Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
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Should I talk to the insurance company after a truck accident?
What Are the Dangers of Speaking to the Insurance Company?
If you were not at fault in causing your truck accident, you may expect the insurance company to treat you fairly and pay you all the damages you are entitled to under Virginia law. Unfortunately, they may not be looking out for your best interests. They will try to save money by denying your claim or paying you less damages in your settlement. Here are the dangers of talking to them on your own:
- Your statements. Even if you are careful and know that the insurance adjuster is not your friend, you could say something that could be misconstrued as an admission of fault in causing your truck crash.
- Recorded statement. The insurance company will try to convince you to give a recorded statement, which is a question and answer session that is transcribed into a written document. The insurance adjuster is trained to ask confusing questions designed to get you to make damaging statements they can use against you.
- Medical release. The insurance company may also attempt to get you to sign their medical release. Their form is often a blanket authorization to obtain all of your medical records. The insurance adjuster would search your records for another incident or injury they could claim caused your current injuries. Do not sign any documents until an attorney reviews them for you.
- Quick settlement. If the insurance company knows that you suffered serious injuries, they could offer you a quick settlement of your claim. However, it is most likely an offer for far less compensation than you are entitled to. You should not accept any settlement without consulting with a lawyer to ensure the settlement is fair.
What Should You Do if the Insurance Company Contacts You?
It is not uncommon for an insurance company to call a truck accident victim within a few days of the collision. If the insurance adjuster contacts you, you should politely refuse to discuss the collision or your injuries with them. Get their contact information and your claim number. Then inform them that you will have your attorney contact them.
Were you or a family member injured in a truck crash in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Call our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 or fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free initial consultation to learn how our dedicated truck accident lawyers can assist you.
I was in a truck accident that was not my fault. Can I file a claim with the trucker and trucking company’s insurance company if I didn’t have auto insurance?
What Are Your Options for Recovering Compensation?
Virginia is a fault state. This means that you must prove that the truck driver and trucking company were negligent in causing your truck collision to have a right to damages from them. Assuming that you can prove this, the fact that you did not have auto insurance at the time of your crash should not impact your right to seek the compensation you deserve. You have two ways to accomplish this:
- File a claim. Your first step would be to file a claim with their insurance company and negotiate a settlement with them. It is best to hire a skilled truck accident lawyer to file your claim and negotiate your settlement so you are not taken advantage of by the insurance adjuster and receive all the compensation you deserve under Virginia law.
- File a lawsuit. If the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement or the statute of limitations to file your lawsuit will expire soon, you will need to file a civil complaint and litigate your claim. You will need an attorney licensed to practice law in Virginia to file your lawsuit for you.
If you had insurance, you might be able to file a claim with your own insurance company under collision, uninsured, or underinsured coverage if you did not receive a full recovery from the insurance company for the trucker and trucking company. Unfortunately, this would not be an option if you were uninsured.
Were you injured in a truck crash that was not your fault in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk areas? Was your car uninsured? Our experienced truck accident lawyers are here to collect the evidence you need to win your case and fight for your right to damages for your injuries. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you by calling our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 or filling out our convenient online form.
What should I expect to happen at a free initial consultation?
How to Prepare for Your Initial Appointment and What You Can Expect
An initial consultation would be your first meeting with a lawyer. There are a number of goals to accomplish at your appointment.
What Is the Purpose of an Initial Consultation?
- Determine if you have a claim against the negligent trucker and trucking company
- Get your questions answered
- Find out if the attorney has extensive experience handling truck collisions cases and whether they are the right lawyer for you
- How much they charge for their services
You should schedule a free initial case evaluation with the top two or three lawyers you are considering hiring. Your first appointment will typically be for 30 minutes to an hour. The time will go fast, so it is important to come to your meeting as prepared as possible.
How to Prepare for the First Appointment
- Collect the documents, such as the police report, your auto insurance policy, and medical bills. You should also collect photos of the crash scene and the truck driver, trucking company, and witness contact information.
- Prepare a list of questions to ask the attorney about their experience settling and litigating truck accident cases and what you can expect them to do for you if you retain them.
If you have never filed a personal injury claim before, you probably do not know what will happen at your initial free consultation.
What You Should Expect at Your Free Initial Meeting
- Details of your crash. The lawyer will want you to explain the details of how your truck wreck occurred and will briefly review the documents you bring to your appointment.
- Advice on your claim. Once the attorney obtains information about your truck crash, they will give you general advice on whether you have a claim and what you can expect to happen after you file it.
