Do I Have To Go to Court to Settle My Truck Accident Claim?
A packed courtroom with a judge and jury is the first image that pops into our minds when we imagine a truck accident litigation. And it happens fairly often. But did you know that you can settle without stepping into a courtroom?
Read on to find out what exactly happens after a truck accident, how out-of-court settlements work, and how working with a reputed truck crash law firm may help you choose whether or not to go to court.
What Happens After a Truck Accident?
Different scenarios can play out after a truck accident. Generally, one or both parties contact the police and medical service providers.
When they arrive, the police make a preliminary report. They may also interview a few eyewitnesses. Meanwhile, paramedics treat injured drivers and passengers, fill out medical records, and send severely injured persons to the hospital.
Insurance adjusters are often the next to interact with the crime scene. Once one party informs their insurance carrier, the provider assigns an adjustor to settle the matter quickly. Their first assignment is to determine who’s at fault. Then they evaluate their client’s approximate losses and begin negotiations.
The next step depends on who’s at fault. Typically, the at-fault’s insurer offers the other driver a lump sum to settle the matter on the spot. Alternatively, they may contact the driver’s policyholder.
How Out-of-Court Settlements Work
Out-of-court settlements are most likely if the victim has a watertight case with enough evidence to prove the defendant’s fault. Irrefutable evidence forces the other party to rethink their position. For instance, avoiding a full trial saves valuable commute costs. It also allows them to resume business much sooner.
But you need strong evidence proving that the other party’s negligence caused the accident. More importantly, you must prove that the claimed damages are directly related to the accident.
Types of Evidence in Out-of-Court Settlements
Your lawyer will help you gather the following evidence to prove the at-fault party’s negligence and liability;
- A police report prepared at the scene
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Surveillance footage (where available)
- Eyewitness statements
- Medical expert testimonies
- The victim’s medical records
- Vehicle inspection reports
Recoverable Damages in Truck Accident Settlements
The next step is determining a fitting package if the two parties agree to an out-of-court settlement. Recoverable damages include;
- Insurance deductibles
- Vehicle repair or replacement costs
- Missed paychecks
- Rental car costs
- Medical bills
- Funeral bills (in case of wrongful death)
- Compensation for non-monetary damages
Why Some Truck Accident Cases Go to Court
As you can see, you can recover nearly all damages out of court while avoiding the pain and expenses of a full trial. Nonetheless, the case may occasionally go to court if;
- Liability isn’t clear:
Everyone using the road has a duty of care to act in a way that doesn’t put others at risk. Anyone who breaches this legal duty is liable for damages.
Therefore, it’s not uncommon for two or more parties to be liable for a truck accident. These may include the truck driver, the driver’s employer, the parts manufacturer, and the maintenance company.
The defendant may go to court if they feel wrongly accused or believe that more than one party is liable. Similarly, a full trial makes sense if the liable parties cannot agree on a settlement formula.
- The parties disagree on the compensation:
Disagreements over compensation are more common than you think. For instance, the defendant may argue that some medical injuries are unrelated to the accident. Alternatively, they may contest non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering.
Parties may also disagree on the severity of the injuries. This greatly affects the damages, given that the medical expenses are multiplied by 1.5-3 for minor injuries, 3-4 for medium injuries, and 5+ for severe injuries.
It’s best to head to court for a full trial in such scenarios. The judge and jury will examine the evidence, interrogate witnesses, identify liable parties, and determine each party’s liability.
You don’t always have to go to court in a truck accident claim. Indeed, most insurers and their attorneys prefer out-of-court settlements. Nonetheless, you may need to go to court if the other party sues you or the settlement process is unsuccessful.