How to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Last year, truck accidents injured 75,497 people in the United States. Motorists colliding with trucks incur 71 percent of those injuries.
This paints a clear picture – truck accidents are deadly, life-changing events. After a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, you deserve to file a truck accident lawsuit.
However, before you do, meet with a truck accident lawyer to learn the basics of how to file a truck accident lawsuit. Meanwhile, in this guide, we’ll cover how a lawyer can file a truck accident claim to collect fair compensation for your injuries.
What Does a Truck Accident Entail?
Most people file truck accident lawsuits against a driver’s insurance company, or their employer’s insurer.
However, insurance companies minimize their losses by either blaming you for the truck accident or claiming your injuries aren’t as severe as you say.
Unless you can prove both claims untrue, you’ll have to go before a judge to determine who was at fault for your truck accident.
A truck accident lawsuit entails filing a claim that proves another driver was responsible for your accident.
Your claim should include substantial proof, such as photographic evidence and medical reports. If the insurance company can’t dispute your claim, they’ll usually settle out of court and begin negotiations with your attorney.If not, you’ll still head to court. However, most civil cases settle out of court. Ultimately, the first step in collecting a fair settlement for your injuries is filing a claim.
In the next section, we’ll explain exactly how you can do that.
How to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit: 6 Definitive Steps
If you’re ready to file a truck accident claim, here are six steps you’ll need to follow:
1. Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
The first step in filing a truck accident lawsuit is hiring an attorney. Granted, you can file a claim on your own.
However, this is playing into the hands of an insurance company that has an entire team of lawyers ready to deny your claim. Hiring a lawyer keeps an insurance company honest and levels the playing field.
When you hire a truck accident attorney, you’ll be sent over a Letter of Engagement or Retainer Agreement.
This document will:
- Establish a confidential lawyer-client relationship.
- Detail contingent fee percentages, meaning you only pay your attorney if you win.
- Explain how either you or your attorney can end the working relationship.
- Discuss the timeline of your truck accident claim, from submitting the paperwork to gathering evidence.
- Provide a disclaimer for the attorney to handle your medical records, investigations, etc.
Depending on the lawyer you work with, you may either sign a simple or multi-faceted retainer agreement.
2. Only Speak to Your Lawyer
All truck accidents are not the same. Some truck accidents are cut and dry, only involving two drivers. In other truck accidents, there are multiple parties involved.
With that said, it’s important to keep communications limited between you and your attorney. Here is how you should communicate with insurance companies, adjusters, and police officers:
Your Insurance Company:
- Report your truck accident to your insurance company.
- Don’t sign anything or explain your injuries any more than you have to.
Trucking Company and Insurance Adjuster:
- Don’t talk to them at all. Only provide the name and contact information of your attorney.
- Don’t sign anything.
Police Officers and Doctors:
- File a police report.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible.
- Don’t share the details of your truck accident with anyone besides your lawyer.
The general rule of thumb here is to speak to your lawyer about who you’re allowed to talk to about your truck accident. All communications will go through them.
3. Begin Collecting Evidence
Collecting evidence is one of the most important aspects of building a successful claim. Overall, your evidence should show that your other driver has more than 50% fault for your accident.
Since California is an at-fault state, you have the burden of proof when filing a lawsuit.
Your attorney proves fault by:
- Counting on expert testimony from doctors and accident scene investigators.
- Reviewing police and medical reports.
- Performing accident reconstruction.
- Talking to insurance adjusters.
- Coaching you about how to describe your accident.
- Locating and reviewing traffic camera footage, if possible.
- Finding eyewitnesses.
- Meeting with trucking companies and their insurance company representatives.
- Demanding copies of additional evidence to support your claim.
The best truck accident lawyers will have the tools and resources to gather sufficient evidence to reinforce your claim and bring you closer to reaching a fair settlement.
4. Deliver a Personal Injury Demand Letter
This step will be the defining moment of your case. After you’ve gathered evidence and received coaching from your lawyer about preparing your testimony, they will draft a personal injury demand letter.
This letter will be sent to the trucking company and their insurance company. It will simply detail how you have been affected by the negligence of their truck driver.
Whether you’re on the hook for expensive medical bills or dealing with pain and suffering, your demand letter will make your injuries and circumstances clear.
