When you’ve been injured in a truck accident, the aftermath can be a painful, confusing, and stressful experience. In addition to seeking care for your injuries and worrying about their impact on your family’s future, you will have to navigate a complex claims process where several negligent parties may be at fault.
That’s why it’s so important to partner with an experienced, effective truck accident lawyer who can protect your rights. On this page, we’ll share what steps you can expect when filing a truck accident claim. And if you’ve been injured in a truck accident, call Isaacs & Isaacs anytime at 1-800-800-8888 or fill out the form on this page for your free case evaluation.
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Step 1 in a Truck Accident Claim: Sign an Agreement With a Lawyer
Like most professional relationships, you’ll need to sign a contract – sometimes called a Letter of Engagement or Retainer Agreement – with your truck accident lawyer. Make sure you review and negotiate the terms with careful consideration, so you can sign a contract with terms that you feel good about. Every law firm approaches contracts a little differently in terms of style and depth.
This contract should contain:
- 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
Once you’ve signed a contract that works for both parties, your attorney will outline the next steps of your claim process. They’ll also help you gather evidence and facts about your case, negotiate compensation on your behalf, and determine if a settlement or a trial is the best strategic option for your specific needs and circumstances.
Step 2: Communicate Only Through Your Truck Accident Lawyer
As you and your legal team begin the claims process in earnest, you should generally limit communication about your case to your attorney only. Because commercial truck accidents can involve a variety of parties, from trucking companies to parts manufacturers to drivers, there may be a lot of people trying to go around your attorney and talk directly to you.
Here are a few guidelines for how to handle communications with these various parties:
Communicating With Your Insurance Company
- Report your truck accident to your own insurance company. This is legally required, and there are strict deadlines for letting them know.
- While you should answer questions truthfully, do not accept blame and do not agree to give a recorded statement.
- Do not sign anything or answer questions that you may be unsure about. Remember: It’s OK to say “I’m not comfortable answering that question until I consult my lawyer.”
Communicating With Trucking Company Claims Adjuster and Other Insurance Companies
- Provide the name and number of your truck accident attorney.
- Do not answer questions of any kind.
- Do not sign any documents or statements, and do not accept any settlement checks (and definitely don’t cash any!) until you have reviewed with your attorney.
Communicating With Police, DMV, and Doctors
- File a report about your accident with the police.
- Seek a doctor’s evaluation and, if necessary, treatment as soon as possible after your truck accident.
- If required by your state, report the accident to the DMV.
- Do not share any details about your truck accident with anyone besides your attorney and the parties you are legally required to communicate with.
Step 3: Collect Evidence and Investigate Your Truck Accident
By now your attorney will be familiar with the basic details of your crash, based on your personal account of the truck accident, evidence you collected immediately after your crash, medical visits and treatment related to your crash, and relevant police reports.
While those details were enough to convince your legal team that your case has merit and should proceed, a more focused effort will be necessary to unravel all possible details, so you have the best possible chance to recover the full compensation you may be owed.
Potential activities might include:
- Assigning qualified accident scene investigators to visit the site of your accident
- Performing accident reconstruction
- Meeting with insurance adjusters
- Locating and reviewing traffic cameras that may have recorded evidence, if available
- Communicating with other parties’ legal and insurance representatives
- Demanding and reviewing copies of all relevant documents and any additional evidence
Step 4: Deliver The Injury Demand Letter
Once you and your legal team have completed the investigation of your crash and collected enough evidence to move forward, your truck accident attorney will draft and send a personal injury demand letter to the liable party or parties’ insurers. This is a critical step in filing a truck accident claim and will determine what happens next.
In an injury demand letter, your attorney will detail the physical, emotional, and financial impact the accident has had on you. The letter will also present a demand in writing – typically, that will be the limits of the applicable insurance policy or policies. It will also let truck companies, their insurance companies, and any other parties who negligently contributed to your accident that they will only be released from liability under the terms outlined in the demand letter.
Step 5: Negotiate a Fair Settlement
Most truck accident attorneys will spend a significant amount of their time on this step, as the majority of truck accident claims are resolved via settlement. An experienced attorney will accurately present the compelling facts of your case and connect them to a dollar amount. Once you’ve presented your demands, it’s up to the trucking company and their insurers to evaluate the evidence and decide how they want to proceed. Depending on their evaluation of the facts, next steps could include:
- The trucking company accepts your demands and moves forward with a settlement outside of court.
- The trucking company submits a counter-offer. In these cases, it’s not unusual for negotiations to go back and forth several times. If both sides can reach an acceptable agreement, the settlement will move forward outside of court.
- If you cannot reach an agreement but believe your demand still has merit based on the facts of the case, then your legal team will file a lawsuit.
Step 6: Go to Trial When Negotiation Fails
While most cases will settle before this step, you and your legal team should be prepared to take the matter to court when necessary. This can happen when your demands are not answered or the liable parties refuse to negotiate fairly (or at all).
In those instances, your lawyer will consider filing a legal complaint with the appropriate court system. This complaint will detail the facts, claims, and demands of your case.
Next, all parties will participate in discovery. In this process, all sides will exchange legal details and questionnaires, request documents to support their arguments, and conduct depositions (interviews) outside the courtroom.
After discovery, both sides will present their arguments to a judge or jury, who will make the final decisions for your truck accident claim, including what financial amount you will be able to recover.
Remember: While most cases will settle before this step, it’s important to work with a truck accident attorney who has experience going to trial and fighting for justice when necessary.
How Long Does The Truck Accident Claim Process Take?
We hear this question about truck accident claims all the time, but unfortunately, it’s hard to provide an exact answer. Truly, it depends on the facts and circumstances of your specific situation. Some factors that can impact the timeframe include:
The type and severity of injuries:
The more serious or extensive an injury, the longer it may take for your doctors to form a clear assessment of the total damage. A smart attorney will want to avoid rushing this process, so they can help you determine what amount of compensation would create a full and comprehensive recovery of justice.
How many parties were involved:
Because truck accidents can often involve several parties, the timeframe for the claims process can greatly differ from case to case. The more parties involved, the longer the process will typically take.
The tone, pace, and willingness of negotiations:
Some truck companies will see the strength of your case and want to move immediately into settlement talks, while others may think that fighting the claim or negotiating it down is their best bet. But beware – just because an insurance company offers a quick settlement doesn’t mean that settlement is the best option for you. An experienced lawyer will guide you through this process and help you avoid potential pitfalls.
Also, while each state has their own deadlines for when someone must file a truck accident claim – a concept known as statutes of limitations – those deadlines do not dictate how long the claims process must take. Ultimately, it will just depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding your truck accident claim.
How America’s Big Truck Lawyer™Can Help With Your Truck Accident Claim
Attorney Darryl Isaacs and his team of experienced truck accident attorneys know exactly how complex and stressful filing a truck accident claim can be. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this traumatic experience alone.
We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you won’t owe us any costs or fees unless we win your case, and we have a 99% success rate in recovering maximum damages for our clients who live in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, the best time to act is right now. Call Isaacs & Isaacs 24/7 at 1-800-800-8888 or fill out the form on this page for your free case evaluation.