What to Do After a Truck Accident: Timeline of a Trucking Accident Lawsuit

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
December 12, 2022
A truck driving in the fog in the middle of the night.
After a semi-truck or tractor trailer accident, hiring an attorney can help expedite the legal process. A lawyer’s skill can also maximize the amount of compensation you’re awarded. You only have one opportunity to file your claim — make it count with proven truck accident attorneys.

After a commercial trucking crash, individuals and their immediate family members are often left wondering what to do after a semi-truck accident. Once the initial emergency steps are taken — calling the police, going to the hospital, and notifying your insurance company — a lawyer can help.

While you focus on healing and getting your life back on track, your truck accident lawyer from the Smith Law Center can investigate the crash, secure evidence, and build the case needed for negotiation. When dealing with insurance companies and the businesses that own the cargo, supply the truck, or employ the driver, you are far more likely to walk away with a substantial settlement when you have a legal professional by your side.

To discuss the specifics of your truck accident and the legal options you may have, contact our Hampton attorneys today online or by calling (757) 244-7000. To learn more about what it takes to resolve a truck accident case, the timeline of a lawsuit, and common commercial vehicle accident procedures, read on.

What to Do After a Semi-Truck Accident: Commercial Vehicle Accident Procedures

At the scene of an accident, it may be helpful to take photos if you are able. However, in many cases involving massive tractor trailer vehicles, the injured person is in critical condition — unable to give a statement, or potentially unconscious. This is where calling a lawyer on behalf of your loved one can be essential, because an attorney can visit the crash site and gather important evidence, all while you prioritize emergency matters.

Once the injured person is stabilized, or for the family members acting on their behalf, here are some important guidelines regarding what to do after a semi-truck accident:

  • Exercise your right to privacy: You are not obligated to disclose any information related to how the accident happened or who may be at fault before speaking with an attorney. A lawyer can accompany you when making statements to the police, and can speak on your behalf with insurance or trucking company representatives, who may try to discourage you regarding your rights to sue.
  • Write down all that you remember: Any details you remember about the accident in the immediate aftermath should be privately recorded on paper or electronically. These details can slip away quickly from memory, especially if you are worried about serious medical concerns like traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord damage.
  • Save all relevant information: This includes insurance information, names of witnesses, copies of the police report, bills or receipts, and medical records of treatment. All of these documents can be handed to your lawyer for safekeeping and utilized to build the strongest possible case for your benefit.

Keep in mind that while you are processing the accident, there are truck driver accident procedures underway as well. They will be recording their version of events, consulting with their employer, and may be receiving legal advice from company lawyers associated with the truck fleet or the cargo being transported.

The truck driver may have been trained in what to do after an accident, whereas you and your family may feel completely in the dark about what is happening. Consult with an attorney of your own to stay informed and to protect your rights. Remember that all legal aspects of a truck accident then become your lawyer’s job to handle, not yours.

Contact the Smith Law Center at (757) 244-7000 for a free consultation as soon as possible. You do not have to deal with this alone, and in many instances, your lawyer can take on all the work so that you can rest and recover.

What to Do After an 18-Wheeler Accident: Lawsuit Timeline

Once you’ve secured an attorney and decided to pursue a legal claim, here is a general outline of a truck accident lawsuit timeline:

  1. Investigation and discovery: Once a lawsuit is filed, this is the window of time in which both sides are able to compile evidence and demand information (known as discovery).
  2. Demand and offer negotiations: Once your lawyer sends a demand letter outlining the funds you deserve, the trucking company or other liable parties may make a settlement offer. You may be able to negotiate that amount in consultation with your attorney. If no offer is made or if the offer is unacceptably low, your lawyer can take the necessary steps to secure fair compensation in court.
  3. Trial: If a fair agreement cannot be reached pre-trial, then the lawsuit can go before a judge or jury. However, you may not have to wait for a full trial to take place, as the vast majority (roughly 95%) of personal injury cases are settled pre- or mid-trial.

Judges and juries have the ability to award additional compensation with verdicts that go far beyond what most companies would agree to pay. When selecting an attorney, ask about their trial experience. A trial lawyer will have the skills necessary to call the other side’s bluff, and see your case through to a verdict if that’s what it takes to secure what you’re owed.

The lawyers at the Smith Law Center will not settle for less; if the trucking company representatives refuse to meet our client’s needs, then we are fully prepared to go before a judge and make your case.

How Long After a Truck Accident Do I Have to Sue?

The filing deadline for semi-truck accident cases varies from state to state. In Virginia, where the Smith Law Center is headquartered in Hampton, that deadline is two years from the date of the crash.

The sooner you empower a truck accident lawyer to handle your case, the better. We can meet all the required deadlines on your behalf, and work to secure the funds you need in a timely manner. Compensation for tractor trailer truck accidents may include:

  • Medical bills and the cost of all past and future therapeutic care
  • Loss of income, earning capacity, employment, or job-related benefits like health insurance
  • Pain and suffering costs, including psychological anguish and conditions like PTSD
  • Property repair and replacement costs
  • Wrongful death damages for the families members who have lost a loved one’s financial support and their irreplaceable companionship

The amount of damages you receive depends greatly on the skill and experience of your attorney, especially for non-itemized losses like traumatic side effects such as depression. The Smith Law Center is a family firm founded in 1949, one of the longest-operating firms in Virginia. We have achieved landmark setting results for clients in areas like brain injury litigation.

Client Testimonial
My accident in 2015 changed my life drastically. My cognitive function was hugely impaired. The headaches were quite severe. There was a ray of hope when I contacted The Smith Law Center. Every one of my phone calls was met with reassurance; I felt supported beyond measure. [...] Thanks to the efforts of this dynamic team, I have peace of mind. If I ever need an attorney again, the Smith Law Center will be my one and only contact.
--- Marybeth

After a Crash, Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

The most important thing you can do for your own protection and peace of mind after a semi-truck, motorcycle, or car accident is to contact a qualified attorney to help you. So much of what must be done after a collision can be helped with a lawyer’s guidance, or handled entirely by the firm while you prioritize your own well-being.

Additionally, those who are represented by counsel for a truck accident lawsuit are 91% likely to achieve a settlement, as opposed to 51% for unrepresented suits. Those settlement amounts also average 300% higher for those with an experienced attorney vs. those who opted to do the legal work themselves.

At the Smith Law Center, we only earn our fee if we deliver for you. This means that you have an enormous amount to gain by choosing our firm — time, peace of mind, proven experience, and statistically higher results — and nothing to lose.

Contact us online or call our Hampton offices directly at (757) 244-7000. We are here to help you through these difficult times to a better, dignified future.

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About Smith Law Center

Our lawyers are more than lawyers. They are people who understand your injuries and the law that surrounds your options when it comes to holding others accountable.

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