- Explanation of attorney fees. The lawyer should also explain how they would charge their attorney fees and costs if you decide to retain them. At Tavss Fletcher, we handle truck accident claims on a contingency fee basis, which means that you would not owe us any attorney fees until we settle your case.
- Interview of the lawyer. At the beginning of your appointment, you should tell the attorney that you have prepared questions for them to answer. It is important that you interview them because this will help you determine if you can trust them to look out for your best interests if you hire them.
Do you need to file an insurance claim for injuries you suffered in a truck accident in the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area? Fill out our online form or call our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 to schedule a free initial consultation today to learn about our track record of success helping other truck collision victims and how we can assist you.
What should be included in the insurance company’s Release of All Claims form?
You should not sign the insurance company’s release or any other document without first consulting with a skilled truck accident lawyer. In addition, it is important that you understand the key provisions that you will be agreeing to before you sign it.
What Is a Release of All Claims Form?
A release is a legal document that states the terms of your settlement with the truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurance company. It is a legally binding agreement. The release would relieve the insurance company from further liability in exchange for their payment to you.
Provisions Contained in a Release Form
There are a number of provisions that are typically in a release. It is important to understand what they are since they affect your right to compensation for your injuries caused in the truck collision. Your release should contain this information:
- Details of how your crash occurred
- Identification of all the parties to your settlement
- Your claims for compensation, such as for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damages
- Amount of your payment and how it will be paid
- Law that governs your agreement
Additional Provisions in a Release That Give Up Important Rights in Exchange for a Settlement
- Obligation to pay. By signing the release, you are agreeing that this is a final settlement of your claim and that you are waiving your right to receive future payments for your injuries. This means that you cannot pursue a new claim if you later discover that your injuries are more serious than you thought.
- Right to sue. You would also be waiving your right to file a lawsuit against the negligent truck driver, trucking company, and their insurance company.
- No admission of fault. The agreement will provide that no party is admitting fault for causing your truck accident. You are waiving your right to claim that the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence was the cause of your injuries.
If you suffered injuries in a truck collision that was not your fault, our experienced truck accident lawyers are here to fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 or fill out our online form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today to learn more about how we can help you.
Should I notify my insurance company of my truck accident if I didn’t cause it?
However, it would be a big mistake not to notify them of your truck collision. Here are some reasons it could hurt your case and result in you receiving less compensation than you deserve for your injuries.
#1: You Are Required to Notify Your Insurance Company
When you purchased auto insurance coverage, you entered into a contract with your insurance company. One of the requirements in your policy is that you notify the insurance company of any accidents within a certain time period. If you fail to comply with this requirement, the insurance company may deny a claim you later decide you need to file.
#2: You Are Not Filing a Claim
When you contact your own insurance company to inform them of your truck crash, you are not filing a claim. You are simply letting them know about the collision and are protecting your rights under your insurance contract with them.
#3: They Can Help You With Repairs to Your Vehicle
It could take you a long time to settle your property damage claim with the negligent trucker’s insurance company. However, you need your car repaired quickly so you can drive it.
If you purchased collision coverage, it may make more sense for you to file a claim with your own insurance company. They will help you to obtain immediate repairs to your vehicle.
#4: You May Need to File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
Even though the truck driver is fully responsible for compensating you, this does not mean that you will receive all the damages you deserve from them. Here are a few reasons you may need to file a claim with your own insurance company:
- If the trucker had no insurance, you would need to file a claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage.
- If the truck driver had insufficient coverage to fully compensate you for your injuries, you could file a claim under your underinsured motorist, MedPay, and collision coverage, depending on the coverages you purchased.
Were you or a family member injured in a truck accident? Even if you are filing a claim with your own insurance company, you need the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer. They will file your claim for you and negotiate your settlement with the insurance company so that you receive the maximum recovery you are entitled to. Fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free consultation to learn about your options and how we can assist you.
How can I find out what caused my truck accident?
How Will a Truck Investigation Help Prove How a Truck Crash Occurred?
You may not know the cause of your truck accident right after it happened. There could have been many contributing negligent actions of the truck driver, trucking company, shipper, and others that caused it. You will need to conduct a thorough investigation and collect evidence to prove your case.
