The Truck Accident Claims Process
When you have been injured in an accident involving a big rig, semi-trailer or commercial truck, the most important thing after caring for your health is to partner with an effective truck crash lawyer to protect your rights.
Once you’ve decided on your team, here are the steps you can expect with the process of filing and following a personal injury claim for a truck crash.
STEP ONE: Sign an Agreement With A Truck Crash Lawyer
Make your professional relationship with a truck crash attorney official by reviewing, negotiating and signing a contract with terms you feel good about. Sometimes called a Letter of Engagement or Retainer Agreement, the contract should outline:
- Acknowledgment that the confidential lawyer-client relationship has begun
- Contingent fee percentages and other details about expenses and payment for recovering, or not recovering damages in the case. That’s the“If we don’t win, you pay nothing” promise you’ve been hearing so much about.
- Terms for how you and the attorney can cancel this agreement
- Understanding of the timelines (often long) involved with average truck accident personal injury claims, and how waiting, without extensive communication, may be involved
- Disclaimer of how attorney may handle case, negotiation of medical expenses, investigations, ordering of medical records
Keep in mind that each law firm may work with a different style of contract, some very simple and some quite in depth, depending on the case. Just be sure to know and understand the basic points of agreement before signing anything.
STEP TWO: Channel Communication Through Your Truck Crash Lawyer Only
Once you and your legal team begin diving into your claim, you will be advised to limit communication about your case to your attorney only. Commercial truck crashes get handled very differently than accidents involving passenger-style vehicles, mainly because of the many additional players involved, some on your side, others not.
Here are some guidelines:
Your Insurance Company
- Do report your truck accident to your own insurance company
- Do Not sign anything or answer questions you may be unsure about
Trucking Company Claims Adjuster & Other Insurance Companies
- Do give the name and phone number of the truck crash lawyer you have retained
- Do Not answer any questions of any kind
- Do Not sign any documents
Police, DMV & Doctors
- Do file your police report
- Do get a doctor’s evaluation as soon as possible after the truck accident
- Do report the truck accident to the DMV (where required by law)
- Do Not share the details of your injuries with anyone outside of your attorney and these required entities.
Your truck crash lawyer should be ready to guide you through each of these steps.
STEP THREE: Investigation and Collection of Evidence
By now you’ve already had a preliminary discussion and presentation of basic evidence with the attorney. It is based on this evidence – your personal account of the truck crash, details about your medical visits and physical therapy regimen, review of police reports – that helps the law firm know that your case has merit to move forward. The signing of a contract confirms that all parties are on board.
Now comes the real focused effort to unravel all possible details to help your cause. For your legal team, this often includes:
- Appointment of qualified accident scene investigators to visit truck crash site
- Review of all police reports
- Review of all medical records and visits
- Accident reconstruction, when necessary
- Meeting with insurance adjusters
- Coaching you through the process of consistently and accurately describing truck crash
- Locating and reviewing available traffic camera recording evidence
- Locating additional eyewitnesses
- Conducting conversations with the truck company’s legal and insurance representatives
- Demanding and reviewing copies of all documents and any additional evidence
STEP FOUR: Send the Personal Injury Demand Letter
Here’s the big step. You and your legal team have collected and reviewed the evidence and have enough to move forward with demands. Your truck crash lawyer will now draft and send a personal injury demand letter to the insurance company of the person or business responsible for causing your injuries.
Most significantly, this letter puts down in writing a very specific “demand” — the financial payment amount that will be accepted by the injured parties in order to restore justice. A demand letter lets truck companies and their insurers know that they will only be released from liability for this crash under very certain terms outlined in this letter.
STEP FIVE: Proceeding Toward Settlement or Trial
The truck company has your demands in front of them. They now have the opportunity to look at evidence and evaluate their own case. Depending on the circumstances, the next move of the trucker’s insurance company may include:
- Accepting your demands and moving forward with a settlement outside of court.
- Negotiating the terms and presenting a counter-offer. Like buying a property, expect negotiations to go back and forth a handful of times. If an agreement can be reached, settlement moves forward.
- Filing a lawsuit will be reserved for when you cannot reach a deal with the truck company and still believe your demands are fully justified based on your evidence and their response.
STEP SIX: Going to Trial
In some cases, going to trial may be exactly where your truck crash case belongs. If your demands are going unanswered or the insurance company will not negotiate, you’ll need your truck crash lawyer to take them to court.
The majority of cases will be settled before this step, or early on in the trial process following these common steps:
- The legal Complaint is filed with the appropriate courts, spelling out the facts and claims of your case
- The process of discovery
begins where all parties exchange legal details and questionnaires, request documents and conduct depositions outside the courtroom
When all else fails to bring resolution, a judge or jury will make the final determination for your truck crash personal injury claim and what financial amount you will recover.
Trials for personal injury cases tend to be fairly
rare occurrences, but your legal team should always be ready for this possibility. Remember to request and share updates as you move through each of these common legal steps in order to prepare yourself and truck crash lawyer with all the needed information to keep your case moving in the best possible direction.
Attorney Darryl Isaacs welcomes you to reach out and get your additional questions about the truck accident claims process answered. Use the contact form below. Consultations are free and exist to help both the client and legal team determine their next step forward.