After a semi-truck accident, you may wonder how long the whole thing will take to settle. Being involved in a settlement negotiation or a civil lawsuit can be overwhelming and confusing. There is no doubt that you will have questions along the way and the best resource you can have when you are going up against a semi-truck company is an experienced truck accident attorney. To learn more about how long it takes to settle a semi-truck accident settlement, continue reading.
Semi-Truck Accident Settlements Start With the Insurance Company
You will likely be dealing with more than one insurance company if you are involved in an accident with a semi-truck. The amount of time a semi-truck accident claim takes to settle depends in part on the willingness of the insurance company to offer a satisfactory settlement.
Sometimes, you must contact the insurance companies of the drivers and the semi-truck companies. Insurance companies usually pay settlement claims. Insurers are the first to be involved in settlement negotiations, which makes sense. Insurers are the first to be involved in settlement negotiations, which makes sense. The insurance company of the other driver may contact you after an accident. Follow this procedure to prevent your communication with the opposing insurance company from negatively impacting your claim.
Often, the insurance company does not offer a satisfactory settlement agreement. When that happens, the next step is to file a lawsuit.
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What Is the Process of a Semi-Truck Lawsuit?
You will need an experienced semi-truck accident attorney to help you file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit alone can be intimidating. To the process of a semi-truck lawsuit, keep reading.
Step One: File a Complaint
A semi-truck accident lawsuit starts by filing a complaint.
The complaint must meet applicable legal requirements and include:
- You must name each person or business you allege is responsible for your harm as a defendant in the complaint.
- Jurisdiction statement. The court will dismiss the complaint if you file it in the wrong court. You cannot refile a complaint dismissed after the statute of limitations expires.
- A statement of the allegations.
- Your request(s) for money damages. You must state whether you want your lost income and medical bills reimbursed in your complaint.
Step Two: Serve the Defendant
Once a defendant receives a copy of the complaint and summons, they are officially on notice that a case is pending. Proper service of process requires a person who is at least 18 years old and is not a party to the lawsuit. This step seems simple but can prolong the case if the defendant is difficult to find.
Step Three: Defendant Files an Answer
The defendant - the driver and the trucking company - have thirty days to file an answer to the complaint. In their answer, the defendant will respond to the allegations in the complaint. They will either admit or deny the allegations and raise affirmative defenses.
Step Four: Discovery and Depositions
As the lawsuit continues, you will participate in discovery and likely depose witnesses and be deposed yourself.
Each party uses discovery to investigate the claims and build their case. Discovery is subject to procedural rules. Learning all the applicable rules is unnecessary if you hire an attorney. An experienced semi-truck accident attorney knows how to request documents, pictures, statements, and answers to interrogatories in a way that does not violate the rules to protect your claim.
Depositions are informal interviews that carry the same weight as if they happened in a courtroom. The parties, eyewitnesses, expert witnesses, and any friends and family that may provide relevant testimony can be deposed. The opposing attorney will depose your witnesses. Depositions require preparation. Your semi-truck accident attorney will work with you on how to answer questions if the opposing side requests your deposition.
Step Five: Trial Prep
If you and the opposing side of the semi-truck accident lawsuit cannot agree to a settlement, the case will continue to trial. It is hard to prepare for a semi-truck accident trial if you do not have a legal team working with you. It is important to contact a semi-truck accident attorney after a semi-truck accident.
Trial prep begins at the initial consultation. When you and your lawyer agree to work on your case together, you start building your case. Every choice your lawyer makes is to ensure you have the best chance of maximizing your compensation.
Before the trial begins, your semi-truck accident attorney will participate in jury selection. Jury selection is the process of choosing jury members. The jurors decide liability. During jury selection, the attorneys will ask the jury pool questions about any potential biases.
After jury selection is complete, you will present your case. Since you are the plaintiff, your side will go first. This is called your case-in-chief. During your case-in-chief, your witnesses will testify, and your side will present its evidence. After your case is over, the jury will review all the evidence presented and reach a verdict.
Your semi-truck accident attorney will help you at each stage of the lawsuit. This process may seem overwhelming to someone who has never been in a lawsuit. That is why hiring a semi-truck accident attorney to represent your interests is important. If you have suffered an injury in a semi-truck accident, call a local semi-truck accident attorney to ensure that you maximize your chances of getting the most out of your semi-truck accident lawsuit.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
You should get medical attention and call a semi-truck accident attorney immediately after a semi-truck accident. You must ensure your physical well-being and legal rights are protected.