Because truck accident claims are so complex, you should not try to conduct an investigation on your own. It is best to retain an experienced truck accident lawyer right away. Here are some of the ways a lawyer can help determine why your truck collision happened:
- Obtain a police report. Your attorney will review the police report because it can contain helpful information, such as the officer’s conclusions as to the cause of the crash, who was at fault, and whether any traffic citations were issued. However, a knowledgeable lawyer will know this is only one step in the investigation.
- Investigate the collision scene. Your lawyer will review any pictures or videos taken at the accident scene and interview witnesses and obtain their statements. They may also want to look at the crash scene if it appears that the trucker’s negligent driving or a road condition caused your accident.
- Send spoliation letter. Even if the trucker was speeding, engaged in distracted driving, or driving unsafely in another way, lack of truck maintenance, violations of hours of service regulations, or other violations of federal regulations could have contributed to the crash. Your lawyer will send the trucking company a spoliation letter notifying them of your claim and not to destroy or modify documents that could help prove how the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence caused your wreck.
- Check for hours of service violations. Under federal hours of service rules, a truck driver is only allowed to drive for a certain number of hours before taking a break. Your lawyer will need to examine the log book, receipts for gas and food, and other documents to determine if these regulations were violated.
- Review trucker’s personnel file. Your lawyer would obtain a copy of the trucker’s personnel file from the trucking company. They would review it to determine if the driver was licensed to drive a truck, had medical conditions that affected their driving, or had a drug or alcohol problem. They would also inspect their driving record.
- Trucking company records. The trucking company is also required to conduct a background check of truckers, properly maintain the truck, and test drivers for drugs and alcohol use. A lawyer would review the trucking company records to determine if the trucking company’s negligence also caused your truck collision.
Were you injured in a truck accident in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Do you believe the trucker’s negligence caused it? Call our Norfolk office or fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation to learn how can investigate your claim and fight with the insurance company so that they fully compensate you in your settlement.
What should I do if the insurance company denies my claim?
You are entitled to compensation if you were injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent trucker. However, even if you have a strong case, the insurance company for the truck driver and trucking company could deny your claim. Fortunately, you have options to protect your right to damages for your injuries.
Why the Insurance Company May Deny Your Claim
There are many reasons why an insurance company could deny your claim. Some are legitimate reasons, while others are just excuses to try not to pay you. Here are some top reasons:
- Liability disputes. The insurance company could claim that you were partially or completely at fault in causing the truck accident or that another incident caused your injuries. They may raise these issues, even if they are not valid, in order to deny your claim or try to pay you less money in your settlement. This is the most common reason that victims’ claims are denied.
- Policy exclusions. The insurance policy will have a number of exclusions of coverage. The insurance adjuster could claim that the trucker’s or trucking company’s actions fell within one of these exclusions and that the truck crash is not covered under their policy.
- Lapsed coverage. If the trucker or trucking company did not pay their insurance premiums on time, the policy would have lapsed and not been in effect at the time of your truck collision.
- Failure to notify. The insurance policy would have a provision that the company must be notified of your claim within a certain amount of time after the accident. If you, the trucking company, or the truck driver delayed notifying them of your claim, this could be a basis to deny liability to pay you.
Steps to Take If Your Claim Is Denied
You should not give up on obtaining the compensation you deserve if your claim is denied. The insurance company should send you a written notice of the denial that states why they are denying your claim. You should read the letter carefully. Then you should take these steps:
- Hire a lawyer. If you have not already done so, you need to retain an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible to fight the denial of your claim.
- Submit evidence. Your lawyer will conduct an investigation into the cause of your truck collision and into the issues raised by the insurance company to deny your claim. They will collect additional evidence to submit to the insurance company and may hire expert witnesses to help resolve any disputes so that your claim can be settled.
- File a lawsuit. If the insurance company will not reverse its decision to deny your claim or refuses to offer you a fair settlement, your attorney will need to file a lawsuit and litigate your claim. You will most likely settle your case at some point in the litigation process.
Do you need to file a claim following a truck accident? Did the insurance company deny your claim? Our dedicated truck accident lawyers will go up against the insurance company so that you obtain justice and the compensation you are entitled to under Virginia law. Fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about your options and how we can help you.
What happens if I reject the insurance company’s settlement offer?
If a trucker caused your truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the trucker and trucking company. However, the insurance company will most likely not offer you all the damages you deserve when you file your claim. Here is what you need to know about your options if you are not happy with their offer.
Can You Reject a Settlement Offer?
