Car accidents are common enough that almost every personal injury attorney takes them, but let’s say that you are in a collision with a truck. You might think a vehicle is a vehicle, and the claims process is the same for all types of vehicles, but that is not the case. Truck accident claims are unique. Truck drivers are not just people trying to get somewhere during the day, but also employees/contractors. They work for trucking companies, and those trucking companies work with many different people and companies. This means there could be multiple liable parties, as well as multiple insurance claims. It is important that if you are in a truck accident that you contact an attorney with experience handling these cases, as the process is different from a typical vehicle accident claim.
What your Richmond-based truck accident lawyer does
The process begins with the truck accident itself. Once you’re involved in a collision with a commercial truck, it’s important to prioritize safety and seek immediate medical attention for any injuries. In many cases, law enforcement will arrive at the scene to assess the situation and create a police report. This report can serve as evidence in your case, as can any medical documentation. Once you have sought medical attention and reported the incident to the police, then it is time to find a lawyer.
Your attorney will notify the insurance companies involved, including the truck driver’s and the trucking company’s insurers. They will handle communication with these companies on your behalf. They are professionals who deal with the legal process every day, and can ensure there are no mistakes in your case.
An in-depth investigation into the accident will be conducted. This includes reviewing evidence, gathering accident reports, examining medical records, and potentially consulting accident reconstruction experts. It will also include speaking with your employer about the work you do, as well as the hours you work and the wages you earn. Once this initial review and analysis is complete, your attorney will prepare a demand letter outlining your claim. This document details your injuries, damages, and the compensation you seek. It is then sent to the at-fault party’s insurer, starting the negotiation process.
Your attorney will go on to negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement. This may involve back-and-forth communication and evaluation of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, your attorney may recommend pursuing a lawsuit. The case will proceed to litigation, and all parties will present their arguments in court.
In the event of a trial, your attorney will represent you in court, presenting evidence and making arguments to the judge or jury. The court will ultimately determine the outcome of your case. Depending on the trial’s outcome, either party may choose to appeal the decision if they believe there was a legal error. If your case goes to trial, it will conclude with a court judgment. If a settlement is reached at any point during the process, the case will be resolved based on the negotiated terms. Throughout this process, your truck accident attorney will be your advocate, working to secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Their knowledge and experience is invaluable in navigating the complexities of a truck accident case.
How is filing a truck accident claim from a car accident claim?
The claims process for a truck accident differs from that of a car accident in several key ways due to the unique nature of commercial trucking. Some notable distinctions include:
- Multiple parties. Truck accidents often involve multiple parties, including the truck driver, the trucking company, the owner of the cargo, and potentially others. Determining liability can be more complex, and there may be multiple insurance companies involved.
- Federal regulations. The trucking industry is subject to extensive federal regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations cover areas such as driver hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and cargo loading. Violations of these regulations can significantly impact liability in a truck accident case. In some cases, federal authorities, such as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), may become involved in investigating serious truck accidents. This can add an additional layer of complexity to the claims process, and can delay the length of time it take a case to move forward.
- Severity of injuries. Truck accidents can result in more severe injuries and damages compared to car accidents due to the size and weight of commercial trucks. This often leads to higher medical expenses, lost wages, and long-term rehabilitation needs.
- Evidence collection. Gathering evidence in truck accident cases may involve more extensive efforts. This includes obtaining data from the truck’s black box or electronic control module (ECM), which records important information about the vehicle’s operation, such as speed and braking. Additionally, trucking companies are required to maintain records of driver logs and vehicle maintenance, which can be crucial pieces of evidence.
- Negotiation complexity. Negotiating with commercial trucking companies and their insurers can be more complex. These companies often have legal teams experienced in handling accident claims, and they may attempt to minimize their liability.
- Higher insurance coverage. Commercial trucks are typically required to carry higher insurance coverage due to the potential for more significant damages in accidents. This can mean larger policy limits available for compensation, but it can also lead to more extensive negotiations.
- State and federal laws. Truck accidents may involve both state and federal laws, depending on the circumstances. You’ll want an attorney who can practice in state and federal jurisdictions.
As we can see, the process of filing a claim or lawsuit against a truck driver (and other parties involved), can be complicated and complex, involving many different laws and regulations. That is why you want a Richmond truck accident attorney on your side, fighting for your rightful compensation.
If you have been in a truck accident, and you need help, reach out to Phelan Petty Injury Lawyers. Our firm has long represented truck accident victims in Richmond; we know what we’re doing. We will help to gather evidence, investigate the accident, and handle the complex legal process. We want you to focus on healing, while we focus on getting you the compensation you deserve. Truck accident injuries are often catastrophic, and can leave you suffering physically, financially, and emotionally. Let us help. To schedule a free consultation today with our Richmond based truck accident attorneys, call us or fill out our contact form. We proudly serve clients across Virginia.
Michael Phelan is a Virginia trial attorney who practices with a special focus on traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases, pharmaceutical and medical device claims, product liability cases, and truck accidents. Michael’s peers have consistently recognized him for his excellence as a trial lawyer, and his clients have praised him for his commitment to deep research, his outstanding communication skills, and his sincerity and dedication.