Get medical attention immediately, even if you do not think you have suffered a severe injury. Your injuries may not be obvious without a medical exam, so see a doctor as soon as possible. You need the knowledge only a medical team can give you about your injuries. It can save your life and your case.
The more time between when you are hurt and when you get treatment can be detrimental to your case. Every semi-truck accident victim must prove that the accident caused their injuries. The best way is to get contemporaneous medical care for your injuries.
Once you are medically stable, call a semi-truck accident attorney to advise you on your settlement options. You must seek legal help immediately.
How Much Money Can I Expect From an Accident Claim?
Your damages determine how much money you may receive from a semi-truck accident. Several factors may increase the value of your semi-truck accident settlement. The following are some factors that may increase the value of your case:
The Severity of Your Injuries
Typically, the more severe your injuries are, the more valuable your case. Semi-truck accident victims and semi-truck accident attorneys work together to prove your harm to ensure that you will get the money you need to fully recover after an accident.
Examples of common injuries that result from semi-truck accidents include:
- Mental and emotional trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries/concussions/ and Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Chronic pain
- Sprains and strains
- Loss of function/ decreased range of motion
The Need for Long-Term Medical/Rehabilitative Care
The overall value of your semi-truck accident claim may be more significant if you need rehabilitative care after the accident. You are entitled to recover for all your injuries after an accident.
Many unrepresented semi-truck accident victims do not think about the need for continuing care. You should never accept a settlement without anticipating the need for continuing long-term care like physical therapy. Your semi-truck accident attorney will work to ensure that you do not feel pressured to accept an inadequate settlement offer from the insurance company that will not cover your future and long-term medical needs.
You can recover lost income damages if your injuries cause you to lose your job. In addition to your current income loss, you can also recover future income losses. Never settle a case without anticipating future income loss damages. Aside from the money you lost at work, you may also be liable for lost earning capacity. Suppose you cannot return to the same industry you worked in before the accident. In that case, you can recover the difference between your salary before the accident and your current salary.
Insurance Policy Limits
Every insurance policy has a monetary limit the company will pay if one of its insureds gets into an accident. Usually, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay more than the stated policy limits. For example, if the at-fault driver has a policy limit of $500,000 per accident, then the only money available for your claim is $500,000 from the insurance company. Usually, there is no more money available to pay for your injuries.
After an accident, you might seek compensation for physical and emotional damages. Mental and emotional damages are hard to prove. You will need a semi-truck accident attorney to help you get compensation for your intangible injuries.
You are entitled to recover your property damages. If your vehicle has damage from a semi-truck accident, you have the right to claim damages in your insurance claim. A semi-truck accident attorney can help you adequately allege property damages after a semi-truck accident.
The Attorney Who You Hire
You should find and hire a semi-truck accident attorney with experience recovering compensation for injuries like yours and in cases that have facts like yours. Injury claims get complicated quickly, and you will need a legal team that has seen cases like yours to ensure you get the maximum compensation available for your injuries.
What if I Cannot Afford a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney?
The thought of expensive legal fees is a common concern for people after an accident. If you cannot afford an attorney, do not worry. Many personal injury lawyers across the country represent semi-truck accident victims on a contingency fee basis.
A contingency fee agreement is a payment structure for the attorney and client. In a contingency fee agreement, the attorney and client agree to defer fees for legal services until after a case is over.
The terms of a contingency fee agreement must be in writing and signed by both the attorney and the client. Be sure that you understand the terms of the agreement before you sign it. During the initial consultation with your attorney, you will discuss the terms of the agreement. Two common terms of contingency fee agreements include who will pay the litigation costs and how much the attorney will receive as payment after the case is settled.
Litigation costs are costs associated with moving the case forward. During a lawsuit, litigation expenses can include filing fees, copies, postage, etc. Your attorney may prepay litigation expenses and require reimbursement at the end of the case. The client may choose to pay litigation costs as the case continues.
The most important term in a contingency agreement is the amount of attorney’s fees. Typically, an attorney receives a percentage of the final settlement or award as payment. You should be clear about how much the attorney will take, which usually depends on how complicated it is to resolve your case.
Even with fees coming from your settlement, people with representation regularly take home much more than those without the right truck accident lawyer. It is worth it to seek legal help, even if you must pay legal fees in the end.
Contact a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney Today
Hiring a semi-truck accident attorney is the best way to set yourself up for success as you pursue a semi-truck accident claim. Semi-truck accident attorneys work hard to push back against the tactics of insurance companies, so their clients get the compensation they need to recover fully. You do not need to go it alone after a semi-truck accident.
Call a local personal injury attorney to get representation for your accident claim. Protect your right to compensation after suffering an injury from a truck accident.