This is the next post in a series of articles discussing common issues in trucking accident cases in Fort Worth, Texas. The previous article provided an overview of the topics to be addressed throughout this series. It also stressed the importance of retaining an attorney with personal injury trial experience to represent your interests. This post will review the process victims and their families can expect following the occurrence of a serious accident. Given the serious injuries that often arise in these cases and complex legal theories involved, the importance of knowledgeable counsel cannot be overemphasized. If you or a loved one have been in a trucking accident, we recommend that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
When an automobile accident occurs involving non-commercial passenger vehicles, the plaintiff typically makes a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company to recover damages. On the other hand, accidents involving commercial vehicles often involve multiple potential defendants. One of the first tasks your attorney will undertake is to identify all potential defendants and their respective insurance companies. These can include the driver of the vehicle, the owner or lessor of the truck, and the driver’s employer among others. Consider for example, an accident involving a national trucking company. The company may lease fleets of trucks from various truck owners in different areas of the country. They may employ their own drivers or subcontract drivers from a third party. Depending upon the facts of the case, the national company, truck owner, driver, and the driver’s employer may be responsible parties. Once identified, the lawyer will provide a notice of representation to each defendant’s insurer. Ultimately, the victim’s attorney will provide each of the relevant insurance companies with a demand letter, setting forth the types and amounts of damages being sought.
While the attorney is investigating the accident and identifying the defendants, medical professionals will review the victim’s medical prognosis. The prognosis must be reasonably ascertained before damages can be calculated. Depending upon the severity of the injuries sustained, this may be a lengthy process. For example, a victim’s condition may require multiple surgeries or long-term treatments before a physician can assess the ultimate impact on the victim. Once the prognosis is available, experts will review the case to estimate past and future medical bills, lost wages and the future financial impact the injuries may have on the victim’s earning potential. This process may involve the physicians, vocational experts, economists, occupational experts, and more. As stated above, once damages have been calculated, the attorney will submit the demand letter to the insurance companies.
The insurance adjusters and attorneys will attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement based on the information contained in the demand letter. The insurers may also retain their own experts to review the prognosis to support a counter-offer. If the parties are unable to settle, then the case will proceed to trial. We suggest retaining a law firm with the in-house resources to engage the appropriate experts and conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf. We also recommend a firm with multiple attorneys who are Board Certified in Personal Injury Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. This is true if the accident occurs in Fort Worth, Dallas, or elsewhere in Texas.