The time it will take to settle a truck accident case varies greatly, depending on the factors and parties involved and the extent and severity of the complexity of the case. Truck accidents are often complicated, especially if they involve large commercial trucking companies who have deep pockets and high-powered lawyers, deny claims or pay out as little as possible, and drag out the time it takes to settle in an attempt to wear you down. While some simpler cases may be resolved in a few months, others could take several years, especially if they go to trial.
To get an estimate of how long your individual case will take, it can help to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Kentucky, who can evaluate your situation, work to avoid unnecessary delays, handle all negotiations with insurance companies, and fight for the fair settlement you deserve.
Why a Truck Accident Case May Take Longer to Settle
There are several reasons why it may take longer to settle a truck accident claim than an ordinary car accident claim. These include:
The seriousness of injuries and damages
Due to the size and weight of large trucks, accidents involving trucks often cause catastrophic damage to smaller vehicles and their passengers, and even death. The greater the injuries and damages, the more insurance companies will try to deny or delay settlement, as they know you are anxiously awaiting payment to cover your losses.
In a successful truck accident case, you may receive compensation for the physical, emotional and financial losses that resulted from the crash. These are called damages; they may include payment for your economic or monetary losses, as well as your non-economic damages that do not have a specific dollar value but still negatively impact your life. Damages may include:
- Medical, caregiving, and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost earnings and future earnings if unable to work
- Property damage
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death.
Insurance companies and their lawyers may also attempt to prove that you did something to contribute to the accident. According to Kentucky Revised Statutes 411.182, the amount of damages you can recover in a lawsuit is reduced by the percentage that you are found to be at fault for causing the crash.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to deal with the tactics insurers use to delay or minimize claims; they can help you prove another party liable and fight for a settlement that covers all your losses.
The time it takes to investigate
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires a thorough investigation process for major truck accidents, and this takes time. Large trucking companies and their insurance companies will conduct their own investigations, and your attorney will want to conduct an investigation as well. If the investigation results in solid evidence that another party was at fault, it may make the settlement process go faster, because the insurance company will prefer to negotiate rather than chance having to pay more after an expensive and lengthy trial.
Your attorney will conduct investigations to determine:
- Whether the truck driver followed all FMCSA rules and regulations, such as hours they are allowed to drive without rest
- Whether there are other parties who contributed to the accident, such as drivers of other vehicles or cargo companies that loaded the truck improperly, or the manufacturer of a defective part that failed
- Whether the truck was properly maintained
- Whether the trucking company properly trained and supervised the driver.
There are times when trucking companies try to destroy evidence, so investigations should begin as soon as possible after the accident, while evidence can be preserved and witnesses are available. In addition, there are time limits for filing a claim — according to KRS 413.135, you generally have just one year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit or the court will probably refuse to hear your case.
The time it takes for injuries to heal
It is important to wait to accept any settlement until your injuries have healed to the maximum extent possible and your medical treatment is over, so you know the totality of your medical expenses. If you were seriously injured, it may take more time to determine how your future will be impacted and what fair damages would be. Be aware that once you accept a settlement, you will not be able to receive more should your injuries worsen or new injuries pop up in the future.
The number of potential defendants
In some cases, there may be several parties who contributed to the accident. Your attorney will try to name them all as defendants, as they all may have insurance and assets that can go toward a settlement. However, having additional defendants who may all try to blame each other could increase the time it will take for your claim to settle.
How to Shorten the Time to Settle a Truck Accident Case
While there are no guarantees, having a skilled personal injury lawyer working for you as soon as possible after a truck accident can shorten the time it takes for a settlement. An experienced attorney can start investigations quickly, interviewing witnesses, getting police and medical reports, and gathering evidence such as the truck’s black box data and photos and videos from the accident scene. Your attorney often can move things along by presenting strong evidence and convincing arguments to the insurance company and negotiating for a fair settlement. Knowing that you have an attorney who is willing to go to trial can encourage insurance companies to take your case seriously and make a reasonable offer.
If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a truck accident, there is help available from an experienced Kentucky truck accident lawyer at the Johnson Law Firm. Billy Johnson has been helping victims of truck accidents since 1998. He gets results, including a $24 million settlement in a recent truck wreck case on the first day of trial.
When you have Billy on your side, he will be there at every stage of the legal process, from handling discovery, filing pretrial motions, presenting evidence and making closing arguments, to filing an appeal if appropriate. Billy will do everything possible to shorten the time it takes for your case to settle.
We offer free consultations, and there are no fees to you unless and until we win your case — so call us today to get started.