Tractor trailer accidents are on the rise, despite increased legislation in the past decade. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities in accidents involving large trucks — those weighing more than 10,000 pounds — rose by 36% from 2010 to 2019. In New Jersey, the number of people killed in truck crashes grew 50% in the same time frame. Because injuries in truck accidents are often severe, victims are forced to contend with high medical bills, lost income and long-term disabilities.
Because of the complexity of a truck accident claim and the severity of injuries, many injured victims choose to hire a truck accident lawyer to represent their best interests in the negotiation process with insurance companies and at-fault parties. Although many truck accident claims are settled out-of-court, truck accident cases may be more likely to go to trial given what is at stake. In some cases, the at-fault party will be determined but the insurance company will dispute the extent of the plaintiff’s losses/damages. Settling a New Jersey truck accident case can take a long time, and a trial will take even longer. There are pros and cons to accepting a settlement or taking your case to trial.
What’s the Difference Between a Settlement Versus Trial Verdict?
Settlement agreements emerge from alternative dispute resolution approaches such as mediation, negotiation, or arbitration. The different parties eventually come to an agreement about compensation and the injured victim receives the agreed upon settlement amount. It is possible and in your best interest to hire a personal injury attorney who specializes in truck accidents to represent you in settlement negotiations.
In a trial verdict, the truck accident case is litigated in a civil court where a jury will decide if the defendant is at fault and how much should be awarded in compensatory damages. A trial verdict may also include punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant for cases of egregious negligence.
Benefits of Negotiating a Settlement
The biggest advantage of agreeing to a settlement is that it will take less time to receive payout than going to trial. That being said, you should never accept the first offer an insurance company throws your way. A fair settlement will still take time and require the expertise of a truck accident attorney.
Some injured victims are nervous and apprehensive about a courtroom experience. Settlement discussions take place outside the courtroom so the proceedings may not feel as intimidating.
Many truck accidents involve multi-party liability. That is, more than one person or entity may bear some responsibility and liability for the accident. In these complex situations, settlement discussions may not produce a fair agreement and require thorough litigation.
Disadvantages of a Settlement
Although avoiding a lengthy court case seems appealing, taking your case to a jury trial could result in higher awards for compensation. Additionally, once you accept a settlement offer, you give up all rights to make any other legal claims against the defendant(s) regarding the accident. Even if you incur more medical bills down the road or realize the extent of your injury goes beyond what you expected, you cannot file a claim to further compensation and you cannot take the case trial afterward.
For some injured victims, it’s important to them that the defendants admit fault or that the settlement is made public. When you accept a settlement offer, keep in mind that usually that offer is not made public and the at-fault parties do not admit fault.
Understanding Your Options
A truck accident lawyer can help you understand the potential liable parties and evidence available in your case. They can advise you on the likelihood of a trial, settlement options and how long your case may take to wind through the legal system. Settling a New Jersey truck accident case requires patience and perseverance. That doesn’t mean you should be dissuaded from getting the justice you deserve and compensation for the damages you’ve suffered.
Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, our attorneys can help. At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are by your side throughout the entire process. With our proven track record of success, we can get you the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.