How long do you have to file a claim for a truck accident? Truck drivers and the trucking companies that employ them have a duty to act with reasonable care at all times. When a driver or company’s negligence causes a serious truck accident, the accident victim can file a claim or lawsuit for damages. However, accident victims do not have unlimited time to bring a claim—or file a lawsuit in court. Instead, they only have two years from their accident date to take the necessary legal action.
This two-year deadline is a creature of statute. It is very unforgiving, and if you file your claim or lawsuit even one day after the deadline expires, you will no longer be eligible to file a claim or lawsuit. Moreover, the law will prohibit you from recovering monetary damages for your injuries, pain, suffering, and inconvenience at any later point.
All things considered, two years is not much time. Therefore, as soon as possible after your truck accident, you should contact an experienced Edmonton truck accident lawyer in your area for help.
Your lawyer can speak with you about the accident—and, if necessary, begin an investigation—to determine if you are eligible to file a claim for damages. If you are, your lawyer can help you file the claim and negotiate with the insurance company adjuster. If the adjuster refuses to compensate you appropriately for your truck accident injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf, litigate it, and bring it to an efficient resolution. Finally, your lawyer can answer all of your legal questions and address all of your concerns while your personal injury case is pending.
Truck Accident Injuries
When a large truck, tractor-trailer, or big rig strikes a small passenger vehicle, the smaller vehicle’s occupants will suffer more severe injuries. The collision force may knock the accident victim’s body around their vehicle, or cause them to strike something in their vehicle, like the dashboard, headrest, window, or steering wheel, bringing about debilitating injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that truck accident victims suffer include:
- Internal organ damage
- Open cuts
- Traumatic head injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Following your involvement in a truck accident, you should immediately go to a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility for medical care. You should undergo this emergency treatment even if you are unsure about the extent of your injuries. This is because relatively minor injuries may worsen the longer you wait to treat them.
Once you follow up at an ER, the doctor can order MRIs and X-rays, physically examine you, and render an accurate medical diagnosis. If you need to undergo surgery or other serious medical procedure, the provider can make the necessary arrangements. Finally, the doctor can recommend future care if your symptoms become worse. For example, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor, attend physical therapy sessions, or see a specialist, such as a neurologist or an orthopedist.
While you continue your medical treatment, a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can begin advocating for you. In addition to gathering your medical treatment records to date, your lawyer can start assembling a settlement demand package to send to the insurance company adjuster once you finish your treatment.
You can assist in the process by attending your medical appointments on time—and by preparing a personal statement. Your personal statement should describe the overall effect that the truck accident had on your life and well-being.
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How Truck Accidents Happen
Truck accidents frequently result from driver negligence. Driver negligence typically occurs when a driver commits a grave error while behind the wheel. In some instances, truck accidents happen when drivers fail to follow safety regulations and traffic laws. For example, the truck driver might forget to use a turn signal, weave in and out of traffic aggressively, speed, or fail to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate time.
Motor carrier regulations place strict limitations on truck cargo weights and prescribe the proper methods for loading and unloading cargo safely. They also describe how truck drivers and trucking companies should adequately secure cargo to the truck or trailer. When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to follow these regulations, tractor-trailers can overturn on the roadway, or a load may fall off the trailer and into the road, causing a multi-vehicle collision.
At other times, truck accidents happen when drivers engage in road rage, such as by tailgating other vehicles and engaging in other aggressive driving maneuvers.
Truck accidents may also happen when drivers become fatigued. Trucking companies often offer drivers financial incentives to drive fast and deliver their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule. Therefore, many drivers will resort to controlled substances to try and keep themselves awake for long hours.
However, these drugs sometimes have the opposite effect and make a driver feel sleepy while behind the wheel. When truck drivers become drowsy, they may lose focus and concentration—and fail to take the necessary precautions. Moreover, they may fall utterly asleep at the wheel, causing them to lose control of their truck and cause serious accidents.
At other times, truck crashes happen when drivers become distracted. A distracted truck driver fails to observe the road. Instead of watching the road, the driver might be fiddling with a GPS navigation device or texting on a cellular phone or tablet. When a truck driver becomes distracted and turns their head away from the road, they might miss seeing a pedestrian or vehicle in the vicinity, causing a crash.
Finally, some truck accidents occur when drivers operate their large vehicles while intoxicated. A passenger vehicle driver is legally intoxicated when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent. Alberta imposes administrative penalties when the BAC is 0.05 percent and higher. However, the law holds commercial vehicle drivers, including truck drivers, to a higher standard of care. These drivers cannot operate their vehicles with any alcohol in their system.
