Since truck accidents can be complex, it can take longer to settle a truck accident case than an accident case involving a passenger vehicle. Every collision is different, so the length of time necessary to settle a claim may vary widely from a few months to a few years.
However, the involvement of a commercial trucking company, its insurance company, and potentially multiple vehicles may lead to lengthier settlement times.
Truck Accidents May Require Substantial Investigation
Trucking companies that employ commercial truck drivers are subject to extensive state and federal regulations. These rules govern everything from safety protocols to the hours of service that a driver can log. In addition to obtaining police reports and medical records, we also must gather other crucial information that is only present in commercial truck accident cases.
For instance, we will want to examine any driver logs that show hours of driving and resting, as required by federal regulation. We also will want to look at any history of safety violations for the trucking company. Driver personnel records, drug and alcohol testing results, driving histories, and maintenance records for the truck involved in the accident are often relevant pieces of evidence, as well.
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Determining Liability in a Truck Accident Case
Most truck accident cases result from proof of negligence or actions that exhibit a careless disregard for others’ safety. All truckers owe a duty of care to the other drivers and passengers on the roads. Those who violate this duty of care by negligent driving behaviors are responsible for the damages that result from accidents that they cause.
A trucking company can be liable for the acts of its employees, including negligent truck drivers. As a result, you may be able to hold the trucking company responsible for the conduct of a negligent truck driver who caused an accident that injured you.
Proving negligence in a truck accident case also requires showing that the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company directly led to the accident that caused you injuries. Pinpointing the cause of an accident is not always easy, especially when multiple vehicles are involved, which may be the case in a highway or interstate crash. Taking more time to determine the true cause of an accident can lead to a longer time in reaching a settlement.
Other Factors Can Cause Delays in Truck Accident Settlements
Because many variables can affect a truck accident case’s settlement timeline, you may want to prepare for the possibility that settling the case could take longer than expected. Factors that could affect a settlement include:
The Insurance Company’s Level of Cooperation
National trucking companies often use large insurance companies with the time and resources to aggressively fight any accident claims. Their goal is to minimize the value of your claim as much as possible or even avoid paying you altogether. As a result, it can take more time to get a reasonably fair settlement offer from a commercial trucking company.
The Severity of Your Injuries
The severity of your injuries may also lead to longer settlement times. Although minor injuries more easily result in quicker settlements, you will take longer to heal and reach your maximum level of medical improvement if you suffer a severe injury. A premature settlement when you are seriously injured may result in you getting less than the actual value of your claim for compensation, leaving you with uncompensated losses.
The Necessity of Filing a Case in Court
Whether you must file a lawsuit will also affect how long it takes to settle a truck accident case. CC Art. 3492 generally requires that you file your lawsuit in court within one year of the date of the accident. Meanwhile, many courts have tight dockets with lengthy waiting periods for hearings. Complex truck accident cases also typically require multiple hearings before reaching a jury trial, which can cause delays.
Actions You Can Take to Move Your Case Toward Settlement
Although having an attorney on your side can be invaluable in negotiating a settlement after a truck accident, you also can take other practical steps to move forward. For instance, you can keep all bills, receipts, and records about medical care that you receive for your injuries.
You should also document your lost wages, including a statement of your current salary, any leave time that you must use, and any sick or disability pay that you receive.
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Get More Information About How We Can Help
As you can see, how long it takes to settle a truck accident case varies significantly based on several factors. We are here to assist you through every step of the settlement process, regardless of the length of time involved. We can tell you what to expect at each stage of the proceedings and consistently keep you updated on your case.
Call Laborde Earles Injury Lawyers today at (337) 777-7777 to get started on your legal case. We offer a free case evaluation to all prospective clients.