You endured a terrible crash with a semi-truck or delivery vehicle, but thankfully you escaped with your life and health intact. Perhaps your car is lying in a crumpled heap at the junkyard though, and the insurance company declares it totaled instead of offering to cover the costs of repair. Before taking the settlement offered to you by the trucking company or your insurance, consider your chances of winning when you head to court instead.
The Waiting Game
How long are you willing to wait while the slow judicial process rolls on? Even basic cases usually last at least a full year or 18 months, with complicated cases stretching into multiple years. Settlements take between a few weeks and a couple of months to complete, giving you access to compensation quicker if you need the money to buy a replacement vehicle or recover from lost wages.
No matter which option you choose for dealing with your accident and totaled vehicle, you should hire an experienced truck accident lawyer for both situations. You still need the help of a truck accident specialist to guide you through the challenges of a settlement agreement. Without representation, you could end up facing problems like the following:
- Poor compensation due to you underestimating the amount you deserve or hard haggling from the trucker
- A misunderstanding of your rights, especially during arbitration or when signing away your future rights
- Failing to figure out what evidence to present while arguing your side in the negotiations.
Representing yourself is not only difficult, it takes hours out of your busy schedule as you try to collect witness statements and correlate data. Let a lawyer handle those tasks for you as you focus on finding a replacement for your totaled vehicle and getting back into your usual routine. A professional also helps you stick to the deadlines for filing rebuttals for offers so you don't end up with an unsatisfactory amount automatically credited to you.
Will the cost of court fees and time off work for your appearances keep you from affording a rental car or replacement as you wait for the case to finish? If you're already financially impacted enough by the truck accident, consider saving your money for a lawyer and going with a represented settlement plan. You will spend less, especially when there's a chance you won't win and end up paying the court fees yourself instead of having them covered as part of a win.
Ask yourself how much evidence you really have to show that the truck driver was at fault for what happened. If the details aren't clear even to you, you likely need to have the accident site documented and surveyed by a team of accident experts. The lawyer can help you find materials from local police departments, traffic cameras, witnesses, and bystanders who might have recorded something on a camera phone.
The End Goal
Finally, consider what outcome you really want from the dispute. Do you want the trucker to admit a mistake and make a formal apology, or for the trucking company to admit a policy caused the accident and commit to making a change? If you want anything above and beyond a monetary compensation package from the accident, you need to work out those kinds of extra details in a settlement instead of taking your ideas before a judge.
Take each accident seriously, even when you manage to avoid injuries like whiplash and broken bones. You still deserve money for the loss of your vehicle and whatever else you feel makes up for the experience. A lawyer specializing in truck accidents knows exactly how to deal with a driver claiming innocence, whether you're in the courtroom or arbitration meeting.