When you sustain serious injuries in a semi truck accident, you may have bills that pile up quickly. Not only do you have medical bills, often substantial ones, to worry about, but you also find yourself missing out on time at work or dealing with other challenges related to your recovery, all of which can cause your financial difficulties to continue to mount.
You may also want to put your semi truck accident behind you as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, it can take considerable time to settle a semi truck accident claim. The investigation process for a semi truck accident can take considerably longer than the average car accident claim. Semi truck accidents often cause more damage, so the insurance company may fight harder to reduce compensation as much as possible. You can expect it to take several months to complete the full settlement process and get the compensation you deserve. For legal guidance connect with a truck accident lawyer.
Step 1: Investigation
Once you report a semi truck accident to the insurance company, the investigation process begins. The insurance company wants to know as much as possible about the accident to provide the information needed to make key decisions about your claim.
At the same time, you need a lawyer to take care of the investigation on your end. Your lawyer wants information to help establish liability for your accident and the damages you sustained.
Both sides will look at the same general information about the accident. Semi truck accident claims often take longer to investigate than other car accident claims since they involve more information that lawyers and insurance companies must sift through to get a full look at what led to the accident.
The Police Report
The police report from your semi truck accident scene will provide key information about where and when the accident occurred and elements that the responding officer noted about the scene. Sometimes, the police report will offer more insight into what likely led to the accident. If the police report from your accident contains any inaccurate information, talk to your lawyer to determine how to correct it.
While eyewitness memory can grow increasingly unreliable with time, it remains an essential piece of evidence in many accident claims, including semi truck accident claims.
Your lawyer and the insurance company may want to speak with anyone who witnessed the accident, including passengers in your vehicle and you and the semi truck driver. Both sides will check those statements for accuracy and determine whether they contain any extra information that could impact your right to compensation.
Truck Maintenance Statements
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has clear regulations outlining how often trucking companies must take care of essential maintenance on their vehicles. Big trucks involve multiple moving parts, all of which can influence the truck’s ability to safely navigate out on the road.
When the trucking company does not take care of needed maintenance, both when it comes to repairing things that break on the truck and when it comes to normal maintenance, it can increase the risk of an accident.
Truck maintenance records that show that the truck did not receive needed maintenance could indicate that the trucking company shares liability for an accident. On the other hand, if a part breaks despite the trucking company taking care of essential maintenance, it could indicate that the manufacturer of that part bears partial liability for the accident.
Today’s logbooks often exist primarily online, with the internal GPS on the truck keeping track of the miles a truck driver has traveled and the hours the truck driver has put in on the road.
Federal law mandates how many hours a truck driver can spend on the road: usually, eleven hours out of a fourteen-hour shift. However, the law does allow some flexibility for things like dangerous road conditions that could require a driver to slow down to navigate them safely.
Driver logbooks can also provide information about how many hours the driver has traveled, the driver’s general speed, and what stops the driver has made throughout the day, all of which can offer insight into whether the driver could safely continue to operate the vehicle.
As part of the investigation into a truck accident, your lawyer may want to look at overall company policies and how they may have influenced the driver’s decisions on the road or the driver’s overall behavior.
For example, some drivers may push to exceed the hours they can spend on the road, and some trucking companies may not have adequate policies to prevent that dangerous action. Company policies may also encourage drivers to speed or even engage in distracting behaviors like eating while behind the wheel, which can raise the risk of an accident and leave the company partially liable.
Video Footage of the Accident
Some trucks have dash cams that will record any footage from a potential collision. In other cases, you may have your own dash cam that can help show who caused your truck accident or what elements may have contributed to it. Video footage of the accident makes it much easier to establish exactly how the accident occurred, including offering a view of any elements you or the truck driver failed to notice at the time of the accident.
Your Medical Records
In addition to fully investigating all the details of the accident, both your lawyer and the insurance company will want to take a close look at the medical records from your truck accident injuries.
Your medical records may include information about a number of important factors.
- When your injuries occurred. If you sought medical treatment immediately after the accident, it could serve as vital evidence that your injuries occurred during the truck accident, not at another time.
- What injuries you sustained.
- What treatments you needed to recover from your injuries.
- How much you will likely recover from your injuries and what permanent limitations you may have due to your truck accident.
- What limitations you had during your recovery, and how long that recovery took.
Your medical records can help your lawyer more easily trace the progression of your recovery, making it easier to lay out what damages you sustained and what you deserve to recover as part of your truck accident claim.
Your Medical Bills
Your medical bills serve an essential purpose in your injury claim: they show one of the greatest financial losses that resulted from your truck accident. Your lawyer may look through your medical bills and use them to help calculate your demand for compensation, including all the financial and non-financial losses caused by your truck accident.
Your lawyer and the insurance company may need considerable time to review all the information about your accident. Since truck accidents often involve more substantial evidence and information than other car accident claims, you can expect a longer wait before your lawyer can assemble your demand package or the insurance company issues an initial settlement offer.
Step 2: Recovery
To file a truck accident injury claim, you need to know what damages you sustained as a direct result of the accident. That includes the medical bills you have to deal with as a direct result of your injuries.
It can take time before you know what those medical bills will look like or how long your recovery will take.
With many severe injuries, your doctors may not know exactly how much you will recover for six months or more after the accident. Your doctors may need time to see how your recovery progresses and how you respond to treatment.
It can take years to make a full recovery or to reach the greatest possible recovery you can make based on the extent of your injuries. Likewise, while your care providers can estimate how long it may take for you to recover and what procedures you will need to go through, each recovery looks a little different based on the individual and the specific injuries.
You may have setbacks and complications that slow the recovery process. Those details can contribute to your injury claim, so your attorney may advise that you avoid finalizing your demand package until you can progress through that recovery process.
Step 3: Initial Offers
When one side of the claim has finished reviewing all the evidence related to the accident, including the full extent of your medical bills and lost income related to the claim, that side will submit an initial package.
On the insurance company’s side, that means an initial settlement offer.
On the side of your lawyer, that means a demand package that lays out the losses you sustained in the accident and the compensation you expect. In most cases, that package will not represent the compensation you will ultimately receive.
You do not have to accept the first settlement offer from the truck driver’s insurance company. Those offers often represent only a small portion of the damages you may have sustained in the accident. Review the settlement offer with your lawyer and compare it to your losses and demands.
Step 4: Negotiation
Most of the time, neither side will accept the first package put together by the other. If you submit your demand package first, the insurance company will often try to talk you down to a lower settlement amount. On the other hand, if the insurance company issues an offer first, you may want to negotiate for the compensation you really deserve for your injuries.
In a truck accident claim, the number you ask for and the compensation the insurance company offers may start very far apart. You may need to go through several rounds of negotiation to reach a fair settlement agreement that reflects the compensation you really deserve.
If you can reach an agreement through negotiation, the insurance company will issue a check, and the process stops. However, some truck accident claims may need to go to court.
Step 6: Court
If you must go to court, it can extend the time needed to settle your truck accident claim. You must arrange a court date and wait for it to arrive. Your lawyer will present your case for you in court. Then, the judge or, if necessary, judge and jury will rule about your claim.
Fortunately, the court appearance usually ends the personal injury claim process, even for claims where the injured party has struggled to get a fair resolution.
Contact a Lawyer for Help With Your Truck Accident Claim
Dealing with a semi truck accident claim can prove long and complicated. Trying to handle the claim alone not only increases your frustration but it may also decrease the odds that you will receive the compensation you really deserve.
Contact a personal injury law firm in Denver as soon after your accident as possible to learn more about your rights and how long it will likely take to settle your truck accident claim.