Archive for August, 2012

How is Fault Determined in an Automobile Accident?

Friday, August 31st, 2012

It may seem like a simple matter to assign fault following an automobile accident. After all, one driver exhibited negligence or recklessness which led to a collision, right? Unfortunately, it is rarely so simple as that. There can be a great deal of confusion regarding the issue of who was at fault and the consequences for the responsible driver are extensive therefore even if one driver is aware they were at fault they may try every way possible to wiggle out of accepting responsibility.

A driver who directly caused an accident may be subject to increasing insurance rates or could even find that their insurance is canceled. How the at-fault driver’s insurance company responds to an admission of responsibility can determine whether the claim will be denied or paid. The deductible, cost of repair for both vehicles and the medical expenses are at stake and can be considerable therefore the insurance company has a significant stake in which driver was at fault.

What Does “At Fault” Mean?

While every state creates its own particular definition of “at-fault,” generally speaking it means just what it says—the person most responsible for being the catalyst which led to the collision is considered to be the liable party. Other classifications regarding fault in auto accidents include “no-fault” and “partial fault,” although these definitions vary considerably across state lines. When it is next to impossible to assign blame to one driver or the other, liability may be assigned to both, however usually the person who performed an act which could be considered irresponsible, illegal, reckless or careless will be the at-fault driver.

Consequences of Admitting Fault

The driver who is found to be negligent could be compelled to be responsible for the medical expenses and damages of the other driver as well as property damages. Aside from the hit taken on auto insurance many states also add points to the at-fault person’s driver’s license which could potentially lead to a suspended license. Clearly there are a wide variety of negative consequences for the at-fault driver which is why drivers should never admit fault following an accident.

In fact, following an accident the only thing you should do is ensure that all those involved in the accident receive prompt medical attention and that basic information including names, addresses and insurance information is properly exchanged. If possible, photographs of the accident should be taken and any pertinent information noted. Admitting fault can potentially damage your entire case. Many times outside factors you were unaware of could exist as well. These factors could have played a significant role in the accident and may contribute to the final determination of which driver was most at fault.

Determining Fault

In order to properly determine who was at fault in the accident it is important to evaluate what each driver was supposed to be doing in the specific situation and which driver did not act in an appropriate manner. This will work in situations where someone was clearly at fault such as when one driver runs a stop sign however more complex accidents will require more extensive assessment. The question of whether each person made a legitimate attempt to avoid the accident will contribute to determination of fault as will the police officer’s assessment of the situation. Should the accident require a ticket be issued to one driver, then the determination of fault will likely become much less complicated.  Factors in determining fault can include the speed of both drivers, the weather and road conditions present when the accident occurred, the failure of one party to take note of traffic signals or signs and whether either driver was driving while impaired.   Having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side can assist in determination of fault as well as ensuring you receive proper compensation for your auto collision.

 

Choosing a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Because motorcycle accidents come with their own unique set of circumstances, choosing a qualified personal injury attorney with an extensive background in motorcycle accidents can be extremely important. Your chosen attorney must have a clear understanding of the issues surrounding a motorcycle accident including potential jury and police bias against motorcyclists. Unfortunately, there tends to be a stigma attached to motorcyclists that can be hard to overcome—many people believe that motorcyclists are inherent risk takers therefore the accident must have been the fault of the motorcycle rider.

In fact, the motorcycle riders today tend to be a much older group than in the past. Baby boomers make up over forty percent of motorcyclists and as a general rule these motorcyclists will use the same caution when driving a motorcycle that they do when behind the wheel of their car. Nonetheless your motorcycle attorney must be cognizant of the potential biases against motorcyclists and be able to overcome them at trial.

Motorcycle Attorneys Who Fully Understand the Situation

Next, your motorcycle accident attorney must fully comprehend the reconstruction of motorcycle accidents in order to definitively prove fault.  The attorney must then be able to present the case in such a way that the insurance carrier understands and accepts the motorcycle rider’s side of the case. The best motorcycle accident attorneys have important contacts with industry experts who will help present your case clearly in a courtroom, allowing you to get the settlement you deserve.

