How Long Do You Have to File a Claim for a Truck Accident?

File Your Truck Accident Injury Claim Before the Deadline

If a traffic accident involving a large truck harmed you or a loved one, then chances are you have a legal right to receive significant compensation for your injuries and losses. Act quickly to preserve that right before the deadline for filing a claim expires. Contact an experienced Atlantic City truck accident injury attorney right away.

You Have Limited Time to Take Legal Action

How long to file a truck accident claimIn Pennsylvania, large truck crash victims typically have just two years to take legal action for damages against anyone whose actions or decisions caused the accident. Two years might seem like a long time, but it can pass in the blink of an eye when you have extensive physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial stress to deal with. Experienced truck accident injury lawyers know that the sooner you seek their advice and counsel after suffering injuries and losses in a truck crash, the better your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.

If you miss the deadline for taking legal action, your claim could be “barred,” which means you lose your legal rights to seek money damages from the parties whose actions harmed you. That could leave you stuck with obligations to pay for medical treatment you should never have had to get in the first place, and to deal with any loss of income you suffered on your own.

It breaks our hearts to see victims of large truck accidents miss the critical deadline for seeking the compensation they need and deserve. That is why we always encourage anyone whose life has suffered because of a truck accident to contact an experienced attorney immediately for a free case consultation.

What Lawyers Do to Protect Your Legal Rights

Victims of truck accidents do not always understand why it is so important to speak with a lawyer right away. They sometimes figure that if they have two years to take legal action, then they can easily wait a year and eleven months before seeking a lawyer’s help.

That is almost always a big mistake.

Lawyers for truck accident victims have a single goal: to get their clients the most compensation possible, as soon as possible, for truck crash injuries and losses. The amount of time and type of effort that takes varies from accident-to-accident, however, so it is always preferable to give a lawyer as much time as possible to prepare a strong case. Some of the tasks a lawyer may need to perform include:

Investigating the Cause of a Truck Crash

In one recent year, Pennsylvania saw 1,190 traffic accident fatalities on its roads. Crashes that involved big rigs and other heavy commercial trucks resulted in higher-than-average rates of fatality and severe injury than accidents involving smaller vehicles, a sad continuation of a long-term trend that reflects the catastrophic damage large trucks cause when they crash. Large trucks get into accidents for almost as many reasons as there are accidents.

Many, however, include some type of human error. Lawyers need to identify which type of error(s) led to a crash to help them figure out who owes damages to an accident victim.

Typical human-related causes of truck accidents include:

  • Truck driver fatigue or Drowsy Driving. Truck drivers have high stress jobs. They have loads of cargo they must deliver all over the country on tight deadlines. Even when they obey regulations governing how much time they can spend behind the wheel (which does not always happen), truckers work long, irregular hours. Many trucks are in relatively poor health and do not eat a healthy diet. These factors too-frequently combine to cause extreme fatigue behind the wheel for truckers. A fatigued trucker experiences the same level of cognitive and motor impairment as a drunk driver. That leads to deadly accidents.
  • Truck driver distraction. Distracted driving is a serious problem for any driver. With our mobile phones always within reach, many people have difficulty resisting the urge to respond to a text or check their social media feed, even when laws prohibit this type of behavior. Truck drivers do not differ from the rest of us. In fact, they may struggle more with these types of behaviors than others because of the massive amount of time they spend behind the wheel. Boredom while truck driving is a real problem, and truck drivers may try to break up the monotony by using a screen or engaging in some other distracting behavior. Unfortunately, the trucker may endanger you in the process.
  • Trucker drug and alcohol impairment. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law. In fact, the law deems commercial drivers illegally intoxicated at half the blood-alcohol content as ordinary drivers. Perhaps as a result, truckers have a lower incidence of drunk driving than the general public. Unfortunately, truck drivers frequently experience impairment by taking over-the-counter and prescription medications for health problems, and by taking illegal drugs to keep themselves alert behind the wheel. A trucker who takes any substance, legal or illegal, that affects the ability to make good decisions and to take safe actions behind the wheel, puts the public in danger.
  • Speeding. Every driver has broken the speed limit at one time or another. Most drivers, however, spend most of their time following the law by driving within the posted speed limit or at an appropriate speed for road conditions. However, truck drivers, stressed, tired, and worried about meeting tight delivery deadlines, tend to speed more frequently. That decision can prove deadly. Speeding lengthens the distance a truck needs to come to a controlled stop, shortens the amount of time a truck has to react to hazards, and increases the forces involved in a deadly collision between a truck and another vehicle.
  • Truck driver poor training. Not every truck accident is the sole fault of the truck driver. Sometimes, a truck driver’s employer fails to prove adequate training before letting the driver take the wheel of a massive, fully-loaded big rig. That should not happen, but the trucking industry currently finds itself in the midst of a labor shortage, which puts pressure on trucking companies to send drivers out on the road as soon as possible. Training programs suffer, and as a result, the risk rises for inexperienced truckers making avoidable mistakes and causing catastrophic accidents.
  • Truck mechanical failure. Operators of trucking fleets must perform regular preventative maintenance on their vehicles to keep them in safe working condition. Maintaining large trucks costs money and takes time, both of which many trucking companies would like to avoid. Sometimes trucking companies cut corners on these obligations to keep cargo rolling, gambling that a rig will make it through another run without a dangerous mechanical failure. That gamble puts lives at risk.