Yes, you have the right not to accept an offer to settle your claim if you do not believe it fairly compensates you for your injuries. It is very likely that the insurance company’s initial offer will be a low-ball offer to try to get you to accept a quick settlement of your claim for far less money than you are entitled to under Virginia law. They may make other offers that also do not sufficiently compensate you. You have the right to reject these offers too.
What Happens After You Reject a Settlement Offer?
You should never accept a settlement offer from the insurance company or sign a legal document without first consulting with an experienced truck accident attorney. A lawyer can advise you on your rights and the reasonableness of the insurance adjuster’s offer. If it is in your best interests to reject the offer, they can notify the insurance company of this. Here’s what else you can expect to happen:
- Counteroffer. Your lawyer will put together a written counteroffer when rejecting the insurance adjuster’s offer. They will include a detailed explanation of the insurance company’s liability to pay you, the seriousness of your injuries, and how much compensation you are seeking. They may go through several rounds of negotiations, offers, and counteroffers before your claim is settled.
- Collection of evidence. If the insurance company raises legitimate disputes about your claim, your lawyer may need to collect additional evidence or hire expert witnesses to help resolve these issues.
- Litigation. If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable or the deadline to sue, referred to as the statute of limitations, will expire soon, your attorney will file a civil lawsuit on your behalf. It is likely that settlement negotiations will result in a settlement at some point in the litigation process.
Were you or a family member injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver? Call our Norfolk office or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation to learn about your options and how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Am I entitled to future compensation as part of my truck accident settlement?
You may be entitled to compensation if you were injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver. If you suffered a long-term injury, you could be entitled to future compensation as well as past damages for the losses you already incurred. Here’s what you need to know about the types of compensation you should receive in your settlement and how to prove your right to recover this type of damages.
What Future Compensation Can You Recover?
You can only obtain future damages if you suffered an injury that you have not recovered from at the time of your settlement or you suffered a life-altering injury that you will never fully recover from. Types of future compensation you can seek include:
- Medical expenses. You should obtain compensation for all of the future medical treatments you will need to treat your injuries. This can include hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, doctor visits, diagnostic tests, medical equipment, and modifications to your home.
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity. If you will miss work in the future, you should recover your lost wages, lost sick and vacation time, and other lost perks of your job. If your injuries are serious enough, you may need to find a new job or become permanently disabled. In these situations, you could be entitled to your lost earning capacity for the rest of your working life.
- Pain and suffering. You can also seek future compensation for the pain and suffering you will endure due to your injuries and coping with all the limitations in your abilities to take care of yourself and your reduced quality of life.
How to Calculate Your Future Compensation
It can be complicated to determine how much future compensation you should recover in your settlement. You will need the help of a knowledgeable lawyer to calculate the value of this portion of your claim. They will most likely want to wait until you reach your maximum medical recovery, which is the stage in your medical treatment where you have recovered as much as you can, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis.
Your attorney may need to hire expert witnesses to help them calculate your future compensation. Experts that may be helpful include medical, economic, and mental health experts.
Do you need to file an insurance claim for the injuries you suffered in a truck collision in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Our compassionate and dedicated truck accident lawyers are here to fight for all the past and future compensation you deserve. Fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free initial consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.
How long do I have to report a truck accident?
If you were the driver of an auto and were involved in a truck crash, you are required to report it in some circumstances in Virginia. In addition, reporting your truck wreck to the police strengthens your claim for compensation against the negligent trucker and trucking company and could make settling your claim with their insurance company easier.
When Must You Report a Truck Accident in Virginia?
Under Virginia Code §46.2-894, you are required to report a truck collision to the State Police or a local law enforcement agency immediately in either of these situations:
- An individual was injured or killed.
- A vehicle or other property was damaged.
In addition, you are required to report your name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to the police and the injured person if they are capable of retaining the information. You must also attempt to render aid to any injured victim of the collision. If you are too injured to report the crash right away, you must do so as soon as you are able to do so.
Since most truck accidents result in the much smaller auto being damaged and often involve victims suffering injuries or death, there is almost always a requirement to report a truck crash. If you fail to do so, you could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 5 felony.
How Reporting a Truck Crash Strengthens Your Claim for Compensation
Calling the police right after your truck accident will also strengthen your claim for compensation with the insurance company. The police will conduct an investigation and write a police report that could contain helpful information, such as:
- Date, time and place of the wreck
- Details of how the collision occurred
- Statements of the trucker, passengers, and witnesses
- Officer’s conclusions as to who caused the accident
- Any traffic citations issued
When you file your claim, you should obtain a copy of the police report and provide it to the insurance adjuster. The report will help you avoid disputes with them over whether or not the crash actually occurred. They could raise this argument if the police were not contacted in an effort to deny your claim.
