Seattle-based attorney Kevin Coluccio explains the basic process of a Washington truck crash lawsuit with Coluccio Law, from start to finish. 

Talking with a lawyer

The first step in a successful lawsuit against a trucking company: talking with an experienced attorney.

If you send a message to Coluccio Law, we will respond as quickly as possible.

If you call, an intake specialist will ask you some basic questions about the crash. If they think a we may be able to help you, they will transfer your call, or set up a time to talk.

The lawyer will ask you some questions about the crash, and talk about your legal options.

Signing up as a client

If we are able to help with your case, we will send you a packet of documents by mail or email that includes:

  • Contingency fee agreement and retainer: the legal agreements that allows the law firm to work on your case. Our law firms work on a “contingency fee” basis: your lawyer does not get paid a fee until your case is over.
  • Releases of information: the documents that allow us to get information, bills and records.
  • Case information packet: any additional information we need to give you the best possible legal representation.

Then, the law firm sends letters of representation to the insurance companies.

You focus on your health and recovery. Tell anyone who contacts you about the case to talk to your lawyer.

Insurance and Investigation

Professional truck drivers and trucking companies have insurance. Part of your lawyer’s job is to help with your insurance claims.

We start by sending letters of representation to the insurance companies. From this point on, your lawyer and paralegal will deal with the insurance adjusters.

Our job is to get you access to as much coverage as you are owed— and to help get your bills paid .

Preserving evidence

We send official letters requesting that the trucking companies do not destroy or alter evidence, including the truck itself.

Then, we work on on the investigation by:

  • Contacting witnesses;
  • Getting photographs and measurements of the scene;
  • Locating the ECM (black box) of the truck.

Collecting records

We gather information like official crash reports, witness statements, and medical records.

After we evaluate all of the evidence and records, we may have expert witnesses assess your claim. In a Washington truck crash lawsuit, expert witnesses can testify at court about the crash causes and factors.

An insurance demand

When you are what doctors call “medically stationary”, our team can put all of the records and information together. This is how we assess what the insurance companies should pay

If you approve our assessment, we can send a demand letter to the insurance companies.

This is a formal document that describes the crash, how it happened, and all of the harm it has caused. It asks (demands) that they take responsibility for the harm caused by their part in the crash.

Negotiation

The lawyers and adjusters for the insurance companies have a chance to respond to our demand letter. This process can take several months.

If they make an offer of settlement, your lawyer will talk to you about it. Some cases “settle” at this stage, which just means that we all come to an agreement about what’s fair and just.

But usually, we need to file a Washington truck crash lawsuit for real negotiations to begin.

Filing a lawsuit

Your lawyer will prepare and file a complaint with the court, which officially opens your lawsuit.

In the complaint, and in other court documents, the plaintiff is the injured party, and the defendant(s) caused or contributed to the truck crash.

The complaint describes the crash, and how the defendants were responsible for it. It describes what happened to you, and your injuries, and what you have lost.

Common defendants in Washington truck crash lawsuit might include:

  • The truck driver;
  • The motor carrier who owns the truck, and may employ the truck driver;
  • The broker or shipper who owns the goods being transported;
  • The company that loaded the truck, or secured the loaded truck;
  • The maintenance shop that performed work on the truck or parts.

After the complaint is filed with the court, it must be served, or officially delivered, to all of the defendants.

When they get the complaint, each defendant has to file a response.

In Washington, the Superior Court judge sets a trial date, and gives us deadlines for discovery and mediation.

Discovery

“Discovery” is how we exchange information with the other side.

We prepare and send official documents called Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents to each defendant. Their lawyers will do the same. Your lawyer and paralegal will help you answer questions and collect information.

Based on the questions we ask and the information we get during discovery, the lawyers will request depositions. These are interviews, conducted under oath – just like in a courtroom. They can be very useful tools in a Washington truck crash lawsuit.

Mediation

In Washington State, the plaintiffs and defendants have to sit down with a neutral person who tries to “mediate” a settlement agreement.

If mediation isn’t successful, your lawyer will talk to you about going to trial.

Trial 

A trial is supposed to be the final option, used only when other methods of resolution have failed.

Most truck crash lawsuits are settled before trial. But there is always the possibility of a trial, and we are always ready for it.

If your case does go to trial, your lawyers will meet with you to explain what to expect in court.

Resolution

After your case is concluded by settlement or trial verdict, your lawyer’s office will prepare a financial statement for you.

It can take several months finalize outstanding medical bills or liens, and confirm balances.

Keep in mind, lawsuits was can take several years. Our legal system was purposefully set up this way. The courts want us to resolve our own disputes, and come to an agreement without the time and expense of a court trial.

This is a basic overview of Washington truck crash lawsuit. It won’t all apply to every case—but you can contact Coluccio Law with any questions.


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