Spotting Parties With Legal Liability

By taking the time to identify the causes of truck accidents, experienced lawyers can ensure that they find out who has legal liability to a crash victim client. In a nutshell, an individual or entity will owe damages to anyone injured by an accident caused by unreasonably dangerous actions or decisions on the part of that individual or entity.

Every truck accident differs, of course, but the causes above often suggest liability on the part of at least one of the following individuals or entities:

  • The truck driver may have legal liability for engaging in dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as driving fatigued, distracted, or impaired.
  • A trucking company can face liability if it employed the driver, failed to screen or train a driver, failed to maintain a truck in safe working condition, or engaged in some other action or decision that directly led to an accident.
  • A truck parts manufacturer has a legal duty not to sell unreasonably dangerous, defective products that may fail and lead to an accident.
  • A cargo shipper can have legal responsibility for loading cargo improperly if that cargo shifts within or falls from a vehicle in a way that contributes to a crash.
  • A local government agency can even have liability for failing to prevent, repair, or warn about dangerous road conditions that lead to a truck accident.

At the beginning of a case, lawyers might have an idea of which, if any, of these parties could have legal liability for a truck accident, but they generally cannot know for sure until after investigating its causes. That is why it is so important to get a lawyer started early on an investigation. The more thorough the job a lawyer can do of tracking down the causes of a crash, the better the odds of the lawyer targeting all parties with potential legal liability to an injured crash victim.

Calculating the Damages a Client Should Receive

Lawyers also often need time to evaluate the amount of money a client should receive for truck accident injuries. You might think that should make for a pretty simple calculation. However, seasoned lawyers know that it takes careful attention to detail and knowledgeable foresight to come up with a full valuation of the harm a client has suffered in a truck accident.

Every case is different. No lawyer can guarantee a client will recover any money for truck accident injuries, much less how much money.

Still, in the typical truck accident cases, injured victims can usually hope to recover compensation to pay for:

  • Medical expenses related to treating truck accident injuries now and in the future;
  • Other expenses incurred because of truck accident injuries, such as the cost of services to handle day-to-day tasks that an injury prevents a victim from performing;
  • Lost wages and future income caused by the injured victim missing work and/or the inability to return to work in a previous capacity; and
  • Physical pain, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life and relationships resulting from the accident, injuries, and losses.

Determining the value of these and any other category of damages often requires a complete understanding of the client’s medical condition and prognosis, and of all of the big-and-small ways a truck accident has impacted that victim’s life. To do the best possible job for a client, skilled lawyers benefit from having ample time to gain these deep understanding.

Engaging in Informal Negotiations

gabriel-levin

Gabriel Levin, Truck Accident Attorney

Generally speaking, lawyers for injured truck accident victims meet the deadline for asserting a claim by filing a lawsuit before the two-year time limit runs out. Taking “formal” legal action like that, however, sometimes constitutes a big, aggressive step in a truck accident case. Lawyers for large truck crash victims sometimes find that engaging in “informal” negotiations, before taking things “up a notch” by filing a lawsuit, can lead to a successful outcome for a client.

Speaking with an experienced lawyer right away about the injuries you suffered in a truck accident can leave your lawyer with plenty of time to engage in informal negotiations with representatives of the parties who have legal liability to you. As we have said, every case differs, so a lawyer might decide against pursuing that informal path. However, in any legal matter, as in life, it is always nice to have more than one option for achieving the best resolution for a client. Extra time opens up those options, which never hurts.

Get a Lawyer Working for You Today

Lawyers for truck accident victims often confront a complex, time-sensitive task at the beginning of a case. Truck crashes tend to cause widespread damage, catastrophic injuries, and, frequently, multiple fatalities. Many parties involved in or affected by the accident, including businesses with lots to lose, scramble to try and position themselves to have as little legal liability as possible to accident victims. The lawyer who has the time and freedom to act on an injured client’s behalf right away can often build the strongest possible case against those parties, to ensure a client receives maximum compensation in a reasonable timeframe.

If a truck accident has caused devastation in your life, contact an experienced truck accident injury attorney right away to learn how they can help protect your legal rights long before the deadline for filing a claim expires.