The last step of a truck accident claim is going to trial. The case must go before a judge and jury when your local truck accident lawyer cannot resolve your claim through settlement negotiations or other legal processes.
A truck accident claim will often resolve after a demand letter and some back-and-forth negotiations between lawyers. There is no need to file a truck accident lawsuit if the two sides can resolve the case amicably. A truck accident claim will go to trial mainly because these two sides are too far from a settlement agreement. They stand firm in their arguments, and no one is willing to budge.
Your local truck accident lawyer will try to resolve the case before trial, but they will not settle for less. You will need to have enough recovery for your medical expenses, legal fees, and future estimated losses. Their goal is to get the maximum compensation for your claim, and they should head into court when necessary for you. While it is rare that a truck accident case will go to trial, it does happen, and you must be ready.
A trial in real life is not the same as what you see on television. It is the culmination of many different court proceedings. Most of the work happens before the trial begins. At trial, the defendant and plaintiff will present evidence to a judge or jury. Do not fret; while you must be present during the trial, your local truck accident lawyer will do the heavy lifting.
Personal injury cases can proceed to a jury trial or a bench trial.
A truck accident bench trial is when the case is presented to a single judge who will determine the outcome. A jury trial is where jurors from the community are present, along with a judge. The lawyers will present the case to everyone in the room. The ultimate decision will rest with the jury. You must work with your local truck accident lawyer to determine the best legal route for your case.
What Evidence Do You Need in a Truck Accident for a Trial?
Before trial, your lawyer will collect evidence, as will the opposing side. To get a favorable settlement, you must provide enough evidence to meet a plaintiff’s legal burden, which in an injury case is a preponderance of the evidence. Simply put, you must prove to the judge or jury that the truck driver and company were more likely than not negligent in their actions and caused your injury and harm.
There are two forms of evidence your lawyer will present on your behalf. The first is testimony, which includes expert witness testimony and eyewitnesses of the accident. These anecdotes will show the court how the accident happened from another person’s viewpoint and what experts think. Additionally, you will likely need to testify about the accident. You will get to speak directly about how the accident occurred and how it has changed your life from your view.
Another form of evidence they will present involves tangible items like medical documents, receipts, pictures, and more. These items will show the extent of your injuries and how your life differs after the truck accident. The evidence will also have to support your damages.
The defense will also present evidence that goes against everything you say. The attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine you and the witness on your side. Your lawyer can cross-examine any witnesses the defense presents and object to evidence.
The defense can object to including specific evidence, which will be up to the judge to determine whether to allow or throw out. Once your local truck accident lawyer presents your case, the defense will give theirs. They will try to shift the blame and diminish the accident’s severity. They will also argue that your injuries are not severe or the cause of a pre-existing condition.
When both sides of the argument get presented, closing arguments occur where the attorneys will address the jury directly. They will briefly go over the evidence and make a plea for their side. Both sides will try to sway the jury in their favor to reach a favorable verdict.
How Does a Trial Conclude?
When the case is in front of a jury, once the closing arguments conclude, the court will give the jury specific instructions on laws, the burden of proof, and what they must consider in making a decision. The jury will go into their quarters and work together to reach a final decision. How many jurors must agree will range by the jury size and court in which you are presenting your case. When the jury decides, they will return to the court and inform the judge.
If the case is a bench trial, there is no jury; the judge will review the entire case independently and decide. When the judge decides, they will issue an official court order.
In either situation, the decision is final, and the trial is over. If the decision is unfavorable to either party, they can file an appeal within a certain period. If there is no appeal, the case is officially closed, and the defense can take no other action.
To succeed in a trial, you must have the right lawyer on your side. You will need a truck accident lawyer who knows how the trial process works and has experience handling truck accident cases. While trials are rare, you must prepare for the possibility. If you are awarded a settlement, it will take some time to receive, especially considering the appeal process. After the conclusion of the trial and without an appeal, you can move on from the situation.
What Factors Can Lead to a Trial in a Truck Accident?
Some truck accident claims are straightforward: the truck driver was negligent and struck your vehicle, causing you injuries. When liability is clear, you will likely not go to trial. However, if you and the insurance company have very different ideas of your damages, you might not reach a settlement amount. In this situation, you might go to trial over the issue of damages only.
Some factors can complicate your claim and might be a sign that the claim will end up in litigation and even at trial.
