What Are the Stages of a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

Collisions involving oversized commercial trucks are often devastating. They lead to catastrophic injuries and even deaths. Victims of serious trucking accidents frequently find themselves in an overwhelming and difficult situation, exacerbated by a growing pile of hospital bills, lost earnings, and uncertainty about their legal options. If you were injured in a truck accident, it can help to familiarize yourself with the legal process that will likely follow, including filing a lawsuit and gathering evidence. The Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have 70 decades of combined experience in handling serious trucking accident cases and have a long track record of successful case histories. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.

The Accident

The initial stage of a trucking accident lawsuit is the crash itself. These accidents often result in serious injuries and heavy damage to the vehicles involved. Your first priority should be to seek immediate medical care. Even if you think your injuries are fairly minor, you need to be thoroughly examined by a doctor. Many accident-related injuries are internal or have delayed symptoms. Postponing medical attention will not only allow them to worsen but could potentially hurt your claim for compensation.  

After you have been medically evaluated, you need to get in touch with your insurance carrier to report the incident. You will need to give them the location, time, and date of the accident, the names of everyone involved, as well as the names of any witnesses. Your insurance company will assign someone to investigate the crash and might work with the truck driver’s insurer to decide who was at fault.

Choosing a Truck Accident Lawyer

The lawyer you choose to work with should have prior experience in handling truck accident claims. In other words, you want to hire an attorney who knows the law as it applies to your specific case and can handle the claims process with confidence and skill. Your Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer should also have a strong track record of successful outcomes in cases similar to yours, and be as willing to represent you in court as they are to work toward a settlement. 

Collecting Evidence and Filing a Lawsuit

Once you have signed with an attorney, they will begin investigating your truck accident in order to determine fault. They will collect relevant evidence, such as:

  • Eyewitness statements: Your lawyer will speak with any witnesses who saw what happened and document their version of events.
  • Police accident reports: They will also obtain a copy of the police report filed by the officer who responded to the scene.
  • Medical records: Your medical records are important because they document when and how your injuries occurred, their severity, longevity, and any necessary medical treatments.
  • Expert witness testimonies: To build the strongest case possible, attorneys will sometimes consult with expert witnesses, such as healthcare professionals and accident reconstruction experts to get professional opinions on certain aspects of your accident or injuries. 

After all important evidence has been collected, your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf. It will summarize your case and list the damages you are pursuing. A demand letter will then be drafted and sent to every party named in the lawsuit. The defendant or defendants will be given a specific deadline by which they must respond to the letter.  

Discovery

The next phase of a trucking accident lawsuit is the discovery phase. During this stage, both sides will trade information and evidence with one another. Discovery can include:

  • Interrogatories: A formal, written list of questions that must be answered under oath.
  • Depositions: The sworn, out-of-court testimony of an eyewitness
  • Requests for production: An official request for any documents and other physical evidence that are relevant to your case.

Discovery is arduous and rather time-consuming, so it is best to partner with a skilled lawyer who can advise you on what to expect during each stage of your truck accident lawsuit and what will likely happen next. 

Settlement Negotiations or Trial

The final phase of your truck accident lawsuit will consist of either negotiating a fair settlement or taking your case to trial. The vast majority of personal injury cases, including truck accident cases, settle before a trial becomes necessary. 

Settlement negotiations are an attempt between the plaintiff, defendant, and their lawyers to reach an acceptable monetary offer. These discussions are tricky and one of the many reasons you need a Virginia Beach truck accident lawyer with experience. For example, insurance carriers are somewhat notorious for intimidating or tempting injured victims who are not fully aware of their rights into accepting a lowball settlement. Ultimately, they discover that the settlement they agreed to is nowhere near enough to cover all of their damages and they are left holding the bag. If you accept the insurer’s quick but insufficient settlement, your case is considered closed and you will have no further recourse for obtaining additional financial compensation.

If your lawyer is able to reach a fair settlement, your case won’t need to go to court. If, however, an equitable settlement cannot be reached, your case will go to trial where both you and the other party will present your case to a judge or jury who will determine fault for the truck accident as well as the damages you are entitled to. If your case is successful, you will be awarded a judgment against the defendant.

Consult With a Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyer

Understand that the results of a trucking accident lawsuit are never guaranteed. The legal process is often protracted and complicated, and multiple factors could influence the outcome of your case. Fortunately, with the aid of an experienced truck accident lawyer from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, you can increase your odds of a successful resolution, like the $2.4 million wrongful death settlement we won for the family of a man who was killed by a truck driver’s reckless lane change. If you were injured or lost a family member in a truck accident, schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team by calling (833) 997-1774 or by filling out our contact form. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Hampton.

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