Your attorney will know how to work with your physicians in order to ensure you receive the best care for your injuries. This knowledge will extend to ensuring your physicians can present your case in the clearest manner to the jury so they will get a good sense of how much the accident altered your life.  The motorcycle attorney you choose will know that the case must be started immediately. In many cases it can take over twelve month to get to the point of a trial. Because of the lag in the court systems you don’t want to choose an attorney who allows your case to languish on his or her desk for a couple of years in the hopes it will settle without the necessity of a trial.  A motorcycle accident case can always settle your case after it is in the court system. On the flip side, if the case is not entered into the court system, it can be impossible to make up for lost time.

Experience Equals Maximum Settlement

Your motorcycle accident attorney will know how to best portray your motorcycle injury case in order to show everything that is owed to you so you will receive the maximum settlement. The best motorcycle attorney fully recognizes the expenses you may be entitled to include medical expenses—past, present and future—expenses for a rental car, repair and replacement costs for your motorcycle, lost wages, future loss of earnings and anything else the attorney feels may be applicable. Ask your prospective motorcycle attorney about his or her past cases and record for obtaining equitable settlements for clients. Your chosen attorney must be able to show how your injuries have affected your life on both a daily and a long-term basis. Each case has its own distinctive features and warrants the effort it takes to present it properly to the insurance company as well as a jury.

Issues to Consider

Following your attorney’s track record for success you must consider their level of investigative resources which are crucial to proving who was at fault in the accident. Whether distracted driving, excessive speed, drug or alcohol use or another action by the at-fault party were a factor, your attorney must be able to definitively prove those issues.  Finally you will want to ensure that clear, two-way communication between you and your attorney is present. Without this level of communication your case may not proceed smoothly. Choose your motorcycle accident attorney carefully and that choice will pay off in the end.

 

 

What is No-Fault Auto Insurance and How Could it Help You?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

If you currently reside in one of the twelve states which operate under a no-fault policy as far as auto insurance is concerned, then your insurance may be somewhat different than more traditional insurance policies. The twelve no-fault states are DC, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah. There is wide misunderstanding about what no-fault auto insurance is and how it can hurt or help in the event of an auto accident. No-fault insurance encompasses an automobile insurance system which requires that all drivers carry insurance for their own protection and also limits the right to sue other drivers for damages following an auto accident.

No Pure No-Fault System

Under a pure no-fault system in the event of an accident each driver’s insurance pays for their specific damages—up to the policy limits—without consideration of who might have been at fault in the accident. There is no state which currently operates under a pure no-fault auto insurance system meaning these no-fault states operate under a combination of a no-fault system as well as the standard liability system. This means each driver is financially responsible for the cost of the damages they directly caused.

Positive Aspects of No-Fault Insurance

In theory no-fault insurance guarantees each driver receives immediate medical treatment which is surely a good thing. Benefits such as medical expenses, lost wages, funeral and death benefits and compensation for loss of services are usually fully covered under no-fault insurance policies.  No-fault auto insurance is convenient regarding the time-consuming task of filing a claim following an accident and can also reduce the legal and administration fees associated with insurance claims which would lead you to believe that no-fault insurance is considerably less expensive. Unfortunately, the liability portion can actually cause insurance premiums to be higher than those of states without no-fault laws.

Still, those injured in an accident in a no-fault state are more readily able to have their medical expenses and auto damages dealt with quickly allowing them to get on with their life. If you are the at-fault driver in an accident, then no-fault car insurance means you are not responsible for the other driver’s expenses which can be a huge financial relief. Of course the driver who was not at fault may find this system somewhat unfair, however generally speaking the driver who was not at fault probably spends the same amount of time collecting compensation whether no-fault insurance is involved or not.

