If you suffer injuries in a semi-truck accident that resulted from another person’s negligence, you may be eligible for a financial settlement. The time it takes to settle a truck accident claim depends upon various factors. Those factors include the insurance company you’re dealing with and whether or not they dispute fault for the accident. Other potential factors include the insurance company adjuster with whom you’re working, the availability of experts to testify in the case, and the venue where your case is pending.
One of the most important steps you can take after suffering injuries in a truck accident is to retain an experienced truck accident lawyer to represent you throughout your injury case. Your lawyer can help streamline the case as much as possible and work to recover fair settlement compensation for you.
Suppose the insurance company refuses to compensate you appropriately for your truck accident injuries. In that case, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case or represent you at a binding arbitration hearing.
Factors That Influence the Length of a Semi-Truck Accident Case
The time it will take to settle a semi-truck accident case depends upon various factors, some of which the accident victim cannot control. Factors that influence the settlement time in a truck accident case include:
Factors Whether the Insurance Company Disputes Liability
The Identity of the At-fault Party’s Insurer and Settlement Adjuster
The identity of the insurance company, as well as the adjuster handling the claim, is also a factor. Some insurance companies and their adjusters are slower than others when reviewing and evaluating case documents, medical reports, and wage loss statements, potentially delaying the settlement in a case.
Availability of Experts
In some truck accident cases, insurance companies will retain an expert to testify on their behalf. An expert can testify to liability or medical causation. For example, the insurance company may retain an expert to testify that the accident victim did not suffer a permanent injury. Experts can be time-consuming and costly, and case delays can result when the insurance company retains one.
Whether the Case Requires Litigation
In cases where the insurance company disputes fault for a truck accident or the adjuster refuses to offer reasonable compensation, the accident victim may file a lawsuit. This begins the litigation process. Once that occurs, the time clock essentially starts over. When a case is in litigation, the time it takes to settle or try it depends partly on the court’s calendar.
What are the Most Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents?
Semi-trucks are large vehicles and include tractor-trailers, big rigs, and 18-wheelers. In many instances, accidents involving semi-trucks result from driver error and negligence. Negligent truck operations can take various forms, but it usually means violating a traffic law, engaging in distracted or intoxicated driving, failing to follow one or more motor carrier regulations, or fatigued driving.
Other potential causes of semi-truck accidents include defective parts and negligent repair work that a facility recently performed on the vehicle.
- Disobeying traffic laws – Traffic laws apply equally to truck and passenger vehicle drivers. When truck drivers tailgate other vehicles, fail to use turn signals, aggressively weave in and out of traffic, speed, and fail to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate times, they can cause serious accidents which leave others injured—or dead.
- Distracted driving – A semi-truck driver engages in distracted driving when they fail to watch the road. Potential distractions include loud music in their vehicle and electronic devices, such as phones, tablets, and GPS systems. Even when a truck driver turns their head from the road for a second or two, that may be enough time to miss a nearby vehicle or pedestrian, causing a severe accident.
- Intoxicated driving – When passenger vehicle drivers operate their vehicles with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, they are legally intoxicated. However, stricter standards apply to drivers of semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. Since these drivers are professionals, they owe others a higher duty of care. A commercial driver is legally intoxicated when operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher. Alberta imposes administrative sanctions if you have a BAC of 0.05 percent and higher. The law recognizes the significant dangers of drinking and driving. Alcohol can slow down a driver’s nervous system, causing them to experience extreme confusion and disorientation. An intoxicated driver may also experience delayed reaction time, preventing them from stopping their truck in time to avoid a collision.
- Failing to follow motor carrier regulations – Motor carrier regulations restrict everything from truck load limits, to securing cargo onto trucks, to overhead and undercarriage lighting on tractors and trailers. These regulations promote safe semi-truck driving. However, serious accidents can occur when truck drivers and trucking companies willfully violate these regulations. For example, loose cargo can slide off the trailer bed and into the road, causing a severe crash. Moreover, if lights are out on the tractor or trailer, other drivers may not see the vehicle, causing an accident.
- Defective truck parts – Truck part manufacturers must use reasonable care at all times, including those that manufacture brakes and steering mechanisms. They must also inspect and test their products before making them available for installation. When a truck accident victim can trace their accident’s origin to a defective truck part—usually through expert testimony—they can file a claim against the responsible truck part manufacturer, designer, or distributor.
- Negligent repair work – Truck repair facilities must perform their work correctly so trucks can function safely on the road. Suppose they make negligent repairs on a truck or trailer and the vehicle malfunctions causing an accident. In that case, the accident victim can bring a legal claim against the repair facility and its insurer.
