Most drivers will experience a motor vehicle accident at some point in their lifetime. Ideally, accident injuries and property damage are minimal and the matter can be managed quickly and efficiently. However, collisions involving commercial semi-trucks are typically more complex and can take longer to settle. These claims can take anywhere from six months to two years to resolve for a number of reasons.
Here is a general overview of the truck accident claims process and the path to settlement. Note that every case is unique, and it is recommended to speak with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
After any type of auto accident, medical care should be your first priority. Serious injuries should be treated at the scene. If you do not have immediate pain or other symptoms, it is still a good idea to see your health care provider as soon as possible to rule out invisible or delayed-onset injuries.
File a Police Report, and Exchange Contact Information
Make sure you have spoken with law enforcement at the scene and exchanged contact information with the other driver(s) and any witnesses as well. Next, you can begin the claims process.
Investigate the Facts
Before a claim can proceed, the facts must be established. Your lawyer and lawyers for any other parties will thoroughly review the details of the accident to help determine fault. The more evidence you can provide to your lawyer, the smoother the process. Save everything related to the accident: photos, dashcam footage, medical bills, and other documents. Make copies of everything, and share them with your lawyer.
At this stage, your lawyer may negotiate with the trucking company to reach a fair settlement that reflects all of your economic and noneconomic losses. However, most lawyers advise against accepting an initial offer. These damages might include:
- Pain and suffering.
- Mental anguish.
- Medical costs.
- Property damage.
- Recent and future lost income.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
If all parties cannot agree on a settlement, the case may proceed to trial. Multiple rounds of negotiations and/or a civil trial will likely prolong the settlement process.
If the case goes to court, there is not guarantee the plaintiff will receive damages. Legal counsel can build a strong case for compensation to help you avoid going to court.
Statute of Limitations for Ohio Truck Accident Claims
In Ohio, the statue of limitations to file a truck accident lawsuit is two years from the date the accident occurred. It takes longer to prepare truck accident claims compared with other types of cases, so speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible is beneficial.
Waiting to start the process also increases the possibility of a witness forgetting what they saw or valuable evidence getting lost. After a truck accident, make an appointment to meet with a lawyer to discuss your legal options before too much time has passed.
Factors That Complicate an Accident Claim
Some additional factors can prolong your claim:
- Serious injuries: When anyone involved in the truck accident sustains serious injuries, the entire process may take longer. Additional time may be necessary to full evaluate the extent of the injured party’s condition, their prognosis for recovery, and how their injuries will impact their future quality of life.
- Fatal injuries: When someone dies in a tragic truck accident, the path to settlement is likely to be lengthy and complex. Time is needed to assess all of the economic damages, like burial and funeral expenses, along with noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering. Wrongful death claims also consider how the deceased individual’s loss impacts their immediate family both emotionally and financially.
- Several liable parties: Liability for commercial truck accidents is complicated and can lie with the driver, the loader, equipment manufacturers, and/or fleet owners. Let us look at the example of a wreck caused by a truck tire blowout. The company who manufactured the defective tire might be liable. The owner or operator might be liable if they failed to thoroughly inspect and service the truck. If the tire was destroyed after traveling over a pothole or other road hazard, the local municipality can be liable as well. It takes time to determine negligence and who is directly responsible for the circumstances that led to the crash.
- Difficult insurance companies: Some insurance companies are less reasonable than others, making it more difficult to reach a fair settlement. If you have to go back and forth negotiating the settlement terms, the process will take more time.
Can a Lawyer Help Speed Up My Claim?
Seasoned lawyers are familiar with how these claims proceed and can often prevent issues that typically stall these cases. Experienced lawyers also understand how to negotiate. The act of hiring a lawyer in itself shows trucking companies that you are serious and are willing to fight for your best interests.
Cincinnati Truck Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Can Work to Settle Your Case as Quickly and Effectively as Possible
Our Cincinnati truck accident lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office understand how stressful it can be when you are dealing with serious injuries and mounting medical costs after an accident. That is why we can give your case the time and attention it requires. Call us at 513-488-1135 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Loveland, Ohio, we serve clients in Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.