​How to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit

March 9, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
​How to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit

Victims of truck collisions might start with an accident claim to get payment for the crash-related damages. The at-fault party or the insurance company can make the process difficult. A lawsuit might be necessary to get the financial resources you deserve.

Truck accident lawsuits, however, quickly grow complicated. They consist of various documents and deadlines. You will need help figuring out where to start when you want to file one. A truck accident attorney can offer the assistance you need.

Who Can You Name in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

Truck accident lawyers are necessary since they investigate claims in depth. Your attorney can find out who you should name in a lawsuit. The evidence you gather could indicate one or more parties are responsible for your injuries.


If settlement negotiations fail, your lawyer may file a lawsuit on your behalf against the truck driver for negligence. Many causes of truck accidents have to do with driver errors. Lawyers can investigate and hold truck drivers accountable if the drivers fall asleep behind the wheel. Federal regulations prevent truck operators from driving after a specific number of hours.

Drowsy driving, however, remains a common issue for employees. Over 27 percent of them experience sleep disorders like insomnia. Driver negligence occurs when the trucker becomes distracted as well. Distractions include anything from handling the radio to daydreaming.

Your attorney may also file a lawsuit on your behalf if the driver followed you too closely from behind, did illegal maneuvers, or drank alcohol.


Third parties may owe victims money in some cases. A trucking company, for example, can be responsible for an unqualified trucker. A carrier’s hiring practices might have easily allowed an unfit individual to work for the business.

The company may not have provided enough training as well. The worker likely did not know the correct procedures needed to load and operate an 18-wheeler. Fatigue can make a carrier liable in some instances. The employer may have pressured the employee to ignore the hours of service rules to meet a deadline.


Several trucking companies outsource work to outside vendors. Vendors may handle drug tests, dispatching, recruiting drivers, and background tests. They ensure employees are fit to get in a truck and maintain the upkeep of semi-trailers. A third-party company may be liable if an unfit truck driver crashes into you.


Manufacturers must make sure each truck component they produce meets safety standards. Defective parts cause 5 percent of fatal truck collisions. A common cause is an issue with at least one of the tires. Brake failures and malfunctions in electrical systems also may occur.

A defect could happen because the driver or the carrier failed to inspect the large vehicle. Your lawyer, however, may discover the issue stems from a design flaw or irregular production. The manufacturing company becomes liable as a result.

How to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit


The first step is to find a truck accident lawyer near you. Attorneys understand how lawsuits work and guide you through the process. They can handle the legal work while you have additional time to concentrate on personal matters. A consultation is when you decide if a lawyer is right for you.

The attorney uses the meeting to know if you have a valid case. Make sure to bring as much paperwork as you can. Gather documents regarding injuries, medical treatment, lost earnings, and property damage. You do not need to have everything by yourself. Your lawyer can gather additional evidence if they accept your case.


Your attorney may send a demand letter to the truck driver or a third party. The letter notifies the other party of your intent to take legal action. The paper also outlines your evidence and the amount of money you seek.

Both sides may try to negotiate a settlement. Your lawyer can speak with the truck operator or their insurer to get the money you deserve. The lawsuit may proceed if no one comes to an agreement.


The next step to filing a truck accident lawsuit is to submit the complaint. A complaint officially begins the legal process and describes the allegations against the truck driver or carrier. The documents list what the other party did and how they harmed you.

Your lawyer can then find and serve the complaint letter to the negligent trucker. Each defendant receives a copy if your case has multiple liable parties. The truck driver has about 30 days to respond to the complaint.

The other side usually hires an attorney by this time, so a lawyer can submit an answer. The answer may explain how the negligent party accepts or denies the victim’s allegations. The lawsuit may proceed to the discovery phase.


How Long Does a Truck Accident Lawsuit Last?

The duration of a truck accident lawsuit varies from case to case. A set timeframe may not apply since many factors determine how quickly or slowly a lawsuit progresses. The discovery, for example, can be the longest stage of the process.

Your attorney may send questions or requests for documents to the opposing side. The truck driver’s lawyer may take time to respond. The other side can get an extension for when they have to reply. Depositions also take place during the discovery phase. A deposition could last longer than either lawyer expected.

Another factor is if a trial occurs. Trials delay the outcome, but only as much as 5 percent of lawsuits reach the courtroom. Most cases settle by the time they reach the mediation stage.

A truck accident lawsuit can take up to six months or more to resolve. Some people have to wait many years to reach a settlement.

What Determines Compensation?


The amount of money you can get is not evident at the beginning of a lawsuit. The reason is that multiple factors influence how much the truck driver or trucking company owes you. The number of damages you claim can increase the payout.

A settlement can reimburse you for all your medical expenses. The costs include hospital stays, emergency room services, medical equipment, physical therapy, and prescription medication.


