Less than 5 percent of truck accident lawsuits go to court, according to The Law Dictionary. Despite courtroom dramas depicted on streaming services with lawyers dramatically presenting evidence before a judge and jury, truck accident cases almost always end in a pre-trial settlement. But, of the few that do reach the courtroom, over 90 percent, result in a verdict in favor of the party who brought the case.
Here’s a closer look at how the legal process works and why a truck accident case rarely goes to trial. Get instant case recovery for truck accident injuries. Contact experienced truck accident lawyers for swift and effective legal assistance.
What Is the Truck Accident Claims Process Like?
Since truck accidents often result in serious and sometimes catastrophic injuries requiring long-term medical treatment, truck accident victims deserve fair compensation for these damages if another party causes their injuries.
Truck accident claims are a type of legal action brought by someone injured in a commercial truck accident. These claims seek compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other damages from the responsible party.
After a truck accident, the accident victim might file a claim against the truck driver and his insurance company. They may also have grounds to file a claim against the trucking company that employs the trucker or the manufacturer of a defective truck part.
Settlement Prior to Litigation
After a truck accident, your insurance company may offer to settle your claim quickly. This may include money to cover your medical bills and lost income if you cannot work due to your injuries. If you accept the settlement, you do not need to go to court. However, before you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, consult a lawyer to protect your right to fair compensation.
Insurance companies usually make offers to accident victims that fall far short of what their claim is really worth. This compensation must cover your medical expenses throughout your recovery and possibly throughout your life for any permanent or disabling injuries. If you accept the insurance company’s offer, your case settles, and you cannot ask for more money if you need additional medical treatment for your injuries.
A lawyer can assess your injuries, your long-term medical needs, and how your injuries have affected your life to determine a more accurate value for your claim. They will gather evidence to support your claim and negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. Once both parties agree on a settlement, the case closes and you do not need to go to trial.
Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Not all truck drivers, trucking companies, or insurance companies will offer a fair settlement. If the at-fault parties refuse to play fair, your lawyer may advise you to file a truck accident lawsuit in civil court. The statute of limitations in Texas for filing a personal injury claim is two years from your accident.
A few exceptions apply to this deadline that may shorten or lengthen the time you have to file your case. Your lawyer will consider whether any of these exceptions apply to your case and file it ahead of this deadline. If you miss this deadline, however, you may not seek compensation through the court system.
Once you file suit, the discovery phase of your lawsuit begins, where both sides share initial research. This evidence can show the defense how strong your case against them is, and they may then reenter settlement discussions.
Most lawsuits settle during this phase—sometimes as late as the day before the trial begins. Once the parties agree to settle, they need not go to court.
If both parties don’t agree on a settlement amount, the case may proceed to trial. This usually begins with jury selection.
During the trial, both sides give opening statements, offer evidence and witness testimony, cross-examine witnesses, and give closing arguments. The judge instructs the jury on its duties, and deliberations begin. At any time, the defendants may make a settlement offer. But if they cannot reach an agreement, the jury’s verdict will stand.
If the jury finds in your favor, they will announce an amount the defense must pay you. The defendants must pay it or appeal the decision, usually within 30 days.
If the appeal succeeds, you may face a new trial unless negotiations resume and result in a settlement.
Do I Have Grounds for a Truck Accident Claim?
To bring a truck accident case against a truck driver or trucking company, you must show that their negligence led to the accident that injured you.
To establish negligence, the plaintiff (the party filing the lawsuit) typically needs to prove four key elements:
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant (usually the truck driver and/or their employer) owed you a duty of care. In a truck accident case, this duty generally involves operating the truck safely and responsibly, following traffic laws, and taking precautions to prevent accidents.
- Breach of Duty: The plaintiff must show evidence that the defendant's actions or inactions fell short of the expected standard of care. For example, a truck driver who violates traffic laws, drives recklessly, or fails to maintain their vehicle breaches their duty of care.
- Causation: Causation consists of two elements: actual causation and proximate causation. Actual causation requires demonstrating that the defendant's breach of duty directly caused the accident. Proximate causation involves showing that the defendant's actions were a foreseeable cause of the harm or injury suffered by the plaintiff. In a truck accident case, you may need to establish that the defendant's negligence directly led to the collision and any resulting injuries or damages.
- Damages: The plaintiff must provide evidence of actual harm or damages that resulted from the truck accident. This could include physical injuries, property damage, medical expenses, lost income earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses. To succeed in a negligence case, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they suffered measurable damages as a direct result of the defendant's breach of duty.
Injured in a Truck Accident? A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help.
Truck accident claims rarely go to court, but that doesn’t mean people injured in these dangerous accidents don’t recover compensation for their injuries. Most personal injury claims settle before they reach the courtroom, with the injured party receiving compensation for their damages.
Settlements in truck accident cases are often reached through negotiations between the injured party's lawyers and the truck driver or trucking company's insurance company. If the insurance company doesn't make a fair offer, your case may proceed to a lawsuit.
Still, roughly 95 percent of pending injury lawsuits in civil court never reach the courtroom because they settle before the trial. And in most cases, both parties prefer to settle cases to avoid lengthy and costly trials.
If you or a loved one suffered truck accident injuries, a proficient personal injury lawyer can guide you through the legal process and handle all negotiations to ensure a fair settlement is reached. If not, they can file your case in court and represent you before a judge and jury.
Want to learn more about the legal process? Consult a truck accident lawyer at the Francis Firm to hear how we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.