What is the Truck Accident Claim Process?
What Happens After a Trucking Accident?
Being involved in an truck accident is a traumatic experience. Like a car accident, a truck crash can cause debilitating personal injuries and emotional distress–but due to the sheer size and force of the vehicle, truck accidents often cause more severe injuries and mental agony than an accident involving passenger cars alone.
When you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident, the last thing you want to do is try and figure out the complicated truck accident claim process.
It is essential, however, that you act fast–while evidence is fresh and before the statute of limitations runs out–in order to ensure you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve. Thankfully, an experienced truck accident lawyer can handle most steps of the truck accident claim process for you, and at no charge to you unless you win a truck accident settlement or jury award.
Most truck accident claims go through a set number of steps as you proceed closer to the eventual settlement or verdict. Some truck accident lawsuits may be settled within just a few days, but others take months to work their way through negotiations and litigation.
As you consider your truck accident claim, it is helpful to know what the usual steps of a truck accident claim are, so you can follow the progress of your case and provide the crucial information to your truck accident attorney to help ensure maximum compensation for your injuries.
1. Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
The first step of the truck accident claims process is to choose the right attorney and schedule a free consultation. Due to the size of tractor trailers and other heavy trucks, the intensity of injuries in truck accidents, and the issues around determining liability for commercial vehicles, truck accident claims require special expertise that our personal injury attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are uniquely equipped to offer.
A trained truck accident attorney is your guide and advocate throughout the process, who understands the dos and don’ts of negotiating with insurance adjusters and trucking companies and can best assess damages and liabilities.
During that consultation, the truck accident lawyer will begin to collect crucial evidence to help determine damages and liability in the case.
Letter of Engagement
If the truck accident lawyer determines that you are entitled to compensation, then they will ask you to sign an agreement to take on the case and fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve.
This contract, sometimes known as a letter of engagement or retainer agreement, acknowledges that you have entered into a relationship with the lawyer, authorizes them to obtain medical records and other information and to negotiate on your behalf, and lays out terms for how the agreement can be canceled. Before signing, you should make absolutely sure you understand who will represent you and how much you will pay.
What Makes Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Unique?
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, our truck accident attorneys are the best in the country, with more than 60 years of experience in this complicated area of the law. We fight hard to get truck accident victims the fair settlement or courtroom verdict they deserve. Together, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys’s truck accident lawyers have won tens of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements, a track record no other truck accident attorneys can claim.
Marion and Daniel Munley are both board-certified in Trucking Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and they both are named among the National Trial Lawyers “Trucking Trial Lawyers Top Ten.” Our lawyers are ranked among the Best Lawyers in America and have earned AV-Preeminent designations and Platinum-Level Client Champion ratings from Martindale-Hubbell.
What is a Contingency Fee?
In addition, our truck accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis. That means that you pay nothing up front. The law firm will pay costs associated with evidence collection and negotiation with the insurance adjusters and trucking companies.
You only pay if we are successful in obtaining compensation in a truck accident settlement or a courtroom verdict. At that time, you compensate our law firm out of a portion of the award, meaning you still pay nothing out of your pocket. If we are not successful in winning compensation, you pay nothing.
2. Communicate Through Your Truck Accident Lawyer Only
After you hire a truck accident lawyer, they will do the bulk of the work on the case without your input, updating you on the progress of the case as necessary.
At the same time, you should keep in regular contact with them to let them know about any changes in your medical condition or in other aspects of your life and livelihood that might affect your case, and sharing any documentation you receive about the case..
As part of the truck accident claims process, you will need to inform several parties about your accident, including your insurance company, police, and the state Department of Motor Vehicles (where required). After you initially inform your insurance company about the accident, you should be careful to refer any additional questions from the insurance company to your truck lawyer.
That way, your trained truck accident lawyer can make sure to properly represent the details of the accident in a way that will most benefit your case for eventual compensation. The same goes for anyone else who would like to talk to you about the details of the accident, including doctors.
Careful What You Say
Under no circumstances should you communicate with the trucking company. If the company contacts you, should give them the name of your lawyer and ask them to direct any inquiries to them.
At all times, you should be careful not say anything to an outside party that could be construed as an admission of guilt or responsibility, since such statements could be used against you to jeopardize your truck accident claims for damages. Also, you should be careful not to sign any documents without the express permission of your lawyer.
In this way, you will ensure that your experienced truck accident attorney will communicate in the right way with other entities involved in the case, and not inadvertently reveal any information that might prejudice your case.
