The Semi-Truck Accident Settlement Timeline

aerial image of a truck driving on a road surrounded by snow

There are many laws, regulations, and safety guidelines related to the operation of a semi-truck. There is a good reason for this. As the biggest vehicles on the road, a collision or accident with a semi-truck can be much worse than with personal vehicles. They have a lot of power, and they often have hazardous materials that they are transporting. These materials can cause further damage or create an unsafe situation. 

Large trucks have been known to cause pileups, fires, property damage, injuries, death, and more. If you or someone you love has been the victim in a semi-truck accident, then you may be entitled to a recovery for your medical bills and  pain and suffering. Survivors of semi-truck accidents often face long and difficult roads to recovery that take a huge physical, mental, and financial toll. 

One of the biggest challenges during this period is the process of getting a settlement in the first place. It can take longer with semi-truck accidents than it can for regular vehicles, simply because there are so many more factors that need to be considered. While there’s no way of knowing precisely how long a settlement might take, there are certain guidelines that can give you an idea. It is always your best option to hire a semi-truck settlement attorney to make sure that no matter how long it takes, you will get the best outcome possible for your situation. 

Common Types of Semi-Truck Accidents

There are several ways that a semi-truck can cause a pileup or devastating damage. They are not like normal vehicles on the road since they are made of two components, one of which could potentially be carrying thousands of pounds of materials. 

A jackknife accident is when the truck operator loses proper control and the tractor-trailer slides in such a fashion so as to create a “v” shape.  In a jackknife accident, the tractor or trailer (or both) often strike another vehicle when it is sliding out of control.  It could also cause the truck to swerve to one side of the road and collide with anything that might be off to the side, including pedestrians and bicycles. While this most commonly happens when the road surface is wet, it can happen in ideal conditions if the driver does not properly take into account the weight of their load. 

A rollover can also happen if the driver does not have control of the vehicle. If a driver hits the brakes or swerves, the weight of the truck and its load will shift. This can cause the trailer to roll over and smash into other vehicles, potentially causing a massive pileup. The contents of the trailer can also come loose and cause damage, or hazardous materials may escape. 

Underride accidents occur when smaller vehicles run underneath the carriage of the trailer. This is especially dangerous since the trailer can then come into contact with the passenger compartment of the car since the hood goes underneath.  This type of accident can be the result of operator error of the semi-truck, or the driver of the smaller vehicle.

A Quick Settlement Offer

Getting a settlement offer right off the bat can feel like a big weight off of your shoulders. It can seem even better if you think that it’s for more than you originally expected. However, just because you get a settlement offer does not mean that you should take it. The fact is, if your settlement comes quickly and is for a seemingly significant amount, then it’s most likely that the offer may be significantly less than a judge or jury might award to you.   

An insurance company’s job is to pay out as little as possible. There is no benefit to the insurance company to pay you a quick settlement unless it is lower than what it expects to pay out if the case goes further. The insurance company may be sending you out a quick offer because it knows that the victims of accidents and their loved ones are often in fragile situations. The insurance companies also know that many take time to hire a lawyer, so the offer is more likely to be accepted without scrutiny when counsel has not yet been retained. If you get a fast settlement offer after your semi-truck accident, then contact a semi-truck attorney immediately. They will examine the offer and see if it is in fact a fair one, or if it is likely that you could do better. Sometimes a bit of patience is necessary to ensure that you are treated fairly and get the compensation you deserve. 

Factors That Make Semi-Truck Accident Settlements Take Longer

There are several factors that explain why semi-truck settlements can take longer. First, the nature and extent of your injuries may be more severe than a typical auto accident.  If that is the case, then it may take longer for you to reach maximum medical improvement.  And, the longer it takes you to recover and/or have a full understanding as the nature and extent of your injuries, the longer that it will take to put your case in a posture to make a demand upon the trucking company or its insurer.    Secondly, it is not uncommon for a trucking company to be self-insured.  As a result, the trucking company may use an outside company that manages its claims.  With the involvement of this outside company (typically referred to as a third-party administrator or TPA), there may be additional committees and/or levels that an adjuster will need to go through in order to secure settlement authority for your claim.  Some of the other reasons for delay are set forth below.   

There May Be Many Entities Involved

With a semi-truck accident, there may be many entities involved if you are looking for a settlement. For example, you may be looking at a driver, trailer owner, tractor owner, broker, and, perhaps, others that may have liability for the accident.  Not only that, but those entities may be entwined that make the situation more complicated than at first glance. For example, the trucking company may be at fault if it did not provide adequate training or safety guidance. They may also actively encourage their drivers to break certain protocols, such as by falsifying driving records or driving for extended hours. They may also keep drivers who have demonstrated unsafe driving habits in the past. 

However the driver may have chosen to falsify records on their own, which muddies the situation and requires extra investigation. Mechanical failures may also be the fault of the company that services the semi-truck, or the trucking company for not performing required checks and maintenance. With so many different variables, it can take time to get to the bottom of everything. 

Large Insurance Policies

Insurance policies for trucking companies and other entities involved in the trucking industry tend to be large. If a personal driver gets into a pileup, their insurance may choose not to defend them very vigorously if their coverage is low. However trucking companies tend to have coverage that typically starts at $750K and goes up from there. Insurance companies will do whatever they can to avoid paying out such large sums. They will provide a very vigorous defense, which will undoubtedly draw out the process. 

Serious Injuries

When it comes to personal injury settlements, the true cost of everything cannot be known until the victim is mostly recovered, or there is a clear path to full recovery. Semi-truck accidents tend to cause more serious injuries, and therefore they can take longer. It might be difficult, but if you were injured in a semi-truck pileup, you may have to be patient while you are recuperating to ensure your best possible payout. This can be a very difficult part of the process, but one that is absolutely necessary. You do not want to take a settlement, only to end up with larger and unexpected medical bills down the road. 

An Experienced Attorney Will Protect Your Rights

As you can see, a semi-truck accident settlement can be complicated. Negotiating with insurance companies and their lawyers can take a long time, and they are often much more experienced than you are in dealing with personal injury claims. That’s why you need the help of an attorney that has experience in semi-truck accidents. Henderson Law will make sure that your rights are protected and that you get the settlement you deserve, no matter how long it takes. Contact us today!