Steven A. Bagen | April 5, 2023 | Truck Accidents
If you suffer injuries in a truck accident, you must work with a local truck accident lawyer. While many people know they must take legal action, they are unsure what a truck accident lawyer can do for their case. Truck accident attorneys play many roles when helping injury victims, like collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, negotiating with the insurance company, and more. Speak to a truck accident lawyer to protect your rights after a crash.
Determining Liability in a Truck Accident
Determining liability is among the most important ways a truck accident lawyer can help. Most victims assume the truck driver is the liable party, but a thorough investigation can show that other parties are also responsible for your injuries.
Truck accidents have many complexities, and some of the potential defendants in a claim include:
- Truck driver
- Truck company
- Truck manufacturer
- Insurance companies
- Shipping company
- Government entities
Many things can go wrong for a truck accident to occur, and your lawyer must determine liability. Some complications can arise if the driver is an independent contractor for a larger truck company. You will need to uncover how much supervision the company has over the driver.
One benefit of having a truck accident lawyer is that they will handle communication with any relevant parties on your behalf. Many accident victims fear they will say the wrong thing when speaking to insurance companies. Sometimes you will get multiple calls from adjusters to get information from you. They want to talk to you when you are most vulnerable and when you will likely slip up.
However, when you have a lawyer handling communications, you can quell this fear. Then, the adjuster will not speak to you and cannot trick you into saying the wrong thing. The only thing you have to tell the insurance company is to talk to your lawyer. Often, your lawyer will send letters of representation to relevant parties barring them from contacting you, but before they get these letters, they will pounce to speak to you.
Building Your Case
Another important way that a truck accident lawyer can help is by building a compelling case. They are building a case to present to the insurance company, jury, or judge.
They must gather a lot of information to accomplish this essential task, such as:
- Collect evidence like police reports, photos, videos, black box data, eyewitness statements, and more
- Identity liable parties and insurance companies
- Gather medical bills and proof of expenses
- Negotiate with the insurance company
- Prepare for trial against the insurance company
It is always best to hire a truck accident lawyer when you suffer a severe injury so they can handle these and other tasks and build a strong case. Severe injuries require hospitalization, surgeries, medical devices, and rehabilitation. Injury victims should not be left to handle the medical implications of a truck accident while dealing with the legal ramifications.
Investigating the Truck Accident
Truck accident lawyers will review the details of your accident and determine viability. Since most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, they want to ensure they have a good chance of winning. Contingency fees mean the lawyer only gets paid if they get a settlement or award.
Aside from the initial investigation, they will also gather evidence by:
- Visiting the accident scene
- Reviewing pictures from the collision
- Getting statements
- Reviewing camera footage
- Evaluating property damage
The investigation process can be ongoing until the claim settles. If your claim goes to litigation, discovery will happen, where both parties will gather additional evidence. Your case is contingent on the evidence you can present and how you can sway the insurance company or jury.
Finding the liable party is only half the battle. You will also have to prove their negligence. Negligence cases involve four key elements, and your attorney should collect evidence of each. Injury victims must prove the truck driver owed a duty of care and violated that duty. Their violation caused injuries that led to damages and losses. Presenting the evidence your lawyer collects and applying relevant laws will help prove fault in your case.
Tabulating Your Losses
Accident victims can seek monetary payment when they file accident claims. Victims can seek economic, non-economic, or even punitive damages. Every case is unique, meaning you need an individual approach to assessing your losses. Depending on the details of your accident injuries and liability, you can seek some or all of the available damages.
Every bill you receive or any time you make a purchase stemming from the accident is a loss. These tangible losses can be straightforward to tabulate because they have documentation. The highest and most common is medical expenses. Medical costs can include hospital stays, surgeries, lab tests, diagnostic testing, therapy, follow-up appointments, medication, rehabilitation services, and more.
You can also recover lost income when you cannot work during your hospital stay or get further treatment. Missing work can also result in lost commissions, tips, or retirement contributions. Switching careers and taking a lower-wage job will also be included in lost income. Permanent injuries can lead to future lost income if you can no longer work. You might require an economist to calculate your future lost income.
These losses are real but intangible, making them harder to calculate. These losses do not have a price tag or receipt. These damages can include disfigurement, physical impairment, mental anguish, and pain and suffering. A spouse can also file a claim for loss of consortium or companionship.
While courts rarely award them, these damages are appropriate in some cases. These damages do not compensate victims but punish the at-fault party for egregious or unethical behavior. It also deters others from the same actions. These damages have limits, but your truck accident lawyer can advise you of your eligibility and applicable limits.
