How Long Does It Take to Settle a Truck Accident Claim?
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After a truck accident, it may seem to those who don’t have much experience with personal injury law that the process should be fairly simple. Victims may think, “The truck ran into me, I was injured, and so he should pay.” Unfortunately, the process is rarely, if ever, that simple. With trucking companies, insurance companies, and attorneys for all of the parties getting involved, the process can take longer than victims might think.
If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident, a truck accident attorney at the Zinda Law Group may help you understand how long it takes to settle a truck accident claim. Call today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE A TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIM TO SETTLE?
Each case is unique, so it’s difficult to give a general answer to this question. However, it is generally true that a truck accident claim might take longer than a similar accident that only involves passenger vehicles. It is also true that the process, from start to end, might take a bit longer than expected for accident victims who don’t have any experience with truck accident claims.
FACTORS DETERMINING HOW LONG IT TAKES TO SETTLE
There are countless factors that determine how long a truck accident claim will take to settle, but your attorney might be able to give you a better idea of the factors that will be important in your specific case. Some of the most common factors in many claims include:
In any personal injury claim, it is important to determine exactly who is liable for the injuries of the victim. This determination will impact what gets paid out in damages. However, in truck accident claims, this process can be more complicated.
Truck drivers are subject to a litany of federal rules governing how and how long they are allowed to drive, so determining whether they were complying with these rules at the time of the accident can impact the ultimate outcome. Truck drivers often drive as employees for a larger trucking company. This means that an additional layer of the investigation will discover whether the trucking company followed all of the rules that they need to follow, whether that be the proper loading or unloading of a truck, or whether they maintained the truck in good, working condition.
Trucks and tractor-trailers are required to have insurance by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). However, there may be different coverages for the truck’s cab, the trailer, and the load itself. Wading through these different insurance coverages can add more time to the proceedings.
Severity of the Accident
Due to the massive size and weight of tractor-trailers, they can cause serious damage when they collide with an average-sized passenger vehicle, even at relatively low speeds. The size and weight of these trucks and trailers are regulated by the Department of Transportation, but there is no getting around the fact that the sheer size of these vehicles means that the accidents that they cause are often more severe. A more severe accident will naturally lead to a more complicated investigation that takes more time to complete.
The process of seeking medical treatment for your or your family member’s injuries after an accident will often lead to delays as well. While it is important that you seek the attention of a medical professional as soon after the accident as possible, injuries don’t always present themselves immediately. For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of whiplash might take a few days to appear, and they may even take longer than that in certain circumstances. For these reasons, it is important not to immediately accept the first settlement offer after an accident.
CAUSES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS
Many of the same causes of a typical car accident can also come into play in accidents involving trucks. These might include driving under the influence of alcohol, failing to obey the rules of the road, or driving while distracted by a cellphone or something else on the truck console. However, there are certain factors that impact truck accidents uniquely.
Driving While Fatigued or Overworked
For most drivers, the time that they spend on the road is a relatively minor part of their day. However, for truckers, it is a job, meaning that they spend all their working hours behind the wheel. The FMCSA regulates the hours that a truck driver is allowed to drive on a given day, but truck drivers may be inclined to ignore these regulations due to incentives to complete a route quicker. This means that truck drivers may drive while fatigued, which can lower their reaction time or cause them to fail to pay attention to the other drivers on the road.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
As you might imagine, 18-wheelers require a lot of upkeep given the amount of time that they spend on the road and the number of components involved. Trucking companies are responsible for taking care of this maintenance for all the vehicles in their fleet. If there is any mistake or oversight in the process of keeping the trucks in working order, such as failing to note a problem with the braking system, a truck might cause an accident leaving you or your family with serious injuries to address.
Poor Weather or Road Conditions
Because of their size, trucks already require much more distance than a normal passenger vehicle to come to a complete stop. This issue can be further exacerbated by the weather or other conditions. For example, if the roads are slick due to heavy rain, the distance to come to a complete stop can increase even further. Heavy rain or the time of day can also decrease visibility, which can reduce the driver’s reaction time. Any circumstance that leads to driving conditions that are less than ideal, such as weather or even the time of day, can lead to a truck accident.
FILING A TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIM
Truck accidents have their own peculiarities as opposed to car accidents, and each truck accident will have its own set of unique circumstances. This means that the process of seeking compensation will need to be tailored to each case. However, every claim will generally follow the same basic steps.
1. Contact an Attorney
Most truck accident victims feel a bit lost when it comes to the legal process. This is part of the reason that it is generally advisable to speak to an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after your case. An attorney may be able to give you a better idea of what your options might be, as well as what to expect from the coming months. They may also be able to argue on your behalf for maximum compensation using persuasive techniques and advanced investigatory tactics.
After selecting an attorney, they may be able to begin the process of gathering and analyzing all of the relevant information for your case. In a truck accident claim, this could include the maintenance history for the vehicle involved, the driving records of the truck driver, and any photo or video evidence that might be available.
Once your attorney feels that they have an adequate grasp of the details of your case, they may be able to begin the process of negotiating a settlement with the other parties involved. At this stage, it is important that you are partnered with an experienced attorney who is willing to fight for your interests because the other parties in your claim will want to pay you as little as possible.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
While the process of seeking compensation may drag on for months after the accident itself, this does not mean that accident victims should delay in getting the process started. This is because statutes of limitation place time limits by which an accident victim has to bring a claim based upon a given accident. The statute of limitations begins to run on the date that the accident occurs, and any claim brought outside of the statute risks being thrown out by the court. For example, if the statute of limitations for truck accidents in your state is two years, then you will have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. If the claim is filed three years after the accident, it will likely be dismissed.
There may be certain exceptions to the general statute of limitations in your state, however. For example, if the victim is a minor, then it may be paused until they reach the age of majority. There also may be an exception if the victim could not have discovered their injuries until a much later date. However, generally speaking, truck accident victims should speak to an attorney as soon as possible after their accident in order to find out what the statute of limitations in their state is and to avoid running into any issues in that area.
TRUST THE TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP
After a truck accident, victims may feel hurt and confused. An experienced truck accident lawyer may be able to take some of the pressure off of you while you are focused on getting you and your loved ones’ lives back on track. It may take a long time to settle a truck accident claim, but having a lawyer by your side may make the process less intimidating and ensure that your rights are protected.
If you or a family member has been injured in a truck accident, call the truck accident attorneys at the Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case.
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