Can a Truck Accident Lawsuit Take Years to Settle? A Deep Dive

Of all kinds of road accidents, those involving a huge 18-wheeler truck or semi-truck can be among the deadliest. The aftermath is often a gruesome sight involving multiple fatalities or severe injuries like paraplegia, broken ribs, spinal cord trauma, lacerations, burns, etc.

Once the injured party has somewhat recovered, a tough legal battle begins. They must reach out to the at-fault party’s insurer for compensation. The insurer may be unwilling to make a fair settlement, in which case, a lawsuit will follow.

The reason why most people fear such a scenario is because it may take years before the lawsuit is settled in court. How true is that? In this article, we will discuss truck accident litigation in detail to understand its timeline. 

Steps Involved in the Litigation Process

To determine how long a truck accident lawsuit may take to settle, we must understand the various steps involved in the litigation process. These include the following.


The entire process usually starts with a thorough investigation. Now, let’s make a distinction here – truck accidents are not similar to car accidents. According to TorHoerman Law, there are often multiple liable parties involved, including the trucking company, driver, cargo loaders, etc.

As a result, the investigation itself will be a lengthy process. It will often involve the hiring of relevant professionals for accident reconstruction. Then, trucking industry specialists will be called to give their expert testimonies on the cause of the crash.

Besides the accident scene, documents like medical bills, income statements, etc., will also be assessed. It is then that the plaintiff’s stand can be determined. 

Filing of an Insurance Claim

Now, this part is a bit interesting. Let’s use an example to understand – St. Louis is among the most dangerous US cities, one reason being road accidents. Since the city is a logistics hub, commercial trucks are often involved in St. Louis’ accidents.

This means the insurers are quite seasoned in avoiding fair claims. They will also gather information through evidence and police reports. After determining what the damages should cost, the company will offer a claim to avoid losing too much money.

If the plaintiff signs the offer letter, they will lose their right to file a lawsuit. A better option is to consult a St. Louis truck accident attorney just to be sure. Some injuries take time to manifest, and attorneys will recommend avoiding hastily filing a claim unless the full extent of the damages is realized.

Complaint Filing

Once the attorney sees that the plaintiff has recovered enough to file a claim with the insurer, they will encourage the same. The aim is to avoid taking matters before a jury because that would only cost more time and resources.

Lawyers will make pre-suit negotiations with the liable party’s insurer to reach a fair settlement. There is a good chance that this may not work in the plaintiff’s favor. If that is the case, the next step will be to file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties.

The lawyer will prepare a complaint and have it delivered to the relevant parties. They must send back a response/answer so that the lawsuit may further proceed. This will take a period of 21 days or so. 


Let’s quickly rewind – the investigation may take a few months, after which the claim filing will require another 10 days. If the response is suitable enough, settlements will be made immediately after. In case matters must go to court, the discovery process will start after a response from the defendant is received.

During the discovery, both sides will present their witnesses and evidence to help narrow down the dispute. The court may require the parties to hold mediation sessions before a settlement is made. The discovery also usually takes at least a few months.


The purpose of the discovery process is to exchange crucial information so that everyone present is aware of the evidence to be shown at trial. If no settlement is still reached, the case will be presented, before a jury.

Even here, both parties will be given their time to display evidence. The plaintiff’s counsel has the burden of proving the elements of negligence to support their allegations. The jury will finally decide who the at-fault parties are and what compensation they must pay the plaintiff.

From what we discussed above, a truck accident lawsuit may take anywhere between several months and a few years. There are a few factors that affect the timeline, including the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries, the number of victims or liable parties, and the schedule of the trial court.

According to the American Bar Association, only a few civil cases go to trial. This includes a trucking accident lawsuit. It is in the best interest of all parties if the lawsuit does not go to trial, so most settlements are made before.

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