Statistics for No-Fault Insurance States

Some no-fault states will allow the injured person or persons to sue but only if their injuries meet a specific standard set for severity of injury or a certain financial level.  On the surface it would appear that the no-fault insurance system should be working well, however statistics prove otherwise. Litigation costs for property damages following a collision remain high and there are no consequences associated with driving recklessly meaning the insurance premiums may be significantly higher in no-fault states. The numbers show that the states with some form of no-fault automobile insurance have the highest premiums and insurance premium in no-fault states rose 92% faster than those in personal responsibility states. Overall insurance premiums in no-fault states are approximately 20% higher than those in states with other forms of auto insurance.

If you live in a no-fault state you must read your policy carefully to determine what is covered under your policy. If you are injured in an accident in a no-fault state it’s important that you get legal advice to ensure your injuries and damages are fully covered.

 

Unique Factors in Motorcycle Accidents

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Being involved in any type of accident can be traumatic, however those who find themselves victims of motorcycle accidents will most often end up with more severe injuries as well as a unique set of circumstances not experienced by those in auto accidents. Not only will the injured motorcyclist suffer, his or her family members are often victims as well. Because a motorcyclist has virtually no protection from a three thousand pound steel and glass auto other than a helmet and possibly protective clothing, the resulting injuries can be catastrophic.

Between 4000 and 5000 motorcyclists lose their lives each year in collisions with automobiles with another 100,000 plus being severely injured. While motorcycle helmets definitely save lives only a little more than half of all motorcyclists actually wear a helmet when they ride. In fact, helmets are estimated to be 38 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists, yet many states have dropped their helmet laws, making the wearing of a motorcycle helmet voluntary rather than mandatory.

Factors in Motorcycle Accidents

There are a variety of factors involved in motorcycle accidents however first and foremost is the issue of reduced visibility. Auto drivers are notoriously lax in spotting motorcycles which leads to an increase in accidents.  Motorcycles are simply smaller visual targets and much more likely to be obscured by other vehicles as well as road and weather conditions. The number one area in which motorcyclists are hit by automobiles is in intersections as the driver of a car makes a left hand turn either not seeing the oncoming motorcyclist or misjudging the speed of the motorcycle.  Approximately seventy percent of motorcycle and automobile collisions occur in intersections. Drivers also fail to see motorcycles traveling in the next lane and will suddenly change lanes, sideswiping the motorcyclist.

Many times drivers also fail to see motorcyclists as they back from their driveway or parking space. Drivers also will open their doors into traffic causing the motorcyclist to either collide with the door or swerve dangerously in an attempt to miss it. Road hazards which a full-sized car may have no real trouble with can lead to a serious motorcycle accident. Pavement height changes which occur when the roads are being resurfaced or potholes which have not been repaired can cause serious issues for a motorcyclist. Inclement weather can also lead to motorcycle collisions particularly when fog or rain lessens the motorcyclist’s visibility even more than it normally is.

Statute of Limitations and Jury Bias

Depending on the state where the motorcycle accident occurred, the statute of limitations can be a significant factor in a motorcycle accident. Should the motorcyclist miss that window of opportunity, they will be barred from ever receiving compensation for their injuries and damages. In many states the statute of limitations in two years, but in some states it can be even less. State insurance laws can be significantly different from motorcycles to automobiles, so those involved in a motorcycle accident must consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in order to receive equitable compensation for the negligence of another.

Finally, the motorcycle itself can become a factor in recovering compensation when a collision occurs. Unfortunately many jurors and even police officers have a bias against motorcycle riders, believing they are risk-takers and drive at excessive speeds. In reality, a large percentage of today’s motorcyclists are over fifty and ride their motorcycles with the same caution they exercise when driving an automobile.  It is very important that you meet with a skilled motorcycle accident in order to have your potential claim evaluated following a motorcycle accident.

