When many people think about going to court after a trucking accident, they envision a courtroom filled with attorneys, a jury, and a judge. If this thought intimidates you, there’s good news, as this image is often mistaken. Most trucking accident cases are much less exciting and never see the inside of a courtroom at all.
Whether or not you have to go to court after a trucking accident will depend on several factors. With a skilled attorney on your side, you can obtain compensation for your injuries through a negotiated settlement and never have to go to court.
The best way to find out is to meet with a Chicago truck accident lawyer to discuss your case. They can provide you with their professional opinion and let you know the likelihood of your case ending up in court.
Factors That Impact the Likelihood of Going to Court for Your Trucking Accident Case
While it’s typical for truck accident cases to resolve outside of court, each situation is unique. Ideally, a settlement with the insurance company will cover all your damages, sparing you the need for a lawsuit. Although this isn’t always feasible, enlisting a lawyer significantly increases your chances of securing a fair settlement without court proceedings.
Truck accident attorneys typically strive to obtain settlements out of court whenever possible. This can benefit both you and the firm, though insurance companies do not always cooperate. Your lawyer should be ready to take your case to court if necessary to obtain what you deserve.
Two pivotal factors influence the likelihood of a court appearance in your trucking accident case:
Establishing fault is paramount in any truck accident case. Generally, in all states, anyone breaching a legal duty to another party is accountable for the resulting damages. All drivers must exercise due care to prevent harm to others on the road. Suppose a truck driver’s negligence directly leads to the accident. In that case, they are deemed at fault and liable for your damages.
In truck accident scenarios, multiple parties may share fault for the incident.
Responsible parties might include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- A maintenance company
- A parts manufacturer
- The cargo company
- The cargo loaders
- Another driver involved in the accident
- A government entity
Note that any dispute regarding liability heightens the likelihood of the case proceeding to trial.
Severity of Your Injuries
Due to their immense size relative to other vehicles, semi-trucks and 18-wheelers can cause extensive damage in collisions. Consequently, you may sustain severe injuries, leading to substantial medical and rehabilitation expenses.
If your injuries are severe and directly linked to the truck accident, the probability of going to trial is actually lower. Conversely, if you incur substantial medical costs but the insurance company questions the adequacy of evidence proving the seriousness of your injuries, the likelihood of a trial may be higher.
Engaging a truck accident lawyer promptly after the incident is crucial. They can compile evidence establishing the liable party’s fault, the extent of your injuries, and your medical expenses. The stronger your case, the greater the probability of achieving a resolution without resorting to court proceedings. This proactive approach increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
What Is a Settlement?
A personal injury settlement is an alternative to the formal legal process of filing a lawsuit and going through a court trial. Remarkably, statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice reveal that merely about 3 percent of personal injury cases proceed to trial.
Reaching a settlement usually starts with a demand letter written and sent by your attorney to the opposing party or their insurance company or attorney. A demand letter typically states the compensation the injured party seeks for their damages.
Once the opposing party receives that letter, they are typically in touch with the injured party’s attorney to kick off settlement negotiations. However, remember that these negotiations can last months or even a year or two, depending on the case’s complexity and details.
Attorneys can conduct negotiations by phone, email, or even in person. You don’t have to be present for them, but your attorney’s ethical obligation is to present you with all settlement offers they receive on your behalf.
You should discuss these offers with your attorney. However, it’s ultimately your decision whether you want to accept an offer or not. Rejecting an offer doesn’t necessarily mean you are heading to court. There may be additional offers, and your attorney can counter any offers you don’t feel appropriately represent your injuries and damages.
The Benefits of a Negotiated Settlement
Negotiating a personal injury settlement outside the courtroom is generally advantageous for all parties involved. The advantages of a settlement include:
In contrast to the often drawn-out process of court proceedings, settlements can lead to a much quicker resolution. Court cases can be lengthy, lasting months or even years, whereas settlements can occur in a matter of weeks or a few months. This expeditious resolution allows all parties to move forward more swiftly.
Settling a personal injury claim is typically more cost-effective. Legal proceedings involve numerous expenses, including court fees, expert witness fees, and attorney’s fees.
These costs can accumulate significantly, especially in complex cases. In contrast, a settlement minimizes these expenses, providing both parties a more efficient and economical resolution.
Courtroom trials can be emotionally draining and stressful for all parties involved, particularly for the injured party. The formal setting, the need to testify in front of a judge and jury, and the potential cross-examination can intimidate anyone. Opting for a settlement spares individuals from the emotional burden of court appearances, allowing them to focus on their recovery.
Settlements protect the privacy of all parties involved. Unlike court proceedings, where details become part of the public record, settlements remain confidential. This ensures that sensitive information and personal details are not exposed to the public domain, providing privacy many individuals find invaluable.
In a settlement, both parties can negotiate and craft an agreement addressing their needs and concerns. This level of customization isn’t possible in a court trial, where a judge or jury makes decisions based on legal precedent and statutory guidelines. Settlements allow for more nuanced solutions that can better meet the case’s unique circumstances.
Predictable and Controllable Outcomes
In a court trial, the outcome is uncertain. Various factors can influence the outcome, including the judge or jury’s interpretation of the law, the presentation of evidence, and the effectiveness of legal arguments.
In contrast, settlements provide more control over the outcome and predictability. Both parties have a say in the terms, and there is a greater degree of control over the final outcome than if the case heads to court.
Additionally, settling a claim preserves the court’s resources for cases that necessitate a judge or jury’s decision. Many courts across the nation mandate that personal injury claimants attempt to reach an agreement with the responsible party before initiating formal legal proceedings.
A trucking accident settlement offers numerous advantages, including expedited resolution, cost savings, emotional relief, privacy protection, tailored agreements, relationship preservation, and predictable outcomes. These benefits make settling an attractive option for many parties involved in these cases.
All of this said, some truck accident cases require a trial for a fair outcome. Attorneys should be ready to present your case in court to best protect your interests. Even if a trial takes more time and resources, it can be worth it if you receive what you deserve.
Trucking Accident Damages
In a trucking accident case, damages represent the financial compensation awarded to victims for the losses, costs, and disruptions they experience due to the negligent actions of the responsible party. Damages typically fall into two main categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic Damages (Special Damages)
Economic damages, also known as special damages, pertain to the financial impact suffered by the victim due to the incident.
- Lost income
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
Non-Economic Damages (General Damages)
On the other hand, non-economic damages don’t have a predetermined monetary value as they represent intangible losses.
They may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
Agreeing on a value for non-economic damages can be complex, as they lack an inherent monetary value.
Ultimately, both economic and non-economic damages play a crucial role in ensuring that victims receive comprehensive compensation that reflects the true extent of their losses.
Do You Have a Trucking Accident Claim? Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
If you recently suffered injuries in a trucking accident, discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer can protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries.