Want to know how to handle a semi-truck accident lawsuit? This guide has you covered.
You’ll find info on what to do and what to avoid if you’re involved in a semi-truck accident. Understanding this is crucial. It will prevent you from doing or saying something that might waive your rights to file a claim and end the case before it even begins.
Ensuring your right to file a truck accident lawsuit isn’t tampered with is the first step to handling a semi-truck accident case successfully.
This guide also explains how truck accident lawsuits work so you know how to navigate them smoothly.
What To Do When Involved In A Semi-Truck Accident
If you find yourself in a semi-truck accident, say a commercial truck rams into your car, don’t panic or leave the scene. Instead, try to remain calm and remember the following:
Don’t Admit To Anything
Anything you say can and will likely be used as evidence against your truck accident claim in court. As a result, be careful who you talk to and what you say at the accident scene and afterward.
Specifically, be keen when describing the accident to relevant authorities. Don’t admit fault to anyone, the police included, even if you think you played a part in causing it.
Also, understand that a truck accident settlement can take place anytime from the moment the accident occurs to right before a jury delivers its verdict. This means that representatives from the insurance companies involved can approach you with settlement offers anytime. Some might do this a few days after the accident before you even file your truck accident case.
Often, an insurance company will make such truck accident settlement offers to take advantage of your vulnerable situation after the accident. The offer amount will almost always be less than you deserve, and accepting it means waiving your right to adequate compensation.
It’s best to completely avoid talking to representatives from the commercial truck company or other parties who can be liable for the accident. Find an experienced truck accident attorney instead and let them do the talking on your behalf.
Trucking accidents are more complicated than car accidents involving other vehicles. They require extensive research to prove you deserve to be compensated an X amount for all the injuries, pain, and suffering the accident caused.
Start collecting the evidence you’ll need to build a strong truck accident case immediately after the accident by documenting everything.
Take clear photos of the entire accident scene. Get the details of the trucking company and truck driver, including their name, address, phone number, and registration information. You also want to get the contact information of any eyewitnesses around.
Seek Medical Attention
Always seek proper medical attention after a trucking accident, even if it appears minor. That’s because accidents involving large trucks can cause severe injuries, like a head injury, which may not be very obvious initially.
Going for a check-up will reveal any issue and help you get the right medical treatment in good time. Otherwise, you might suffer medical complications from unattended internal injuries later on. Ensure you keep all records of your medical expenses. They’ll come in handy when your personal injury lawyer needs to calculate the truck accident settlement amount fit for your case.
Get A Truck Accident Lawyer
An experienced truck accident lawyer will file your commercial vehicle accident lawsuit correctly to help you get significant compensation from multiple parties, where applicable. They’ll be keen to follow all necessary steps to ensure you build a solid case from the start. But you have to contact them in time so they can have a good chance to do this.
On average, you have roughly 2-3 years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit. But the deadline varies depending on your state and the details of your trucking accident.
It’s shorter (about a year) in some states like Louisiana and longer in other states like Florida (4 years), Missouri (5 years), and Maine (6 years). In legal terms, this time limit for filing truck accident cases is known as a statute of limitations.
Most states implement their statute of limitations after years (not days or weeks) to allow truck accident victims to heal before pursuing justice.
However, it’s always best to file an accident lawsuit as early as possible – almost immediately after the accident. Your experienced personal injury lawyer will have ample time to collect accurate evidence from witnesses this way.
That’s because the details of the semi-truck accident will still be fresh in the witnesses’ memory. The lawyer can also move fast to prevent the trucking company and other parties involved from destroying crucial evidence. This is essential, especially during the early stages of handling truck accident cases.
How Truck Accident Lawsuits Work Step by Step
An average truck accident settlement case follows six distinct steps. We’ll discuss these and explain how you can handle each phase effectively.
