What is Different About the Claims Process in a Truck Accident Case?

Most people think that a car accident is no different than a car-truck accident, so the claims process must be the same but this is definitely not the case. Claims that involve any commercial truck, 18-wheeler, or van are more complicated. There are just under 690,000 truck drivers currently working in the industry. This means, in terms of an accident, there is often more than one liable party and more than one insurance claim. If you are injured in a trucking accident, it is essential that you partner with a knowledgeable Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, to help you navigate this process with confidence. We have over seventy combined years of experience handling these types of cases so contact us today to schedule your free truck accident consultation. 

What Does a Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

The claims process begins with the collision itself. After being involved in a crash with a commercial truck, it is crucial to prioritize your health and seek prompt medical care for any injuries you sustained. In most cases, a responding officer will be dispatched to the accident scene to evaluate the situation and draft an accident report which could act as important evidence in your case, as could any medical documents. If you are medically able, take pictures of the accident area and of the vehicles. Once your injuries have been medically attended to and the accident has been reported to local law enforcement, you should seek the help of a qualified Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer. 

Investigation and Communications

Your lawyer will notify all involved insurance companies, including the freight company’s and the driver’s, and communicate with them on your behalf. Next, a comprehensive investigation into your truck accident will be conducted, including gathering and examining evidence, collecting police reports, studying your medical records, and possibly even consulting third-party professionals. It will also involve contacting your work supervisor about the type of work you perform, the money you earn, and the hours you work. 

Demand Letter

Once these analyses and reviews are completed, your lawyer will then outline your claim in a demand letter once you reach maximum medical improvement (in most cases). A demand letter is an official document describing the legal liability of the trucking company, the nature of your injuries, the damages you sustained, and the amount of financial compensation you are seeking. Once drafted, this letter is sent to the necessary insurance companies commencing the process of settlement negotiations. 

Settlement Negotiations

From here, your lawyer will try to reach a fair settlement by negotiating with the insurers. This process involves a lot of back-and-forth communication as well as the valuation of your losses, lost earnings, medical bills, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. If an equitable settlement cannot be achieved via negotiations, your lawyer will usually suggest filing a lawsuit. If this happens, your case will then proceed to litigation, which includes the exchange of written discovery materials and oral depositions. 

If your case reaches the trial stage, your lawyer will advocate for you in court, present strong evidence, and make arguments to the jury or judge. The outcome of your truck accident case will ultimately be determined by the court or the jury. If either party feels a legal error has been made, they are entitled to appeal the decision. Both sides still have the opportunity to reach a settlement, even after the trial phase has begun. If this happens, your case will be resolved in accordance with the negotiated terms. If not, your Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer will aggressively represent you and work hard to secure the financial compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries and other damages.  

What Makes Filing a Truck Accident Different From a Car Accident Claim?

Due to the singular nature of the commercial trucking industry, the claims process for a commercial truck accident is different in several ways. A few of the more notable distinctions are:

  • FMCSA regulations: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has enacted extensive federal regulations that apply strictly to the commercial trucking industry. They cover important aspects of trucking such as cargo loading and securement, vehicle maintenance, and driver hours of service. The violation of just one of these regulations can have a considerable impact on liability in a truck accident case. In some instances, federal agencies, like the National Transportation Safety Board, are involved in the investigation of serious trucking accidents. When this happens, it can further impact the claims process, and delay how long it takes for your case to progress. 
  • Federal and state laws: Based on the circumstances surrounding your truck accident, it could involve both federal and state laws so your best bet is to work with an experienced lawyer who understands both.  
  • Multiple parties: Trucking accidents frequently involve multi-party liability. Commonly liable parties include the truck operator, the freight company, the cargo owner, and more. The challenge of dealing with several liable parties can be compounded by the involvement of multiple insurance companies. 
  • Collecting evidence: Collecting evidence in a commercial truck accident case is usually an extensive effort. It involves retrieving data from the truck’s event data recorder or “black box” which documents various details regarding the truck’s operation, like braking and speed. In addition to this, freight companies are required to maintain vehicle maintenance records and driver logs, both of which could be vital evidence.
  • Injury severity: Due to the weight and size of commercial trucks, truck accidents often cause damages and injuries that are far more devastating than those that occur in passenger vehicle accidents. This means that truck accident victims are subject to higher medical bills, greater lost income, and more extensive long-term rehabilitation.
  • Greater insurance coverage: Given their potential for causing more serious damages in an accident, commercial trucks are required to carry greater amounts of insurance coverage. Although this could mean that higher policy limits are available for compensation, it will likely also mean more exhaustive negotiations.
  • Complexity of negotiations: Negotiating with a freight company and their insurance company is challenging. Both companies usually have large legal teams that are very adept at minimizing liability. The skill and knowledge of a reputable lawyer are an invaluable asset when it comes to dealing with the numerous intricacies of a commercial truck accident case.

All We Do Is Injury Law

The experienced Virginia Beach truck accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have the skill, resources, and knowledge to successfully collect evidence that proves liability and fault, and ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve after being injured through no fault of your own. These are the same methods we used to achieve a $3.5 million wrongful death settlement for the family of a client who was killed when his vehicle was rear-ended by a truck driver. If you were injured in a truck accident, schedule a free case review with one of our lawyers by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out our online contact form. For your convenience, we have offices in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, and Portsmouth.