How Do You File a Claim for a Commercial Truck Accident in Pennsylvania?
Commercial trucks are a constant presence on Pennsylvania’s roads and highways. Unfortunately, while these trucks play an important role in the Commonwealth’s transportation industry, they also present serious risks for other motorists. Commercial truck accidents are common, and they result in severe or fatal injuries in many cases.
If you have been severely injured or a loved one has been killed in a commercial truck accident, you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights. Truck accident victims and their families are entitled to financial compensation in many cases. But, even if you are clearly entitled to financial compensation, filing a successful claim won’t be easy, and proving your legal rights will require experienced legal representation.
Filing a Claim After a Serious or Fatal Truck Accident in Pennsylvania
When you are dealing with the aftermath of a serious or fatal truck accident, your first priority should be making sure that you and your family are okay. But, it is also important that you speak with a lawyer promptly. There are steps that need to be taken as soon as possible, and the sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner your lawyer can get to work fighting for the financial compensation you and your family deserve.
Here is an overview of the process of filing a claim for a commercial truck accident in Pennsylvania:
1. Investigating the Accident
When you hire a lawyer, one of your lawyer’s first steps will be to investigate the accident. In a typical case, this will involve examining the accident site and each vehicle involved in the crash. Even if the police conducted an on-scene investigation, you will still need to hire a lawyer to investigate, as police investigations don’t focus on gathering all of the evidence needed to establish civil liability.
Along with examining the accident scene and the vehicles involved, your lawyer’s investigation may involve gathering evidence from a variety of other sources as well. These sources could include witnesses, camera footage, the truck driver’s employment records and various other forms of documentation. As the investigation progresses, one source of evidence may lead to another, and, in some cases, your lawyer may need to take legal action to obtain the evidence needed to prove your (or your family’s) legal rights.
2. Determining Who (or What Company) is Liable
After gathering all of the evidence that is available, your lawyer will be able to determine who (or, as is more likely the case, what company) is liable for the crash. There are several possibilities, and, in some cases, multiple companies will share responsibility for a serious or fatal truck accident. Depending on the circumstances involved, the companies that may be liable for your (or your loved one’s) accident include:
- The truck driver’s insurance company (if the truck driver is an owner-operator)
- The trucking company or retailer that owns the truck and employs the truck driver
- The truck’s manufacturer (or the manufacturer of a component that failed on the truck)
- Another driver’s insurance company or employer (if another driver contributed to causing the accident)
- Another vehicle’s manufacturer, a road construction contractor or another third party
3. Filing All Available Claims
Once your lawyer determines what company (or companies) are liable for the accident, your lawyer will file all available claims on your (or your family’s) behalf. In truck accident cases, the process of seeking financial compensation is very different from the process after a typical car accident. Relevant experience is critical, and you will need a lawyer who can deal effectively with all of the various companies involved.
4. Calculating Your (or Your Family’s) Long-Term Costs
While your lawyer is working to establish liability, your lawyer will also be working with you to calculate your (or your family’s) long-term costs. In commercial truck accident cases, victims and their families can seek to recover just compensation for the losses they have incurred to date and the losses they will incur in the future. This includes both financial losses (i.e., medical bills, lost earnings and other out-of-pocket costs) and non-financial losses (i.e., pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life). Calculating (and proving) the long-term costs of a serious or fatal truck accident isn’t easy, so relevant experience is critical here as well.
5. Going Through the Claim Process
Filing a successful claim takes time. While this is true in all cases, it is especially true in cases involving serious and fatal truck accidents. As a victim or family member, it is important to be patient while also responding promptly when your lawyer needs information or your input on key decisions. When you have a commercial truck accident claim, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is giving up on your claim or settling too soon.
6. Going to Court if Necessary
If you have a strong claim and you hire an experienced lawyer to represent you, the likelihood of your case going to court is relatively low. However, there are no guarantees, and sometimes companies will simply refuse to settle. If settling is not in your best interests (or is not an option), your lawyer will take your case to court. In court, each side will present its arguments and evidence, and then a judge or jury will decide whether you and your family are entitled to financial compensation.
7. Resolving Your Claim (or Claims) and Moving On
Whether you receive a settlement offer or need to take your case to court, there will come a time when you need to make decisions about resolving your claim (or claims) and moving on. Should you accept a settlement? Should you file an appeal? These are important decisions that could truly impact the rest of your life. As a result, you need to make them very carefully; and, here too, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side.
Speak with a Lawyer at Drake, Hileman & Davis, P.C. in Pennsylvania
If you need to file a claim for a commercial truck accident in Pennsylvania, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free initial consultation. With offices in Allentown, Bethlehem, Doylestown, Easton and Stroudsburg, we handle serious and fatal accident cases statewide. To speak with a lawyer in confidence as soon as possible, call 888-777-7098 or tell us how we can help online now.