From Crash to Courtroom: A Timeline of a Virginia Truck Accident Claim
You’ve been hit by a commercial truck – now what? Each case’s details differ, but in general, a Virginia truck accident timeline proceeds in a standard way. Yet, while the process may look straightforward, the months between the collision and a settlement or award can be full of complicated legal matters. These are things you really shouldn’t try to handle on your own, especially while you’re healing from serious injuries.
A personal injury attorney skilled in handling the complexities of truck accident insurance claims in Virginia can help streamline the process and protect your interests after a wreck. Call the experienced Virginia truck accident lawyers from Kendall Law Firm for a free case evaluation today.
Immediate Aftermath of the Accident
Your health and safety are paramount after a wreck. Always contact 911, even if you just feel a little shaken up. The police report from the responding officer is helpful if you decide to file a claim, while first responders are trained to detect “hidden injuries” after a truck wreck.
Plus, your medical records from EMS and evaluation in a hospital after the accident are important pieces of evidence to link your injuries to the crash. This helps your attorney build a case for compensation against the truck driver and any other liable party.
Hiring a Truck Accident Attorney
Before you talk to the other party or any of their representatives, like a trucking company, insurance adjuster, or lawyer, think about hiring a truck accident lawyer to represent you first.
Your lawyer can talk to the other party for you, preventing you from saying something by mistake that could jeopardize your claim. They can also investigate the crash, gather evidence against the driver, file all claims and legal motions for your case, and negotiate a fair settlement.
Preservation of Evidence
Your lawyer often plays the primary role in a truck accident investigation in Virginia. Many law firms have access to resources, including expert witnesses and private investigators who can uncover evidence you may not be able to obtain on your own.
Some ways your attorney can preserve evidence for your case include:
- Analyzing the official police report. While it cannot be used in court, the report contains important leads for investigators to follow up with.
- Deposing witnesses in an interview session conducted under oath.
- Working with an expert witness who links your medical records to the crash.
- Subpoenaing any video footage of the accident, including cellphone recordings from witnesses or photos from the scene.
- Obtaining the data from the truck’s black box.
You can help your lawyer gather evidence for your case by documenting truck accident damages. This can include saving everything related to the accident, from your medical statements to receipts for any medication or travel to a doctor’s appointment. Also, keep a journal of your daily pain levels, logging how your injuries impact your daily life and your ability to care for yourself.
Filing the Claim
The state’s statute of limitations allows two years from the date of the accident to file a truck accident lawsuit, as well as other personal injury lawsuits in Virginia. If you file your suit after the deadline, your case will almost certainly be dismissed. Your lawyer can ensure that your lawsuit and all subsequent motions and responses are filed on time, correctly and completely, and in the right court.
Once the lawsuit is filed, the insurance company may file an answer, moving the case forward. Or, they could examine the evidence presented in the lawsuit, conduct their own investigation, realize that their customer is liable and they’re unlikely to win a trial, and offer you a settlement. Either way, there’s a lot of paperwork involved. Having your lawyer go through it and draft appropriate responses can save you time and headaches.
Your attorney will negotiate with the other party on your behalf, although they cannot agree to anything without your approval. An experienced truck accident lawyer understands the proper value of each case and can easily identify a lowball offer. They can advise you of when it’s a good time to settle or when it’s better to push for a trial.
The Discovery Phase
Once the other party responds to the lawsuit, the discovery phase in truck accident cases begins. This is when the parties file motions, take depositions, and investigate further. Through an exchange of motions governed by Virginia’s court rules, the parties share information about their version of the case with the other side.
As more evidence is uncovered, the liability issue becomes clearer, and the chances of a settlement can improve.
Mediation and Settlement Negotiations
Virginia accident settlement negotiations can happen at any phase during the case.
Most trucking accident claims are settled out of court between the parties involved. The parties may voluntarily enter mediation (guided negotiations) or be court-ordered to attend mediation before the trial. A mediator can help both sides find compromise without the stress and expense of a trial.
If the parties can reach a Mediated Settlement Agreement (MSA), then it can be presented to the judge for approval. In mediation, you have more control over the outcome of your case than you do in a trial when anything (including losing) is possible.
Going to Trial (If Necessary)
If you cannot reach an acceptable settlement with the defendant, then your case moves to trial in a Virginia civil court. Trials usually proceed like this:
- Opening statements from the plaintiff (you) and the defendant (the liable party)
- The plaintiff presents evidence and questions witnesses under oath
- The defense may challenge the evidence or cross-examine witnesses
- The defense presents its case and witnesses
- The plaintiff may cross-examine the witnesses or challenge evidence
- If there is one, the jury deliberates
- A verdict is reached by the jury or the judge
Kendall Law Firm — Here for You After a Virginia Truck Accident
If you’ve been injured in a commercial truck accident, legal guidance can help you reach a much better outcome for your case than you could achieve on your own. Our legal team has over 30 years of experience and focuses on helping people injured by the negligence of others. Your truck accident lawyer from Kendall Law Firm will be by your side, explaining each step in your personal accident claim process in Virginia. Contact us today for a free case review.