American semi-trucks are permitted to total 80,000 pounds spread over eighteen conventional wheels. These gargantuan vehicles tend to make us all a little nervous when we pass by on roadways—and it’s for good reason. Hundreds—even thousands—of lives are lost each year in semi-truck accidents on our roadways.
Those who are fortunate enough to survive the experience of a semi-truck collision are often not fortunate enough to escape injury. The recovery process following a crash can prove difficult in more ways than one—but one hurdle that many victims fail to anticipate is the length of time it takes to settle a semi-truck accident case.
Facets of semi-truck cases tend to prolong the settlement process. These range from pricey insurance policies to serious injuries and beyond. If you or a loved one were injured in a semi-truck accident, you may want to understand why it takes so long to settle a semi-truck accident—and how an experienced truck accident lawyer can speed the process along.
The Beginning Questions Behind Settlement
One of the most common questions that semi-truck accident victims pose after medical recovery is, “How long will it take to settle my truck accident claim?”
This concern tends to arise for several reasons:
- You may have already been waiting for some time | It’s likely that your personal injury attorney has pressured you to wait to pursue settlement until you achieve a full medical recovery. This is seen as standard advice for many reasons; but, more importantly, it will also likely leave you anxious to finish the claim process by the time you recover
- The insurance company is pressuring you | Most of us are well-aware of the pressure that insurance companies exert when a claim comes into question. Insurance agents may pressure you to settle your claim ASAP—even if you’re still seriously injured
Nobody can tell you how long it will take to settle your accident case. So many factors come into play during the settlement process that estimation is impossible. In fact, it’s entirely likely that your own lawyer may not be able to offer insight concerning this either.
Will my case take longer to settle if it involved a semi-truck?
There’s no way that anybody can guarantee how long a case takes to settle. The answer to this question varies from case to case. Some cases—regardless of the types of vehicles involved—involve complex laws or may include bizarre circumstances that lengthen the time to settle. Others may settle quickly and easily.
Some reasons that a semi-truck accident case may take longer to settle than a typical auto collision case include:
- More severe damages
- The semi-truck may carry multiple insurance policies (i.e. one for the truck and another for the trailer)
- The types of injuries and treatment that result from the crash
The speed of my settlement seems too good to be true.
It probably is. If you haven’t already partnered with a dependable trucking accident injury lawyer, now would be a good time to do so.
Many semi-truck accident victims find that they are offered settlements much more quickly than anticipated. This isn’t because the insurance agency wants to help them. These settlements get pushed because insurance companies leap at the chance to reduce accident costs. The fewer damages have been accounted for, the lower the agency can push the settlement.
Some agents also try to take advantage of victims’ unfamiliarity with insurance law. They may simply rush to settle because they know it’s unlikely a victim has retained a lawyer yet.
Do not accept settlement offers without advice from a legal professional. The laws that surround personal injury and insurance law are complex, and a quick settlement offer is often not in the beneficiary’s best interest.
Common Types of Semi-Truck Accidents
Unfortunately, semi-truck accidents are a common occurrence on U.S. roadways. More than 4,000 people died in large truck crashes nationwide in 2018—and a significant portion of those involved semi-trucks.
One of the first factors that affects your semi-truck accident settlement is the nature of the accident itself. Different varieties of semi-truck collisions lead to different injuries and, in some cases, different settlement processes.
Some examples of common semi-truck accident varieties include:
- Jackknife accidents | Jackknife accidents often occur on slick roadways, but can also take place when a semi-truck driver attempts to turn too quickly. During a jackknife crash, a semi-truck driver loses control of his or her vehicle. This often results in swerving off of the road or slamming into vehicles and objects nearby
- Rollover accidents | Rollover accidents are what they sound like. Semi-trucks are especially prone to rollovers. Drivers who try to stop or swerve too quickly may instigate a rollover and crush nearby vehicles and objects
Factors that May Influence How Long it Takes to Settle a Semi-Truck Accident
The Liability Investigation Process May Begin Regardless of Your Innocence
Oftentimes, insurance companies try to shift fault for the accident towards the victim. This occurs even when victims have zero liability. The goal of assigning liability kickstarts an investigation process involving both the insurance company and the victim’s attorney.
This process is lengthy and complicated. Your lawyer will typically work back-and-forth with the insurance company to determine even the most minute details.
Semi-Trucks Tend to Carry Large Insurance Policies
This may change the way that your truck accident lawyer chooses to pursue your case. Remember: if you were in an accident with a semi-truck, the world of insurance that you will be dealing with is much different from the world of average consumer auto insurance.
Many semi-trucks carry insurance coverage beginning at $1 million. Policies often go up from there. The average insurance adjuster is already interested in defending their driver and protecting their company. Imagine the lengths adjusters will go to protect substantial coverage totals like these.