Some factors that often complicate these claims are:
- Liability is unclear or continuous
- There are multiple parties
- Your injuries do not allow you to work or earn a living
- The insurance company is delaying your claim
- You are facing pressure to accept a settlement offer before you know the full extent of your injuries
- You have catastrophic injuries with permanent effects
These are just a few factors, as many others can contribute to how complex a claim will be. If unsure, you must schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a truck accident lawyer near you to get legal advice regarding your claim.
In addition, meeting with a truck accident lawyer is vital if you suffer severe injuries that will hinder the rest of your life.
Some injuries include but are not limited to:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord trauma
- Traumatic brain injury
- Soft tissue damage
- Head trauma
- Disfigurement or permanent scars
- Severe burn injuries
Many other injuries can have a lifelong effect on you, and you must work with an experienced lawyer to get the recovery you need after a truck accident. Injuries can be costly in many ways. Truck crash injuries and other circumstances can make truck accident claims contentious, and you need someone fighting in your corner.
Are There Time Limits for a Truck Accident Claim?
No matter where you live, there are time limits to the legal process. The insurance company will have limitations on how fast you must file a claim. The state has limits on when you can file a lawsuit. You must meet many document deadlines during pre-litigation that you must also adhere to. The filing deadlines will vary by insurance policy and location. A rule of thumb is to inform the insurance company within 48 hours, and you want a truck accident lawyer to make this phone call whenever possible.
You will want to speak with a lawyer before the insurance company. If you can’t wait, only provide the insurance adjuster with basic details regarding the accident. Say where and when the accident happened and nothing else without legal guidance. The insurance adjuster will sound empathetic during the initial call, but their concern is always the bottom dollar. They will find ways to lower the claim even within the initial conversation. Do not trust them.
Since there are so many legal deadlines to be aware of, you will need to discuss your options with a local truck accident lawyer immediately. You do not need to worry about the deadlines because your lawyer will handle the process for you.
What Damages Can You Recover at Trial?
If you file a claim and your insurance company can use your benefits, you will get some economic losses. Since there are policy limits, that means that even if you suffer losses outside of these limits, you will be unable to recover them. However, if you file a personal injury lawsuit, you can recover all tangible losses and more.
Vehicle insurance companies have stringent limits, and the policy is unlikely to cover your losses when there is a severe accident. While truck insurance works differently, there are different challenges to contend with. While truck insurance policies will have higher limits, that does not mean they are willing to pay you what your case is worth.
Some damages you can get recovery from a truck accident settlement include:
- Prescription medication
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Walkers, wheelchairs, and other medical devices
- Pain and suffering
- In-home nursing care
- Home and vehicle modifications
- Future medical expenses
- Estimated future lost income and benefits
Truck accidents can result in devastating injuries, and you will likely suffer injuries and pain for years. You will need financial recovery to ensure you can pay for your expenses.
The Pre-Litigation Process
Even if you have the primary goal to settle a claim with the insurance company, they may be unwilling. You will then need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement. The insurance company is known for dragging the process out in hopes that you will begin to waiver and accept any offer they throw at you. They do not often account for having a relentless truck accident lawyer in your corner. When there is no progress made, it will be time to file a lawsuit.
After you file a lawsuit, the discovery process will begin, where each side will request evidence and build their strategies. Each lawyer will also send the other side interrogatories, which is a list of questions you will need to fill out. After these initial steps, you will likely undergo a deposition. The defense lawyer will ask you questions under oath to find ways to build their case. There will be several depositions that take place once you file a lawsuit, including the at-fault driver and another witness to the accident,
The insurance company often comes up with another settlement offer after depositions are complete, which is usually a good sign. Once they review all of the evidence, they deem that you have a solid case that can be difficult for them to challenge. You can accept the offer or move to the next step, depending on how far the settlement is.
Next in the process is mediation or an alternative dispute resolution. During mediation, the two parties will try to reach a middle ground with the help of a neutral third party. Many times you will reach a fair settlement offer here. If you do not, then the trial will move forward.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Immediately
When you exhaust all other legal processes, your case may go to trial. You do not have time to waste since the legal process will move quickly. The insurance company moves fast to deny your claim, and you need someone who moves just as fast. Immediately contact a truck accident lawyer near you to find the best option for your claim.