How long a truck accident settlement takes depends upon various factors, including the accident victim’s injuries and medical treatment, the availability of medical experts, the trucking compnay that employs the trucker, and the insurance company that handles the claim. Since every personal injury case is different, some cases may take longer to settle than others. However, one of the best ways to ensure that your case moves efficiently is to retain an experienced Edmonton truck accident lawyer to represent you as soon as possible after your accident.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can investigate your accident circumstances, speak with you about how the accident occurred, and answer all your legal questions. If you can to file a claim for damages, your lawyer can begin the process immediately. Moreover, if the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly for your injuries, your lawyer can promptly file a lawsuit in court on your behalf and work to recover the fair amount of damages you deserve for your injuries.
How Do Truck Accidents Happen?
Truck accidents usually happen when other drivers behave recklessly or carelessly under the circumstances. The most common causes of truck accidents include road rage, violating traffic laws, intoxicated driving, and distracted driving.
Road rage is a driver’s overreaction to a perceived or actual circumstance that arises on the road. Many drivers become angry when other drivers operate their vehicles too slowly. These enraged drivers often resort to aggressive driving maneuvers, like tailgating, zealously weaving in and out of highway traffic, and failing to use turn signals. These maneuvers may cause serious accidents that severely injure other drivers and their passengers.
Another common cause of traffic accidents is traffic law violations. The purpose of road rules is to keep drivers and their passengers safe—and prevent accidents to the greatest extent possible. However, when drivers speed, fail to yield the right-of-way, and drive aggressively, they increase their chances of causing serious accidents, including rear-end collisions and broadside collisions at traffic intersections.
Intoxicated driving is another unfortunate cause of roadway accidents. A driver is legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. Commercial vehicle drivers and minors under 21 years old must follow more stringent standards. Alberta imposes administrative penalties when the BAC is 0.05 percent and higher.
Drivers under the influence may experience various physical symptoms, including blurred vision and lack of concentration. Consequently, they may be unable to stop their vehicle before causing a crash that leads to severe injuries.
Truckers may turn to street, over-the-counter, or prescription drugs to drive longer, and the combination of fatigue and intoxication can lead to terrible accidents. This leads to the possibility that a trucker spent more time driving without rest than the law allows.
Finally, some truck accidents result from distracted driving. A distracted driver fails to watch the road sufficiently and loses focus while behind the wheel. Some distracted drivers are too busy fiddling with a GPS device or cellular phone to watch the road attentively. At other times, drivers become distracted by loud music playing in their vehicle or by other occupants misbehaving and engaging in horseplay.
When a driver looks down or turns their head—even for one or two seconds—they may fail to notice an approaching traffic intersection, vehicle, or pedestrian and negligently cause an accident.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a crash resulting from driver negligence, you have legal options available. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can review your options with you, promptly begin an investigation into your accident, and, if appropriate, file a timely insurance claim on your behalf.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accident victims may suffer serious injuries that leave them completely incapacitated and in need of immediate medical care. The injuries that a truck crash victim suffers depend upon several factors, including vehicle speeds and force of impact. For example, in some truck accidents, the impact force is so significant that it causes a part of the accident victim’s body to strike something inside their vehicle, like the steering wheel, window, door frame, dashboard, or headrest, causing injuries.
Typical truck accident injuries include soft tissue contusions, such as whiplash, along with rib fractures and other broken bones. At other times, truck crash victims may suffer traumatic head and brain injuries, internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and even death.
Following a truck accident, one of your first steps should be to seek prompt medical treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center. The medical provider on duty there can order the necessary imaging studies, including CAT scans and MRIs, and examine you physically to make an accurate medical diagnosis. If you require additional medical treatment for your injuries, your doctor can make those recommendations while you are still at the ER.
Seeking prompt medical treatment after a truck accident is essential for several reasons. First, it helps to ensure that your injuries do not worsen. Second, it shows the at-fault driver’s insurance company that your injuries are severe and that you are prioritizing your medical treatment after your truck accident. Last, it helps to streamline the personal injury settlement process. In fact, the sooner you complete your medical treatment, the sooner your lawyer can begin settlement negotiations with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf.
Steps in the Truck Accident Settlement Process
If you suffered injuries in a recent truck accident, and the insurance company accepts liability for your accident, your lawyer can guide you through the settlement process and make it as streamlined as possible. The first step in the process is for your lawyer to gather all of your medical treatment records, lost wage documents, victim impact statements, and police reports, and assemble them into a settlement demand package.
Your lawyer will send this demand package, which typically includes a settlement demand letter, to the insurance company adjuster for their review and evaluation. Once the insurance adjuster reviews all of this information, they may place an initial settlement offer on the table that you can accept or reject.
Truck accident settlements may compensate accident victims for their lost wages, inconvenience, pain and suffering, mental distress, permanent disability, loss of use of a body part, loss of life enjoyment, and loss of spousal companionship.