In addition, if the officer concluded that the trucker’s negligence was the cause of your accident, this may help you convince the insurance company of their liability to pay you. However, they could still try to use other reasons, such as disputing the seriousness of your injuries, to try to pay you less money than you deserve.
How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help You
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, our experienced truck accident legal team can hold the trucker, trucking company, and their insurance company accountable for compensating you for your injuries. We understand the complexities in these cases and have decades of experience helping truck crash victims obtain the justice and damages they deserve. To learn how we can assist you, fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation today.
Should I hire an attorney in the state where my truck accident happened?
If you were injured in a truck accident while in Virginia on vacation, for business, or while visiting friends or family, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under Virginia law. You are much more likely to be fully compensated if you hire a lawyer to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company.
However, you need to decide whether to retain an attorney in your home state or Virginia. Here’s why it would be best to select an attorney in the state where your collision occurred.
Five Reasons to Select a Lawyer in Virginia
There is no law in Virginia that would prohibit a lawyer in your home state from filing your claim and negotiating your settlement. While it may feel more convenient to have your attorney nearby, it really is not the best option. Here are reasons you need an experienced truck accident lawyer who practices where your truck collision occurred:
- Investigation of your collision. A local attorney will be able to conduct a more thorough investigation into the cause of your truck crash and can visit the scene of the wreck if they believe this would be helpful.
- Experts. You may need to hire expert witnesses to help resolve complicated disputes with the insurance company. A local lawyer would have a network of qualified experts who could help you and who would be able to testify in court if this becomes necessary.
- Understanding of law and court rules. A local attorney will have a better understanding of Virginia negligence laws that apply to your case. They will also know the court rules and procedures that must be followed if you must file a lawsuit.
- License to practice law. An attorney must be licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia in order to file a lawsuit on your behalf. Even if you live in a nearby state and your lawyer is allowed to litigate cases here, they would not be as familiar with local court rules and procedures as an in-state attorney. In addition, they would not have the same relationship with court personnel and local lawyers representing the defendants that could make your case go more smoothly.
- Consistency of representation. It is always better to have the same attorney who filed your insurance claim represent you if you must take your case to court. They will start developing their litigation strategy while trying to negotiate a settlement and will be collecting the evidence you will need to win your case.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer in Norfolk Today
If you were hurt in a truck accident while visiting the Virginia Beach or Norfolk area, our knowledgeable truck accident legal team is here to fight for the compensation you deserve. We will make the process easier for you by handling much of the communications through video conferencing, telephone calls, correspondence, and emails so that you do not have to travel back to Virginia. To learn more about how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
Do I have a claim if I wasn’t wearing my seat belt?
If you were not wearing a seat belt in a truck accident caused by a negligent truck driver, your claim may be more complicated. However, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries from the insurance company. Here is how your failure to wear a seat belt could affect your case.
What Are the Penalties for Not Wearing a Seat Belt in Virginia?
In Virginia, drivers and passengers in the front seat who are 18 years or older are required to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is in motion. Passengers who are under 18 years old must comply with the state’s child restraint laws no matter where they are seated. Under Virginia Code §46.2-1094, individuals who violate this law face these consequences:
- They could have to pay a civil penalty of $25.
- A violation of the law does not constitute negligence.
- A violation of the seat belt law does not constitute mitigation of damages in any nature.
How Contributory Negligence Could Affect Your Claim
Although the insurance company cannot claim that your violation of Virginia’s seat belt law prevents you from receiving compensation, they may try to claim that your actions should be considered negligent under Virginia’s negligence laws. Our state follows a harsh contributory negligence rule that provides that you would be not be entitled to compensation if you were at all to blame for the crash—even one percent.
However, it is important to keep in mind that just because the insurance company tries to deny your claim because you were not wearing a seat belt does not make their reason valid. They would have to prove that your failure to wear a seat belt caused your collision and injuries. In many truck accidents, the lack of a seat belt has nothing to do with why the crash occurred and the victim’s injuries.
If you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of your truck collision, you need to consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer to learn how this could affect your claim for compensation. To find out about your options and how we can help you build a winning case, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free initial consultation today.
Will my truck accident case go to trial?
Most truck accident claims are settled before they go to a jury trial, but this is not always true.
