The aftermath of an accident with a semi truck can be devastating. Drivers and passengers hit by semi trucks often face severe injuries because of the size and weight of the truck. In many cases, negligent truckers and trucking companies can be held responsible for the injuries they caused you, but there are multiple ways to do that. Cases can be settled through insurance, settled out of court, or won at trial – among other resolutions. As a victim, you should be prepared to understand whether your case will likely go to trial, and how these kinds of cases can be resolved with or without trial. Arkansas truck accident lawyer Ken Kieklak explains.
Do Truck Accident Cases Go to Court in Arkansas?
When you are injured in an accident with another driver, there are typically three ways to get compensation. Each requires different steps and processes, and each has different outcomes – sometimes involving the courts and sometimes skipping the courts entirely:
Insurance Claims for Truck Accidents
All drivers – truck drivers included – are required to carry insurance. Trucking companies also tend to carry their own liability insurance because they know that accidents could happen involving their drivers. If the semi truck driver or their employer – the trucking company – was responsible for a crash, then the victim could be entitled to file an insurance claim against them.
These cases are usually resolved through the insurance company’s systems: damages are assessed and payments are offered to the victim to cover their damages. In many cases, these damages are enough, and victims walk away satisfied. However, victims who suffered serious injuries might not be able to get pain and suffering damages paid, and the damages could be too low in an insurance claim to cover what they need.
These cases are usually resolved without the court system. If there is a problem with the insurance companies – such as bad faith coverage for your own first-party benefits – then you might need to take the insurance company to court.
Settlements with Trucking Companies
If you have a potential claim against a trucking company, they might offer you a settlement for your injuries and vehicle damage. These settlements are often low amounts used to shut down cases quickly and prevent public attention. As such, victims often do not get paid as much as they might deserve out of these truck accident settlements.
In many cases, to get a settlement to pay you a fair value to cover your damages, you might need to file the case in court. When you file a lawsuit, you have the chance to push it essentially as far as you want, which can put additional pressure on the trucking company to settle. Settlement negotiations are common in almost any lawsuit, and courts often encourage the parties to settle instead of taking the case to trial.
You should always have our Fayetteville, AR truck accident lawyer review your case before settling, as a settlement will usually prevent you from taking your case to trial.
Semi Truck Accident Trials
If you file your claim with the court and it does not settle, then you might have the chance to take the case to trial. At trial, your case can be decided by a judge or a jury, giving you the chance to have a neutral third party assess your claim and decide your damages. In these cases, you will claim the full amount of damages that you faced, and the court will ultimately decide whether the driver/trucking company was at fault and how much your case is worth based on your claim.
Do Most Trucking Accident Cases Go to Trial in Arkansas?
Statistically speaking, most injury cases across the board settle before going to trial. Settling is often good for both parties because it avoids the time and expense of taking a case to trial, reducing the cost of exhibits, legal fees, and court costs. With truck accident cases in particular, there are additional incentives to settle these cases, and many trucking companies would rather settle than let the case go to trial.
When a lawsuit against a trucking company goes to trial, it often makes news headlines and shows the public the dangers of the trucking industry. This can often press trucking companies to settle quickly to avoid the negative press. This might also mean that settlements are confidential – so it isn’t always easy to collect statistics on truck accident settlements.
Although trucking companies try to settle cases early and at low costs, your lawyer can help prevent that. By presenting strong negotiation skills and pushing the case through the court system, your 18-wheeler truck accident lawyer can help push the case to settle at a reasonable value. If the insurance companies and trucking companies refuse to settle for a value that covers your needs, we can be prepared to take the case to trial.
While insurance companies do not pay pain and suffering damages, a settlement often will cover these non-economic damages. However, courts might be able to issue additional “punitive damages” to punish dangerous trucking companies and semi truck drivers. Companies do not usually pay these damages voluntarily at settlement, so your lawyer might recommend going to trial to fight for these additional damages.
Call Our Semi Truck Accident Lawyers in Fayetteville, AR
Each semi truck accident case is unique, so talk to a lawyer about whether settling is a good idea in your case. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is a Fayetteville personal injury lawyer who has spent over 20 years representing injury victims of auto accidents and semi truck accidents. For a free legal consultation and more information about how to proceed with your semi truck accident case, call us today at (479) 316-0438.