Commercial trucks weighing tens of thousands of pounds collide with passenger vehicles on U.S. roadways every day. Whether the driver lost control of the vehicle while driving carelessly on a wet or icy road, turned too quickly into a blind spot, blew through a stop sign, or experienced any number of mishaps, the damage to the smaller car—and its occupants—is usually quite serious. While the truck accident claims process is complex, here is some general information.
After a collision with a semi-trailer truck, you likely feel angry, frustrated, and in physical pain. Your daily routine has probably changed dramatically since the accident. You’ve spent most of your time recovering and trying to move forward with your life.
Now that you’re on your way to recovery, there’s another challenge: You need to be made whole for what you lost in the collision. To receive compensation for any damage to your vehicle, and any direct or indirect costs associated with your injuries, you’ll have to go through the complicated, confusing, and time-consuming truck accident claims process—but our Tacoma truck accident lawyers are here to answer your questions and lend a hand if you need one.
What Is The Truck Accident Claims Process?
When you file a claim against an at-fault truck driver, things quickly become complicated. Many variables in semi-truck accidents never arise in the claims process for a normal car accident. From the regulations that govern the trucking industry to the complex mechanics of big rigs, several factors may contribute to both your accident and your ability to receive compensation from the truck owner’s—or other at-fault party’s—insurance company.
That’s why you need an attorney who is experienced with truck accident claims to guide you through the process. Having the right legal advisor and representative can make all the difference in how much compensation you receive.
Why Are Truck Accident Claims So Complex?
In any automobile accident claim, the insurance company wants to review the evidence and documentation to determine the appropriate damages to pay out. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you gather the necessary information to support your claim.
Here are just a few reasons that make truck accident claims so complex—and why the process usually requires a knowledgeable attorney.
Different Vehicles, Different Laws
Due to the combination of their size and speed, large trucks can cause tremendous damage to persons and property. To ensure that inexperienced or negligent drivers don’t operate them, the federal government has enacted special regulations limiting the number of hours a driver can operate a vehicle without taking a specified amount of time for rest. In addition, individual states may have passed even more stringent than the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Despite the regulatory safeguards, big truck accidents still occur—often because drivers or the companies that employ them don’t follow these important regulations. For example, collisions often result from drowsy driving caused by exhausted, overscheduled drivers who weren’t allowed time for the rest period mandated by federal hours of service regulations. One study found that fatigue caused up to 40 percent of all crashes involving commercial trucks by slowing drivers’ reaction times, increasing their susceptibility to distraction, and impairing their judgment.
You need a lawyer with knowledge of the state and federal rules governing the commercial trucking industry, and information about whether the owner and driver of the truck that hit you complied with them. When you engage an attorney who knows the relevant rules and regulations governing truck driving at every level, you’re in a much better position to support your claim—and receive the financial settlement you deserve.
Multiple Parties, Multiple Claims
In a typical automobile accident, you file your claim against the other driver. Truck accidents, however, are more likely to involve other parties—anything from small companies that own only a truck or two to large corporations, and even multiple corporate entities that have the time, resources, and inclination to fight you through every step of the claims process.
The truck driver’s connection to the truck’s owner can vary widely, too. In some cases, the driver is also the owner, or is renting the truck from the owner. In others, the driver works for the owner as a regular employee. In still others, the driver might work an independent contractor who someone hired for one specific gig.
Your claim may involve not only the truck driver but their employer, the company that owns and operates the truck, and all of these parties’ associated insurance providers. The contents of the truck may also have played a role in the accident, which would mean that the loading company may bear liability for your accident.
After a collision with a big truck, you shouldn’t have to worry about tracing the different entities that may bear responsibility for any damage or injuries. Focus on recovering and moving on with your life. You need a trusted representative who understands just how many parties may have contributed to your accident, and what each entity may need to pay to make you whole. An experienced attorney will make sense of the different contracts, rules, and business relationships on your behalf, and ensure you won’t miss out on deserved compensation because you overlooked a liable party.
Commercial trucks are not only big—they’re highly engineered pieces of machinery. Accidents may occur due to defects within the truck itself, issues with the way the trailer is connected to the truck, problems with the shipment, or malfunctioning truck accessories that lead to mechanical problems. A skilled truck accident claims attorney will understand the nuances involved with any mechanical problems associated with a crash. And, as your representative, they’ll bring those issues to light during the claims process.
Managing Medical Complexity
Due to their size and weight, semi-truck accidents cause complex, severe, and often lasting injuries—and a significant number of fatalities. After a truck accident, you may have more than just your immediate medical bills to worry about. You may also face the loss of hours at work or a long-lasting disability that will diminish your ability to provide for yourself and your family.
Insurers need the right medical documentation to determine your compensation. This is yet another reason you need an attorney by your side. When someone who understands complex medical terminology assists you, they can make certain the insurance company gets all the information it needs to process your claim and pay you what you deserve. In addition, a strong attorney can negotiate any denials or disputes that may arise during the claim, making it more likely you’ll recover fair compensation for your injuries.
Different Types of Driver Negligence
As we mentioned earlier, driver fatigue, or drowsy driving, causes many trucking accidents. Far too often, employers push truck drivers to ignore state and federal hours of service regulations—or they ignore them of their own accord in hopes of gaining time and earning more money. Police may not recognize or document fatigue at an accident scene.
The same is true when truckers drive under the influence of over-the-counter or prescription medications that inhibit their ability to operate a large vehicle. A trucker may have taken illegal substances to stay awake and alert during the drive. Or a smartphone or other device may have distracted the driver. Aggressive driving may have caused the truck to crash.
Police may not detect or document all of these forms of driver negligence in their accident report. An experienced attorney will know the right questions to ask and where to find the answers, and will overlook nothing when they review your claim.
Maximizing Your Success
Submitting the initial claim for compensation from an at-fault tractor-trailer operator is only the start of the claims process. As the different parties involved review your claim, they’ll likely make you an offer to settle. More often than not, that settlement offer is much less than the amount you deserve. But if you don’t accept the settlement offer, your case could go to trial.
An experienced attorney will understand the ins and outs of each and every step of the process—and they’ll know how to maximize your success. They’ll work with you to present compelling evidence to the insurance company regarding the extent of your injuries and your losses, and the nature of the truck driver’s (or owner’s) fault, so you receive the full amount of damages you deserve.
Schedule a Consultation Today
After a truck collision or accident, there’s no time to waste. But insurance companies make filing a straightforward claim into a complicated, challenging process, even in the best of circumstances.
Don’t go it alone.
When you retain an attorney with experience in truck accident claims, you don’t have to spend your time learning complex corporate entities, claims adjudication processes, or admissible evidence. You can spend your time on what matters most: your recovery, your family, and preparing for your future.
Far too often, victims of big rig accidents don’t receive the damages they deserve due to the difficulty of the claims process. That’s because they don’t call a truck accident lawyer for help.
A truck accident lawyer knows how to meet the complexity of truck accident claims efficiently and effectively to maximize insurance payouts for their clients. They can help you, too. Speak to a truck accident lawyer today.