Step 1: Claim Assessment
In this step, your personal injury lawyer conducts a thorough assessment of your semi-truck accident case for two major reasons:
Establishing Whether You Have A Valid Case
The lawyer will listen to the accident details carefully and explore your legal options and rights based on the facts you provide. Because of this, it is essential to describe the accident as accurately as you can. Also, provide any documentation you might have of the semi-truck accident scene.
Your role in this step is to help your lawyer accurately assess the accident to establish solid grounds for the case. If you think you were at fault, mention it. Your lawyer will ask follow-up questions to determine whether this is true. Most times, you’ll realize other circumstances you’re unaware of might have led to the accident, and you were not at fault.
Determining Liability And Damages You Should Receive Compensation For
If you were not at fault, the lawyer will evaluate the case details to identify the parties responsible for the semi-truck accident.
In most situations, truck drivers are the first party to blame, but semi-truck accidents present several legal liability routes. Multiple parties can be held liable for the accident depending on the specific causes.
For instance, the big rig truck might have rammed into your car due to driver fatigue or break failure. In each of these cases, a different party is responsible. It could be the truck company, vehicle owner, or truck manufacturer. It’s also possible that the truck driver failed to see you due to distracted driving or DUI.
Experienced attorneys will identify all parties liable and consider filing different liability claims to ensure you get maximum compensation.
They’ll also calculate the settlement amount various parties owe you based on every possible factor for determining truck accident lawsuit damages. These may include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost wages – calculating lost wages considers loss of current employment and earning capacity in the future.
- The extent of physical injuries, mental anguish, pain, and suffering. For serious injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury or disability, the future cost of continuous medical care and rehabilitation is included.
- Loss of consortium
- Property damage
- Punitive damages
At the end of this step, the lawyer has a good foundation for your truck accident lawsuit. You’ll also get a rough idea of how much the parties liable for the semi-truck accident owe you. It’s important to note that claim assessment happens during the initial free consultation with your lawyer.
Step 2: Investigation
Once you’ve established an attorney-client relationship with your personal injury lawyer, the next step is investigation. Here, lawyers work to preserve any evidence that might help win truck accident settlements.
They’ll send letters to multiple defendants to legally demand that they preserve all evidence of your case. These might include photographs, the vehicles involved in the semi-truck accident, the truck driver’s records of operation, and other vital data. Your role in step 2 becomes passive. You don’t have to do anything except follow your lawyer’s directives when called upon.
Step 3: File And Complaint
After the investigation phase, your lawyer will formally file a truck accident lawsuit against all parties deemed negligent in the semi-truck accident. Your role here is also passive, like in step 2 above.
Step 4: Case Discovery
Case discovery is the case-building phase. Lawyers actively gather evidence from several parties to prove a duty of care and its violation.
They’ll talk to witnesses and obtain analyses from experts, including semi-trailer truck accident reconstructionists and medical personnel, to ensure your accident lawsuit succeeds. Like in steps two and three, your role during case discovery remains passive.
Step 5: Begin Mediation
The mediation process begins once attorneys gather enough evidence for truck accident claims. During this phase, both parties (truck accident victims and defendants), accompanied by their lawyers, meet to see if they can reach a fair settlement. You’ll have to attend the mediation and work closely with your lawyer throughout the meeting.
Step 6: Go To Trial
If you don’t reach a settlement during step 5, the accident lawsuit will proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will hear and determine the case. You might be called upon to testify during the trial, but don’t worry! Your lawyer will prepare you adequately for this.
Unfortunately, accidents involving commercial motor vehicles are common, and they can be fatal. The latest research shows about 4,998 accidents involving large trucks and buses happened in 2020, leading to nearly 108,000 injury crashes.
Knowing how to handle semi-truck accident lawsuits is vital to getting fair compensation for yourself or loved ones in case of an accident. We hope this article helps you with this.
You can also check out our blog to learn more about dealing with semi-truck accidents, including how to find an experienced commercial truck accident attorney.