Getting hurt in an auto accident can impact your life in many ways, but the consequences tend to be even more severe when the accident involves a commercial truck. The physical, financial, and emotional losses following a truck accident may seem insurmountable, but this guide to winning a truck accident claim can help those who have been injured recover maximum compensation for their injuries with the help of a skilled truck accident lawyer.
What to do after a truck accident
Evaluate and report. Safety is always the top priority. When you have been involved in a truck accident, call to report an emergency. If possible, check to see whether anyone else was injured. Regardless of whether you were injured, obtain a medical evaluation anyway; often, symptoms of an injury develop days, or sometimes weeks, later. You will also need to inform your own insurance company of the accident, even if it was not your fault.
Document. Your claim will be more successful if you can gather evidence at the scene. This includes:
- Identifying information for the truck and driver, such as the license plate number, driver’s name and license number, name of the trucking company, and insurance company
- Names and contact information of witnesses
- Photos of the vehicles involved, the road conditions, injuries caused by the accident, and bystanders who may have witnessed the crash
Speak with an attorney. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the sooner you can obtain an informed assessment of your rights. The sooner you choose an attorney, the less pressure you will receive to make a decision that is against your best interests; insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will likely contact you soon after the accident to coax a low-value settlement, but when you are represented by a lawyer, your handle will handle these communications for you.
Do I need an attorney?
There is no substitute for an experienced truck accident attorney when it comes to obtaining full compensation for a personal injury. The injuries caused by a truck crash can be life-altering and even fatal, and a lawyer is statistically likely to secure significantly higher compensation than self-representation. If you are confident that your injuries are minor, such as mild whiplash, you may be able to successfully negotiate your own insurance claim. However, even mild injuries often turn out to be more severe than originally thought.
Steps in a truck accident claim
Communication. The trucking company’s insurance company may contact you soon after the accident. You do not need to speak with them; instead, direct them to your attorney. Anything you say to the other party’s representative can be used against you to devalue your claim.
Investigation. Accidents involving semis or other commercial trucks can be complicated, but to succeed in your claim, you need to be able to demonstrate the cause and legal fault of any defendant. Your attorney will work to obtain valuable and necessary information before it can be lost – this includes information about the driver, truck maintenance logs, and witness information. Often your attorney will retain expert witnesses to examine the truck or visit the scene to reconstruct the crash.
Valuation. Truck accidents are much more likely to cause fatal or severe injuries than other types of auto accidents, so they can also cause greater monetary losses. Your attorney will gather proof of your injuries, as well as the financial impact they have, to arrive at a value for your claim.
Demand and negotiation. Your attorney will draft a formal demand putting in writing the financial amount needed for a fair resolution of your claim, as well as the reasons why. The parties often engage in settlement discussions, and if they cannot reach an agreement and one is not already pending, you may need to file a lawsuit. Your attorney will have already calculated the date the statute of limitations expires so that your lawsuit is filed in time.
Go to court. If you do not settle, your truck accident lawyer will prepare your case for trial. The litigation process requires exact compliance with detailed court rules and timelines so your lawyer will draft a complaint and other court filings, engage in the discovery process, gather and present evidence, and take the case to trial if necessary.
Discuss your case with a lawyer today
If you do not receive a full and fair settlement, there is no second chance to re-open your claim. It is crucial to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident to make sure your interests are protected. Speak with a truck accident lawyer at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman today to discuss your case. Our attorneys are committed to helping injury victims; consultations are always free and confidential.