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Truck Accident Lawsuits: Settle or Go to Court?

If you have filed a truck accident lawsuit after being injured in an accident, you may be wondering if you should take your claim all the way to trial. The answer depends on the circumstances of your case as well as how long you are willing to wait to be compensated.

Truck accident lawsuits are complicated. As the plaintiff, you may sue any number of parties. The list of potential defendants include:

  • The driver of the truck
  • The owner of the truck, tractor, or trucking company
  • The owner of the trailer, if different
  • The manufacturers of the truck and truck parts
  • The shipper or loader of the truck
  • The owner of any property that contributed to the accident
  • The insurance carrier for the truck or tractor
  • The insurance carrier for the trailer

If you have sued more than one party for causing the injuries you sustained in a trucking accident, the defendants may try to pass the blame on to the other defendants by filing other claims, called cross-claims.

Trucking accident litigation is further complicated by the fact that trucks are regulated under both federal and state law. In addition, several states laws may apply in one accident. For example, the truck may have started from one state, be owned by a company in another state, and be involved in an accident in a third state. You will need a personal injury attorney who is well versed in the nuances of truck accident lawsuits.

Taking an Truck Accident Injury Claim All the Way to Trial

Taking a trucking accident claim to court is a lengthy process. Once you file a personal injury lawsuit to show that someone else caused your injuries and car damage (or a product liability case, to show that a product defect caused the accident), it will be at least a year until the date of the trial.

While the case is pending, your attorney and the defendants attorneys will engage in a process called discovery. Discovery is the period in which the accident is researched by the obtaining of documents, witness accounts, and other information. All sides are required to share with the others what they have learned in discovery.

It is not uncommon for attorneys from the other side to try to overwhelm you and your attorney during discovery. This is done by sharing reams of documents as part of discovery (sometimes called "papering the other side to death") or by putting your personal affairs under a microscope.

Even if youre successful in proving at trial that the defendants actions contributed to the accident, with various post-trial motions and possible appeals from multiple defendants, it could still be some time before you actually receive your award. The stress of the pending litigation can endure for years.

Litigation is also expensive. While your trucking accident litigation attorney would not have taken your case if you did not have a reasonable chance of prevailing at trial, depending on the agreement you make with your lawyer, you may be required to pay legal fees and expenses along the way. The longer the lawsuit is drawn out, the more you have to pay either immediately or once the case is resolved.

Settling an Truck Accident Lawsuit

Many truck accidents end in a settlement before going to trial. It is true that jury-awarded compensation may be higher than the settlement offer, but a settlement offer is the faster way to compensate you for your losses and may result in lower legal fees and expenses.

Perhaps the most important factor in deciding whether to settle or go to trial is your willingness to wait for a potentially higher award. You attorney will best advise you on whether such patience is likely to be rewarded. However, in the end, you are the one who will approve or reject a settlement offer, not your attorneys.