 

When Poorly Loaded Truck Cargo Causes an Accident

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Trucking accidents—contrary to general opinion—are not always the fault of the truck driver. Although the truck driver can be responsible it can also be the fault of the person or company in charge of loading the cargo onto the trailer.  When freight is loaded improperly, not secured in a safe manner or the weight is not distributed as it should be, an accident can happen. An otherwise safe 18-wheeler can become extremely unsafe when cargo shifts unexpectedly. Trucks can jackknife or rollover when cargo is improperly secured leading to serious collisions and life-altering injuries.

Who is Responsible?

It is crucial that an attorney who has extensive experience in trucking accidents be chosen in order to identify all responsible parties in a trucking accident and hold them accountable. The question may arise as to whether poor freight handling or negligent driving was directly responsible for the accident or even whether the driver had sufficient experience for the operation of a fully loaded commercial truck.

Hazardous Cargo

There are specific handling characteristics of different rigs such as flatbeds, gravel haulers, hazardous cargo or any loads which are subject to weight shifts, particularly on curves, grades or in an emergency traffic situation. Most truck drivers are well aware of the added hazards of certain loads. In fact, many experienced truck drivers resist transporting loads of hanging beef—sometimes known as “swinging beef”—or tankers which are partially loaded with liquids. In the case of transporting beef which hangs as full carcasses from the top of the trailer, they may begin swinging in unison when certain truck maneuvers are taken. Once they are all swinging together they can cause the truck and trailer to rollover.

The same is true of partially loaded tankers with liquids inside. When stops are made the liquid inside can begin sloshing back and forth, eventually causing the truck and tanker to turn over. Any time the truck’s center of gravity is thrown off, serious injuries can result when the truck rolls over. There are many instances of trucking accidents due to poorly secured or loaded cargo.  In one trucking accident a load of phone books was not properly secured. When the truck driver turned a corner on a busy highway the load shifted and thousands of phone books crashed to the road causing multiple accidents. Another trucking accident was caused when the backhoe the truck was transporting was not secured properly and fell off the back of the flatbed trailer causing a fatal accident when the car behind was hit by the heavy equipment.

Getting the Legal Help You Need

Any person who is a victim of an accident caused by poorly loaded or secured cargo should contact a highly experienced attorney soon after the accident. Your attorney can intervene on your behalf to protect your interests and advance your claim. Your attorney will understand that the truck inspection records and driver’s trip logs are crucial and valuable evidence in any trucking accident case and that after three short months those records can be legally destroyed by the trucking company. You must have an attorney by your side who can ensure these records are preserved, protected and produced during trial.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration outlines how cargo must be secured and states that ultimately it is the trucking company and the driver who are responsible for the cargo being safely loaded. Hiring an highly knowledgeable trucking attorney will ensure your claims process is conducted quickly while evidence remains available. Personal injury attorneys who specialize in trucking accidents will be well aware of the tactics used by the trucking companies to alter or destroy evidence so fault may not be linked to them. Don’t delay—hire an experienced trucking attorney soon after your accident so your medical expenses and damages will be fully covered.

 

Lawsuits Involving Defective Motorcycle Parts and Equipment

Friday, August 24th, 2012

When motorcyclists start out on a trip on their bike they expect that every component on the motorcycle will work as it was meant to do. When a motorcycle collision results from a defective motorcycle part it may be necessary for the motorcyclist to retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney in order to receive reimbursement for injuries and damages.  The motorcyclist has the same rights when he is injured by a defective motorcycle part as he would if he were injured by a reckless driver. Suppose you were involved in an accident but were not really sure if it was caused by a defective part.

How Do You Know if Your Accident Was Caused by a Defect?

Some things that should make you suspect a defect include a malfunction on one of the tires—particularly if they are fairly new—strange wobbles or noises prior to the crash, a malfunction that appears to have no real reason or a crash which occurred in good weather and did not involve driver impairment or excessive speed. Motorcycles are meant to be designed with the rider’s safety in mind therefore any company that designs or produces defective or unsafe products must be held liable.  If you believe your motorcycle has a defective part or design following a crash, you must be able to prove three things in order to receive compensation for the defect.