- Fatigued driving – Trucking companies financially incentivize drivers if they get their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule. Consequently, many drivers drive for hours on end—often without stopping or taking breaks. Some drivers will even resort to drugs and other stimulants to stay awake for long hours. In some instances, however, these drugs have the opposite effect and make truck drivers sleepy. When a semi-truck driver becomes fatigued, they might fall asleep at the wheel and lose control of their truck, causing an accident. Even if they don’t fall completely asleep, they may lack focus and concentration, preventing them from driving safely.
If you suffered injuries in a semi-truck accident that resulted from negligence, you should speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer in your area as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can review the circumstances of your truck accident with you and determine your legal options for moving forward. Your lawyer can then help you file a claim or lawsuit and pursue monetary compensation on your behalf.
Potential Trucking Company Negligence
In addition to negligent truck drivers, repair facilities, and part manufacturers, the trucking companies that employ negligent drivers may share in some of the responsibility for an accident. Trucking companies may be vicariously liable for their driver’s negligent acts when drivers are on the clock and acting within the scope of their employment.
Moreover, trucking companies may be responsible for an accident if the evidence shows they negligently hired or retained a problem driver—including one with a prior record of moving violations. If the evidence further shows that the trucking company failed to supervise its driver, the company may also be responsible for any resulting accidents.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can file a claim against all potentially responsible individuals or entities in your truck accident case and pursue the monetary damages you deserve.
Injuries That Truck Accident Victims Suffer
Whenever a semi-truck collides with a smaller vehicle, it is typically the occupants of the smaller vehicle who suffer more severe injuries. The impact force may cause an accident victim’s body to move around the interior of their vehicle, causing a whiplash injury or other soft tissue contusion.
Additionally, a part of the accident victim’s body may strike something inside their vehicle, such as the window, steering wheel, door frame, or headrest, causing a bone fracture or another serious injury.
Semi-truck accident victims can also sustain traumatic head and brain injuries, internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis.
If you suspect that you suffered one or more injuries in your truck accident, you should seek immediate medical treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility. While there, the treating medical provider can examine you and order the necessary MRIs, CAT scans, and X-rays to determine your medical condition. The provider can also make recommendations for future treatment, such as with a neurologist, orthopedic doctor, or family physician.
By treating early and often for your accident-related injuries, you prevent the injuries from becoming worse. Moreover, the insurance company adjuster cannot argue that your injuries were not severe or that you did not make your medical treatment a priority following your accident.
While you treat for your accident-related injuries, your lawyer can begin gathering the necessary documents, including your medical treatment records, lost wage statements, impact statements, and photographs. Your lawyer can then assemble these documents into a settlement demand package and send them to the insurance company adjuster after you complete your medical treatment. The settlement negotiation process can begin if the insurance company accepts fault for the accident.
Monetary Damages That Semi-Truck Accident Victims May Recover
Victims of semi-truck accidents can recover various damages, depending upon the severity of their injuries, whether they suffered a permanent injury, and whether they lost work time after their accident. Since every truck accident case is different, the types and amounts of monetary compensation that one accident victim recovers may differ from those another victim recovers.
First, if the accent victim had to miss time from their job to attend medical appointments and recover from their injuries, they can pursue lost wage compensation. They could claim lost earning capacity if they had to switch jobs and take a pay cut.
Truck accident victims can also pursue compensation for their mental anguish, emotional distress, inconvenience, pain and suffering, permanent disability, loss of the use of a body part, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of spousal companionship and consortium.
To recover compensation for accident-related injuries, the accident victim must demonstrate that another party was negligent and that, as a result, the accident occurred. Moreover, through expert testimony, the accident victim must show that their injuries directly resulted from the accident. A medical provider may testify that the accident victim suffered a permanent injury that will not improve with time, based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
An experienced truck accident lawyer in your case can determine which of these damages you may be eligible to pursue and recover. Your lawyer can then file the necessary claim or lawsuit and pursue the damages you deserve.
Call an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
Time is of the essence if you suffered injuries in a semi-truck accident that was not your fault. As soon as possible after your accident, you should speak with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area. Your lawyer can help to expedite the process by investigating the circumstances of your accident, negotiating with the insurance company adjuster, and, if necessary, filing a lawsuit. Your lawyer will then pursue the monetary damages you deserve for your accident-related injuries.
Never try to navigate the insurance process alone when you have severe injuries from a traumatic semi-truck crash. Get help. Reach out for your free legal consultation today. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.