The claims process begins with hiring a lawyer experienced in truck accidents and personal injury. The lawyer will guide victims through the often-complex process involved in filing and litigating a claim. Gathering evidence is one of the primary actions a lawyer will undertake on a victim’s behalf. Good evidence can help prove who caused the accident, the various parties that may be liable, how the victim sustained injuries, and the nature, extent, and cost of injuries and damages. Evidence can include:
- Medical records and receipts for care, equipment, and rehabilitation.
- The police report, including photographs and crash diagrams.
- Witness statements, videos, or images.
- Accident scene photos and videos.
- Truck driver employment records and training.
- Truck driver logs, including break and sleep times.
- Truck driver’s past accidents or citations.
- Trucking company or truck owner inspection and maintenance records of the involved truck.
- Trucking company’s expectations of drivers, policies, and practices.
- Trucking company’s past citations, claims, and lawsuits against them.
- Expert testimonies about truck or driver operations, weather conditions, and road conditions.
- Truck or part manufacturer’s data, recalls, and test results.
How can a Lawyer Negotiate a Settlement?
Many truck accidents are settled out of court. A settlement is an agreement between the victim in the truck accident and the legally liable party for causing the injuries and other damages. The responsible party covers financial and other damages while the victim agrees not to pursue the claim further.
During negotiations, the lawyer will present the evidence to the insurer and liable party and a demand for payment of a certain amount. The lawyer will use evidence and other facts to build the most robust case possible for why and how much the liable party should pay. The lawyer will calculate financial compensation for present and future damages.
Can a Lawyer Take the Claim to Court?
Sometimes, an insurer or other party will not agree to a fair and just settlement. When this happens, a truck accident lawyer will be prepared to fight for the victim’s right to compensation in court, even to trial with a judge and jury. Trials are complex. It is important to hire a lawyer with many years of experience litigating truck accidents. A case is not over until the liable party or their insurer pays the full amount negotiated or awarded by the court. A lawyer can ensure this payment is made on time.
What Steps Should I Take After a Crash with a Commercial Truck?
It is also vital for the driver of a car involved in an accident with a truck to follow specific steps after the crash to help in future negotiations with the parties involved:
- Call 911, even if there do not appear to be injuries. A call will bring both medical and police assistance, both of which are needed.
- If the car is blocking traffic and it is okay to drive, move it to the side of the road. The truck driver should do the same.
- Check all the people involved for injury, including the truck driver and occupants. Administer first aid if possible. Do not move anyone that may have a head, neck, spinal, or another serious injury, or who is trapped in a vehicle unless they are in imminent danger.
- Take notes about the accident. This includes location, road and weather conditions, time of day, and sun location. Recording these notes with a cellphone can help ensure accuracy and could come in handy later.
- Take pictures and videos. Film the accident scene, roadway, background, damage to vehicles, and passenger injuries.
- Collect information from the truck driver. This includes the truck’s license plate, make and model, owner, the affiliated company, truck driver’s insurance and company information, and the policy number, name, and contact information.
- Collect information from witnesses and other drives involved in the accident. People will often stop to help in an accident or are milling around after an accident. Ask them if they witnessed the events and take their statements, along with their contact information.
- Do not admit guilt, negligence, or any liability, either to the truck driver, witnesses, or the police. State exactly what happened using just the facts.
- Contact a lawyer. A lawyer should be contacted as soon as possible after the accident.
What Awards are Eligible in the Claims Process for a Truck Accident Case?
A person injured in a truck accident caused by someone else’s negligent behavior can seek compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses, now and in the future. This includes care, prescriptions, equipment, hospital or long-term care stays, rehabilitation services, and more.
- Lost wages and future earning ability. This would include salary lost while a victim recovers and compensation for future wages lost because of an inability to work.
- Pain and suffering. There is often physical and emotional suffering after an injury.
- Replacement services. When truck accidents cause injuries that prevent victims from going about their lives as they did before the accident, they can be compensated for the costs of hiring replacement help.
- Harm to relationships. Sometimes, injuries and pain and suffering from a truck accident dramatically affect the victim’s relationships with their spouse, family, or friends. Victims can be compensated for this harm.
How Long Does the Claims Process Take?
Pursuing a truck accident claim requires commitment and patience by the victim as the process can take some time depending on the following factors:
- The number of parties involved in the claim. As the truck accident lawyer gathers evidence, they may find that more than one party is liable. Having more than one party involved will lengthen the claims process.
- Nature and extent of medical injuries. Some injuries take a long time to heal or will have long-term medical implications. A lawyer needs to understand the full impact of one’s injuries to calculate fair and just compensation for the victim. This can take some time, and it is best not to hurry this part of the process.
- Liable parties’ willingness to negotiate. Many companies and insurers will see that the evidence presented clearly points to their liability and are willing to negotiate. Others may not, thereby causing a delay in payment as the parties prepare for trial, which could happen many months or even years after the accident.
Virginia law requires that a person make a claim for a truck accident within two years from the date of injury, but this does not guarantee how long the claims process will take.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Truck Accident Case?
Statistics show that truck accidents have steadily increased over the past two decades. There are various reasons for this, including distracted and fatigued driving on the part of the commercial truck driver. Weather, driver inexperience, faulty truck parts, and lack of inspections and maintenance can also cause truck accidents. Whatever the reason, an accident involving a truck is generally more harmful than a standard collision.
Truck accidents also become complicated when negotiating and settling claims in legal actions, primarily because multiple parties may be involved. Liability in a truck accident can fall to the driver, trucking company, truck owner, shipper or loader, or even the manufacturer and assembler of the truck and its parts. Anyone involved in an accident with a commercial truck will need the help of a truck accident lawyer to fully protect their rights to compensation for damages.
An experienced lawyer understands Virginia law and the complexities of negotiating with anyone that can be found liable in a truck accident. A lawyer can help with negotiations, settlements, liability, and compensation for the victim.
Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Help with the Claims Process for Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are complex and can involve multiple parties. It takes an experienced lawyer to collect and present evidence, negotiate with insurance companies and liable parties, and take the claim to court if needed. A Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC can help you receive the compensation you are entitled to after a truck accident. Contact us online or call us at 757-LAW-0000 for a consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.