Not necessarily. If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, you’re entitled to compensation for your damages, which include medical bills, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. Your first step in the quest for compensation is filing an insurance claim for damages against the at-fault driver, as well as other potential defendants in some cases. If the insurer disputes your claim or refuses to offer a fair settlement, you have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit and seeking compensation in court. Even if you do have to file a lawsuit, your case might be settled before the start of a trial, which is an expensive and time-consuming process. 

Factors That Determine Your Chances of Going to Court

There are a few different factors that can impact your chances of going to court in a truck accident case. Your answers to the following questions will be important in determining if you can settle out of court or not.

How Serious Are Your Injuries?

The differences in size and weight between a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle make fatalities and serious injuries likely in a collision involving the two. Severe injuries mean high medical expenses, extreme pain and suffering, and a long recovery, all of which make your truck crash claim an expensive one for the insurance company. Because the insurer’s primary goal is to earn money for its shareholders—not to pay out expensive damage claims—it will look for reasons to avoid paying you what you deserve. If it devalues or denies your claim and refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, your lawyer may have to file a suit to seek fair compensation.

Is the Trucking Company Using Delay Tactics?

Truck company insurers may delay claims in hopes that you’ll get tired of waiting and accept a low offer that might not even cover your medical bills (the amount of which you won’t know until you reach maximum medical improvement or MMI). If the insurer can delay your claim until the statute of limitations has run out, you can lose your option of going to court. 

Do You Share Any Fault With the Truck Driver?

In some cases, the fault for an accident can be shared between the drivers involved. If you’re partially responsible for your wreck, South Carolina’s modified comparative fault rule allows you to recover damages reduced according to your percentage of fault—as long as it’s 50% or less. If, however, you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you collect nothing whatsoever. If the parties disagree about the drivers’ respective percentages of fault, the matter might have to be decided by a judge or jury. Because the determination of percentages of fault is an important and extremely subjective process, it’s very important for you to have an experienced attorney who can:

  • Investigate your wreck with the help of an accident reconstructionist
  • Obtain vital data from the truck’s “black box” recorder and other on-board devices
  • Interview witnesses and view video footage from nearby security cameras
  • Subpoena the trucking company’s maintenance records to determine if mechanical failure played a part in the crash
  • Gain access to the trucker’s log books, safety records, and cell phone records to determine whether driver distraction or fatigue caused your accident
  • Organize and present your evidence convincingly in court
  • Prepare you for your court appearance if your case should go to trial

While many truck crash cases are settled out of court, it’s important that you have an attorney who’s willing to go to trial if necessary. 

Can You Successfully Mediate a Settlement?

Mediation is a one-day process that the court requires you and the defendant(s) to engage in before a trial starts. It’s conducted with a neutral third-party mediator who is experienced in handling similar cases in an effort to settle the case out of court if possible. Of course, the insurer’s legal team will be involved, so we highly recommend you have an experienced attorney on your team, as well.

Have You Been Injured in a Florence, South Carolina, Truck Accident?

If you've been hurt in a truck accident, you should speak with an experienced South Carolina truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Florence office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our ConwayMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach, Charleston or North Charleston office locations.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.