Numerous Entities or Individuals May Bear Liability for a Semi-Truck Accident
Any vehicle collision could involve multiple liable parties. Semi-truck accidents are no exception. Many crashes are caused by negligent drivers. These drivers may engage in any number of negligent behaviors such as driving recklessly, driving distracted, or driving under the influence.
Some semi-truck accidents, however, can be traced back to trucking companies or those who serviced the truck:
- Trucking companies often share liability for semi-truck accidents; they may exhibit negligence by:
- Requesting that drivers falsify logs
- Forcing drivers to work beyond the mandated maximum number of hours
- Mandating that drivers operate vehicles in unsafe circumstances
- Keeping drivers who have displayed negligence or been involved in numerous accidents
- Mechanics and companies who perform service on trucks can also be held liable for accidents; improper service can create fatal hazards
- Unaddressed mechanical failures
- Improper repairs
Keep these factors in mind as your case progresses. Your lawyer may begin to pursue these avenues of liability at some point during the process. Trucking companies tend to be some of the worst offenders when it comes to negligence regarding their employees and equipment.
Your Own Wellbeing Impacts Settlement Timing
A semi-truck accident case, just like any other vehicle accident case, is a form of personal injury case. Most personal injury cases only get resolved once the victim (or victims) have achieved full recovery. Many semi-truck collision victims experience significant injuries. Such injuries require adequate healing time—and this can prolong the total length of your settlement process.
Even though it can be difficult to wait until you achieve full recovery before pursuing compensation, total recovery places you in the ideal position. You and your attorney will have a complete understanding of your injuries once they have been treated properly. Pursuing settlement too early may lead to difficulties in court and a lower claim value; on the other hand, many accidents result in permanent injury or disability. In cases like these, evaluating the extent of your total lifetime damages will require some substantial homework.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies Is a Lengthy Process
We all know that the wait for insurance companies to offer answers or advice can feel like a lifetime. When you consider the fact that semi-trucks tend to carry such large insurance policies, it’s easy to see how this wait can become even longer. Negotiating over large sums of money is never a streamlined process.
The greater the damages you experienced, the longer you can expect your settlement to take. It can be difficult to prove each and every expense warrants compensation. Your lawyer may need to negotiate with the insurance company for some time before agreements are made.
Helpful Steps a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Take While You Wait for Your Case to Settle
The days can begin to drag as you wait for a settlement. Meanwhile, your truck accident lawyer can take additional steps to take to alleviate pressure to help push you towards total financial, medical, emotional, and physical recovery:
- Contact your medical providers’ billing departments | Nobody wants to deal with mounting or confusing medical bills as they attempt to settle a case. If you or your lawyer consult the billing department of each individual medical facility you’ve visited, you may be surprised at what you achieve. Many billing departments allow patients to make payment arrangements that suit their unique circumstances or may delay them pending legal proceedings.
- Double-check your employer’s policies | You need to know where you stand in the workplace after a serious accident. If you need to take sick leave, fear for your employment, or require any additional similar information, you should consult your employer’s policies. Many victims find that they can actually take advantage of benefits like short-term disability to help ease their financial burdens during this time, something a truck accident lawyer can help to arrange.
- Speak to your creditors | Much like your medical bills, your credit card bills and payments may be open to negotiation. Many victims or their attorneys even speak to mortgage and auto lenders to help simplify some of their most prominent expenses.
Tips for a Faster Semi-Truck Accident Settlement
Some steps may allow for your settlement to be completed more quickly. Not every victim has an opportunity to take each step; somebody critically injured during a crash, for example, is not likely to be able to gather evidence from the scene. If you can, however:
- Gather as much evidence as possible without delay | One of the most helpful steps to expediting any case is to have ample and appropriate evidence. The easiest way to achieve this is to gather as much evidence as possible as soon as you can. That means that some evidence may be collected on-scene—but some will likely be collected later, too
- Get adequate medical attention ASAP | Seeking medical attention immediately isn’t only in your best interest concerning personal health. It can also cut down on the amount of time it takes to settle your claim. Quicker medical treatment can mean improved prognosis, more concrete diagnoses, and a range of other things that all simplify settlements
- Consult a reliable semi-truck accident attorney | The sooner you partner with a trustworthy and compassionate personal injury lawyer, the sooner you’ll be able to begin building a path towards hopeful success. A seasoned attorney will help you untangle the complex legal process and advocate for your rights in court. This support drastically expedites any case.
Injury Lawyers Are Prepared to Assist With Your Semi-Truck Accident Claim
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a semi-truck accident, you deserve legal support in your pursuit of compensation. While nobody can guarantee how long your settlement may take, your legal team should work relentlessly to ensure that you feel emboldened and empowered through every step of the claims process. Speaking with an experienced semi-truck accident attorney is one of the best ways to ensure you are informed and prepared for what comes next.
Dolman Law Group
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765