The truck accident claim process is not as simple as you might think. In this guide, we offer a step-by-step examination of the process. When you need an advocate on your side, consider a Houston truck accident attorney to help with your claim.
Unfortunately, truck accidents are fairly common in Houston and across Texas. In fact, every two days, three lives were lost to truck accidents in a recent year. When you have the fortune to survive a commercial truck accident, it’s essential to file a claim.
However, it’s common to sustain severe injuries and experience trauma in these accidents. Even when you manage to take the right steps after a truck accident, there’s much to do. Are you curious about the truck accident claim process?
Let’s take a look at the common process that truck accident claims follow.
Why These Steps Matter
Oftentimes, victims of accidents feel that they have the capacity to handle claims on their own. However, this tends to be a mistake. Typically, the insurance companies hope that you go this route.
That’s because a truck accident attorney has the experience and expertise to dodge their tricks. Generally speaking, the average citizen doesn’t know the law. Moreover, they don’t know the real value of their claim.
In fact, when you don’t hire an attorney, it benefits the insurance company. On its own, that’s an excellent reason to find a lawyer. It is crucial for the victims of truck accidents to seek legal help as soon as possible.
Reach out to a skilled legal team to take on your case. When you do, you have the best means to protect your rights and interests.
Here’s what to expect from a free case evaluation about the truck accident claim process.
Step One: Retain a Lawyer
After your free consultation with an attorney, hopefully, you feel comfortable with your selection. When you agree to a lawyer’s representation, they ask you to sign a legal retainer. This means that you now have an advocate.
Your truck accident lawyer is your guide throughout the claims process. Moreover, they handle all negotiations with the insurance company for you.
This agreement also explains how the attorney fees work. Although, your lawyer likely explained this at your consultation. Oftentimes, this fee comes out of your final settlement. That means you pay nothing unless your attorney is successful.
Still, it’s important to read through the agreement carefully. Make sure you understand the fine print.
Step Two: The Importance of Communication
For many victims of truck collisions, the most important aspect is communication. Specifically, it’s the fact that your lawyer handles ALL communication with the insurance company.
So, if an insurance representative calls you, simply direct them to your legal counsel. Experienced attorneys understand the tactics of insurance providers. Typically, they want to skate by and only pay the minimum on your claim. This is nowhere near the amount you deserve.
When you hire a lawyer, you have someone with the skills to deal with them. If they bring a lowball offer to the table or try to shift blame to you, your lawyer cuts them off.
As soon as you sign your retainer and until the case settles, all communication flows through your legal counsel. This helps to avoid confusion. More importantly, it prevents you from having unwanted contact with insurance providers.
This establishes a clear record of communication. It also provides you with the time and space you need to heal.
Step Three: Gathering Evidence
The next step in the truck accident claim process is to gather evidence. Your attorney works to collect all the available evidence for your claim. This prevents trucking companies from hiding evidence and establishes liability in the case.
Common examples of essential evidence include the following.
- Police report
- Medical reports and treatment plans
- Phone longs
- Truck driver travel logs
- Driver training records
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Photos and videos
- Traffic camera surveillance video or nearby security cam footage
With the evidence gathered, your lawyer examines everything to determine liability. Moreover, they review whether the truck driver and trucking company adhered to any applicable regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains an array of regulations. Truck companies and their drivers must adhere to these rules.
As your legal team examines the evidence, they also seek additional routes to pursue compensation. For instance, poor maintenance records occasionally point to negligence on the part of the trucking company.
Alternatively, a faulty part may point to a negligent manufacturer. Additionally, your medical records form the foundation for the base of your settlement demand. For example, a broken bone establishes a lower base relative to someone who loses a loved one.
However, it’s essential to keep in mind that you deserve compensation. When someone’s negligence causes you harm, you have rights!
Step Four: Settlement Demand Letters
Once your attorney reviews the evidence, they calculate the settlement they believe you deserve. There are many aspects to consider in this calculation.
Some examples are straightforward and simple, such as your medical expenses or repair costs. However, others depend on your particular case.
For example, your team looks at any wages you lost as a result of the accident. Moreover, they look at your medical records to see whether the accident reduces your future earning capacity. Other factors come into play as well. This includes disfiguration caused by injuries.
