When a large truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the occupants of the passenger vehicle often suffer catastrophic, even fatal, injuries. Filing a lawsuit against the negligent party, or parties, is often the only way to ensure that a victim is fully and fairly compensated for those injuries or loss.
Trucking Accident Injuries
For the victim of a trucking accident, life may never be the same again. Along with debilitating physical injuries, a victim may also suffer emotional trauma and financial hardship for many years to come. When a collision results in fatal injuries, the surviving family members may suffer emotionally and financially for the rest of their lives. If the truck was responsible, partially or wholly, for the crash, the victims may be entitled to compensation for those injuries. While no amount of money is worth suffering life-altering injuries or losing a loved one, compensation can help ease the victim’s suffering. In addition, the at fault party should be held accountable for the negligent acts or omissions that caused, or contributed, to the collision.
Filing a Lawsuit — Statute of Limitations
Contrary to what many people believe, most personal injury accident claims never become actual lawsuits. The reason for this is that the majority of them are settled out of court without the need to file a lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is filed, the costs involved increase exponentially for both the victim and the defendant, providing ample incentive to settle claims before a lawsuit is actually filed. It is, however, imperative to be aware of the statute of limitations for your type of lawsuit. A statute of limitations (SOL) is the time frame, determined by the state, within which you must begin legal action.
Because a trucking accident is a type of personal injury claim, the applicable SOL in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is two years. If you are the surviving spouse or family member of someone who was killed in a trucking accident you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit which also has a SOL of two years in Pennsylvania. This means you must file the lawsuit within that two year time period. It does not mean you must conclude the lawsuit within that time period. Failing to file within the SOL effectively waives your right to ever pursue compensation from the defendant. Consequently, if the SOL is looming in the near future, and a settlement has not yet been reached, your attorney should file a lawsuit to preserve your rights.
Note: If you believe that the negligence of a governmental entity was responsible for the accident, you must put that entity on notice of your intent to make a claim for damages early on. The time frame for providing a Notice of Claim, which is not the same as a SOL, is often as short as 30 days.
Filing a Lawsuit – Who Is the Defendant?
One of the most important considerations when filing a lawsuit is determining who to sue. In a trucking accident, deciding who to name as the defendant(s) is often much more complicated than in the average passenger vehicle collision because the negligent party could be any one, or a combination, of the following:
- Trucking company
- Owner of the cargo
- Truck manufacturer
- Company responsible for maintenance/repairs
Typically, when a victim is unsure whose negligence actually caused the accident, all possible negligent parties are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Not surprisingly, the defendants often blame each other initially. Using the tools available during the discovery process of the litigation, however, it usually becomes clear who the negligent party (or parties) is.
If you were recently injured, or lost a loved one, in a trucking accident, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced trucking accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.