One of the questions people may have in filling a lawsuit is the timeframe. How long does it take to resolve a truck accident case? Understanding the timeline for a truck accident lawsuit — and knowing that your attorney will do the heavy lifting for you — can help you overcome any reservations you might have about pursuing a legal claim.
So how long does it take to resolve a truck accident case? Long story short: no two truck accidents are the same. As a result, the exact timeline of your truck accident lawsuit will also vary depending on the specific details of your case. Injury cases in general can take anywhere from a few months to well over one year to settle. Typically, the more serious the injuries and the more extensive the damage to property, the longer the timeline for the case.
A timeline of what to expect in a trucking accident lawsuit is important in order to understand how long it might take and what happens at each step:
At Falcon Law Firm, we understand the nuances and ins and outs of truck accident litigation in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We do everything we can to ensure you meet all filing deadlines, and that your case is continually being pushed through the court system. Contact us at (732) 660-1200 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.
The foundation for your case actually begins once the accident has occurred. If you’ve been in an accident, there are several steps you should take to ensure your safety, and to help your lawyer begin the process of gathering evidence.
At the Scene
Immediately after an accident involving a commercial truck, call emergency services by dialing 911, and remain at the scene until police and paramedics arrive. If possible, take photos and videos of the scene with your phone or a camera, including any injuries to you or others in your vehicle. If you can, obtain the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses, but don’t disclose information that might relate to liability.
After your information is taken at the scene for an accident report, be sure to get the name and badge number of the officer filling out the report, as well as the case number. You will need the case number when contacting the appropriate law enforcement agency in order to obtain a completed written report. You will need the accident report for your insurance provider and attorney.
Seeking Medical Treatment
If you are not treated at the scene of the crash involving a commercial vehicle, it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible following the accident. After a serious accident, the extent of your injuries may not be realized because of a normal shock reaction to the event; some injuries may be immediately obvious, while others are not known immediately.
Let a medical professional assess your physical and mental condition to determine if you need further care. It is critical that you follow all of your doctor’s treatment directions and recommendations. The defense attorneys representing the company, and/or the driver of the commercial vehicle, will request your full medical records to determine the extent of any injuries.
If you were taken by ambulance to a hospital, obtain emergency department records, attending physician records, and any operative reports. All records associated with your accident will better enable your attorney to navigate through your case and provide you with the best legal representation.
Additional tips after a tractor trailer truck accident:
- Don’t discuss anything regarding liability, as this could be used against you in court
- Write down an account of what happened while the events are fresh in your mind
- Avoid any negotiations with insurance companies
- Don’t worry if you can’t do any of these — it’s the lawyer’s job to prepare your case
Contacting a truck accident lawyer after an accident is the next important step in the trucking accident lawsuit timeline.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible after an accident is crucial to the outcome of your case — especially one whose main practice area is commercial trucking accidents. Truck accident attorneys are knowledgeable about the many federal and state safety regulations that commercial vehicles must adhere to. They are skilled at gathering vital information, such as equipment defects or driver negligence.
Inspecting a tractor trailer as quickly as possible following an accident can unearth evidence to support your case, including driving logs and recorded information from vehicle-installed “black boxes” and onboard cameras. Most commercial vehicles have an onboard computer that stores important data about the commercial vehicle.
This data may include the speed that the vehicle was traveling before the accident and the time when the brakes were applied. This data can be analyzed after an accident to help piece together the moments right before an accident, information that is often critical to your case.
The Attorney-Client Relationship
After signing a retainer with your attorney, the attorney-client relationship has begun. You will speak only to your attorney about your case, and all questions or requests for information from other insurance companies or parties will be handled by, and through, your attorney. As your attorney will inform you, you are not to make any statements about the accident to anyone other than your attorney.
Additionally, each state’s laws are different regarding the reporting of an accident and how liability is assessed. A commercial trucking attorney, knowledgeable in federal regulations and your state’s vehicular law, will navigate the legal landscape and assess the applicable facts of your case.
Once retained, your attorney will:
- Request your personal account of the accident, and details about your physical injuries
- Review the police report
- Work to gather further facts about the accident.
Your truck accident attorney will work hard to uncover the cause of your accident, an investigative process that is often challenging. There are, however, many common causes of accidents involving tractor trailers, such as road conditions, distracted driving, driver fatigue, driver error ( failure to brake, excessive speed), mechanical failure, or problems with cargo load, to name just a few.
What are the most frequent types of accidents in all of trucking?
Common types of truck accidents include:
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end accidents
- Brake failure incidents
- Blind spot accidents
- Jackknife accidents
- Tire blowouts
- Semi-truck rollovers
Depending upon the facts and circumstance of the accident, your attorney may engage an accident reconstructionist to recreate the timeline of events, locate and interview eyewitnesses, have a specialist analyze all onboard electronic recordings, review all findings made at the accident scene by police, and review statements made by eyewitnesses. If, and when, the case goes to trial, eyewitnesses and expert witnesses may be called to testify.
