The following legal steps are important to know in case of a truck accident claim:
Sign Written Agreement with Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Only Communicate Through a Law Firm
Discovery: Evidence Collected and Investigated
Deliver Injury Demand Letter
Negotiate an Equitable and Fair Settlement
If Negotiations Fail, go to Trial
Claims Process for Truck Accident
After being injured in a wreck involving a commercial truck, the first objective is to care for your health. Second and equally important, the victim should partner with a highly qualified truck accident attorney to protect his or her rights. Once a legal team has been selected, certain steps can be expected in the filing process and the ensuing personal injury claim process. These steps are:
1 – Sign Written Agreement with Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
After an individual consults with the chosen attorney who will handle the claim, a professional relationship will be solidified through negotiating, reviewing, and signing a contract that includes terms satisfactory to the client. The contract, sometimes known as a Retainer Agreement or a Letter of Engagement, should:
- Acknowledge a confidential attorney-client relationship has started.
- Include contingent fee percentages, expense details, payment for recovering damages or not recovering. This covers the promise of “if we don’t win, you don’t pay anything.”
- Include terms detailing how the client and/or lawyer can cancel the agreement.
- Cover the fact that timelines are often long with most truck accident personal injury claims, and explain that periods of no extensive communication might occur.
- Include a disclaimer of how the lawyer may handle medical expense negotiations, investigations, and the obtaining of medical records.
Each law firm is unique and may have a slightly different type of contract, depending on the specific case. Be sure to understand basic points before signing any agreement.
2 – Only Communicate Through a Law Firm
When an individual has chosen a law firm that will be his or her legal representative, all communication surrounding the case should be channeled through the attorney. There are many more players in a commercial truck crash than in a passenger-vehicle-only crash, and truck accidents are handled differently. There are guidelines for victims to follow when dealing with various entities after a truck accident, and they will help ensure rights are protected:
Your Insurance Company
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- Do not sign any papers nor answer any questions for which you are unsure.
Truck Company’s Claims Adjuster or Other Insurance Companies
- Give your attorney’s name and phone number
- Do not answer any questions whatsoever
- Do not sign any paperwork of any kind
Police, Medical Professionals, Dept. of Motor Vehicles
- File a police report
- Get a medical evaluation right away after the accident
- Report the accident, if required by law, to the DMV
- Do not divulge details of the accident to anyone else, beyond your lawyer and the required entities.
3 – Discovery: Evidence Collected and Investigated
By this point, the accident victim will have disclosed basic evidence to the lawyer. The evidence will include a personal account of the truck accident, details of all medical visits and any physical therapy, plus a review of law enforcement reports. Now, the legal team begins doing the following:
- Appoints accident scene investigators to go to the crash site
- Creates accident reconstruction, if necessary
- Reviews law enforcement reports
- Reviews records of medical visits, physical therapy, rehabilitation, etc.
- Meets with insurance adjusters
- Locates and reviews any traffic camera recordings available
- Locates eyewitnesses
- Coaches the victim in accurately and consistently describing the accident
- Conducts conversations with trucking company’s insurance and legal representatives
- Demands and reviews documents and evidence from all sources involved
4 – Deliver Injury Demand Letter
Next, your attorney will move forward with a demand. It will be in the form of a letter to the insurance carrier of the individual and/or trucking company responsible for the wreck. The letter will explain how the claimant has been adversely affected physically, emotionally, financially and beyond. Most importantly, a specific demand will be included that gives the financial amount that the injured party will accept as compensation to restore justice. The demand letter notifies the trucking company and its insurers of the means by which they can be released from their liability for the accident.
5 – Negotiate an Equitable and Fair Settlement
With the demand letter in hand, the trucking company can now view the evidence and evaluate its own case. Based on circumstances, the trucking company may do any of the following:
- Accept the demands and move forward with an out-of-court settlement.
- Negotiate terms and give a counter-offer. Such negotiations may go back-and-forth a few times. If an agreement is reached, a settlement then moves forward.
- Reach a dead end. In such a case, the victim’s attorney can file a lawsuit, believing that the victim’s demands are justified based on evidence and the trucking company’s response.
6 – If Negotiations Fail, go to Trial
In instances where the trucking company’s insurer will not negotiate or if demands are not being answered, a truck accident lawsuit may need to be filed on behalf of the victim. Much of the time, however, cases will already be settled by this point.
If the case goes to trial, a judge or jury will decide the outcome and the amount of financial compensation the victim will recover. It is not too common for personal injury cases to go to trial, since most are settled before this point. However, a victim’s legal team must be prepared for the possibility. The claimant should ask for updates as the process moves forward through the legal system. In addition, if any further information surfaces on the part of the claimant, it should immediately be made accessible to the claimant’s attorney.
By following these legal steps as a guideline, an accident victim can understand in advance the basics of what to expect.
Are You Looking For a Truck Accident Attorney?
The Eichholz Law Firm invites you to contact our legal team to learn about your rights if you’ve been injured in a truck accident. Compensation may be available to you.
Call the Eichholz Law Firm today at (855)-551-1019 or fill out an online form for a free consultation.