How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Truck Accident?

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Truck accidents can be traumatic experiences that result in significant damages and serious injuries. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can tip the scales at 80,000 pounds, far outweighing even the largest SUV. If you’ve had a collision with a truck that resulted in physical injuries, you may face years of medical care, physical pain, emotional trauma and lost income.

As overwhelming as these accidents often are, it can be difficult to know what steps to take after a truck collision and what legal options are available to you for recovering your losses. A personal injury lawyer who has experience with tractor-trailer accidents can help you navigate the insurance and legal landscape. When you enlist an attorney to handle your claim, the lawyer can ensure your claim is filed on time.

What To Do Immediately After a Truck Accident

Police reports indicate that of the 510,000 large truck accidents in 2019, 114,000 crashes led to injuries, and 4,479 accidents caused fatalities. When you have an accident that involves a truck, gathering as much evidence as possible, as quickly as possible, is critical to backing up your claim when you file. In a truck crash, several parties may be responsible for your injuries. Having the right evidence helps to determine which individuals or entities are liable.

If you have a collision with a large truck, contacting law enforcement may be a good idea. The police talk to witnesses and those involved in the accident and write up a report. You and your attorney both have access to the report. However, you may want to collect contact information from witnesses and take photos and videos of the scene, if possible. Your attorney can interview the witnesses and use the images or videos to help build your case.

Seeking medical attention right away is crucial. If emergency medical personnel arrive at the scene, allowing them to examine you ensures you have evidence of immediate care. If emergency services don’t come to the scene, you may want to visit a clinic or make an appointment with your doctor. Establishing a record of your injuries right away gives the at-fault party little room to argue that you did not sustain your injuries in the truck accident.

When To Contact an Attorney

The sooner you contact a truck accident attorney, the sooner the lawyer can get to work obtaining evidence to support your claim. If you sustained serious injuries in the crash, a family member may contact an attorney on your behalf.

The truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurance company will likely contact you to get you to tell the claims adjuster about the accident. You do not need to speak to them. Often, people inadvertently make a statement that provides the insurer with leverage to reduce or deny their claim. When it comes to the truck driver’s insurance company, let a practiced truck accident lawyer do the talking for you.

You may also receive a settlement offer from the at-fault driver. The insurance company makes a quick offer hoping that the money will entice you to agree to it. You can be reasonably sure that the amount they offer will not be sufficient to cover your losses or compensate you for pain and suffering. While you may be able to settle out of court, a personal injury lawyer has the knowledge and skills needed to negotiate with the insurance companies.

What To Know About the Timeline for Filing a Lawsuit

Your first route for pursuing compensation is through the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In a truck accident, you may also deal with insurance providers for:

  • Trucking company
  • Cargo loaders
  • Truck manufacturer
  • Government entities

Any of these parties may be liable in a truck accident, complicating the claims process. If you attempt to manage your claim, you may get bogged down in the complexities involved in establishing fault.

When the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement, you may need to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Every state implements a statute of limitations for personal injury cases.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations refers to a legal deadline for filing lawsuits. State governments establish these deadlines through legislative action in common laws, codes or statutes, and they apply to criminal and civil cases. The statute of limitations varies for each type of case. If you have an accident with a truck and sustain injuries, the personal and property injury statutes are relevant for your claim.

Michigan’s Compiled State Laws dictate that a person who wishes to file a lawsuit for damages to property or personal injury has three years to do so. Three years may seem like plenty of time, but when dealing with insurance companies and recovering from your injuries, the time can pass quickly. The three-year time limit begins the day of the accident.

Are There Any Exceptions to the 3-Year Limit?

It’s important to note that the statute of limitations is for lawsuits and does not have any bearing on your insurance claim. However, it’s easy for people to lose track of time when pursuing an insurance settlement for their accident. Losing track of time and missing the lawsuit deadline have serious consequences.

If you attempt to file with the courts after the deadline, the defendant’s attorney will invariably submit a motion to dismiss the case because the statute of limitations has passed. The court will grant the dismissal, regardless of your reasons or how severe your injuries are. States usually have a few exceptions to the statute of limitations written into their laws. In Michigan, and most other states, the exceptions include:

  • Cases that involve a minor: In this situation, the victim has a year after turning 18 to file a lawsuit.
  • Cases involving victims who have an emotional or mental impairment that prevent them from comprehending their legal rights: As with a minor, the victims have to file a suit within one year after recovering from the impairment.
  • Cases involving a defendant who leaves the state before being served with the lawsuit: The defendant must be gone for more than two months for this exception to apply.

Other states may have additional exceptions, such as those granted to military personnel called up for duty. These exceptions temporarily stop the deadline countdown clock.

How Working With a Truck Accident Attorney Benefits You

Hiring an attorney with proven experience with truck accident cases provides you with the legal support you need to navigate the legal and insurance landscape. Truck accident lawyers understand insurance and personal injury law. They can assess the specifics of your case and offer guidance on how to proceed based on the case’s merits.

Personal injury lawyers also:

  • Negotiate with insurance providers
  • Gather evidence to build your case
  • File your legal paperwork
  • Negotiate with the defendant’s attorneys
  • Represent you in court

Personal injury attorneys are also accustomed to working within the statute of limitations deadlines and making sure their clients’ cases are filed on time.

Where To Find an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney

If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, the Mike Morse Law Firm team is here to help. We are Michigan’s largest personal injury law firm, and we have the experience you need for a truck accident case. We’re available 24/7 to answer your questions, so feel free to reach out any time. Get in touch with our offices for a free consultation.

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