Do Semi-Truck Accidents Go to Trial?

Accident cases involving big-rig trucks are often high-value claims. When semi tractor-trailers go out of control on the highways, there are often multiple victims. Local communities can be evacuated when the accident involves tanker trucks that leak hazardous chemicals or create explosive conditions.

The potential for damage in a truck accident is enormous. The ultimate result of this scenario is that claims are often taken to court for a variety of reasons by both parties. They are also often very complicated cases that involve elements of negligence on the part of all drivers, which means that competing versions of events can be common.

This means that the confusion must be kept to a minimum by plaintiff legal representatives who are focused on the material case facts regarding their clients when dealing with the trucking company and their insurance provider.

When the Defendant Wants a Trial

Most truck injury claims begin by filing a claim with the shipping company or independent owner-operator and waiting for a response from their insurance company. Insurance companies are required by law to investigate all accident claims immediately, but this is usually conducted in a manner that benefits the company.

A commercial trucking insurance company is focused on finding evidence indicating comparative negligence by other drivers. This means their settlement amounts could be reduced significantly when they can shift fault. The same applies to the trucking company and the truck driver’s insurance company as well in certain cases.

Scales of justice and a legal gavel

This sets the stage for the respondents to determine a claim value or deny the claim based on comparative negligence, which then results in the case going to court.

When the Injured Victim Wants a Trial

Many times truck accident victims will want a full trial with the hope of an equitable settlement award in serious accidents. This is especially true with fatal accident claims.

Fatalities are common in truck accident cases in Texas, and the Texas Department of Transportation statistics bear this out. Plaintiffs usually want a trial when potential punitive damages could be available based on the elements of the claim and material case facts.

These cases are typically total liability cases or 50/50 driver fault cases that cannot be negotiated successfully through the claim submission process. A trial where all of the facts are laid out coherently will give a sympathetic jury an opportunity to assign financial or punitive damages.

Comparative Negligence in Texas

Texas uses a modified comparative negligence law that could potentially result in a truck accident victim being denied any financial recovery following an accident. Comparative negligence is assessed in a percentage following a trial by the jury based on the evidence presented by the legal representatives.

An injured driver’s comparative negligence percentage can have a major impact on the value of the claim in both personal injury and wrongful death cases. This is because the percentage is used to discount the total amount of financial benefits that are allowed after the total damages are calculated.

A large pile of dollars

Truck accident cases are often high-value cases with multiple liable parties, and even a small percentage can impact a claim’s value considerably.

Avoiding a Trial in a Truck Accident Claim

The reality is that most truck accident cases are settled well before going to court. The possibility of a trial is usually what spurs the respondent insurance companies and shippers to settle cases, and especially when the shipping company or the company who ordered the cargo on the semi want to avoid an expensive liability award.

According to one Dallas truck accident lawyer, time is of the essence in these cases because complications can arise over the course of the lawsuit, and witnesses’ memories may fade. The sooner you begin working with an attorney, the more likely you will be to get fair and adequate compensation.

Truck accidents are indeed the worst of all vehicle crashes, and having the right attorney handling your case is vital for a full and equitable settlement. It is essential to have an experienced trial attorney representing the case who understands what to expect as a defense from the respondent parties.

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