This is one of the most frequently asked questions individuals have after being involved in an accident. Insurance companies are notorious for rushing injured people to settle their claims as soon as possible, which is almost always to their advantage and to the disadvantage of the injured party. Quick settlements can negatively impact your recovery from ongoing pain and medical treatment.
Unfortunately, hiring a personal injury firm does not speed up the process of your truck accident claim. Once the insurance company is aware that you have hired an attorney, their tactics will change. They will drag their feet hoping you will become frustrated. The reason they do this is that they know that you’re likely to receive more money for your claim by hiring a lawyer.
Once you hire an attorney, the amount of time it takes to settle your injury claim will depend on the following factors:
It is not uncommon for an insurance company to try and place a portion of fault on the victim even when they have zero liability. To ensure fault is properly assigned to the semi-truck driver and the trucking company, the insurance company and the plaintiff's law firm engage in a series of complex liability investigations.
In most instances, your attorney may place a physical hold on the semi-truck so that evidence does not disappear. This allows your attorney to take as much time as they need to appropriately investigate physical damage as well as look for signs of any possible defects related to the semi-truck.
A professional legal investigation can increase the amount of time it takes to settle a case, but it also unveils critical information that ultimately ensures a victim receives fair compensation for the injuries they sustained as well as their pain and suffering.
Insurance Policies for Semi-Trucks
It's not uncommon for a semi-truck to carry insurance coverage in the amount of $1 Million or more, and the aggressive tactics an insurance company will use to defend their driver and the trucking company is often a result of the substantial amount of coverage that exists on these policies.
In addition to the much higher policy limit requirements associated with semi-coverage, there is also a very real possibility that multiple defendant policies exist. For instance, a semi-truck may have a $1 Million policy that covers the truck as well as another $1 Million that covers the trailer attached to the truck.
Because damages are often serious in these cases, your attorney will work to uncover every possible source of recovery. Properly investigating all the applicable policies for a semi-truck company can be more time-consuming than in other accidents.
Your Injuries and Medical Treatment
Often, the biggest factor associated with the amount of time it takes to settle a semi-truck accident case will be related to the extent of your injuries and the type of medical treatment required to restore your health.
Personal injury cases are typically resolved once the victim has fully recovered, and because an accident with a semi-truck is more likely to cause traumatic injuries, the treatment and recovery period will often take much longer, increasing the length of time the case takes to settle.
It may be tempting to try and settle your claim while still treating or experiencing pain, but this is never advisable. Only after the doctors release a person from their care will a victim and/or their attorney have a clear picture of the total injuries, allowing them to then make a determination of what the semi-truck injury claim is worth.
Unless the case goes to trial, this is the final step in settling of a semi-truck injury claim, and it can also be a common source of delay.
The amount of time negotiations take will largely depend on three factors:
1. Liability Findings
If it's determined that you are partially at fault for the accident, this will negatively affect the overall value of your claim and may require additional time for your attorney to negotiate.
2. Summary of Medical Treatment
Depending on the severity of your injuries, there may be an extensive amount of medical documentation for the insurance company to review.
3. Amount of Available Insurance
If the victim is left with traumatic, life-altering injuries, or the case involves wrongful death, the time it takes to negotiate may be minimized.
For example, each state has specific wrongful death laws that dictate how much a person's particular estate can be awarded, and in the event that a death occurs, the full amount under state law is often simply issued.
If the plaintiff and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement, a lawsuit will need to be filed. It is important to keep in mind that there are state-specific statutes of limitations that require that lawsuits be filed by certain deadlines. If you do not settle your claim or file a lawsuit within the statutes of limitations, you will be forever barred from bringing your claim to court. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to advise you of these important deadlines.