Alcohol impairment and intoxication can significantly affect a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle carefully and safely. For example, alcohol may slow down the driver’s reaction time and prevent them from stopping their vehicle in time to avoid a crash. Alcohol can also cause a driver’s vision to become distorted, preventing them from seeing a vehicle or pedestrian.
If you suffered injuries in a recent truck accident, you must talk to a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area as soon as possible. If necessary, your lawyer may retain an accident reconstructionist who can piece together exactly how the crash occurred. Moreover, your lawyer can assist you throughout the claims filing process and work to get you the compensation you need for your injuries.
Potential Trucking Company Responsibility
In addition to at-fault truck drivers, the trucking companies that employ these drivers may share in some or all of the responsibility for an accident. In some instances, trucking companies are automatically responsible for the negligent actions and inactions of their truck drivers, assuming the at-fault driver was on the job when the accident occurred.
Moreover, trucking companies are responsible for hiring and retaining only competent, skilled drivers who will operate their vehicles safely. Furthermore, companies have a duty to properly supervise drivers, ensuring that they keep up with all continuing education requirements.
When a trucking company hires or retains a problem driver—and an accident subsequently occurs—the trucking company may be partially responsible. A truck accident lawyer in your area can identify all potentially liable parties in your truck accident claim or lawsuit and take the necessary legal actions on your behalf.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit for Damages
When it comes time to file a claim or lawsuit for damages following a truck accident, a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer can be an invaluable help. First, your lawyer can assemble a settlement demand package and draft a demand letter on your behalf. The demand letter makes a monetary demand for settlement within the insurance coverage limits. Your lawyer can then submit the demand package to the appropriate insurance company adjuster, who will review all of the information.
In most instances, initial insurance company offers are far below the actual settlement value of a truck accident claim. Therefore, settlement negotiations are almost always necessary to obtain the best possible settlement offer. Your lawyer can assist you throughout the negotiation process and actively engage with the insurance company adjuster. If the adjuster refuses to offer you a fair value for your claim, you can file a lawsuit and litigate your case in the court system.
Your lawyer can help you determine whether to accept a pending settlement offer or reject the offer and file a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit begins the litigation stage of a truck accident claim, and you must file a lawsuit within two years of your accident date. After filing suit in your case, your lawyer may continue their settlement negotiations with the insurance company, and your case can still settle at any time before trial. In fact, the majority of truck accident cases settle long before the case ever goes to a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
During litigation, the parties will take one another’s depositions and answer written questions, called interrogatories, to learn more about the other side’s version of the case. The court may also schedule a pre-trial or settlement conference, at which time the parties will meet with a judge or settlement officer to see if the case may settle.
If the parties cannot resolve their case by the end of litigation, they may take their case to a jury trial, at which time the jury will decide all disputed issues. In most instances, the primary issue in dispute is that of damages—or the amount of monetary compensation to award the truck accident victim.
Instead of taking the case to a civil jury trial, the parties may elect to try alternative dispute resolution (ADR). One type of ADR proceeding is mediation, where the parties come together to meet with a neutral mediator who helps them facilitate settlement discussions in the case. Some cases settle at mediation, while others continue through the litigation process.
At a binding arbitration hearing, on the other hand, the parties select a neutral arbitrator to listen to the evidence in the case and decide on the amount of money to award the truck accident victim within specific parameters that the parties establish ahead of time.
A truck accident lawyer in your area can review all of your legal options with you and help you decide on the best course of action for your personal injury case. In some instances, that may mean settling your case, while at other times, it may mean pursuing litigation and taking your case to trial, mediation, or binding arbitration.
Potential Truck Accident Damages
Damages are monetary compensation that a truck accident victim recovers if they can prove the legal elements of their claim or lawsuit. Specifically, the accident victim must show that the truck accident resulted from someone else’s negligence, that they suffered at least one injury, and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.
Potential monetary damages include compensation for:
- Lost earnings
- Loss of the ability to work at a specific job
- Pain and suffering—both past and future
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of use of a body part
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Loss of spousal consortium
An experienced truck accident lawyer in your area can help you maximize your damages and ensure that the compensation you receive is fair, given your injuries and other accident consequences.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Truck accidents often cause injuries that leave their victims in permanent pain and discomfort. These injuries may also prevent drivers from working for long periods, or they may need to switch jobs due to their debilitating injuries. Fortunately, many truck accident victims are eligible for monetary compensation via a timely personal injury claim or lawsuit.
A skilled Edmonton personal injury lawyer in your area can assist you throughout the claims filing and litigation processes. Your lawyer will have your best interests at heart and will aggressively fight for your right to recover the monetary damages you deserve.