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The pros and cons of truck accident settlements

Truck accidents can result in catastrophic injuries and major vehicle damage, so it's important for victims to get the maximum amount of compensation possible. In California, victims can choose between going through a civil trial, which can be a prolonged and costly process, and trying for an informal settlement. Settling out of court can not only save time and money but also increase the chance of an amicable agreement.

By employing a method of alternative dispute resolution like negotiation, mediation or arbitration, victims may get the other side to be less defensive and more open to hearing them out. Neither side makes an admission of fault, and the entire process is confidential. This means, however, that victims cannot publicly hold the other side liable and cannot pursue further legal claims related to the accident once a settlement has been reached.

Alternative dispute resolution is either binding or non-binding. Mediation and negotiations are non-binding, so victims can pursue their case in civil court at the same time. Arbitration usually results in binding agreements where the victim waives the right to a future trial. One major disadvantage of settling out of court is that the amount of compensation will likely be low compared to what might have been achieved through litigation.

Before filing a claim, victims may seek the representation of a lawyer who focuses on motor vehicle accidents and who's familiar with each alternative dispute resolution method. That way, victims can find out what method may be best for their situation. A lawyer might have investigators bolster the case with proof of the trucker's negligence or recklessness; for example, they may be able to check the work log for violations of hours-of-service guidelines, which can point to drowsy driving. The lawyer may also factor in any contributory negligence, which will naturally lower the settlement, and then act as the mediator or negotiator.

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