If you were injured in a truck crash, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, you need to be prepared to fight hard to obtain what you deserve from the insurance company. This could include having your case decided at a jury trial.
Why You May Have to Take Your Case to Trial
Because of the serious damages caused by truck collisions, the insurance company for the negligent trucker and trucking company may be more reluctant to offer a fair settlement of your claim. Here are three factors that could make it more likely that you would have to take your case to trial:
- Disputes about liability. If the insurance company disputes who was liable for causing the truck wreck, it is more likely that your case would go to trial. This is frequently an issue in truck accident cases in Virginia because our state follows a harsh contributory negligence rule that would prohibit you from obtaining any damages if you were at all at fault for causing the crash.
- Serious injuries. If you suffered long-term injuries, which is common in truck accidents, you would be entitled to more compensation for your future expensive medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The insurance company may fight harder and longer to not pay you the full value of your claim, which could force you to take your case to trial.
- Wrongful death. If a loved one died in a truck collision, you would need to file a wrongful death claim. Because of the substantial damages you may be entitled to, the insurance company may not be willing to pay you what you deserve. Unfortunately, wrongful death cases are more likely to go to trial because of the high value of these claims.
How to Decide Whether to Take Your Case to Trial
It can be difficult to decide whether to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company that you do not feel fully compensates you or to take your case to a jury trial. You need the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer to help you make this important decision and to fight with the insurance company for the damages you are entitled to under Virginia law. To learn how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation today.
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 accident 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.
Are truck drivers required to take drug tests after a truck accident?
Truck accidents can be much deadlier when the truck driver is intoxicated due to illegal drug use. If you suspect that your truck crash was caused by a drugged trucker, you would need to prove that this is why your collision occurred in order to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Here is what you need to know about when truck drivers are required to take a drug test after a crash.
When Must a Truck Driver Must Take a Drug Test After a Truck Collision?
Trucking companies and truck drivers must follow regulations implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) designed to promote truck safety and prevent accidents. The FMCSA has detailed rules on when drug tests administered by the trucking company are required after a crash. A trucker must take a test in the following situations:
- Fatality. If someone was killed in the truck crash, a drug test is required whether or not the trucker was issued a citation.
- Injury. A truck driver must take a drug test if they received a traffic ticket and someone was injured in the wreck and received immediate medical treatment somewhere other than the crash scene.
- Disabling damage. If a motor vehicle was damaged enough that it had to be towed away, a trucker would be required to take a drug test if the police ticketed them for a traffic law violation.
When a police officer at the scene suspected that the trucker was intoxicated due to drug or alcohol use, they could administer field sobriety, breathalyzer, and other tests. If the trucker failed these tests, the police could detain them and require them to take a drug test at the police station.
When Else Is a Truck Driver Required to Undergo Drug Testing?
The FMCA also mandates other times when an employer must require a trucker to take a drug test. They include:
- Pre-employment. A trucker must test negative for drugs before being hired by a trucking company to operate a truck.
- Random. Truckers must undergo random drug tests administered by the trucking company throughout the year.
- Reasonable suspicion. If the trucking company suspects that a trucker is under the influence of drugs, they must order the truck driver to undergo an immediate drug test.
- Return-to-duty. A trucker who tested positive for drugs must successfully complete the return-to-duty process with an authorized substance abuse professional and test negative for drug use before returning to work. The trucker must also undergo at least six additional drug tests within a 12-month period and test negative.
If you were injured in a truck accident, our experienced truck accident lawyers in Norfolk can help you determine whether drug use or other negligent actions of the trucker and trucking company caused your crash. We will fight hard so that you receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries. To learn more about how we can help, fill out our convenient online form to schedule a free case evaluation.
What should I do if the insurance company offers me a quick settlement of my claim?
If a truck driver caused your injuries in a truck accident, you will often receive a quick offer to settle your claim from their insurance company. You may consider taking it because you need the money to replace your lost income while you are off work recovering from your injuries and to pay your expensive medical bills.
However, accepting the first offer from the insurance company would not be in your best interests if you want to receive all the compensation you deserve under Virginia law. Here are three reasons why you should say no to the insurance adjuster’s offer.
#1: The Offer Is Too Low
The insurance company knows that you probably need the money right away and is trying to take advantage of this fact to entice you to settle your claim quickly. However, their first offer will most likely be for far less than you deserve. They are offering it to you because they know that they face liability to pay you and will save money if you accept their first offer.
