If you or a loved one experiences a car or truck accident, it can change your life in a split second. It can leave you with vehicle damage, medical bills, lost wages, and a very stressful situation—mainly if it wasn’t your fault. You can usually file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurance company. However, sometimes you need to file a lawsuit.
You may feel confused and lost, but you aren’t alone in this situation. Based on the latest statistics from the National Safety Council, 107,000 accidents involving large trucks caused injuries in 2020. This led to some lawyers specializing solely in helping truck accident victims.
Personal injury lawyers would help you navigate a lawsuit if you suffered injuries from an accident involving a commercial truck. They can help you obtain a settlement offer or be awarded damages. If you have questions, such as “how long do I have to file my lawsuit,” contact The Personal Injury Center today. We can help you out.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations in Filing a Lawsuit After a Truck Accident?
The time limit when you can file a lawsuit after suffering injuries from a truck accident varies by state. The statute of limitations dictates how long you have to file after the date of the accident, which can change depending on the laws of your state.
Most US states have a two-year limitation on all wrongful death claims in truck accidents. For example, while North Dakota has a two-year limit on wrongful death claims, it has a six-year limitation on claims related to bodily injury (from the injury date or when it could have been reasonably discovered).
The limitation period can be extended if the victim had a legal disability or was a minor at the time of the incident. Generally, if both parties agree, the time allotted for filing an accident lawsuit may be shortened or lengthened.
|Statute of Limitations for Every State in the US|
|1 Year||KentuckyLouisiana Tennessee|
|2 Years||Alabama Alaska ArizonaCaliforniaColorado DelawareGeorgiaHawaii Idaho IllinoisIndianaIowa Kansas NevadaNew Jersey Ohio OklahomaOregonPennsylvania TexasVirginia West Virginia|
|3 Years||ArkansasConnecticut MarylandMassachusettsMichigan Mississippi MontanaNew HampshireNew Mexico New YorkNorth CarolinaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaVermontWashingtonWisconsin|
|4 Years||FloridaNebraskaUtah Wyoming|
|6 Years||MaineMinnesotaNorth Dakota (*2 years in wrongful death)|
What Factors Could Affect the Statute of Limitations?
Certain factors may shorten or extend the time limit by which an accident victim must file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident with a commercial truck.
Factors That Will Extend the Statute of Limitations
If the defendant in your personal injury claim leaves the state, the clock on the statute of limitations pauses until they return. This occasionally allows plaintiffs to file a lawsuit years after the date of the accident.
The plaintiff must be aware of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. Occasionally, injuries from a car accident won’t be discovered until months, or even years, after the event, especially in the case of internal injuries.
If you find out about an injury after the statute of limitations, a one-year statute of limitations will begin upon discovering the injury the accident has caused.
Exceptions to the time frame include the plaintiff being under 18 years old at the time of the accident or having a mental or physical disability.
Factors That Will Shorten the Statute of Limitations
While it is unusual to shorten the statute of limitations, it may happen if you’re attempting to bring a lawsuit against a government agency. In this instance, you could face a six-month statute of limitations.
Complications to your claim can arise if you’re attempting to bring a suit against a government employee, but you failed to do so within six months of the event. You would most likely no longer be able to file a lawsuit anymore.
However, you could potentially still take action against the individual that caused the accident. You can discuss all of your options with an experienced truck accident attorney, who can examine your case and explain all of your options.
Why Do You Need To Act Quickly?
In addition to the statute of limitations, it is crucial to promptly make a claim. One of the most critical aspects of your lawsuit will be your legal team investigating the accident and collecting evidence from the other side in discovery.
The law firm you hire will need sufficient time to review police evidence. They will also talk to witnesses, examine the vehicle, take photos, and collect other evidence that may highlight any defects or maintenance faults. They may even hire trained experts to reconstruct the accident scene to determine how it happened and who is at fault. If you wait too long to act, you could miss out on:
- Validation of your injuries or medical condition
- Credible witness testimony
- Evidence stored by truck companies
- Previous driving and accident reports
Collecting Valuable Evidence
The first step you must take after being involved in a truck accident is to report it to the authorities, such as the local police. You also need medical treatment to have your injuries assessed by a doctor or hospital. These records will count as valuable evidence for your truck accident lawsuit later.
For example, if you have serious injuries or ones that require ongoing medical care, you may be entitled to compensation, especially if they impact your earning capacity.
Therefore, keeping accurate records of these injuries and expenses is essential. The sooner you begin the process, the more information your lawyer can gather about your truck accident. That’s why it’s very important to act as quickly as possible.
In addition to these records, your lawyers will examine a truck company’s maintenance records, driver log books, and employee files. This is to search for reckless conduct, negligence, or a lack of compliance with laws and regulations on the part of the vehicle driver or the trucking company. This is how they’ll determine which parties are liable.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require that truck drivers keep daily logs. Your lawyer will use these to determine if the trucker complied with the maximum driving times during the accident. However, the company is only required to store these logs for six months, which means that they could throw them out if you wait too long to file your claim.
Ensuring You Have Accurate Accident Logs
Trucks also have a “black box” device on board, which records the truck’s speed and the brake application at the time of the accident. This information can be beneficial to your case.
However, the device records this data in loops, so it will only be available to you before the truck travels a certain number of miles. This is another reason fast action is crucial.
Obtaining Accurate Witness Testimony
The sooner your attorney interviews a witness, the more reliable the witness’ testimony will be. They won’t be struggling to remember something that recently happened.
You must report your accident to the police as soon as possible. However, your legal team may also want to interview witnesses themselves. Therefore, it’s essential to secure representation sooner rather than later.
Getting Medical Treatment and Validating Your Injuries
Getting medical care after your truck accident will likely be your priority — as it should be. Treating your injuries early will increase your likelihood of a full recovery. It will also provide a clearer picture of how your accident impacted you both physically and mentally. It will help your attorneys build a strong case, as medical evidence is highly credible in a lawsuit.
Did you know?
The most significant award in a wrongful death case involving a truck occurred in 2013. In this case, the commercial vehicle from Heckmann Water Resources caused the death of a military veteran. The settlement amounted to $281 million.
Get Legal Representation As Soon As Possible
After your truck accident, the sooner you secure a legal team, the better. We at The Personal Injury Center offer free case evaluations. After this, we can set you up with an experienced truck accident lawyer upon your request. Your lawyer will review your case to establish the best course of action and determine the compensation you deserve.
Time is of the essence when it comes to your truck accident. Contact The Personal Injury Center today so we can perform a free case evaluation and help you explore your legal options.
FAQs on Statutes of Limitations on Truck Accidents
There’s no definite answer to this question, as no two cases are identical. Claims can take between a few months to over a year to settle, and it also depends on various factors, such as injuries, insurance, and the investigation.
Victims are generally allowed to take legal action and seek compensation for financial losses (economic damages) in the case of paying for repairs to property damage and loss of wages and earning capacity, and for physical and mental injuries (noneconomic damages) in the case of severe injuries and compensation for medical bills.
A variety of factors must be considered when obtaining a fair settlement. Some that may slow it down include the degree to which you were at fault for the accident and the evidence-gathering process. Others include the truck driver’s negligence and how the accident affected your life.