What is the difference between a truck accident claim and lawsuit?

If you were injured in a truck collision caused by a negligent truck driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. There are two ways to obtain the damages you are entitled to under Virginia law: file a claim or file a lawsuit.

While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the processes of filing a claim and lawsuit are very different. As an accident victim, you want to understand how they differ, so you know what to expect in your case.

What Is a Truck Crash Claim?

The first step in pursuing your right to compensation will most likely be to file a claim with the trucking company’s and trucker’s insurance company. If you want to avoid being taken advantage of by the insurance adjuster and to obtain the maximum recovery in your settlement, you should retain an experienced truck Truck and Car Wreck Aftermathaccident lawyer to file it on your behalf.

Filing a claim with the insurance company is an out-of-court resolution of your case. After completing a thorough investigation into the cause of your truck accident and your injuries, your attorney would send a demand letter to the insurance company outlining their liability to pay you and the amount of damages you are seeking. The insurance adjuster would conduct their own investigation and make a counteroffer.

It could take several rounds of negotiations before the insurance company agrees to pay you a fair settlement. While not all truck collision claims are resolved in this way, many are settled without the need to go to court.

What Is a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

You may need to file a civil lawsuit against the trucking company, trucker, and any other liable parties if the insurance companies deny your claim or refuse to be reasonable in settlement negotiations. You would also need to file a civil complaint if the deadline to sue, referred to as the statute of limitations, will expire soon.

The process of litigating a claim is much different than filing a claim with the insurance company. Here are some of the steps in the process:

  • Complaint. The first step is to file a civil lawsuit in court that states how the accident occurred, the liable parties’ negligence in causing it, and the damages you are seeking.
  • Answer. After the defendants are served with your complaint, they would file an answer to it and any defenses they are raising as to why they have no liability to pay you.
  • Discovery. The longest phase of a lawsuit is the discovery process. This is where the attorneys obtain information and documents from other parties that can help their case. They can do this through sending interrogatories, which are written questions to be answered, requests for production of documents, and depositions.
  • Negotiations. When your lawyer believes it would be productive, they would engage in settlement negotiations. It is very likely that your case would be settled at some point before it is scheduled for trial.
  • Trial. If you are unable to settle your lawsuit, your right to compensation would be decided by a jury at a trial.

Were you or a family member injured in a truck collision in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with our dedicated and knowledgeable truck accident attorneys to learn how we can assist you.