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December 14, 2023

How Long Does it Take an 18 Wheeler Accident to Settle in California?

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

Short answer: On average, it takes 6 – 12 months to settle most 18 wheeler accident lawsuits. In more severe cases, it can take well over 12 months.

The timeline varies greatly due to factors such as case complexity, extent of injuries, liability disputes, and negotiations with insurance companies. Also, if your case goes to trial that will often take much longer to finalize a settlement.

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Common Timelines for Semi Truck Accidents in California

Below is a quick glance at how long it could take for your California truck accident case to settle:

Severity of Case Time to Settlement
Minor 3 – 6 months
Moderate 6 – 12 months
Severe 12 – 24 months or more

Factors That Often Causes Cases to Take Longer

Complexity of the Case

Semi-truck accidents often involve complex factors, such as multiple parties, intricate insurance policies, and potential disputes over liability, making the resolution process more intricate and time-consuming.

Severity of Injuries

The extent of injuries in semi-truck accidents can significantly impact settlement timelines, as the full scope of medical treatment and long-term consequences must be carefully evaluated before reaching a fair compensation agreement.

Liability Disputes

Disagreements over liability, especially in cases where fault is contested or shared, can lead to prolonged negotiations and potentially necessitate legal proceedings, extending the overall settlement timeframe.

Insurance Company Negotiations

Negotiations with insurance companies, which often represent the trucking company or other involved parties, can be protracted due to the complexities of commercial insurance policies and the substantial sums involved.

Legal Process and Litigation

If an out-of-court settlement is not feasible, the initiation of legal proceedings, including discovery, hearings, and possibly a trial, can significantly extend the time it takes to reach a resolution in semi-truck accident cases.

Investigative Challenges

Thorough investigations are crucial in semi-truck accidents, and gathering evidence, assessing black box data, and reconstructing the events leading to the accident can be time-consuming, contributing to delays in settlement.

Regulatory Compliance Issues

Compliance with federal and state trucking regulations may introduce additional layers of complexity, as adherence to these standards and potential violations can impact liability and influence settlement negotiations.

Factors That Help Truck Accident Cases Resolve Quicker

Clear Liability and Evidence

Cases where liability is evident and supported by clear and compelling evidence can facilitate a faster resolution, as there is less need for protracted negotiations or legal battles over fault.

Cooperation between Parties

Willingness to cooperate and engage in good-faith negotiations by all involved parties, including the trucking company and their insurance, can expedite the settlement process and avoid unnecessary delays.

Timely Medical Assessment

Prompt and comprehensive medical assessments of injuries sustained in the accident can speed up the settlement process by providing a clear understanding of the immediate and long-term medical needs of the injured party.

Efficient Insurance Handling

If insurance companies are responsive and proactive in handling claims, the settlement process can move more swiftly, as timely communication and cooperation are key factors in reaching a resolution.

Skilled Legal Representation

The presence of experienced and efficient legal representation can streamline the settlement process, as skilled attorneys can navigate negotiations, assess the value of the case accurately, and work towards a timely resolution.

Early Settlement Offers

In some cases, early and reasonable settlement offers from the at-fault party or their insurance can lead to quicker resolutions, especially if the offered compensation is fair and acceptable to the injured party.

*Be careful here. Sometimes insurance companies do this to see if they can get you to accept a lower settlement. Sometimes a quick settlement can be a good offer, but oftentimes this is not the case.

Adequate Documentation

Thorough and well-documented cases, including accident reports, medical records, and other relevant documents, can facilitate a faster settlement by providing a clear picture of the damages and the impact on the injured party’s life.

How the Truck Company’s Insurance Can Slow Down the Settlement Process

The truck company’s insurance may employ several tactics to intentionally slow down the settlement process, potentially creating delays for the claimant. Here are ways in which this can occur:

Lengthy Investigations

The insurance company may conduct prolonged investigations into the details of the accident. While a thorough investigation is necessary, deliberate delays can be used to gather additional information or challenge aspects of the claim.

Challenging Liability

If the insurance company disputes liability or believes their policyholder is not entirely at fault, they may engage in extended negotiations or investigations to determine the extent of their responsibility. This can significantly prolong the settlement process.

Low Initial Settlement Offers

Insurers may provide initial settlement offers that are lower than the reasonable value of the claim. This tactic aims to pressure the claimant into accepting a less favorable settlement, potentially leading to extended negotiations.

Requesting Extensive Documentation

The insurance company may request extensive documentation and information, leading to repetitive and time-consuming paperwork for the claimant. This can create delays and frustration during the settlement process.

Legal Maneuvering

If the claimant has legal representation, the insurance company may engage in legal maneuvers, such as filing motions or engaging in tactics that can lengthen the legal process and potentially discourage the claimant from pursuing their case.

Delaying Medical Examinations

Insurers may insist on medical examinations for the claimant, and delays in scheduling or obtaining these examinations can extend the overall timeline for settling a claim.

Complexity of the Case

If the case is complex, involving multiple parties or intricate legal issues, the insurance company may intentionally slow down the settlement process, as these cases often require extensive review and analysis.

How Attorneys Can Speed Up the Settlement Process

An attorney can expedite the settlement process by leveraging legal expertise to navigate negotiations efficiently, ensuring fair compensation. Their ability to assess the true value of the case, advocate for the claimant’s rights, and strategically communicate with the truck company’s insurance can accelerate the resolution.

Additionally, attorneys can proactively address legal complexities, dispute liability disputes, and streamline documentation, significantly reducing the time it takes to reach a favorable settlement in a truck accident case.

Get Connected with an Truck Accident Attorney

Looking to get an opinion on your potential truck accident lawsuit? Contact LawLinq today to get a free consultation. We work with some of the best 18 wheeler accident attorneys in the state. Each attorney we work with offers free consultations.

About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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