Young & McCarthy LLP

Informal settlements for truck accident victims

In Ohio, as in all states, the victims of commercial truck accidents can file a personal injury lawsuit against the company that hired the responsible trucker. If their claims are successful, they could be compensated for losses like vehicle repair costs, medical bills and lost wages. Arriving at that successful conclusion, however, can take a lot of time and money.

This is why many victims opt for alternative dispute resolution and try to reach an agreement with the trucking company out of court. Negotiation, mediation and arbitration are the most widely known ADR methods. Since it is a confidential process, ADR can make the other party less defensive.

In this process, neither side admits to any fault, and the victim cannot publicly hold the other side liable for negligence or recklessness. Both sides can be candid with each other as they discuss who was responsible and how much the settlement should be. If victims choose mediation or negotiation, they can still litigate at the same time since these methods are nonbinding.

Arbitration can be binding, though, which means that it precludes the right to a trial. With ADR, victims are also prevented from pursuing further legal claims connected to the accident. The amount for settlements is almost always lower than what could be achieved through the civil court.

With all these pros and cons to consider, accident victims will want the advice of a lawyer before they move forward. An attorney could evaluate a case and have investigators look into the truck accident and find evidence of the trucker's guilt. This proof could include physical evidence at the scene of the crash, the trucker's work log, police reports and eyewitness testimony. A lawyer can act as negotiator, mediator or arbitrator and provide impartial counsel along the way. Victims can also discuss whether they want a structured or lump sum settlement.

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