When it comes to truck accidents, no two cases are the same. Each accident is unique and has its own set of complexities that can make predicting the length of time it takes to settle a truck accident claim almost impossible. Depending on the severity of injuries suffered, length of rehab & recovery from those injuries, the liability of the truck driver and the cooperation of the trucking company, the timeline for a truck accident settlement can vary widely. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a truck accident settlement to drag on for multiple years.
At a minimum, it’s important to know your rights and the statute of limitations for filing a truck accident claim. You should also know any legal processes that you may need to follow in order to get fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
How Long Does It Take To Settle A Truck Accident Claim?
The time it takes to settle a truck accident claim depends on many things. It could take a few weeks, months, or even years to come to an agreement with the trucking company that caused your injuries. There are a few reasons for the wide variance in timelines:
- Trucking companies have different insurance policies than standard drivers and even different from how other commercial vehicles are insured for accidents.
- Trucking companies, especially larger ones, have in-house counsel or relationships with large, well funded law firms that will usually push back on the settlement process.
- The injuries can vary from minor to catastrophic in trucking accident claims. Depending on the length of recovery or even the time it will take to assess the injuries, the negotiation process may not even start for months after the crash.
- Liability can be difficult to prove, and the at fault party has a strong incentive to prove that their driver was not at fault.
Factors Affecting The Time To Settle A Truck Accident Claim
There are several reasons truck accident claims take longer to settle than car accident claims. Let’s take a deeper dive into each.
The severity of your injuries
In truck accident cases, the severity of the injuries can be a major factor in how long it takes to settle. Victims of truck accidents are at greater risk of suffering more serious injuries due to the size and weight of the truck, which can cause more damage than regular-sized vehicles. After a severe injury like traumatic brain injury, victims can require more time to reach full medical recovery and accurately assess damages, thus making the settlement process significantly longer.
Multiple parties involved
When multiple parties are involved in a truck accident, it can take much longer to settle the claim than if only one party was responsible. This is because multiple parties may have some degree of liability for the accident, which must be sorted out before the claim can be settled. Complex liability can quickly drag out the settlement process for a truck accident claim, as multiple factors must be considered when determining who is at fault.
For example, multiple parties may have contributed to the cause of an accident, such as a truck driver, shipping company, truck manufacturer, maintenance company, or others. In addition to assessing who is at fault for the crash, multiple evidence sources, including witness statements, photos of the accident scene, and police reports, must be reviewed in order to determine who should bear liability.
This often requires multiple experts to review the evidence and provide opinions on liability which can further complicate matters. On top of this, multiple insurance companies may also need to become involved in order to sort out who bears responsibility for compensating any injured victim.
Insurance policies can affect how long it takes to settle a truck accident claim. The insurance company of the person responsible for the accident must have enough money to cover any damages, such as medical bills or lost wages. A section of the federal regulations code requires trucking companies to have at least $750,000 in insurance coverage; this could be more depending on the cargo they carry.
If the insurance company is not willing to offer a fair settlement, you may need to file a lawsuit to get the insurance company to pay what they owe. Sometimes, negotiations with insurance companies may drag out for weeks. If a case goes to trial, it may take months or even years to settle.
The Extent of Your Damages
After a truck accident, the extent of damages incurred by the victim will have a direct impact on the amount of time it takes to settle the claim. When medical bills are extensive, lost wages are significant, and long-term pain and suffering is present, it takes more time to calculate the financial costs and the dollar amount on the emotional trauma the victim experienced. If medical expenses are low or minimal pain and suffering is inflicted, then a settlement generally takes less time than if medical costs are high and injuries require long-term medical care.
Another major factor in the length of time it takes to settle a truck accident claim is proving fault, or liability. Proving fault in a truck accident can be a complicated process, as there are a variety of factors to consider. Specialized knowledge of trucking rules and regulations may be necessary for success, including compliance with any special state or federal trucking laws. Establishing timelines, taking detailed pictures of the scene and injuries, investigating the scene of the accident and collecting evidence from witnesses and experts can all help determine who is at fault in the case. It is important to note that some states have restrictions on bringing certain types of claims against trucking companies. Additionally, insurance companies may try to limit their payout by blaming either party for the truck accident, which can increase the length of time the truck accident settlement process takes.
Find out the maximum compensation you could receive.
Find out the maximum compensation you could receive.
The Statute of Limitations For Truck Accident Injuries in the State The Accident Happened
While there are many ways in which a truck accident settlement is different from an auto or motorcycle accident settlement, when it comes to the statute of limitations all 3 will default back to the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in the state where the accident occurred. In most states this will be 2 or 3 years, however some states are outliers with as little as 1 year to file, or as many as 5 years to file a truck accident claim. Here you can find state laws and statute of limitations for motor vehicle accidents in all 50 states.
Truck Accident Settlement Timeline
Truck accident settlement negotiations are lengthy and complex and often require the expertise of a qualified personal injury lawyer. From the initial filing of a claim to the finalization of a settlement offer, these are the steps involved in a truck accident settlement:
- Investigation and Documentation: Before negotiations begin, the insurance company assigns a claims adjuster that will investigate the details of the case thoroughly and examine any evidence that supports your claim. Therefore, it is essential to properly document any evidence or relevant information soon after the truck accident, write down relevant details in a truck accident demand letter, and collect relevant witness statements and expert reports that can strengthen your case. The claims adjuster evaluates your case and presents you with an initial settlement offer.
- Negotiation: If you reject the initial offer, the process of negotiations may begin. At this stage, it is vital you settle for an amount that is fair and just. If you agree on an amount, you cannot go back to ask for more money. You need to consider all your injuries and losses before you settle. If you cannot agree on an amount with the other parties, the case may go to trial.
- Settlement Offer & Acceptance.
- Finalization of Agreement: Once an acceptable settlement offer has been agreed upon by all parties, it must then be finalized in writing with all terms clearly outlined, such as payment amounts for medical costs, property damage repairs, pain and suffering damages, etc., as well as any additional provisions or future expenses that may apply.
The entire process of negotiating a truck accident settlement is often lengthy and complex; however, working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help ensure that victims receive adequate compensation for their losses while preserving their legal rights throughout every stage of negotiations.
Should I Accept The First Offer In A Truck Accident Claim?
It is usually not advisable to accept the first offer in a truck accident claim. Usually, insurance companies offer initial lowball settlements. Your claim is usually worth more than the initial offer reflects.
Due to the complexity, higher insurance limits, and more serious injuries usually involved in truck accident settlements it is good practice to speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer before accepting an offer. They may also be able to negotiate better terms for you if necessary, and are usually better suited to know all the different ways you can add to the value of your truck accident claim. But whether you hire an attorney for your truck accident claim or not, ultimately, it is up to you to decide if the settlement offer is acceptable.