediate action to preserve and protect your rights to compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury law firm in Las Vegas today for your free case evaluation.