One example is when a windshield breaks and gouges the face. If this creates a need for future plastic surgery, your lawyer includes it. With a committed truck accident lawyer, you have someone to account for everything. Then, they hold the liable accountable.
Before your lawyer issues anything, they review the demands with you. Here, they explain the calculation process, the demand, and why these specific amounts.
Types of Damages
Oftentimes, losses in the truck accident claim process include both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic losses include medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and other quantifiable costs. When you lose a loved one in a truck wreck, economic losses also cover any unexpected costs. This covers funeral and burial costs, for instance.
Non-economic damages are less tangible. They include emotional distress, pain and suffering, and any loss of enjoyment in life. As you cover settlement options, your attorney explains this concept to you. The more you share about the impact of the accident, the better your lawyer understands your case.
With the most accurate knowledge of your losses, your attorney works to maximize your settlement.
Step Five: Negotiations
After the demand letter goes out, it’s time to wait for a response. In some cases, the truck accident claim process takes more time. Depending on the details of your claim, demand letters go to a single party or multiple parties.
Often these claims are complex and involve multiple parties that share liability for your injuries and losses.
Examples of these parties include the following.
- The driver
- Trucking company
- Maintenace providers for the truck
- Parts manufacturers
- The area where the accident occurred (city, county, etc)
This part of the truck accident claim process lasts a while in some cases. When a claim involves multiple parties, attorneys for each work together to determine what costs each party covers.
Typically, your attorney receives settlement offers within a few weeks. If only one party carries the fault, this takes less time.
The First Offer: Is It Acceptable?
Next, your attorney lets you know about the settlement offer. Moreover, they advise you on whether it is a good offer. Additionally, your lawyer lays out the consequences of accepting the initial offer.
Trust that your attorney has your best interests in mind. They know whether the offer is fair.
Moreover, there’s a catch when you accept early settlements. You have to consider future losses.
When you accept a final settlement, it includes a clause that waives your right to pursue any additional claims for the same accident. This is why the evaluation of evidence is so crucial. With the right knowledge, your lawyer calculates a settlement that includes these future costs.
Oftentimes, the truck accident claim process is messy. Negotiations tend to involve a back-and-forth between your lawyer and the other parties. Still, a quick offer to settle often means the insurance company recognizes they are liable.
The negotiation period involves a lot of conflicts. Your attorney wants to ensure you have the compensation necessary for your future. However, the insurance provider wants to pay out as little as possible.
Luckily, these cases often reach an agreement. Remember, as the victim, you are in control. Your lawyer fights for your best interest. However, you have the final say.
Step Six: When Negotiations Fail, Go to Court
Depending on your decision, you might file a lawsuit earlier in the truck accident claim process. This names the responsible parties as defendants in your truck accident lawsuit. Generally, lawyers do this to preserve your rights and meet the statute of limitations.
When this statute expires, you lose your right to hold the negligent parties accountable. As you and your legal team establish the minimum acceptable settlement, you have your threshold. If the other parties refuse to offer this minimum, you take the issue to court.
This may take more time. Generally, it depends on whether parties need to prepare. However, this wait means you pursue your best option for maximum compensation.
In court, truck accident attorneys often reach larger settlement awards than the initial offer. It’s your legal team’s job to find the best approach in court. Fortunately, these cases almost always result in a settlement vs a judgment.
Step Seven: Cash in Your Pockets
Whether you agree to a settlement or go to court, your attorney draws up a statement. This shows you the amount of your settlement minus any fees. When your health insurance deserves reimbursement, the statement reflects that as well.
Finally, your lawyer disburses the funds to your account. After this point, any medical bills or services you incur are your responsibility.
Unfortunately, truck accidents are all too common in Texas. Moreover, they leave victims on a long road to recovery. When someone loses a loved one, there’s no dollar amount to make up for that loss.
However, the money from the truck accident claim process helps you remain stable. If you sustain injuries in a truck accident, you want to know what you deserve. Your best opportunity is to retain a skilled truck accident attorney.
Don’t hesitate. Schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer today. Ensure you have an advocate to fight on your behalf. The sooner you have an advocate on your side, the better your odds.