After a serious truck accident, here’s the plain and simple truth: you should find a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. After a truck crash, large trucking companies will dispatch lawyers directly to the scene of the crash that day or night to gain control of important evidence.
Although the law in Ohio gives you 2 years from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit, you will have to act much sooner than that to gather the evidence to prove your case. A good truck accident lawyer will immediately start gathering evidence and make sure that the trucking company or their insurance company cannot destroy evidence.
A good truck accident lawyer will also help make sure you receive the compensation you need to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages so you can get back on your feet. Not hiring a lawyer can put your case at risk, and there’s simply too much at stake.
However, there are certainly times when accident victims don’t immediately find a lawyer, often because they don’t yet understand the extent of their injuries or the extent of the expenses related to those injuries. Then, once they do realize they should have pursued compensation after the accident, it can cause them to scramble to figure out if they still have time or if it’s too late.
If this is you, Colombo Law is here to help answer your questions and discuss your options.
While there is a legal limit to how long you have to file a lawsuit after a truck accident, some exceptions may apply. Also, even if there is still time left to file your suit, it’s still very important not to delay getting in touch with an attorney.
Below we take a look at the time limitations surrounding truck accident cases, along with some of the other things you should consider if you are the victim of an accident. But first, if you have been in a truck accident and are investigating your options, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free case review to discuss your situation and get the help you need.
Statute of Limitations for Truck Accident Claims in Ohio
According to the Ohio Revised Code section 2305.10, you have 2 years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit. However, there are a few exceptions.
One is when there is a wrongful death, in which case the 2-year time limit starts from the date of the victim passing away instead of the date of the accident. However, many wrongful death cases also have a “survival action” that goes along with it for damages sustained prior to a victim’s unfortunate death – the statute of limitations may be different for the “survival action” and the wrongful death case. Another is when a minor is injured, in which case the statute of limitations might be “tolled” until the minor turns 18.
In most cases, however, if you attempt to file a lawsuit for compensation after 2 years have passed from the date of the accident, your case will be dismissed by Ohio courts.
That said, the only way you can know for sure is to explain the details of your situation to an experienced truck accident attorney. Both the law and precedent – meaning what has happened in past cases like your own – will be important to consider.
Why You Should File Suit Sooner, Not Later
While you do technically have 2 years to file your suit, it’s important to remember that it takes time to do the investigative work necessary to prepare your case.
This includes elements such as:
- Compiling evidence: Finding all the evidence you might need to win a truck accident case can take some time, largely because of the many parties that can be involved in truck accident cases. This includes truck drivers, trucking companies, and truck parts manufacturers, among others. If, for example, you are injured in an accident because a truck driver was driving longer hours than allowed by law, we will need to determine if this was something the trucking company had been encouraging – or forcing – their drivers to do. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) is the federal government agency responsible for regulating trucking companies and their drivers. A truck accident lawyer will need to be in contact with the FMCSA early to obtain very important information about the trucking company’s safety history and any investigation into your crash, including violations found by the FMCSA.
- Interviewing witnesses: Accidents can happen quickly and without warning, meaning it can be difficult for those involved in the accident to know what exactly took place. On top of this, the at-fault party and the accident victim will have differing perspectives. Your case can be greatly strengthened if you can interview witnesses who support your version of events and show that you were not responsible for what happened.
- Calculating damages: A significant part of developing a case is figuring out how much compensation you should demand. It’s not simply about adding up all of your bills. That said, we need to make sure that you can defend every dollar, whether it be medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, or even punitive damages. There are a lot of factors involved here, including expert witnesses when calculating future medical expenses and legal precedent when calculating pain and suffering damages.
Preparation is the key to winning truck accident cases. All of these elements of the investigation take time, which is why it is so important to hire a lawyer sooner rather than later.
What to Expect During Truck Accident Litigation
Depending on the case, your truck accident attorney may make a claim with the appropriate insurance companies, after which they may offer you a settlement amount. Ideally, you and your lawyer will be able to obtain the compensation you deserve at this point. If not, you will need to file a lawsuit to pursue a judgment in your favor.
Generally, this part of the litigation process will include a few key steps:
- Discovery: The discovery process is when lawyers from both sides can request documentation pertaining to the accident. This may include driver logs, maintenance records, background checks, and much more. This documentation can be used as evidence to help support your case.
- Negotiation: Before a case goes to trial, it will often go through settlement negotiations or mediation first. During this step, the parties involved and their attorneys will attempt to come to an agreement on a settlement amount. Again, if it’s possible to reach a fair and reasonable settlement at this stage, it’s ideal. However, you should certainly work with an attorney who is willing to take your case to trial if you are unable to reach a satisfactory settlement amount.
- Trial: If you can’t come to an agreement, your case will continue to trial. During trial, your attorney will present your argument, including supporting evidence and witnesses, after which a jury will deliberate to decide if you should receive compensation and – if so – how much.
Truck accident litigation can be a lengthy, complicated process, but the good news is that your attorney will do the heavy lifting while you focus on recovering.
What You Stand to Lose If You Don’t File on Time
If you don’t file on time, chances are your case will be dismissed outright. This means that you will be unable to receive any compensation for the accident and will have no help paying for the damages you have endured because of it.
That’s a harsh reality for any accident victim who didn’t pursue compensation immediately after an accident, and the exact reason it is so important to hire a truck accident attorney as soon as possible – even if your injuries don’t initially seem serious.
After all, many injuries – such as traumatic brain injuries and whiplash – may not show significant symptoms at the scene. But then, over time, the seriousness becomes more obvious.
How an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
As you can see, there is no shortage of complexity in truck accident cases. You will be dealing with highly skilled insurance lawyers who are more concerned about their bottom line than they are about providing what you deserve in compensation.
For most people, this can be extremely overwhelming. These attorneys are very good at making you feel like you don’t have options and simply have to take their “best offer” even if, in fact, you deserve much more.
That’s why you need an experienced, proven attorney who can fight for your rights and even the playing field.
At Colombo Law, not only can we offer our experience and legal expertise, but we can also do all the legwork involved in preparing a truck accident case while you focus on what really matters – getting better.
Don’t Delay: Contact Colombo Law TODAY
We can’t stress enough how important it is to get started as quickly as possible. There’s simply too much at stake to wait.
If you’d like to speak with a truck accident attorney at Colombo Law for a free case review, please call (614) 362-7000 or contact us online today. Our lawyers serve clients in Columbus and nearby areas of Ohio.