The truck accident settlement process is typically more complex than that of a general car accident claim because there are several additional complicated factors involved. The investigation is more in-depth, the claims often hinge on detailed federal trucking law violations, and negotiation is more challenging because you are going head-to-head against a commercial truck carrier and its attorneys.
In the overview below, we shed some light on the truck accident settlement procedure in Georgia and provide some words of advice.
If you have found this page because you or your loved one were recently involved a truck accident, we highly encourage you to speak to an attorney before moving forward with your claim. If you fail to take the proper steps or unwittingly leave out pertinent evidence, you can completely thwart your settlement. It is better to at least run your case by a lawyer first.
For a free one-on-one consult with a truck accident lawyer in Georgia, call Brauns Law at 404-418-8244.
Step One: File a claim with the liable party.
The first step in the truck accident claims process is to file a claim with the liable party. In most instances, this will be the trucking company, but liability may lie with other parties, too, e.g., a truck part manufacturer or a cargo loading company. David Brauns can help you determine the correct liable party.
When you call the truck carrier’s insurance company to report the accident and initiate the claims process, you should only provide basic information about the accident – the who, what, where, and when. You do not want to give your opinion on anything, and you do not want to discuss fault or the extent of your injuries. Insurance representatives have a way of using victims’ statements to refute their claims or minimize their settlements. In fact, you should not agree to provide a recorded statement with any insurance adjusters at all until you have spoken with David.
Step Two: Preserve evidence and conduct investigations.
After you have filed your claim, the investigation begins. In order to win your claim, you will need to be able to prove that the other party was somehow negligent/at fault, and therefore liable for your damages.
Negligence comes in many forms, so the investigation process and evidence will vary by case. Perhaps the truck driver was speeding or fell asleep at the wheel. Information from the truck’s black box or from a truck cab camera may help. On the other hand, perhaps the trucking company hired the driver even though he had a poor driving record or little training. In this case, his employment record may be what you need.
Oftentimes, truck companies are liable in truck accident claims because they were in violation of federal trucking laws. The key to a successful claim is solid, thorough investigation, and substantial proof of negligence. Examples of evidence that may support your claim include:
- Eyewitness reports
- The truck driver’s log book, employment record, and toxicology report
- The truck’s maintenance records
- The police report
- Photos and videos of the accident scene and vehicles
- Testimonies from expert witnesses
- Evidence of distracted driving (e.g., cell phone records, violating hours of service)
During the investigation process, your lawyer can help determine the cause of the accident, identify negligence, and then collect the evidence necessary to prove the claim to the insurer.
Early in the claims process, you will need to take steps to ensure the preservation of evidence you need to support your case. David can send a spoliation letter to the carrier to inform it that a legal claim is pending and that it must preserve certain evidence for that purpose. Without the spoliation letter, the truck companies can destroy crucial evidence or it can or “go missing.”
Step Three: Negotiate a fair settlement.
Once the insurer has reviewed the case, it will either deny the claim or offer you a settlement. IMPORTANT: Do not accept the first settlement offer you receive. Insurers often begin with a low-end offer, preying on your financial and emotional strain to get you to settle early. You are more than likely entitled to much more than the initial offer.
David can negotiate with the adjuster, make sure the insurer takes the full extent of your injuries and expenses – both current and future – into account, and compensates you appropriately. Your settlement should include recompense for various damages, such as those for:
- Medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages and disability
- Renovating your home or car to accommodate your disability
- Disfigurement, scarring, etc.
- The effect of your injuries on your well-being, relationships, and career
- Emotional harms
- The cost of hiring help for tasks you can no longer manage
- Pain and suffering
If, after several rounds of negotiations, you cannot reach a fair settlement offer or the insurer refutes your claim entirely, you can take the case to civil court. The judge will hear your case, decide an appropriate outcome, and, if she decides in your favor, award you with a settlement.
While most truck accident claims settle prior to trial, the Brauns Law team always prepares each claim as if it were set for litigation; David makes it his practice to always be meticulous and extensive with his research, arguments, and evidence. This way, he will be thoroughly prepared should your claim go to court.
How do I initiate the truck accident settlement procedure in Georgia?
Before taking any legal action, make sure you have discussed your case with a local attorney that specifically handles truck accident cases. Then, you will want to start compiling all pertinent information that may be useful as evidence to support your claim.
In addition to the evidence we have already discussed, you will also want to collect medical evidence, proof of lost wages, injury-related bills/receipts, and other items to justify your request for damages.
If you have not already, start keeping an injury journal. Document the progression of your injuries each day, including how you feel, your pain levels, how you respond to treatments, and how your injuries have hampered your activities. Share your journal with David to help him paint a clear picture of what you are going through for the insurer/court.
The Brauns Law team is here to help. To discuss your truck accident claim and for help maximizing your settlement, contact Brauns Law in Georgia today at 404-418-8244 and request a free case evaluation.