How to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

How to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

In a truck accident case, your core legal right is to obtain financial compensation to pay for your injuries when you can prove that someone else was negligent. However, the law does not automatically provide this compensation. You need to do significant work before you can reach that point.

Insurance and trucking companies have their interests in the case and will do whatever is in their power to keep you from getting all the money you deserve. Even if they know they were liable, insurers and trucking companies will try to convince you to accept as little as possible.

The good news for you is that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. Although the insurance and trucking companies may have more money and resources than you, and it seems they have authority over how much you can receive, you always have the legal right to total compensation.

You can escalate your claim by filing a truck accident lawsuit in civil court. When you take your case to court, you ask the judge or jury to decide how much you deserve from the insurance company and liable parties. Your compensation is out of the insurer’s hands.

However, filing a lawsuit and the litigation process are highly complicated. There are many rules and requirements you must follow, including what evidence you can present in your case. You need a truck accident lawyer with litigation experience who can advise you when it is time to file and who can handle everything from start to finish.

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How to Obtain Financial Compensation for Your Truck Accident Injuries

Generally, you have two options to pursue when seeking compensation:

  • You can file a claim against the trucking company’s insurance policy. Under federal regulations, they must carry at least $750,000 in coverage. If they act prudently, they will have far more coverage because they can be liable for any damages over and above their policy limit.
  • You can file a lawsuit against the trucking company in court. You even have the right to file a lawsuit if the insurance claims process does not go your way, either because the insurance companies have denied your claim or they refuse to pay you enough to compensate you fully.

Preparing Yourself to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit

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Many things need to happen to put you in a position to file a lawsuit, and the first step is hiring an experienced lawyer. Your truck accident attorney will have to conduct a complete investigation to determine who you can sue and gather the evidence you need to prove negligence. Before you can file a lawsuit, you must be sure that your case is solid enough to make it to the latter stages of the litigation process, such as obtaining discovery from the trucking company. If your legal complaint does not state any basis for relief, the court can dismiss your case before you go any further. Your attorney’s investigation and evidence gathering are invaluable to giving you the strongest possible legal case.

You Must First Know the Amount of Your Damages

Before your attorney files the lawsuit, they will also need to know the amount of your damages so you can seek it as part of your lawsuit. You will name a total that your attorney believes the trucking company owes you, and they must precisely calculate and prepare to back up this number when your case goes to court. Your lawyer can work with the following experts to reach your damages total:

Insurance companies will have their own idea of your damages and how much your claim is worth. This is usually much lower than you really deserve. Trust your truck accident attorney to accurately calculate how much you should demand in your lawsuit.

How Your Attorney Will Begin the Lawsuit Process

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Your attorney will draft the complaint, giving an overview of the facts as you know them when you file the case. Your complaint will make allegations about how the trucking companies broke the law and why they owe you money.

Your lawyer will file your case in court and serve it on the other party before the statute of limitations expires. Each state gives you a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit, and you must always track this deadline because missing it by even a day will end your ability to seek compensation for your injuries. Your legal case will begin as soon as you show that you served process on the defendant.

The insurance companies will generally defend their policyholder in court. If the trucking companies self-insure, their lawyers will protect them in court. Otherwise, you will be dealing with insurance defense law firms that desperately want to please the insurance company to keep more cases coming their way.

What Happens After My Lawyer Begins the Lawsuit Process?

According to the rules of civil procedure, the defendant will get 30 days to file their answer to your complaint. They will admit or deny the facts you have alleged and can offer their version of the story in response to yours. The defendant may even plead affirmative defenses to try and defeat your case entirely and end your right to financial compensation.

The defendant will almost always try to get your case dismissed by filing a motion and may try to find any reason to persuade the court to toss your case before you can proceed in the legal process. You will file your response to the court to convince the judge not to dismiss your case. The judge will rarely dismiss your case entirely, and even if they dismiss one or more grounds, they may still allow the remaining grounds to proceed to trial.

Discovery Is the Most Crucial Part of Your Lawsuit

You will proceed to the discovery phase if you can make it past the inevitable motion to dismiss your case. Discovery is the most crucial part of your case because you will obtain much of the evidence that your attorney will present to the jury if your case goes to trial.

You may already know what evidence the trucking company has, but you will better understand its significance once you get your hands on it. In discovery, the trucking companies have a legal obligation to hand over relevant evidence that is in their possession. Your attorney will make reasonable and tailored requests to lead to discoverable evidence.