The integral part of the demand letter is the demand. It will feature a monetary amount that needs to be paid to release them from liability. If they accept, you’ll receive a settlement. Otherwise, you may take the case before a judge and jury.
You never know how an insurance company will respond to your demand letter. Sometimes, insurance companies will head immediately to the settlement table.
Other times, they’ll dispute your claim and welcome a courtroom battle. In either case, your lawyer will prepare to fight for you.
5. Begin Negotiations
Most of the time, the insurance company will move to settle your claim out of court. If you show overwhelming evidence against their driver, they’ll have no choice.
After all, insurance companies don’t want to waste money going to court, especially if there is a chance they’ll lose and be forced to accept liability. The negotiation process can be either simple or complicated.
If the insurance company accepts your claim outright, you’ll win a settlement and end the conflict immediately. Sometimes, the insurance company will accept your claim and offer a counteroffer.
Your lawyer will work on your behalf to settle on a financial amount that’s commensurate with your injuries. Once both parties come to an agreement, the settlement will be paid.
Your lawyer will take a percentage of your settlement, and you’ll receive payment and end the conflict.
6. Go to Trial
Very few personal injury cases go to trial. However, every experienced truck crash lawyer is prepared for that possibility.
Going to court means that your case will be brought before a judge and jury. Any time during this process, the insurance company can head to negotiations to settle your claim out of court.
Otherwise, the court will decide the outcome of your claim. Fortunately, courts hear very few truck accident claims. Chances are, the insurance company will eventually settle if the lawsuit drags on and they realize you will win.
Why Should I Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Hiring a truck accident lawyer is your best chance of getting a fair settlement for your claim.
Here are some reasons why you should consider hiring a lawyer:
- Truck accident lawyers have the expertise to handle simple and complex claims, whether you’re suing one insurance company or a large trucking company.
- Hiring an attorney means you focus on recovering from your injuries and receive peace of mind knowing your legal needs are being taken care of.
- Insurance companies aren’t shy about encountering truck accident victims. If you’re alone, it’s likely they’ll offer you a low settlement offer or deny your claim altogether.
- It’s difficult for truck accident victims to value their claims. As a result, you may be unaware that an insurance company isn’t offering you a fair market value settlement.
Never file a truck accident claim by yourself. A lawyer gives you the competitive edge that’ll force the other party to honor your claim.
How to Find the Right Truck Accident Lawyer
If you’re convinced that you should hire a lawyer for your claim, here are some helpful tips to find the best match:
Check Online Reviews
One of the best ways to find a qualified attorney is by scouting online reviews from Google, Yelp, and other online directories.
Online reviews can reveal the true nature of a law firm, showing off their most satisfied and angry clients from the past. By reviewing online reviews, you can increase your chances of making a great selection and avoid buyer’s remorse.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Most lawyers offer a free consultation to learn more about the details of your claim. This is also beneficial for prospective clients to see first-hand how a law firm can assemble a winning legal strategy.
Check Case Records
Not every law firm is who they claim to be. Case records will reveal the most successful truck accident law firms in your area.
You can usually find a lawyer’s case results on their website. If you’re still not sure, you can ask a lawyer during an initial consultation.
See if They Have Experience with Your Case
Every truck accident lawsuit is different. Therefore, don’t work with a lawyer who treats every truck accident case the same.
Experienced truck accident lawyers will analyze the nuances of each case to develop a customized legal strategy.
Measure Their Communication Skills
Ultimately, your claim involves a human element. During legal proceedings, you’re going to communicate regularly with your lawyer, so hire a lawyer with strong interpersonal skills. An attorney who exhibits excellent communication skills can reassure you in the midst of a stressful legal situation.
They’ll give you the facts of your case and handle the aspects that are out of your control.
Contact Bentley & More LLP for Your Free Consultation
Overall, filing a truck accident lawyer is a straightforward legal process. When
you hire a personal injury attorney, you can streamline this process and potentially win a fair settlement to help cover your medical bills and related expenses.
An attorney can also help gather critical evidence to support your claim. If you’re ready to file your claim, look no further than Bentley & More LLP. Give us a call today at (949) 870-3800 or contact us today for your free consultation.