#2: Your Settlement Will Be Final
Another reason not to accept the first amount offered by the insurance company is that your settlement will be final once you complete it. The insurance adjuster would require you to sign a Release of All Claims form where you would agree that the settlement would be a complete resolution of your claim before sending you your check.
This means that if you later discovered that you needed more medical treatments or had to be off work for longer than you thought, that you would not receive any additional compensation for these losses. You would not be able to reopen your claim or file a new one.
#3: It’s Too Early to Know How Seriously You Were Injured
You should not accept any settlement from the insurance company until you reach your maximum medical improvement. This is one of the following stages in your recovery:
- You fully recovered from your injuries.
- You recovered as much as you can from your injuries, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis on the medical treatments you will need in the future. They will also be able to advise you on how your injuries will impact your ability to return to your current or another job.
It could take you months or longer to reach this stage of your medical care, especially if you suffered more than one injury. However, it is crucial not to settle your claim before then so that all of your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering are included in your settlement.
In addition, you should never accept any offer from the insurance company without first consulting with an experienced truck accident lawyer. They will be able to accurately value your claim and will fight the insurance company to ensure that you receive the maximum recovery.
Do you need help negotiating your settlement with the trucking company’s and trucker’s insurance company? Call our Norfolk office today to schedule a free initial consultation to learn about your options and how we can assist you.
What can I do to help my attorney win my case?
If you were injured in a truck crash caused by a negligent truck driver, you need to retain an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. This will dramatically increase the likelihood that you will receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
While you are hiring an attorney to help you, you should not forget that you are a team working on the common goal of settling your claim. You can and should take steps to make your lawyer's job easier and help them build a winning case. Here are five important ways that you can help them.
Respond to Your Attorney's Requests Quickly
Just like you want your lawyer to contact you quickly if you have a question or want an update on your case's status, you need to respond right away if they call or email you. They may have an important question that they need answered or need you to collect additional documents in order to move forward in resolving your claim with the insurance company.
Follow Up on Medical Treatment
One of the most important ways that you can build a strong case against the trucker and trucking company is to seek prompt medical care after your crash and follow your doctor's advice on your medical treatments for your injuries. You should also attend all of your appointments, so there are no gaps in your medical care.
If you fail to do this, you could make it harder for your attorney to settle your claim for its full value. You would be giving the insurance company ammunition to deny your claim or argue that you should receive less than you are asking for in your settlement. They could make these arguments:
- Another incident caused your injuries.
- Your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
- You made your injuries worse by not following your doctor's orders and not getting all the medical care you need.
Cooperate With the Discovery Process
Your attorney may need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company does not offer you a fair settlement or the deadline to sue, referred to as the statute of limitations, will expire soon. You will need to cooperate with them during the discovery phase of your case. You may have to answer written interrogatories, produce documents, and attend a deposition where the insurance company's lawyer asks you questions about the truck accident and your injuries.
Stay Off Social Media
Ideally, you should stay off Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites while the claim is being resolved. If you do continue to post on these sites, avoid discussing your truck collision or your injuries. You should also be careful not to post pictures of you being at locations, such as on a hiking vacation, or doing activities that you should not be able to do because of your injuries.
Follow Your Lawyer's Advice
Another crucial way that you can help your attorney is to follow their advice and be patient while they work to resolve your case. They have your best interests at heart and know what you need to receive the maximum recovery from the insurance company.
If you must file a claim with the insurance company after a truck crash, our knowledgeable and compassionate truck accident lawyers are here to help. Call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
What types of compensation can I recover if a loved one died in a truck accident?
It is never easy to lose a family member. However, the grief can be even more intense when their death was caused by a preventable truck accident.
Fortunately, you may be able to file a wrongful death action to hold the negligent trucking company and trucker responsible for compensating you for your injuries. While money will not bring back the joy of having your loved one with you, it can help compensate you for your losses and help you move on with your life.
Compensation You Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Action
A wrongful death action is a type of claim that can be brought by a victim’s heirs when their loved one was killed in a truck accident caused by the trucker’s negligence. Only certain family members are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in Virginia. This includes the individual’s spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings.
The compensation awarded is slightly different than what a victim can recover if they had survived the truck accident. The damages are to compensate family members and the victim’s estate. Types of compensation that can be recovered include:
- Medical expenses. The cost of the deceased’s medical care for the injuries they suffered in the truck collision before their death can be recovered in a wrongful death claim.
- Funeral costs. Reasonable funeral and burial expenses should be included in the settlement.