Your lawyer may seek to obtain evidence using the following methods:

  • Requests for admission
  • Requests for the production of documents
  • Interrogatories
  • Depositions

Discovery is crucial for several reasons. It can build a solid case if you can obtain evidence from the trucking company that shows the extent of their negligence and lack of respect for trucking regulations in general. Suddenly, there will be a real prospect that a jury can award you punitive damages, making the defense sit up and notice.

Discovery Often Includes Depositions for Both Sides

In addition, discovery may be your first opportunity to hear from the truck driver in person. Your lawyer will request depositions from the defense witnesses, including the truck driver, who may testify at trial. They can ask the truck driver questions under oath for up to seven hours. If your case went to trial, the truck driver cannot offer testimony inconsistent with anything they said in their deposition. You can even question senior trucking company executives if they have any knowledge that impacts your case.

The flip side is that you may also be subject to a deposition because the insurance companies want to hear from you. They may be trying to set up a defense where they blame you in whole or part for the accident, and they may also question you about your actions leading up to the crash. Your attorney will prepare you for the deposition since your performance may be crucial to your case.

Discovery Often Leads to More Realistic Settlements

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You will likely know quickly whether you and your attorney have had a successful discovery process. If you have obtained much helpful evidence that will allow you to build a strong case, the insurance and trucking companies will be much more likely to settle the case on more favorable terms. All of a sudden, what seemed to be a brick wall can make way for a negotiating stance that is far more reasonable.

It is no coincidence that many cases settle between the end of discovery and the beginning of the trial (the date already set by the court). The defense gets far more aggressive about settling the case because they know what awaits them in court. The insurance companies fear being sued by their trucking company policyholder for bad faith, and the trucking companies are scared of being put out of business by a nuclear verdict. Even if the trucking company survives, losing lawsuits will harm its reputation.

You Have the Right to Take Your Case to Trial

Your case will only go to trial if you cannot reach a settlement agreement, and it is rare for a personal injury case to see the inside of the courtroom. You want to avoid getting nothing at trial, while the insurance and trucking companies certainly have fears. It is common for cases to settle, even when you have filed a lawsuit. Once you reach an agreement, the court will dismiss the case, and you will sign a release form in exchange for the settlement check.

You always have the right and ability to present your case to a jury if you cannot come to an agreement with the insurance and trucking companies. Both you and the defense will be allotted a certain amount of time for your cases. Your lawyer will call your witnesses and present the evidence that you have gathered, and the defense will get to cross-examine your witnesses.

When the insurance and trucking companies present their witnesses, your attorney can cross-examine them. The jury will then render a verdict, which will include:

  • Whether the defendant(s) are liable for your claim and the percentage of blame that they bear
  • Whether you share in any of the blame for the accident
  • How much you are entitled to in damages

If either side is dissatisfied with the verdict, they may file an appeal. Sometimes, you may settle your case after the verdict and before the appeal.

You Always Have the Right to Your Day in Court

Going to court is always your legal right in any truck accident case. Although it may not always be in your best interests to take your case to trial, there may be times when you have to file a lawsuit. Your lawyer may even recommend that you file a lawsuit before attempting to file an insurance claim. Everything depends on the strategy for your particular case, and what your lawyer may recommend is in your best interests.

The one thing that you have under control is whether and when to hire a truck accident lawyer for your case. A lawyer should always represent you, and you should hire an attorney immediately after the truck accident. Given the potential value of your truck accident case, you risk far too much if you allow yourself to be unrepresented for any significant amount of time.

Your attorney will fight to protect your legal rights while taking the battle to the insurance company. Never worry about getting the money to pay for a lawyer because that is not your problem. An attorney represents you on a contingency basis, meaning they only receive payment if you get a settlement or jury award.

Consult a Truck Accident Lawyer Today

Many truck accident claims settle with insurance companies, but there is always the chance you will need to file a lawsuit to get the money you deserve. Make sure you hire a personal injury attorney with experience in court who will do what it takes to get full compensation for you. Seek a free consultation now.

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James Wayne Holliday

James Wayne Holliday has been practicing law since 1995. He has been named as a “Best Attorney” Lifetime Charter Member in Florida, an honor awarded to less than one percent of the nation’s lawyers.

Mr. Holliday has earned a reputation as a relentless trial lawyer because of his outstanding work ethic and thorough preparation of his cases for trial.

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