The average truck accident takes approximately six months to settle. However, there is no universal timeframe or deadline because every case is different, and all accidents have unique circumstances that can affect the path to a settlement or an award. If you have questions about the value of your claim or how long it will take to process, a truck accident lawyer can access the details of your case and provide a professional opinion. To get started, consider the steps in the claims process and what you can do to protect your right to compensation.
What Can You Do To Help Build a Solid Case?
Truck accident cases with substantial and severe injuries generally settle more quickly. However, because these claims have several potential points of liability and often result in significant damages, it can take longer to investigate the accident than a typical collision between two passenger vehicles. The most effective way to speed up the process is to gather evidence and document everything along the way. Some ways you can contribute include:
- Keep a journal documenting your post-accident experience. Start writing down how your injuries affect your daily life as soon as you can. Include information about doctor visits, and talk about your emotions each day. This could be a vital source of evidence as you collect data to prove damages.
- Keep track of all medical bills. Extensive injuries typically result in extensive medical bills, which are part of your claim for damages. You can save a significant amount of time just by organizing all your medical bills from the accident and presenting them to your lawyer.
- Avoid talking about the accident. You obviously need to speak to your attorney and the police. However, allow your legal representative to speak for you with the insurance company. Additionally, it is best to avoid social media altogether. The insurer will independently investigate your claim, and part of that process often includes looking at your social media pages for any information they can use to diminish their client's blame.
- Collect evidence if you can. Unfortunately, victims of devastating injuries will not be able to evaluate the crash scene. However, if you were physically able or had someone else take photographs of the vehicles, any apparent damages, and the surrounding area, present those to your attorney as well.
Any information you have about the accident could be vital to your case and could help your lawyer better support your claim. Remember, you are responsible for proving the other party's negligence and your damages.
How Does the Claims Process Work?
There are standard stages in the truck accident claim process. Although, cases can vary based on situational factors that make a case unique. Overall, you can expect the process to follow these steps:
- Hire a truck accident lawyer. During your free consultation, you can discuss the case and the best available legal options given the details of your accident. You want to seek an attorney with proven success and experience working with truck accident victims. Then you conduct all communications about your case through your attorney.
- Await the investigation process. Your lawyer and the insurance company will conduct their own investigations. This entails reviewing the police report, contacting witnesses, checking video footage and photographs, assessing vehicle damage, reviewing medical records, and checking for mechanical issues on the truck. Additionally, they will look into the truck driver's logbook and driving history.
- Negotiations begin. Negotiations can start at any point during the claims process. However, the first settlement offer is seldom a fair assessment of your damages. This is where your attorney's career skills will be most beneficial.
- Drafting the demand letter. Once the investigation ends, your attorney will draft a demand letter with your complete list of demands, including an explanation of economic and non-economic damages from your case.
- Await a response to the demand letter. A typical response is to project blame back onto you. Still, negotiations will continue until your attorney advises you to either accept a settlement offer or take your case to trial.
The investigation process is typically the longest stage in a truck accident case, and a settlement can occur at any point during this process. The more evidence you have, the more likely the insurance company will want to avoid trial.
Why Might Your Case Need To Go to Trial?
Taking your case to trial is rarely ideal. The trial process can be lengthy and costly, and a truck accident attorney would only advise that you take this step if they believe it will be worth the wait. For example, if multiple parties are at fault, the case can become so complex that it must go to trial. In addition, there can be disputes over percentages of responsibility that may require a judge or jury to settle.
Another reason you may need to go to trial is if you have substantial damages. A most costly claim can sometimes be more difficult to negotiate because the insurance company does not want to pay out. They may resort to bad faith taxes such as delaying the investigation, making unnecessary document requests, denying your claim without reason, or denying the defendant's liability. A seasoned truck accident lawyer can recognize these tactics right away and will take action to protect your right to compensation.
In California, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit following an auto accident is two years from the date of the accident. However, your attorney will not allow the insurance company to drag out the negotiation process for that long. Instead, they will likely complete the paperwork to file, and sometimes, after you file, the insurer will settle.
How Does Shared Fault After Your Compensation?
California follows the pure comparative negligence rule to handle cases with shared fault. Therefore, if you are partially responsible for the accident, it will impact the amount of total damages available to recover, but you will still be eligible to recover something. When applied, the comparative negligence rule requires the court to assign you a percentage of fault. Then, they deduct that same percentage from the total value of your award. For example, if you are 40% liable for the accident, you are responsible for 40% of the damages. The award you receive will reflect the defendant's 60% liability. Therefore, if the total cost of damages equals $100,000, you would receive $60,000.
Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer in California?
Since truck accident cases can quickly become complex, sometimes requiring an understanding of different tort cases and the laws that apply them, you would likely benefit from having a truck accident lawyer represent you. At Johnson Attorneys Group, we understand the need to produce a fast and fair settlement so you can start rebuilding your life or adapting to new circumstances in the aftermath of a terrible accident. That is why we conduct a thorough investigation and take a personalized approach to your case. You should not have to pay the price for someone else's negligence, and we commit our skills and understanding of tort law to ensure that does not happen. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer at Johnson Attorney Group to schedule your free case review. You can call (800) 208-3538. There's no risk because we only get paid if you get paid.