- Pain and suffering. Family members are entitled to be compensated for the pain, suffering, and grief they suffered due to the loss of their loved one.
- Loss of income. Surviving family members who relied on the victim’s financial support are entitled to lost wages and benefits, which include the income and benefits the deceased would have earned if they had lived.
- Loss of care. Another type of compensation awarded in wrongful death actions is damages for the loss of the care, comfort, advice, and guidance of the victim.
- Punitive damages. While punitive damages are not awarded in all truck accident cases, this type of compensation can be recovered if the trucker’s or trucking company’s actions were especially reckless. They are awarded to punish them for their actions rather than to compensate the family of the victim.
Were you or a family member injured in a truck accident that was not their fault? Our compassionate and skilled truck accident lawyers are here to take over all the steps in filing and settling your claim for the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your grief and going on in life without your loved one. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free consultation.
How long will it take me to get my check after I settle my truck accident claim?
You will most likely feel a huge sense of relief when you finally settle your truck accident claim after months or longer of arguing with the trucker’s and trucking company’s insurance company. Understandably, you want to receive your compensation from them as soon as possible.
However, there are a few more steps that must be completed before you are paid. It can take four to eight weeks to finish this process.
What Happens After You Agree to a Settlement?
It can help to understand what needs to get done before your attorney can call you to pick up your check or have it mailed to you. That way, you can be sure that things are moving as quickly as possible and avoid any delays. Here is what must happen:
- Sign release. You will need to sign a Release of All Claims form where you agree to accept the settlement amount and that this is a full and final settlement of your claim. It will be prepared by the insurance company or their lawyer. It could take longer for this document to be completed if your attorney finds objectionable clauses that need to be revised to protect your interests.
- Check sent. Once the insurance company receives your signed release, they will process your check and mail it to your attorney. Depending on the company’s procedures for writing this check, it could take two to three weeks to complete this step.
- Check deposited and bills paid. Your lawyer will deposit your check in a client trust account. Once the check clears, your lawyer will pay any debts owed, such as a medical lien placed on your proceeds by your health care provider.
- Attorney fees are deducted. After any bills are paid, your attorney will deduct any costs paid on your behalf, such as court filing fees, expert witness fees, and attorney fees from the remaining settlement proceeds.
- Your payment. After all of these steps are taken, your check will be issued. Congratulations! Your truck accident case is really finished, and you can move on with your life.
Do you need help negotiating your settlement after a truck accident in the Norfolk or Virginia Beach area? Call our office to schedule a free case evaluation with our experienced truck accident lawyers to get your questions answered and learn about your options.
Will the trucking company try to destroy evidence after my truck accident?
If you are injured in a truck accident, the trucking company could have the evidence you need to prove their negligence in causing your crash. Unfortunately, they could try to destroy documents you will need—and that they are required to keep under federal regulations—in an effort to weaken your case against them. However, you can take steps to stop them from doing this—if you act quickly.
Laws Prohibiting Trucking Companies From Getting Rid of Evidence
Both the truck driver and trucking company must follow federal regulations enacted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSA) designed to promote truck safely and prevent truck accidents. Under these regulations, trucking companies must retain documents for a certain length of time before destroying them. For example, trucking companies are prohibited from destroying truck driver log books, trip receipts and other records for six months. Other records, like the truck driver personnel records and truck maintenance records, must be maintained for much longer.
Although it is against the law to get rid of documents, the trucking company may do this anyway to prevent you from proving their liability to compensate you for your injuries. Another strategy they may employ is to drag out the settlement negotiations beyond the six months they are required to keep records so that they can legally dispose of them.
How to Stop the Trucking Company From Destroying Records You Need
Fortunately, you can take steps to prevent the trucking company from destroying vital evidence. Your first step should be to retain an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after your truck collision. They can send the trucking company a spoliation letter to stop their illegal actions. Here is why sending this letter right away is so important:
- The spoliation letter puts the trucking company and trucker on notice that you have a claim for compensation against them. FMCSA regulations prohibit them from destroying evidence that could affect your case once they receive this letter.
- Your attorney will demand that the trucking company not destroy and turn over specific documents that could help you when filing your claim.
- If the trucking company gets rid of evidence after receiving your attorney’s letter, they could face harsh consequences. Once you file a lawsuit against them, the judge could rule that there is a presumption that the destroyed documents are helpful to your case.
Are you afraid that the trucking company will destroy evidence you need to prove their liability for your truck accident? Do you need help fighting with their insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.