You should remain wary of first-time offers from insurance companies since adjusters will routinely undervalue claims and try to settle them for as little money as possible. After all, the insurance company does not make any money by settling a truck accident claim or lawsuit.
Instead, they lose money when they have to pay out a large settlement, jury verdict, or arbitration award in a case. Your lawyer will know the tricks and tactics that adjusters use to try and undervalue truck accident claims and can negotiate aggressively with the settlement adjuster on your behalf.
During settlement negotiations, many insurance company adjusters will gradually increase their settlement offer as the accident victim’s lawyer gradually decreases their initial demand amount. If the parties ultimately settle their case, the accident victim will sign a release, preventing them from filing another claim or lawsuit arising from the same accident.
However, if the parties cannot agree, the accident victim’s lawyer may file a lawsuit in the court system and begin litigating the case in court. However, even after filing suit, the accident victim’s lawyer may continue their settlement negotiations with the adjuster, and the case can still reach a resolution. In fact, most truck accident claims settle out of court and do not proceed to a civil jury trial.
Factors That Affect the Length of Time It Takes to Settle a Truck Accident Claim
The length of time it takes to settle a truck accident claim varies from case to case and depends upon several factors. Some of those factors include:
The Extent of an Accident Victim’s Medical Treatment
One factor that significantly affects the length of the settlement process is the extent of an accident victim’s medical treatment. In most circumstances, insurance company adjusters will not start making offers on a truck accident claim until the accident victim completes their medical treatment.
The insurance company wants to make sure that it has an accurate picture of the accident victim’s claimed injuries and other damages. Moreover, the accident victim wants to ensure that they recover the total amount of damages they deserve. However, the length of time it takes to finish treatment may extend the time for settlement.
Whether the Insurance Company Adjuster Disputes Fault for the Truck Accident
In some truck accident cases, especially those resulting from drunk driving, the insurance company adjuster may go ahead and admit liability for the accident. In those instances, the accident victim’s lawyer may immediately begin settlement negotiations with the adjuster. However, if the insurance company disputes fault for the accident—or alleges that the accident victim played some role in the accident—it can take longer to reach a settlement.
A trucking company that employs a trucker may bear liability for their driver’s actions, and might choose to fight your claim rather than pay a reasonable settlement. They may also make evidence, like the driver’s personnel file or the truck’s black box and log book, hard to obtain without a lawyer’s assistance.
Under those circumstances, the accident victim’s lawyer may need to retain an accident reconstructionist or another expert who can speak with eyewitnesses, review police reports, demand evidence from the trucker and trucking company, and determine precisely how the accident happened. These investigations may take time and significantly delay the settlement and litigation processes.
Availability of Medical Experts
To prove eligibility for monetary compensation, an accident victim must demonstrate that their injuries directly resulted from their truck accident. To establish this causal connection, most accident victims will need the testimony of a qualified medical provider.
Specifically, a doctor must be willing to state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the accident victim’s injuries directly resulted from the truck crash. Moreover, to recover damages for permanent impairment or disfigurement, an expert medical provider must establish that a particular injury is permanent or unlikely to improve with time.
Retaining medical experts can sometimes be a lengthy process since some healthcare providers do not want to participate in litigation. Moreover, the at-fault driver’s lawyer may wish to subpoena medical records from a treating provider or depose them and ask them questions. This can extend the timeline for settling a truck accident claim and may cause significant delays in the case.
The Insurance Company Handling the Truck Accident Claim
Another factor that affects the settlement time in a case is the insurance company involved. In most instances, an accident victim’s lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company for the at-fault driver.
Some insurance companies are more generous than others when it comes to truck accident settlements, and some adjusters take longer than others to review medical evidence and make reasonable settlement offers.
Moreover, some insurance companies and their adjusters are never willing to settle cases reasonably and prefer taking cases to trial. When insurance companies and their adjusters take a long time to evaluate claims and refuse to settle cases reasonably, it can significantly delay the proceedings.
Whether the Case Must Proceed to Litigation
Another factor that can delay the settlement process in a truck accident case is litigation. Some claims resolve before an accident victim’s lawyer needs to file a lawsuit in court. However, if the insurance company refuses to offer favourable compensation—and the accident victim’s lawyer must file a lawsuit—this step restarts the time clock, so to speak.
Once the cases are in litigation, it can take longer for the parties to reach a resolution. However, in most instances, the court will enter a scheduling order in the case, which establishes various dates and deadlines by which the parties must complete specific tasks.
Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Near You Today
If you suffered injuries in a truck crash, you should speak with an experienced Edmonton personal injury lawyer in your area right away. Your lawyer will do everything possible to streamline the process and make it as efficient as possible. In addition to negotiating with the insurance company adjuster, your lawyer can help you decide whether to accept a pending settlement offer or file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a conclusion.
If you decide to settle your case, your lawyer will submit the necessary documents to bring your case to an efficient close. However, if you decide to litigate your case, your lawyer will continue settlement negotiations and bring your case to efficient resolution in the court system, either at a civil jury trial or a binding arbitration hearing.