What Is the Truck Accident Claim Process?

What Is the Truck Accident Claim Process?
What Is the Truck Accident Claim Process?

Facing the aftermath of a truck accident can be confusing and tiresome. These accidents often result in debilitating injuries and possible loss of lives, which is why injured victims and family members of those killed may file compensation claims.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 5,788 people lost their lives in road accidents involving large trucks in a recent year alone.

However, the complicated truck accident claim process requires attention to detail and adherence to many procedures.

Most claims arising from truck accidents go through several steps before the claimant obtains the compensation they deserve.

Our guide below is intended to give you an idea of what to expect in the days, weeks, and months after you file your claim. However, do not misconstrue this information as legal advice or allow it to encourage you to file a claim without an attorney's assistance.

When you or someone you love has been involved in a truck accident, the last thing you want to do is to try and figure out the claims process on your own.

You need an attorney to navigate the complexities of your case and prepare for the legal challenges you may face. Every truck accident case is unique, so hire an experienced truck accident attorney to take the appropriate steps and optimize your chances for a favorable outcome.

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The Truck Accident Claim Process

While every truck accident is unique, the steps that go into filing a compensation claim usually follow a similar pattern:

Step 1. Investigation

Every claim begins with investigating the case to determine who should be held liable. Without this step, injured victims or family members of those killed cannot file a claim against all appropriate parties.

Consider contacting an experienced attorney to help you conduct an in-depth investigation to uncover all the available evidence and determine how and why the accident happened.

Step 2. Filing a Claim

After the investigation is complete and your attorney has evidence of a liable party's negligence, you can proceed to file a claim against the responsible party's insurance company.

The claim will typically outline:

  • The details surrounding the accident and
  • The injuries and damages suffered by the claimant.

Every state sets a timeframe within which victims can file a claim for compensation after accidents or incidents caused by the negligence of another party.

The timeframe is known as the statute of limitations. If a claimant fails to bring a claim before the deadline expires, they may be forever barred from recovering damages from the underlying accident or incident.

Step 3. Calculating Damages

When filing a compensation claim, the claimant must determine the proper settlement amount, which depends on how badly they suffered an injury and how the truck accident has affected their life.

The monetary compensation the claimant is entitled to is known as damages and may include tangible and intangible losses.

Examples of tangible losses include medical expenses, property damage costs, lost income, and other quantifiable expenses and costs.

Intangible losses, on the other hand, include any losses that do not have a specific dollar amount (e.g., mental anguish, emotional distress, pain and suffering, psychological harm, and others).

Step 4. Negotiating a Settlement

The settlement negotiation begins with the claimant's attorney sending a demand letter to the insurance company. The demand letter contains details regarding the requested settlement amount.

At this point, the insurer may agree to settle the claim (which is rare) or propose a settlement for an amount significantly lower than what was requested.

Then, the claimant's attorney will send a counteroffer for an amount usually higher than the insurer's proposed amount but lower than the initially requested amount in the demand letter. In most cases, the negotiation process will lead to a settlement, but exceptions may exist.

Step 5. Filing a Lawsuit (if Settlement Negotiations Fail)

If settlement negotiations do not lead to a satisfactory resolution, the next step is going to court. However, litigation is lengthy, and the court may not side with you. When you sue, the judge or jury will decide the case.

Many cases settle before trial, usually during or after the discovery process, which involves exchanging information related to the case.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in the Truck Accident Claim Process

Trucking accident with a car

A truck accident can have devastating, far-reaching consequences. When an accident occurs, victims may find themselves making critical decisions under pressure during these times of turmoil. This often leads to mistakes that adversely affect their chance of securing fair compensation and can derail the entire truck accident claim process.

Below are some of the common mistakes to avoid if you or someone you love were in a truck accident:

Mistake #1: Waiting Too Long

Every state has a strict deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits, including claims arising from truck crashes. The court will throw out your case if you miss the statutory deadline.

Building a persuasive legal claim following a truck accident may take time, not to mention that critical pieces of evidence can go missing, get destroyed, or become misplaced if you wait too long.

Mistake #2: Accepting the First Settlement Offer

Every insurance company is a profit-driven business not interested in helping claimants receive the full amount to which they are entitled. For this reason, the first settlement offer proposed by the insurance company is rarely the best. Instead, it will be wise to treat this offer as the starting point in the negotiations.

Insurance companies often make a lowball settlement offer, hoping the claimant will accept it without question because they desperately need the money and want to resolve the case quickly.

Unfortunately, many claimants fall into this trap and end up settling prematurely for an amount that does not adequately represent the true extent of their injuries and losses.

If an insurance company makes a settlement offer, do not be pressured into accepting or declining it. Instead, tell the insurer that you need time to think about it and use this as the opportunity to consult with an attorney about your options.

Mistake #3: Giving a Recorded Statement

After a truck accident, the victim will often receive a phone call from the insurance company adjuster requesting a recorded statement. This is a common tactic insurance companies use to jeopardize the victim's claim.

Insurance adjusters are trained to get people to say things that will weaken their claims and decrease the settlement amount.