You must prove the part was in fact defective, that it came to you that way and that it directly caused your injury or accident. Evidence is critical in a situation involving defective equipment or parts so you must ensure you keep every single part or piece as well as all instructions and labeling that came with your motorcycle. Your purchase receipt for the motorcycle or part as well as any injury or death documentation will all be necessary forms of evidence.

What Kinds of Defects are Most Common?

Any time a single piece of a motorcycle neglects to operate properly your entire motorcycle and your safety could be in serious jeopardy. This means that a tire defect, a problem with the braking system, tires or transmission and engine could lead to a collision and subsequent injuries. In the same way, a motorcycle helmet which is defective can cause grave or fatal injuries in the event of an accident.  Other types of defects can include shock absorber failure, stuck throttles, failure of the chain, improper dealer assembly or defective pedals and toe clips. Some of the most common defects on motorcycles include handlebar defects which cause wobbling and uncontrollable shaking, rear tire defects which causes imbalances due to misalignment and fuel line defects which cause fires and overheating.

Injuries From Motorcycle Accidents

Once a motorcycle accident occurs it is likely that very serious injuries will be sustained. Brain trauma, serious road rash, disfigurement, spinal cord injuries which lead to paralysis, internal injuries and fractures are some of the more common injuries suffered by motorcyclists involved in an accident which is due to a faulty motorcycle part. Manufacturers must be held accountable when they are responsible for manufacturing a defective or dangerous product. If your accident was directly caused by a defective motorcycle part you must get qualified legal assistance. These cases can be very complex and require an attorney who has significant background and experience with motorcycle cases and product defect cases. Don’t let too much time pass before speaking with a qualified lawyer regarding your options.

Motorcycle Wrongful Death Suits

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Any time a person is killed by the wrongful or negligent conduct of another it is known as a wrongful death. These cases are always tragic and happen too often when motorcyclists are involved in an accident. When a person is killed through the negligence of another, the law allows the next of kin to act as plaintiff and bring a lawsuit against the negligent party to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Next of kin are family members such as a spouse, domestic partner, children, parents or siblings—in order of priority. In other words, if a man with a wife and children was killed in a motorcycle accident, his brother would not be able to bring a wrongful death suit as the spouse, then the children, then the parents have priority. If none of those existed, then the brother would be able to file a wrongful death suit.

Compensation from a Wrongful Death Suit

Even if the deceased family member happened to be partly at fault for the accident the family may still be able to instigate a lawsuit for damages. Should the death be directly related to an impaired driver punitive damages may also be awarded. The wrongful death plaintiff may be able to be compensated for funeral or burial expenses, loss of future income of the deceased, loss of household or childrearing support, loss of medical and retirement benefits or non-economic damages including the loss of support, companionship and affection. A surviving spouse will also have a separate right to recover damages known as loss of consortium under a separate civil action.

Statute of Limitations

Family members who are considering filing a wrongful death suit after their loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident should remember that prompt action is essential. There are time limits known as statute of limitations which gives a narrow window of time in which the plaintiffs must bring suit or lose their right to seek recovery. The purpose of the statute of limitations law is to allow the plaintiff sufficient time to hire an attorney while also giving the defendant some sort of assurance that after a specific length of time, should no suit be instigated, they are free from threat of a lawsuit. In some instances the statute of limitations could be as little as six months—in the case of a governmental agency causing the injury—or two to three years in some states.

How Often Motorcycle Accidents Occur

Some 5,000 people are killed in motorcycle accidents every year in the United States. Motorcycle accidents and subsequent deaths are on the rise due to the increasing number of people using motorcycles as a means of commuting to and from work. Motorcyclists are 26 times as likely to die in a crash as the driver of a passenger car and as many as 65% of all motorcycle accidents are the fault of another driver.

