Being involved in an accident is scary. Getting hit by a truck even more so because it often causes more damage than an ordinary car. Unlike a typical car accident, it is rare to have a simple fender bender with a truck. In many instances, a truck accident leads to significant bodily harm or even death. This can then negatively affect your mental and physical health, as well as your financial stability.
If you plan to file a lawsuit and attempt to collect damages after a truck accident, there are some things you should know. Not only do truck accidents typically involve gray-area liabilities and high damage amounts, truck drivers have a lot at stake. They face losing their commercial license, and therefore their job, if they are deemed to be at-fault for the accident. Considering all this, there are certain steps you need to take to ensure you are fairly compensated if you’ve been involved in a truck accident.
Immediately After the Accident
Call the police and get medical attention immediately after the accident occurs. As mentioned above, there will be far more legal pushback if you are involved in an accident with a semi-truck as opposed to a passenger car. Truck drivers have more to lose and damages are usually more extensive, which makes documenting the accident incredibly important.
- Take pictures at the scene
- Get a police report
- Get the contact info of any witness
- Get the truck driver’s information
- Immediately go to urgent care or the emergency room for a full check up
Pictures at the Scene
If you are seriously injured, simply call 911 and allow the police to document the scene. If you are not injured, call the non-emergency police number and take photos yourself. Make sure you backup these photos and any dash cam footage to preserve evidence of the accident. You will not only want pictures of the vehicles themselves, but also any physical injuries you have, the general surroundings, skid marks on the road, etc. You will want as many photos as possible to give context to the scene.
If you are severely injured, the police will automatically make a report. If you do not show signs of a serious injury, you may need to request a report. You’ll need this official documentation of the scene to support any legal action you take in the future.
Witness Contact Info
If someone saw the accident, make sure to get their contact info. In many instances, the witness will not be able to wait until the police arrive to take their statement. You will need their testimony if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit..
Truck Driver’s Information
When your adrenaline is high, it is easy to forget the obvious. Make sure you get the truck driver’s information. This includes their name and phone number, a picture of their insurance, a picture of their license plate, and some documentation of the company they are working for (e.g. a picture of the company logo on the side of the truck).
Once you have handled everything at the scene, immediately go to the urgent care or the emergency room. (If you have significant injuries, going to the ER is obviously a priority instead of collecting the previous list of information.)
If you do not need immediate medical attention and successfully document everything at the scene, you may be tempted to go home and decompress from the stress of the accident. Don’t skip the visit to urgent care or the emergency room! Even if you feel like nothing is wrong, it is important to get checked out and cleared by a doctor as some injuries could manifest days or weeks later.
Shortly After the Accident
Hire an attorney
The first plan of action should be to hire an attorney. They can review your case details and accident documentation, and then advise you on whether you have a strong case. Your likelihood of collecting financial compensation for the accident varies greatly based on the facts of the case.
In addition to questioning whether you have a case at all, you are probably wondering who you would sue for the accident. The driver or their employer?
This can depend on the case, but typically the individual truck driver and their company are co-defendants in your lawsuit. In some instances, there may be additional parties involved, such as a staffing company. This is another reason to hire an attorney—they will help you determine who to list as a defendant in your lawsuit.
Don’t talk to insurance adjusters
Even if you don’t want to file a lawsuit, you still need an attorney to help you deal with insurance. Insurance adjusters handle these claims all day, and their job is to get you to accept a deal for the lowest amount of money possible. (They even get bonuses for getting you to settle for less than you deserve!)
Insurance adjusters will often tell you that they can’t authorize payment over a certain amount for your accident. This is incorrect, and you should have an attorney arguing on your behalf. You are not precluded from settling your case if you hire an attorney. If you are wanting to get the maximum settlement possible, while also avoiding a trial, tell your attorney that. They can help you accomplish your goal.
The Bottom Line
If you have been involved in a truck accident, there may be damages you are rightfully owed. While you focus on recovering your health, we’ll focus on getting you the financial compensation that you deserve. Give us a call for a free consultation on your case.
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