A truck accident can leave you not only with traumatic physical injuries and emotional and financial distress. During this challenging time, understanding your rights and how to file a claim for compensation can provide much-needed clarity and relief.
Each unique truck accident case will follow a broadly similar legal process for obtaining compensation: collect evidence, determine liability, calculate damages, negotiate settlements, and, if necessary, go to court. This article provides an overview of the truck accident claim process to help demystify the path to compensation for your injuries and other losses.
Overview of the Challenges of Truck Accident Claims
Coping with a truck accident involves understanding how it happened, the injuries it caused, and the resulting legal challenges. Truck collisions may involve more complex relevant issues than other road accidents, like driver fatigue, faulty vehicle maintenance, and improper cargo loading.
The dynamics of a truck accident notably differ from a typical car accident due to the sheer size and weight of trucks. A collision between a truck and a car often causes severe injuries, widespread property damage, and, tragically, fatalities.
Victims who survive truck accidents frequently sustain trauma. They may suffer broken bones and lacerations or even life-altering conditions, such as spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injuries. These injuries often lead to significant pain, suffering, and loss of quality of life. They also tend to cause substantial financial difficulty for victims and their families.
The legal implications of truck accidents can seem daunting to victims due to the potential involvement of multiple parties and insurance companies and the size of the financial losses. But these cases don’t have to be complex. A skilled truck accident lawyer in Atlanta can handle your claim, provide guidance and representation, and work on your behalf to make sure you receive the maximum possible compensation.
How a Lawyer Handles the Truck Accident Claim Process
Navigating the aftermath of a truck accident can be challenging and confusing. Knowing what to expect in the claim process and how a truck accident injury lawyer manages each phase can help alleviate some of this uncertainty.
Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after a truck accident hurts you or someone you love. An attorney’s role extends far beyond just representing you in court. Lawyers play an instrumental role at every step in your compensation claim following a crash.
Identifying Liable Parties
A lawyer will determine liability for your losses—a frequently complex question in truck accident cases. Liability can fall on a variety of parties and even multiple parties at once.
You might, for example, have a viable claim against:
- A truck driver who caused a crash through negligent conduct, such as drowsy driving or speeding.
- A trucking company that employed a negligent driver or failed to maintain its fleet in roadworthy condition.
- A truck or truck part manufacturer, if defective equipment played a role in triggering the accident.
- A shipping company that loaded cargo in an unsafe manner, causing the truck driver to lose control.
- The driver of a passenger vehicle who drove dangerously around a truck.
- A government agency or contractor that did not maintain safe road conditions.
- Liability insurance companies that issued accident coverage.
- Your insurance company, if you have coverage to protect yourself against accident-related injuries and costs.
These are just some examples. An experienced truck accident lawyer can carefully analyze the circumstances of your accident, sift through the evidence, and work diligently to identify the parties who may owe money for your losses.
Evaluating Your Damages
A truck accident lawyer will evaluate your losses and collect evidence of them to present to the relevant parties and the court.
Every truck accident differs, so there’s no fixed dollar amount a crash victim can expect to receive.
An experienced truck accident injury lawyer will seek payment for a victim’s:
- Medical expenses, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, medication, and medical equipment.
- Costs of repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle or other personal property.
- Lost pay and benefits due to missing work.
- Loss of future earnings and opportunities due to an accident-related disability.
- Physical pain and emotional suffering.
- Loss of independence or quality of life.
- Scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.
A lawyer can sometimes seek additional damages on behalf of a client. A court may, for example, order an at-fault party to pay punitive damages as punishment for engaging in extremely reckless or intentional misconduct. A court might also award statutory damages if the circumstances of the accident involved a violation of trucking industry laws or regulations.
Several factors can influence the types and amounts of compensation you may receive from a truck accident claim, including the extent of your injuries, the impact of those injuries, the level of fault assigned to each party, and the limits of the insurance policies that cover your losses. A skilled lawyer can assess the weight of these factors and advise you on your potential compensation.
Pursuing Legal Action for Compensation
Having identified liable parties and evaluated your losses, a truck accident lawyer can advise you on your options and, with your permission, take legal action to obtain compensation.
