Truck accident claims in Missouri can be challenging when you have to face a trucking company and their army of attorneys alone. You may not know how the claims process works or where to even begin. Let us help!
What is a Truck Accident Claim?
Truck accident claims generally work the same as personal injury claims in that they are both formal processes in which a party (plaintiff) seeks financial compensation from another party. In this case, the defendant would be a trucking party that should be held liable for an accident that caused an injury.
It’s not always just the truck driver that can be held liable. Other possible parties that you can bring a truck accident claim against include:
- The trucking company
- Truck manufacturer
- Truck leasing company
- Owner of the truck
- Parties responsible for loading the truck
- Company responsible for maintaining and repairing the truck
- Freight shipper
- Broker who hired the trucking company to deliver a load
After you determine who should be held liable, you may seek compensation from them through a truck accident claim. This effort typically consists of two interrelated processes. The first is negotiating with the legally liable trucking party and their insurance company to achieve a settlement for your damages. If you cannot reach a fair and reasonable amount, then you may go through the second process of filing a legal action in a Missouri court asserting your legal claim for damages against that same legally-liable trucking party.
The Missouri Truck Accident Claim Process
A personal injury claim aims to exert pressure on the trucking party and its insurer to pay the amount of damages you deserve, whether that means agreeing to a settlement out of court or to an award of damages by a jury in a court. The full process for this is as follows…
Getting in Touch With a Truck Accident Lawyer
You need a lawyer by your side to help you face big trucking companies who can afford to hire aggressive insurance companies. You simply cannot do this alone.
Truck accident claims are extremely complex because there are vast amounts of state, federal, and insurance regulations that govern the trucking industry. For example, commercial truck drivers are required to follow stricter rules of the road such as extensive training, licensure, and hours of service. You need someone who understands the ins and outs of these rules and can use them to support your case.
Once you retain representation, such as a personal injury lawyer at The Hayden Law Firm, we will take care of everything for you. We ask that you limit communication about the case to just us. This is vitally important because truck accidents get handled very differently than regular auto accidents, mainly because of the additional players involved — some on your side, others not. You do not want to make a mistake that jeopardizes your truck accident claim.
Investigation and Preservation of Evidence
Evidence is key to a truck accident claim. Within 24 hours, the trucking party’s insurance company will go on the defensive, which is why getting your side started right away is extremely important. Before we file a lawsuit, we take steps to investigate the accident and collect any evidence available, including:
- Police accident report.
- Video footage of the crash or photos of the aftermath
- Eyewitnesses accounts through oral or written statements
- Truck driver logs
- Truck maintenance logs
- Public records to investigate the truck driver and trucking company’s backgrounds
- Expert interviews
- Accident reconstruction
From the very beginning, we also work with you to thoroughly document your physical, psychological, and financial injuries, which is evidence that can be used to show that you suffered as a result of the truck accident.
Filing a Claim
Once we have reviewed the evidence and prepared as thoroughly as possible, we have enough to move forward with demands. Your truck accident lawyer will now draft and send a personal injury demand letter to the insurance company of the trucking party responsible for causing your injuries.
This letter details how you, the claimant, have been affected physically mentally, and financially. Most significantly, this letter puts down in writing the financial payment amount that will be accepted by the injured parties in order to restore justice. A demand letter lets the trucking party and their insurer know they’ll only be released from liability for the accident under the terms outlined in the letter.
Compliance, Negotiation, or Denial of the Demands
By this point, we have a thorough understanding of what happened, who is responsible, and how much your damages are worth, and the at-fault party’s insurance company has your demands in front of them. They now have the opportunity to look at evidence and evaluate their own case. Depending on the circumstances, the insurance company may:
- Accept your demands – The insurance company may comply with your demands in order to avoid a trial. If you so choose, you have the option to settle out of court and end the process.
- Present a counter offer that is up for negotiation – You can expect negotiations to go back and forth a handful of times. We take a tough but compassionate approach to negotiations and do not settle for anything less than what your claim is really worth. If an agreement is able to be reached, then settlement can move forward. In many cases, settlement out-of-court is the chosen route.
- Deny your demands – if you have presented a demand letter and the insurance company has either outright denied or negotiations took place and still neither party could reach a fair settlement, then a lawsuit might be necessary to get what you are owed.
Trial (If Necessary)
Due to the often extensive injury and property damage that the truck accident caused, going to trial may be exactly where your truck crash case belongs so that you can get the maximum amount you are owed. The general process looks like:
- The legal complaint is filed with the applicable Missouri court, spelling out the details of your claim
- The process of discovery begins where all parties conduct depositions, questionnaires, legal details, and documents to be presented before a jury.
- A judge or jury will make the final determination for your truck accident claim.
- If the ruling is in your favor, the court will determine what financial amount you will recover