If you were injured in a Georgia truck accident, you may be able to hold the truck driver or trucking company financially responsible.
Despite what we see on TV shows and movies, most injury cases are settled, rather than being decided by judge or jury. Below is an overview of the typical process in a Georgia truck accident injury case. The specifics of each stage—and how long each stage takes—will vary with the facts of a particular case.
Investigating and Documenting the Truck Accident
Immediately after a truck accident, you should seek medical attention, contact the police and document the accident as much as you can. You should also contact an experienced truck accident injury attorney.
If you hire an attorney, your attorney will work with you to build a compelling case for recovering damages from the responsible party or parties. This can include:
- Gathering evidence from the accident, such as police reports, photographs, and witness statements.
- Investigating the driver's background, such as whether he or she had a prior history of drug or alcohol use, unsafe driving, or other accidents.
- Determining whether the driver violated traffic laws and whether the driver, trucking company, cargo loaders, or others violated state or federal trucking regulations.
- Investigating the condition of the vehicle to determine if mechanical problems contributed to the accident.
- Reviewing truck driver and trucking company documentation, such as driver hours of service logs and vehicle inspection and maintenance records.
Your attorney will also gather information about your injuries and related medical expenses. Insurance companies may point to pre-existing medical conditions as evidence that the accident did not cause all of your injuries. Therefore, your attorney is also likely to ask about your prior medical history.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
Once your attorney determines who was responsible for the accident and thoroughly documents your resulting injuries and expenses, they will usually make a claim with the responsible party's insurance company. If multiple parties contributed to the accident, or if the trucking company has excess or umbrella insurance coverage,multiple insurance companies may be involved.
This claim is generally in the form of a demand letter that explains who was at fault and how much the responsible party should pay for the resulting injuries. It typically includes details about your injuries and the damages that resulted from your injuries, including medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other expenses.
Insurance Company Review and Response
The insurance company will review the claim and respond to it. They may refuse to pay, or they may make a settlement offer.
It is likely that the trucking company's insurance company will have performed their own investigation into the accident. Insurance companies often look for ways to minimize their financial responsibility. For example, they may claim that the responsible party did not actually cause the accident, that the injured person was partially responsible, or that the injuries were not that severe. They may completely deny a claim based on these or other factors. Or they may attempt to "lowball" the injured party with an initial too-low settlement offer.
Your attorney can respond to an insurance company's denial or negotiate with the company if the settlement offer is too low.
Truck Accident Lawsuits
If negotiating with the insurance company is not successful, you may choose to file a lawsuit. At any point during the lawsuit process, you and the insurance company can still come to a mutually agreeable settlement.
If the case does proceed to trial, it can be heard by a judge or by a judge and jury. During the trial, each side presents opening arguments, describes evidence, calls and examines witnesses, and makes closing arguments. After closing arguments, either the judge or the jury makes a decision regarding who was at fault and the amount of damages to award.
If you were seriously injured in a truck accident, contact the Hadden Law Firm. They have the knowledge and experience to thoroughly investigate trucking accidents and to build a compelling case so that truck accident victims get the fair and just compensation they deserve.