Lawyers have various means at their disposal to pursue payment for your losses, including:
- Sending an informal demand for payment to a liable party or their lawyer. A negotiated resolution may avoid the need for formal legal action.
- Submitting an insurance claim under a policy covering your losses. A first-party claim seeks payment from your insurer. A third-party claim requests money from an at-fault party’s insurer.
- Filing a lawsuit in court against an at-fault party or insurance company for monetary damages.
A truck accident lawyer may recommend taking these steps one at a time or pursuing them simultaneously. Lawyers select options that fit their clients’ priorities and stand the greatest chance of yielding the maximum possible compensation.
Litigating and Negotiating
Regardless of which avenue your lawyer pursues, they will next engage in two distinct but related tasks: litigation and negotiation.
Litigation is the process of gathering, compiling, and presenting evidence to prove why you should receive compensation for your truck accident losses. Your lawyer can litigate informally by making presentations to at-fault parties or insurance companies to demonstrate their liability for your losses. They can also litigate formally to a judge or jury by following legal rules of procedure.
While your lawyer is pursuing litigation strategies, they also commonly seek to negotiate a resolution of your claim. For truck accident injury claims, they often do this through negotiations leading to a settlement, whereby the victim receives money and, in exchange, agrees to cease legal action. Negotiations take various forms, including phone calls between lawyers, extended exchanges of letters or emails, and day-long meetings with the help of a neutral mediator.
If negotiations succeed, a truck accident case settles. If they don’t, the case will usually end up in court. No matter what direction a case takes, your lawyer constantly works to strengthen your claim and secure as much money for you as possible. Upon achieving a favorable settlement, court judgment, or jury verdict, your lawyer takes all necessary steps to ensure you receive the payments the liable party owes to you.
Advising and Counseling
Throughout the truck accident claim process, your lawyer also serves a separate, vital function: advising and counseling you as you confront the life challenges your injuries and losses have caused. Experienced truck accident lawyers have represented many victims in similar circumstances and have valuable insight into how to overcome the difficulties you now face.
A lawyer can serve as a sounding board for important medical, financial, and personal decisions you must make. They’re also an advocate for your interests when you need someone to speak on your behalf. Although a lawyer’s principal job is to obtain compensation, many truck accident victims find the advice and counsel lawyers provide equally valuable in their recovery from the trauma of a crash.
Truck Accident Lawyers Are Affordable
Truck accident victims sometimes shy away from calling a lawyer out of concern about the cost. This is a mistake. Anyone who needs them can afford a truck accident lawyer’s services.
All reputable truck accident lawyers offer a free consultation for potential clients. This provides you with the opportunity to tell an experienced legal professional about your accident and injuries, and they can explain your potential options. You’ll never have to pay for this consultation, even if you decide not to proceed with legal action. In other words, you can explore your rights to compensation risk-free.
Truck accident lawyers also routinely represent their clients on a contingent fee basis. Lawyers do their work in exchange for a percentage of any money they secure for their clients. They don’t charge upfront fees or hourly rates. You only pay them if they deliver results.
The Importance of Starting the Truck Accident Process Today
You have no time to lose if you want to protect your rights after getting hurt in a truck accident. The parties who are potentially liable for your losses will immediately start maneuvering to avoid their obligations. You need an experienced legal advocate and ally as soon as possible to ensure your claim retains its full value.
There’s no benefit in waiting to hire a lawyer, but waiting carries significant risks. Every state has enacted a statute of limitations that specifies the deadline for filing a truck accident claim. This time frame can vary significantly—ranging from just a couple of months to a few years—based on where the accident occurred and the nature of the claim. If you miss the deadline, you forfeit your right to seek compensation.
Hiring a truck accident lawyer quickly allows them to build a strong claim on your behalf. Evidence favorable to your case can go missing if a lawyer doesn’t take quick action on your behalf to locate and preserve it. The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the greater the risk of losing access to that critical evidence.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today
The journey following a truck accident can be daunting, filled with complexities and potential pitfalls that can significantly diminish the outcome of your claim. But you don’t have to—and shouldn’t—navigate this process on your own. A skilled truck accident lawyer can handle every step of it on your behalf to get you the maximum compensation possible.
So, don’t wait to get the legal representation you need. Contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer today for a free, no-risk case consultation.