3. Allow Your Truck Accident Lawyer to Collect the Necessary Evidence
In order to present the best case, your truck accident attorney will work hard to collect evidence about your truck accident. That evidence can take many forms, including:
- Police reports about the accident, which can include a narrative account of the accident from you, the truck driver, and any eyewitnesses on the scene. The police report can also include contact information for witnesses who might be subsequently be contacted by your attorney
- Witness statements from those who observed the accident scene can help fill out additional details about what happened in order to provide the most accurate picture of the event
- Photos and video footage of the accident scene, taken by you or other parties on the scene can contain vital clues to show what happened and who is at fault. This might include video footage from security cameras or traffic cameras of the accident itself.
- The truck’s “black box” is a damage-proof computerized control system on the truck that gathers information showing the truck driver’s pattern of driving both before and during the accident
- The truck driver’s cell phone can provide information on what they were doing before the moment of the accident, to help establish whether the truck driver was driving distractedly, showing the truck driver’s negligence
- The truck driver’s logbooks, required by law to be kept accurate and up-to-date, can help establish whether the truck driver was driving more than the allowed number of hours without a break, possibly leading to fatigue
- Vehicle records of both your vehicle and the truck can show where damage occurred, providing additional clues about where and how the impact happened.
- Medical records can show where and how your personal injuries occurred, as well as the lasting damage to your body that can form the basis for a truck accident claim, determining how much compensation you should be owed. Be sure to keep all medical bills and share them with your attorney.
Of course, your truck accident lawyer will also interview you to establish your version of events in the truck accident. Your attorney will use all of this information to determine the potentially liable parties in an accident.
What If You Bear Responsibility?
In some cases, you may bear some of the responsibility for the accident, but that does not mean you aren’t still potentially entitled to compensation. Depending on the state where the accident occurs, you may still be entitled to partial compensation based on the extent that the other party was at fault.
Your attorney will also use the evidence to establish a fair demand for compensation. To determine this amount, they will consider all accident related expenses, including your medical expenses and rehabilitation expenses, as well as lost income from not working, and more intangible elements such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
5. Allow your Truck Accident Lawyer to Negotiate your Case
After your attorney has reviewed the evidence and assessed damages, they will send a personal injury demand letter to the trucking company and insurance company specifying the amount they believe you should be paid to fairly compensate you for the injuries you have sustained. The letter will stipulate that the truck companies and insurers will be held liable in a court of law unless they provide this compensation.
After this settlement offer, the trucking company or insurance company may reply to your attorney with a counter-offer explaining why they believe they should pay less than the full amount of the demand. Negotiations may go through several rounds back and forth with the insurance company before a fair settlement can be agreed upon.
At each state of the process, you have the option of accepting the settlement offer, based on your own assessment and the advice of your attorney. In some cases, your attorney may not be able to reach a settlement, and with your permission, will enter into mediation with a trained mediator such as a former judge who will assess the case and attempt to get both sides to agree to a figure for compensation.
6. Accept a Settlement or go to Trial
At some point in the truck accident claim process, you will face an important choice: accept a settlement, or go to trial to have your case heard and considered by a jury. If you accept the settlement offer from the trucking company or insurance company, then the process will conclude with you receiving compensation for your personal injury claim, and paying your attorney their fee for representing you in the case.
Bringing a Lawsuit
If, however, you and your attorney do not believe that the companies are offering fair compensation for your truck accident injuries, then you can proceed to bring a lawsuit that will be heard in court. In that case, your attorney and the insurance company will both present evidence to explain who they believe is liable for the accident, and why the amount of compensation they are demanding or offering respectively is correct.
That evidence will then be reviewed by a jury, which will determine based on instructions from the court whether or not you are entitled to compensation, and if so how much that compensation should be. If either side is unhappy with the verdict, they can appeal the jury’s decision to an appeals court. However, in most cases, both sides accept the verdict. At that point, the result is the same as if a settlement occurred. Your only job is to sit back and wait to receive your compensation.
Trusting the process
Truck accidents are traumatic experiences, which can leave lasting physical and emotional scars on victims. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the stages of the claims process, making it as easy as possible, so you can focus on the recovery you need to do.
If you were involved in a truck accident anywhere in Pennsylvania, our truck accident lawyers are here to help. Contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today to schedule a free consultation with one of our award-winning truck accident attorneys.
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Posted in Truck Accidents.