The Necessity of a Personal Injury Attorney

In order to win a wrongful death suit following a tragic motorcycle accident, negligence on the part of the other driver must be proven. Traffic laws, eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence from the scene of the accident may all be used in order to prove the case against the defendant. These cases can be extremely complex and it is imperative that the family members who are filing a wrongful death suit have an extremely knowledgeable, experienced personal injury attorney by their side who will fight on their behalf for and equitable settlement.

Understanding the Injuries Received from a Trucking Accident

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Any time a passenger car is involved in an accident with a large commercial truck there are likely to be serious or catastrophic injuries and fatalities. While the average passenger car weighs less than 4000 pounds, a loaded semi is twenty times that. The basic laws of physics and the disparity between the car and the 18-wheeler dictates there will be very serious consequences. Large truck crashes account for over five thousand fatalities in the United States each year and between a hundred and two hundred thousand grave injuries. The load the truck is carrying can also exacerbate the seriousness of the injuries should flammable or hazardous materials be involved.

Burns and respiratory issues can occur in addition to the other serious injuries when toxic chemical products are being transported. Crushed bones, fractures, internal organ damage, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and paralysis are all common injuries following a large truck accident.  The victims of these types of serious injuries will likely face weeks, months or years of medical treatments, surgeries and rehabilitative therapy as well as chronic and severe pain. Medical expenses can reach astronomical levels and even those with insurance may find their limits have been reached leaving them responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars should they not receive compensation from the defendant or defendants.

Proving Negligence

The primary legal theory of liability in commercial trucking accidents is known as negligence meaning the defendant in the case failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances resulting in an accident and subsequent injuries to the plaintiff. The victim in a trucking accident must show that the defendant was charged with exercising a reasonable degree of car to avoid injury, that they breached that duty and that their failure to exercise reasonable care was the direct cause of the victim’s injuries. Trucking accidents are particularly complex because there are a variety of potential defendants. In some cases defendants will file cross claims against one another in an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for the entire accident.

Multiple Defendants

For instance, the driver of the truck may be at fault in that he was driving recklessly, was distracted while driving or was driving in an exhausted state. The trucking company who employs the driver could be held liable if they put an undertrained or inexperienced driver on the road or allowed the driver to exceed the federally regulated number of hours behind the wheel. If an employment relationship can be established between the truck driver and the trucking company, then the company can be held legally responsible because they exercised some degree of control over the driver.

The manufacturer of the truck could be at fault if a defective part such as brakes or tires was responsible for the accident or the person or company who was responsible for ensuring the truck was properly maintained could be at fault if they were negligent in their maintenance duties. The company responsible for loading the cargo may be held responsible if poorly secured cargo caused the accident. Establishing the liability of a third-party can become complicated when the truck driver happens to be an independent contractor of a much larger company. In this case the issue will come down to how much supervision the company actually exercises over the driver.

How Your Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

All of these entities will likely carry separate insurance policies and your personal injury attorney will file against all those who were in any way responsible for your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney will carefully consider all aspects of the harm and loss you’ve suffered as a direct result of the accident then work hard on your behalf to receive a fair compensation for your life-altering injuries. 

Common Myths Regarding Personal Injury Claims

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Frivolous Lawsuits are the Exception Rather than the Rule

Many people view personal injury claims very negatively, believing that people who file such lawsuits are nothing more than frivolous money-grubbers. The belief that people will claim compensation regardless of the ethical or moral implications of the case is one of the primary myths surrounding personal injury cases. In fact most personal injury cases are filed by those who have suffered legitimate accidents and injuries and frivolous lawsuits are actually few and far between. The cases which are frivolous tend to get so much attention from the media that it can seem like most personal injury cases are without merit. The insurance lobby has perpetrated the idea that personal injury attorneys are getting rich on the average citizen’s dime. They make people think that personal injury lawsuits are costing the public thousands each year in insurance premium and the necessary taxes which support the judicial system.

