The truck accident claim process varies from case to case. In general, however, your claim starts from the moment of your truck accident. Even if you haven’t officially filed your claim or notified the insurer, you’re passively laying the groundwork for your claim by gathering evidence, documenting your losses, and considering legal representation.
The last part is especially important. Considering legal representation. A truck accident lawyer with experience managing truck accident cases can evaluate your situation and pursue the best possible settlement from the liable party.
What the Truck Accident Claim Process Looks Like When You Get Legal Help
When you pursue compensation for a truck accident claim alone, you face a long and difficult process—especially if you’re undergoing treatment. You can avoid these complications by partnering with a lawyer.
Here’s a rough outline of what you could expect. Keep in mind that your lawyer may not complete certain tasks in the order listed below. Furthermore, they may do multiple things concurrently to make the most of their time.
You Meet Your Lawyer for the First Time
Injury lawyers usually start with a free consultation or case review. This is an open conversation during which you will explain your situation. While these conversations generally happen over the phone, your lawyer may schedule a virtual conference call or even visit you in person.
From there, you will share what you remember of the crash, including the basic who, what, when, where, and whys. Your lawyer wants to glean as much information about your claim as possible. That way, they can accurately review your situation and advise you on your next steps.
Your Lawyer Investigates the Collision
Once you partner with an attorney, they need to determine the at-fault and liable parties. This requires them to investigate the accident’s details.
They may find and use the following information to learn what happened:
- Eyewitness testimony
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Accident reconstruction data
- The trucker’s logbooks
- The truck’s black box data
The accident report is a critical part of your lawyer’s investigation. This document offers a firsthand account of the accident from a police officer’s perspective. It may include diagrams of the accident scene, any details about injuries, and whether they issued any citations.
Your Lawyer Identifies the At-Fault and Liable Parties
Fault and liability are two separate concepts in a truck accident. The at-fault party directly caused the collision. The liable party pays for your losses. So, a trucker may have caused your accident, but their employer could have liability.
Sometimes, truck accidents have more than one at-fault and liable party, potentially complicating matters for unrepresented parties. Yet, by having a lawyer on their side, they can manage these obligations and pursue damages from those responsible.
Your Legal Team Identifies Your Accident-Related Damages
Your lawyer will evaluate your bills, receipts, and invoices to learn about the value of your financial losses.
These items include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income and other revenue streams
- Loss of future earning ability
- Property damage costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
To learn about the value of your non-economic damages, your lawyer may consult with field experts and employ various formulas.
Examples of your non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium
Your lawyer considers many factors when arriving at a fair value for your accident-related losses. These factors include your health, the severity of your injuries, your age, the degree of your recovery, and your life expectancy. They may also take testimony from friends, loved ones, co-workers, and employers to testify on your behalf.
Your Claim Officially Starts With a Demand Letter
As you can see, many things must happen before your lawyer officially files your claim. They formally kick off this process by sending what’s known as a demand letter. This letter spells out your injuries and losses, while also requesting compensation. Ideally, the insurance company will review this document and offer full compensation for your losses. If not, however, your lawyer can negotiate for what you need.
Your Lawyer Starts Negotiating
The insurer may offer a settlement immediately after reviewing your demand letter. Unless it’s the amount you initially requested, don’t entertain it. Early settlement offers are usually far lower than what victims deserve. If you take a low settlement, you’ll have to sign away your ability to pursue further compensation in the future.
Your attorney and the truck company’s insurer may engage in several rounds of negotiations to arrive at a fair settlement. During this process, your lawyer will:
- Protect you from bad faith insurance practices. Not all insurance companies negotiate in good faith. Some do everything possible to derail the claims process. Your lawyer will protect you from any tactics that aim to discredit your case or compel you to settle for less.
- Adhere to all deadlines. Your insurance claim may come with many deadlines that you didn’t know about. By reviewing the applicable policy, your lawyer can ensure you comply with all filing dates. This ultimately upholds your right to compensation and holds the insurer to its obligations.
- Manage your case’s paperwork. Negotiations can generate tens of documents, all of which need your immediate attention. Misunderstanding a single detail puts your case at risk. Yet, your lawyer can review all documentation and eliminate the possibility of errors.
- Interpret any complicated legal jargon. Insurance forms are full of complicated language that can be hard to understand. You don’t want to sign a single form if you’re unsure of what it means. That’s where your lawyer comes in. They can explain what all documents need and explain whether you should sign.
There’s a huge difference between a successful truck accident claim and an unsuccessful one. Recovering compensation offers the resources needed to pay for your medical bills and other related expenses. An unsuccessful claim could mean years of undue financial hardship. That’s why, at the very least, you should consider hiring a truck accident lawyer to manage your case.