Reviewing Settlement Offers
Insurance companies are vying for a way to pay the least amount possible. During truck accident claims, there are often multiple insurance companies. These companies will work together to pay you less than your case worth instead of offering a fair amount. Sometimes, one insurance company will offer a settlement without involving the others. If you accept an offer from one company, it can impact your recovery efforts from other companies.
Your truck accident lawyer can review any offers and advise you whether they are fair or whether you should continue negotiations. Assume any offer is a lowball one until you get a legal assessment from your lawyer. If you receive an offer before you have a truck accident lawyer, politely decline and tell the insurance company that your lawyer will contact them with an answer.
Sending Demand Letters
After negotiations, settlement offers, and counteroffers, if the insurance company’s offer is still too low, your truck accident attorney can inform the insurance company that you are willing to go to court to seek compensation. Their communication will outline the strength of your evidence and demand full compensation. For many claims, the insurance company will decide settling is better than going to litigation.
In other instances, the insurance companies take a more rigid stance and will not offer enough. It is time to enter the litigation process when they deny your claim or fail to send a fair offer. While undergoing the litigation process, the insurance company can propose additional settlement offers to avoid trial. Injury victims decide which offers to accept.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
Negotiating on your behalf is the most valuable service a truck accident lawyer can offer. If the insurance company offers you anything, you likely need to negotiate for a higher amount. Refrain from taking the first settlement since it is usually the lowest. While you might have some negotiation skills, the insurance adjusters negotiate daily and come out on top when dealing with injury victims. They have a challenging time negotiating against an experienced truck accident attorney.
Truck accident lawyers negotiate with insurance companies daily and know what tools to use for fair settlement offers. Your lawyer must review your damages and relevant insurance policies. Once assessing all relevant information for your claim, attorneys can negotiate a settlement covering your damages.
Representation Through Litigation and Trial
Litigation will commence when the insurance company has an insufficient response to your claim. Your truck accident lawyer will officially file a lawsuit naming all relevant insurance companies and at-fault parties. You will need a truck accident lawyer that can get into the thick of these legal actions. Preparing for trial is an extensive process that has many steps. Truck accident lawyers are familiar with these processes and can prepare your case along the way.
For success in a truck accident lawsuit, a truck accident lawyer must handle strict deadlines, communicate regularly with injury victims, and do lots of research. You want an attorney with skills like time management, negotiations, and excellent speaking skills. The most important trait you need in a lawyer is someone ready to represent you.
Truck Accidents Differ From Car Accidents
You must find a local lawyer with truck accident experience. The government regulates the trucking industry more heavily than other industries, and your attorney must know these laws. Aside from the federal and state regulations regarding trucking companies, there are additional complexities.
Large Insurance Policies:
Trucking companies have more significant policies meant to protect them in major claims. However, while they have more significant limits, they are more challenging to access. When insurance companies find a loophole to deny your claim, you must have a truck accident attorney to fight for your rights since insurers are trying to protect their interests and money.
Greater Property Damage:
Trucks are more prominent than passenger vehicles which is a perfect storm for increased property damage. Smaller vehicles can be crushed or mangled by trucks. They can also cause property damage to private property or the roadway. These damages are typically extensive and can be used as evidence when seeking compensation.
Serious and Catastrophic Injuries:
Again due to truck size, injuries can be worse than in other collisions. The size and skill to maneuver these trucks are risk factors for everyone on the road. Rollover accidents can lead to vehicle occupants being thrown from the vehicle and pinned under the car. Medical attention is vital to recovery, and some injuries are permanent even with immediate medical care.
Greater Chance of Death:
Injuries are one possible outcome of a truck accident, whether minor or severe, but there is one other possibility. Truck accidents have a greater likelihood of causing death. The size and weight of trucks make them lethal, regardless of speed. Truck accidents that result in death are difficult for surviving families, but a truck accident lawyer can take wrongful death actions.
Higher Medical Bills:
When victims suffer catastrophic injuries, it leads to higher medical bills than in other accidents. Broken bones, internal organ damage, and paralysis will wreak havoc on your life. Rehabilitation and medical treatment will be costly, and bills pile up quickly. Since your bills are higher, you will have difficulty recovering the payment you need. Insurance policies for trucking companies have higher limits, but they can still be insufficient to cover your losses for permanent injuries. You will need a truck accident lawyer to find all compensation routes.
Truck Accident Lawyers Help in Many Ways
Thousands of people suffer injuries and losses in truck accidents yearly. The trucking industry is worth billions, and commercial trucks are going nowhere. While we must share the road with trucks, we do not have to be victims of the carelessness of drivers or trucking companies.
Truck accident victims have many decisions to make regarding their care, legal options, and lifestyle changes. A truck accident lawyer will handle the entire legal process. You can receive an initial consultation with a Gainesville personal injury lawyer today.