Even if the insurer makes it seem as if you have an obligation to give a recorded statement or that doing so will expedite the claim process, keep in mind that such recorded statements are voluntary. Thus, if you get such a request from the insurance company, consider speaking with an attorney to discuss the right approach.

Mistake #4: Neglecting Ongoing Medical Treatment

Not following the recommendations of your doctor after a truck accident can both threaten your health and weaken your legal compensation claim.

If you neglect your medical treatment while your truck accident claim is still pending, the insurance company may argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.

As a consequence, the insurer may devalue or even deny your claim altogether. Following your doctor's recommendations and legal advice from your attorney can significantly improve your chances of securing fair compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Truck Accident Claim Process

The claims process after a truck accident may not always be straightforward, especially if there is no one to answer your questions that may arise throughout the process. Below, we will address some of the questions a claimant may have when pursuing a compensation claim.

If the FAQ section does not answer your questions, contact an attorney for personalized guidance.

What are the potentially liable parties in a truck accident? 

Depending on the circumstances surrounding a truck accident, there may be several potentially liable parties. Figuring out who should be held responsible usually requires assistance from an attorney. An experienced attorney will evaluate every detail of your case to identify all liable parties.

Some examples of liable parties in truck accident cases include:

  • A truck driver who fails to follow federal hours-of-service regulations and causes an accident because of fatigue (according to one study, truck driver fatigue is associated with 13 percent of all truck accidents);
  • A trucking company that fails to maintain its vehicles properly;
  • A cargo loader that fails to secure cargo according to industry standards properly;
  • A government entity that fails to ensure safety at intersections.

These are just a few examples. Often, there may be multiple liable parties (e.g., a truck driver and a trucking company).

What compensation can I obtain?

If you have suffered an injury in a truck accident, you ask for compensation for all the physical, emotional, and emotional harm you have suffered.

Some of the examples of recoverable damages include:

  • Past and future medical expenses related to your treatment, rehabilitation, and physical therapy
  • Costs associated with repairing or replacing your damaged property, including your automobile
  • Loss of income and diminished earning capacity if you missed work or the accident made you temporarily or permanently disabled
  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Emotional distress
  • Reduced quality of life

If a person dies in a truck crash, surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for burial expenses, funeral costs, loss of services and support, loss of future income, loss of consortium, and many other losses.

How do insurance companies calculate truck accident settlements?

One of the most confusing aspects of the truck accident claims process may be figuring out how insurance companies operate, particularly how they calculate settlement amounts.

First and foremost, you need to keep in mind that the insurance company is never willing to offer claimants an adequate settlement.

Every insurance company is a business that is interested in maximizing profits, which can be achieved by minimizing payouts to claimants and denying claims. For this reason, you should never trust the insurance company's assessment of your claim or, worse, accept the first initial settlement offer proposed by the insurer.

The insurance company's settlement offer may not be sufficient to meet your needs and compensate you for all your expenses and losses. Instead, consider contacting an attorney who will help you calculate your claim worth and ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled under the law, not a penny less.

Should I accept a settlement or go to trial? 

At some point in the settlement negotiation process, a claimant may wonder, "Should I accept the settlement offer or take my case to trial?"

The decision to settle your claim or go to court is one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make during the truck accident claims process, so it is always best to consult with an attorney before you make your final decision.

Pros and cons are associated with accepting a settlement and going to trial, so you must consider your options carefully.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney to Handle Your Claim

Ivan M. Diamond, Attorney for Truck Accident
Ivan M. Diamond, Truck Accident Lawyer

Filing a truck accident claim involves a lot of paperwork, procedural rules and requirements, and strategic thinking. All of this can be nerve-wracking, especially when trying to focus on your physical and emotional recovery during what might be one of the most difficult times in your life.

Having a knowledgeable attorney in your corner can help alleviate much of the stress and anxiety of pursuing a compensation claim.

A personal injury attorney will provide the guidance and support you need throughout the claims process to get the most out of your claim and return to your regular life as soon as possible.

Many attorneys offer free initial consultations for prospective clients. The initial consultation can help you learn more about your rights, legal options, and the next steps in the claims process.

Why Hire an Experienced
Attorney Like Ivan Diamond

If you want to recover the maximum compensation that you deserve, you need an experienced personal injury attorney like Ivan Diamond on your side.

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If you want to recover the maximum compensation that you deserve, you need an experienced personal injury attorney like Ivan Diamond on your side.

Someone who understands the tactics insurance companies and opposing lawyers sometimes use to avoid liability and paying settlements.

Insurance adjusters, in particular, know that you’re going through a difficult time. They may try to take advantage by offering you a lowball settlement, hoping you’ll jump at quick money before you talk to a lawyer. Don’t help them out. Instead, let an experienced attorney handle the negotiations.

The same goes for preparing your claim. A skilled, knowledgeable litigator like me understands what facts and arguments are most important to prove your claim to a judge and jury, if it comes to taking a case to trial. I know how to guide my clients through depositions, discovery, and efforts by opposing lawyers to trap them into saying things that might undermine their case.

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