Your Legal Team May File a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Negotiations may stall at any point. If the insurance company won’t make a fair offer to cover your damages or disputes liability, your lawyer may suggest filing a lawsuit. Suing the truck driver or trucking company leaves the fate of your case in the hands of a judge or jury, who could rule in your favor or in favor of the other party.
If your lawyer has prepared a strong claim, you could receive damages through a court award. Even after you file a lawsuit, the trucker’s insurer may offer an out-of-court settlement. This means, even after filing a lawsuit, you might not have to attend court.
As noted, every truck accident claim follows its own trajectory. One truck accident case could settle in a matter of days, while yours could resolve in a matter of months. One thing’s for certain, however: there are invaluable benefits to hiring a truck accident attorney. When you secure legal help, you get more than an advocate; you get someone truly committed to your case’s outcome.
What Factors Could Affect My Truck Accident Claim?
You and your lawyer share the goal of wanting the best possible outcome as soon as possible. Yet, there are many factors that could complicate matters—each of which your legal team can address.
These factors include:
- Your injury’s severity. If your injuries are constantly developing and need intensive care, this could affect your claim’s timeline. Your lawyer doesn’t want to settle your case without fully understanding the costs your case involves.
- Issues regarding liability. If your lawyer can easily prove liability for your losses, this could make for a straightforward claim. If multiple parties are liable (and they dispute liability), this could make your case’s progression stall.
- The statute of limitations. As you’ll learn later, all cases have filing deadlines. If your filing deadline is close, the insurer might not cooperate, hoping to run out of the deadline. This is yet another reason to consider entrusting your case to an injury lawyer. They can track your case’s deadline and do everything possible to comply.
- The availability of certain evidence. Gathering evidence isn’t as simple as making a few phone calls. It requires your lawyer to speak with witnesses, clerks, and law enforcement officers. How long it takes your lawyer to gather compelling evidence plays a critical role in how your case progresses.
The liable insurance company, your lawyer’s experience, and other factors could affect how your claim moves forward.
What Should I Do During the Truck Accident Claim Process?
While your lawyer manages your case’s many obligations, they’ll likely tell you to:
Get Medical Attention
Getting medical treatment is absolutely essential to your truck accident claim. Before it pays you anything, the insurer wants to know that your injuries are real. If you were injured, you must have documentation, including imaging scans and doctors’ testimony. Without a doctor to back up your claim of injury, you may not have a strong case.
Furthermore, compensation should reflect the cost of your medical expenses, including the future treatment that you may require after filing your claim. It’s the insurer’s job to cover all your truck accident-related expenses under the liable policy—and that includes procedures you haven’t had yet.
If you don’t receive medical attention and complete treatment, you could have a hard time recovering full compensation for your losses.
Avoid Giving the Insurance Company a Recorded Statement
The liable insurer may contact you at any point after the crash. You may even hear from a representative before you’ve filed your claim. Be aware that any early attempts at communication might not be in your best interest. For instance, the claims adjuster may discourage you from hiring a personal injury lawyer. They may even ask for a recorded statement.
You should not give a recorded statement if they ask for one. This is a tactic to gather information to reduce their liability in your truck accident. For example, something you say during a recorded statement could lead them to conclude that you were at fault and cause them to reduce the money they offer. Keep the conversation brief and decline to speak to the insurer without your lawyer.
Think Twice Before Accepting an Offer
As previously suggested, the insurance company may offer a settlement immediately following the collision. If you accept, you must sign a waiver of liability first. This frees the insurer from any outstanding expenses and essentially ends your claim. At that point, you can’t request more money or negotiate—even if your condition takes a turn for the worse.
Your lawyer can evaluate all settlement offers and advise you on whether to accept one. They can also continue negotiating if the insurer won’t offer fair compensation.
Know Your Case’s Deadlines
Every truck accident case has a filing deadline. How long you must file your claim and lawsuit depends on many factors, including where the collision happened. For example, if your crash happened in Georgia, you could have two years to file a civil lawsuit under state law.
The liable insurance company also has its own deadlines, which it might not share explicitly. Your case’s filing deadline is just one of many bureaucratic matters your lawyer can handle. By evaluating and explaining your case’s filing deadline, you can make decisions that benefit your quest for compensation.
Keep All Case-Related Documentation
You can help your lawyer investigate your case by keeping these documents:
- Any written communications between yourself and the liable insurer
- Photos of your injuries throughout your recovery period
- Your employment records and income statements
- Your doctor’s treatment plan
- Receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses
The more information your lawyer has to support your case, the better. Even the smallest shred of evidence plays a pivotal role in how your case moves forward.
You Could Benefit From Partnering With a Truck Accident Lawyer
The truck accident claim process involves numerous steps. Hiring a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta can help you navigate them and seek a favorable outcome. You don’t have to go through this challenging period alone. As an injured claimant, you have legal rights.