The amount of money from a lawsuit also depends on property damage. The other party usually pays for extensive vehicle repairs. You can get more funds if you need to replace your entire car.

You can get additional compensation when you report lost income. Severe truck accidents mean more days you cannot work. Pay stubs and tax returns are examples of documents your lawyer can use to show much of the potential earnings you lost.


Another factor is if you experience pain and suffering due to the truck driver’s actions. The emotional damage might have resulted in significant trauma. Document any anxiety, depression, or other symptoms you develop.


The severity of your injuries helps determine how much you receive in a settlement. A spinal cord injury requires more treatment and recovery time than a sprain. Your lawyer may take into account any life disruptions an injury causes. The collision may have diminished your ability to work, do chores, or care for loved ones.

Settlement estimates are complex. A truck accident lawyer knows what can maximize the compensation you receive. You can rely on your attorney for the best outcome.

Victims Could Get Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may apply to the settlement. The damages act more as a punishment to the negligent party than as compensation. The court only awards the penalty in a handful of cases.

The negligent party must have shown willful or egregious conduct. Your lawyer may request punitive damages if the truck driver willfully drank alcohol before operating the 18-wheeler. The law may allow punitive damages to punish the employer as well.

Your lawyer must prove that the carrier knew the truck driver was unfit for the job. The employer, however, disregarded other people’s safety and allowed the worker to drive.

You can ask your lawyer what to expect if you believe you qualify for the damages.

Get Started on a Lawsuit Right Away

You do not have a long time if you plan to file a truck accident lawsuit. Every state limits how long victims have to take legal action. The law is the statute of limitations, and the amount of time you have depends on where you live.

Many places offer people two or three years to begin a truck accident lawsuit. However, others grant victims four or more years. Keep in mind the statute of limitations can depend on your case.

An injury lawsuit may give you a couple of years, but a fatal truck collision may lead to a different deadline. Time can go by quickly regardless of how long the law gives you. You and your attorney must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitation expires. You could otherwise lose your right to sue for reimbursement.

You might qualify for an extension if you were under 18 at the time of the accident. The court may pause the clock if the truck driver leaves the state before you can start a lawsuit. A lawyer can prevent you from missing the deadline. An attorney also can help you know if an exception applies to your case.

Do Not Speak to Insurance Company Representatives

A representative from the truck driver’s or the trucking company’s insurer may contact you. The adjuster may ask questions under the guise of wanting to know what happened. The person on the phone may want to help, but they still have the insurer’s interests in mind.

Some insurance companies want to minimize how much they need to pay victims. Adjusters may ask for a recorded statement. They review what people say to find hints of vague or apologetic statements. A representative may use your words to downplay your injuries.

Talk to a truck accident lawyer instead of someone from the insurance company. An attorney has your interests at heart and can shield you from an insurer that acts in bad faith.

What Does A Truck Accident Attorney Do?

Ed Bernstein - Lawyer for Truck Accidents near Las Vegas NV
Ed Bernstein, Truck Accident Lawyer


Truck accident attorneys have a lot of responsibilities when they take on cases. They can investigate truck accidents to learn about the details. The cause of a collision may not be evident at first. You can expect your lawyer to review the facts to ensure your case has a valid and compelling argument.

The investigation may show the attorney if one or more liable parties exist. Your lawyer can determine if the truck driver, carrier, manufacturer, or another entity is responsible.


Another task of a law firm is to collect proof. The other side may fight to pay less or avoid paying you money. Evidence can show the judge how the truck driver behaved and the extent to which the action harmed you.

Evidence usually includes pictures of the accident scene. You or someone else might have taken photos of the crash site. Your lawyer might use images of your injuries as well. Witness statements are essential when attorneys build strong cases.

Witnesses may provide an unbiased account of what took place. Your lawyer can work to get hold of any who were there and record their statements. Other common pieces of evidence are camera footage and medical records.


A truck accident lawyer can work diligently to establish liability. The court must see how the truck driver behaved carelessly before awarding compensation. Negligence has four requirements a valid case must meet. The first is a duty of care. Truckers generally meet the requirement since traffic laws obligate them to keep other people’s safety in mind.

The next element is to show how the at-fault party ignored the duty of care. Your lawyer can use some evidence to prove the driver suffered from fatigue or became distracted. The person’s actions then led to the accident. The crash also had a direct link to the damages.

Medical records and bills can show the causation. Truck accident lawyers can begin negotiations once they establish negligence.

Are Consultations Free?

A consultation is the initial meeting between a lawyer and a potential client. Both discuss the case and decide if they want to work together. A consultation is a necessary first step and should not cost you anything.

You can talk about your situation without worrying about risks. Call a personal injury attorney to seek financial reimbursement for your injuries.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.