Once your attorney is prepared with adequate information and a theory of the case, he or she will engage in discovery to collect more information from other parties involved in the accident. Through the discovery process your attorney may demand copies of driver’s licenses and safety records, trucking company safety inspection records and violations, onboard camera footage, licenses, and other pertinent information to your case.
Are truck accidents common? Absolutely — approximately 107,000 trucks were involved in crashes in 2021. In addition, tractor trailer accidents can involve multiple parties who are responsible for the injuries
While a regular car accident case may involve two drivers and their insurance companies, a commercial truck accident case may involve multiple parties. Only through extensive discovery can an attorney identify and prove who is liable for any injuries you may have incurred.
The parties involved may include the driver, the parent company, a contracting company that hires drivers, truck part manufacturers, cargo manufacturers, and multiple insurance companies. Careful and comprehensive review of all parties’ information and possible involvement in the accident can reveal potentially liable parties.
The amount of damages you receive can be highly dependent on the attorney’s skill and experience, so it’s important you choose the right one for your case.
After your attorney has collected and reviewed evidence and information uncovered from all other parties during discovery, they will begin discussions with insurance adjusters. They will draft and send a demand letter to the insurance company of the individual or business responsible for causing the truck accident.
The demand letter will specify the facts and theory of the case, how you have been physically, emotionally, and financially affected, and will request a specific demand. This demand will be a financial payment that you and your attorney discuss beforehand. The amount you may obtain through the payment often depends on the attorney’s skill in negotiating, so it’s important you hire an experienced lawyer.
Trucking companies have large insurance policies and deep pockets. However, trucking companies and their insurers handle these claims daily, and are motivated to pay you as little as possible to settle your claim.
Having a knowledgeable trucking attorney to represent you will ensure you are being treated fairly and achieve a fair resolution, no matter how large or small your case. It is important that if the opposing parties are unwilling to engage in meaningful negotiations or meet the terms of your demand letter, that your attorney has the skills and expertise to take your case to trial.
In many cases, the liable party or parties and its insurer are willing to meet some of the terms outlined in the demand letter. In such instances, your attorney, with your authority, can negotiate the terms and present a counter-offer. If an agreement can be reached, then you and your attorney can move forward with a settlement outside of court.
Oftentimes, the parties are unable to come to a just resolution to achieve a settlement. In this case, it is vital to have a knowledgeable trucking attorney who will file a lawsuit in court and take your case to trial. Filing a lawsuit involves drafting a complaint based on evidence and information obtained during investigation, filing it in court, and serving the lawsuit on the liable parties.
A settlement may be unattainable for a variety of reasons, some common ones being disagreement on who caused the accident, severity of injuries, the amount of compensation to be paid, or which individual or company is liable. The importance of having an experienced trucking attorney who is willing and able to take your case to trial cannot be emphasized enough.
The rules governing trials differ in each state. At trial, your attorney will select a jury through a process known as voir dire, during which the suitability of jurors for your case will be determined. Once a jury is selected, your attorney will make opening statements and present evidence in support of your case, which may include individuals who witnessed the accident, evidence presented by an accident reconstruction specialist, and doctors and expert witnesses testifying on your behalf. The defendant’s attorney then presents its case.
Following closing arguments by both parties, the jury begins deliberations. Jury deliberations are confidential, and take several hours or days to reach a decision. Once the jury reaches a verdict, it is brought into the courtroom where the verdict is read to the parties.
The court will then prescribe an appropriate damages award, which may cover:
- Past and future medical costs
- Loss of income
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Vehicle repair costs
- Various other expenses
Again, the amount of damages you receive can be highly dependent on the attorney’s skill and experience, so it’s important you choose the right one for your case. At Falcon Law, we have been nominated to the Trucking Trial Attorney Association, a highly selective, invitation-only award.
Contact an Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney
For those who are injured in a tractor trailer accident, the road ahead is paved with a great many hardships, including doctor and hospital bills, physical therapy, insurance claims, and a host of other financial and medical issues. It is in these situations that a knowledgeable trucking attorney is critical to handle your case, no matter if it is a minor “fender bender” or a major collision with severe injuries.
Truck accident lawsuits involve many steps, and the case can be won or lost at any of these steps. An attorney with a strong trial strategy can help avoid delays and make the overall lawsuit process smoother, more efficient, and quicker.
If you or a loved one were injured in a trucking accident, contact Falcon Law Firm at (732) 660-1200 for a free consultation. Our attorneys have the experience, skill, and resources needed to guide you through the process from start to finish.