One of the first questions that many truck accident victims ask after leaving the hospital is, “How long do I have to file a lawsuit after a truck accident?” Considering that in 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that almost 475,000 truck accidents occurred nationwide, knowing the answer becomes quite important. However, the answer depends on where the accident happened, since each state sets a different time limit called the statute of limitations.
However long you have, you might want to speak with a truck accident lawyer about your case as soon as possible. The more time you give an attorney to gather evidence and build a case, the more likely they will file your lawsuit before the deadline expires.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party, including after a truck accident. Every state has a statute of limitations for different causes of action (the basis for a lawsuit). In your case, the causes of action include personal injury and property damage.
The statute of limitations varies by state and cause of action. For example, the deadline for personal injury claims ranges from one year (Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee) to six years (Maine, New Jersey, and North Dakota). Property damage suits typically have a more extended filing deadline—only Louisiana limits you to one year, while 11 states allow either five or six years.
You must file your lawsuit by the deadline, and the timer starts the day of the accident. You want to make sure that you begin the process as soon as possible to ensure that you have enough time to build a strong case and file in time.
Understanding Your Rights
If you suffered injuries in an accident with a truck, you have the right to file personal injury and property damage lawsuits. By doing so, you can collect financial compensation from the truck driver, the company that employs them, and perhaps other third parties who might have liability for the accident. That compensation helps with expenses such as medical bills and car repairs that your insurance does not cover. This distinction is especially crucial in no-fault states, where you must first file with your insurance company for your injuries.
According to The Balance, you have the option of filing a claim with your insurance company or, in traditional liability states, the insurance company of the at-fault party. If you file with your insurance company, this is called a first-party claim. Your insurance company can pay the cost of your expenses up to the coverage limit of your policy. Otherwise, you can file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Either way, you could collect a significant amount of compensation depending on the severity of your injuries and property damage.
Truck accidents can become more complicated in terms of liability because many truck drivers are employees of the company that owns and operates the truck. In crashes where the driver was on the job, you could hold the trucking company liable for the damages resulting from an accident they cause. Thus, your lawsuit will likely include the company as well as the truck driver.
The trucking company probably has liability insurance coverage, meaning that you can file a claim with that insurance company. Working with a truck accident lawyer can make this process easier since insurance companies have a vested interest in minimizing payouts. Your attorney can negotiate a settlement that gets you enough compensation to cover your expenses.
Another wrinkle in truck accident cases comes when manufacturing defects or equipment failure plays a part in causing the collision. In these situations, you could bring into your claim service companies, truck parts manufacturers, or even the truck manufacturer. A truck accident lawyer can determine whether third parties have any liability for your injuries after investigating your crash.
Truck accidents can result in medical expenses that place an immense strain on your finances. Although most medical facilities embrace payment plans with extremely low rates, you likely will get stuck with large medical bills that take years to pay off. Some of the expenses that you might have to deal with include:
- Emergency medical care: Emergency room visits and ambulance transportation can become expensive. Combined with a lengthy hospital stay, you might end up with a medical bill that exceeds $10,000.
- Specialist care: If you develop a temporary or permanent condition because of the accident, you might need to see a specialist for ongoing medical care. Your insurance policy might not cover specialist care.
- Physical therapy: In some cases, accident victims need physical therapy and rehabilitation to recover fully. Physical therapy is an ongoing and expensive care method that you may have to pay out of pocket.
This list does not exhaust the medical expenses you might have to pay following a severe truck accident. Many victims decide to file a lawsuit because of the weight of these expenses. You can discuss your case with a truck accident attorney before making a final decision on taking legal action.
When you file a lawsuit, you will include claims for compensation. You would base each claim either on itemized bills and invoices related to your accident or, with non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, a lawyer can use a formula to calculate their value.
Document as many of your expenses as possible so that an attorney can develop a more accurate idea of how much to request as compensation. Also, include projections of what your ongoing care needs might become. That way, you ask for enough to cover all your expenses, both current and future.
Contact Us Today
If you want to know how long you have to file a lawsuit after a truck accident, you could discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer. They can provide information specific to your case, including when the statute of limitations might run out. Call the offices of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 223-5115 for a free consultation regarding your case.