Settling 18-Wheeler Truck Accident Cases
Beyond ordinary traffic collisions, accidents involving 18-wheelers are not quick and simple to resolve. What is involved in prosecuting and defending these cases, and how can clients achieve maximum compensation?
Experienced personal injury attorney Greg Baumgartner offers his insights.
How long does it generally take to settle an 18-wheeler truck accident case? What does the process for this typically look like?
Accidents involving big rigs always take longer than accidents involving personal vehicles. One reason for this is that the severity of the injury is usually much greater after colliding with a truck weighing up to 80,000 pounds. A more severe injury usually requires extended medical treatment, thus requiring more time to prove a claim.
Another factor is that trucking companies carry commercial policies, and those insurance companies are not known for acting quickly after an accident. Because the policies are commercial, the fight over fair compensation can take longer.
The process starts with an initial investigation to establish liability and the evidence necessary to prove the case. If the claim involves severe injury or wrongful death, the process usually requires litigation before the claim can be resolved. However, a large percentage of truck accidents settle before the jury renders a verdict.
Does the settlement process vary between car accidents and truck accidents? If so, please explain in what ways this occurs.
Unlike a typical car accident, a truck accident usually involves filing a lawsuit. Unless liability is crystal clear and damages undisputed, expert witnesses are typically needed to help explain the circumstances to a jury. Those witnesses would be experts in accident reenactment, life care planners and doctors who will talk about the injuries and how the injuries impact the victim’s future.
Accidents involving big rigs always take longer than accidents involving personal vehicles.
Auto accidents are settled by adjusters that have many open files at one time, and most do not involve permanent damages. Because trucking cases are more complex and usually involve more severe injuries, they take longer.
What factors often complicate an 18-wheeler accident settlement?
Even in crystal clear cases, victims can expect a defense to be offered, and some of the better truck accident insurance defense attorneys are very good at coming up with defenses. In states like Texas, liability is apportioned, and there is a huge incentive to try to blame the victim.
Also, Texas has recently passed a law that limits the evidence a personal injury attorney can initially introduce into a trial against the trucking company stemming from a truck accident.
How do you help your clients achieve the maximum level of compensation?
For over three decades, we have been helping victims of truck accidents. We remain undefeated. Taking advantage of our experience and proven method of maximizing compensation has been a big reason why many defense lawyers refer truck accidents to our firm for handling.
What parts of your job do you find most rewarding? What parts are most challenging?
The relationship with my clients is the best part of my personal injury practice. Going through a trial can create a special bond. When a client I represented decades ago calls, it is the highlight of my week!
The most challenging part of a personal injury practice is the pressure you feel when your client is severely injured and you are their only hope.
What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue a career in personal injury law?
I always recommend that those going to law school clerk and get exposure to as many types of law as they can. Personal injury litigation is not for everyone, but for those who choose this path, it can be financially beneficial and personally rewarding in the relationships developed with your clients.
For those with entrepreneurial inclinations, personal injury may be a good fit. Because the cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, a personal injury lawyer must put money at risk in every case. Overall, I highly recommend personal injury as an option for new attorneys.
Greg Baumgartner, Founder
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, Texas 77069
Tel: +1 281-587-1111
Greg Baumgartner is a personal injury attorney and the founder of Baumgartner Law Firm. With more than 35 years’ worth of experience, Greg’s mission statement is to provide the highest quality legal representation to victims who have been severely injured or who have lost family and loved ones to accidents.
Baumgartner Law Firm is a personal injury law firm based in Houston, Texas. Founded in 1985, the firm takes only serious injury and wrongful death cases and has been recognized by Newsweek, Super Lawyers, Top 100 Trial Lawyers and many other bodies.