Personal injury cases which are without merit will simply be dismissed by the judge and personal injury attorneys who file frivolous claims can be severely sanctioned by the court system. Most law firms that have successful businesses are far removed from the stereotype of an ambulance chaser. If you have been injured in an accident through the negligence or recklessness of another person, it is important that you have a personal injury attorney by your side who will act with integrity and will have the necessary experience to fight for what you deserve. That being said, not every personal injury victim will receive compensation for their claim. Some cases are simply too weak or inconclusive to merit a settlement.

Not Every Person Who Files a Personal Injury Claim Receives a Settlement

A second common myth regarding personal injury cases is that only those who take their case to court will receive compensation. In fact, most personal injury cases will never go to trial and will be settled outside of a courtroom. It is simply more time and cost-effective when cases are settled outside of a judge and jury. While some victims of injuries believe they can go it alone and not have to “share” their settlement with an attorney, this is one of the worst decisions a person injured in an accident can make. It is rare that the person who chooses to represent himself will receive the deserved amount of compensation. Personal injury attorneys are trained to represent injury cases in court before a judge and jury as well as to negotiate a reasonable settlement.

How Long Will it Take to Reach a Settlement?

Another common myth is that personal injury cases are so complex and time consuming that it can be years before a settlement is finally reached. In reality most personal injury cases will settle within eight to twelve months of the initial accident claim. While more complex cases which involve extremely serious or multiple injuries can take a bit longer to settle as can those in which liability is uncertain, the trial is usually the most time consuming part of the personal injury case.  If you have been injured by the negligence of another, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can advocate on your behalf to get the best settlement possible.

Should You Settle Your Truck Accident Claim or Head to Court?

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Trucking accidents generally have tragic consequences for the driver and passengers of the much smaller vehicle. A large commercial truck weights some twenty times more than a passenger car and this sheer size difference usually results in fatalities or very serious injuries. Additionally, trucking accident litigation is much more complex than a collision between two automobiles. There is a long list of potential defendants including the truck driver, the owner of the truck or the trucking company, the owner of the trailer, the manufacturer of the truck or truck parts, the loading company, the insurance carrier for the truck or trailer and the owner of any property which might have contributed to the accident.

In many cases once a lawsuit is filed one or more of these defendants may begin pointing fingers at the other defendants through the filing of cross-claims. Trucking accidents are governed under federal and state laws however since a truck may cross several state lines it can be complicated trying to figure out which state laws apply. As you can see, a personal injury attorney who has specific knowledge and experience in trucking accidents is crucial during this time.

Settle or Litigate?
Many victims of a trucking accident may wonder whether they should settle for whatever amount the insurance company offers simply as a way of avoiding a lengthy court process. It is true that once a personal injury lawsuit is filed claiming someone else caused your injuries and damages—or a product liability case showing that a product defect was responsible for the accident—that it could be at least a year until the trial begins. Some people may find this time period acceptable simply for the larger payout at the end while others need their settlement money sooner in order to pay their expenses.

The Trial Process
While the case is pending discovery will take place which means your accident will be thoroughly researched by your attorney as well as the attorneys for the defendants. All sides must share with the others what they learn during the discovery process. Documents will be gathered and any eyewitness accounts explored. Litigation is, unfortunately a lengthy and expensive process. Even though your personal injury attorney will not take on a case that has no reasonable expectation of prevailing at trial you may be responsible for legal expenses and fees along the way.

When a Settlement May Make More Sense
The longer amount of time the lawsuit drags on, the more money you will be responsible for either immediately or when the case is finally resolved. Because of this a fair number of trucking accidents settle prior to going to trial. Even though a jury award could result in much higher levels of compensation a settlement offer will compensate your losses and could mean less money expended in legal fees and expenses. One of the most important factors in deciding whether you will go to trial or wait for a higher award is whether you are willing to wait for a year or even two or three years for a settlement.

In the end only you and your personal injury attorney can decide what the best course of action will be in your specific case. You will want to discuss the pros and cons of going to court as well as those involved in accepting a settlement.