Due to the considerable difference in size and weight when comparing 18 wheelers to passenger vehicles, you may assume that truck accidents are far more deadly than other traffic-related collisions.
This assumption is valid according to date compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
There were 4,889 fatal truck crashes in 2017, and another 102,000 injury-causing incidents.
These figures are disturbing because they represent a 42 percent increase in the number of truck accidents since 2009. However, the statistics don’t provide the full picture on how victims and their families suffer.
Fortunately, you do have rights as the victim of an 18 wheeler crash. With the help of an experienced truck accident attorney, it’s possible to recover compensation for your losses.
However, success in getting the monetary damages you deserve does require some work on your part. Here are the steps to take after an 18 Wheeler truck accident to protect your interests as an injured victim.
1. Seek Treatment for Your Injuries:
Your health is your first priority after a truck crash, so take proper precautions regarding medical care. For life-threatening injuries, excessive bleeding, loss of consciousness, or respiratory issues, head to the emergency room right away.
You may consider an urgent care center for injuries that are less serious, but still require same day care. These facilities can treat such medical issues as:
- Cuts and abrasions;
- Minor broken bones;
- Whiplash or other soft tissue injuries; and,
- Many others.
Proper medical care is essential to return to health after a truck accident and avoid exacerbating your injuries. In addition, seeking treatment is also important to protecting your legal rights. When you file a claim for your injuries, the insurance company will meticulously review your medical records.
If there’s a significant delay between the date of the crash and the date you visited a health care provider, the claims adjuster will contest the severity of your injuries.
The assumption is that you would have sought immediate medical treatment if you were hurt badly. An insurer could take advantage of the delay and use the information as grounds to offer a lower settlement amount.
The best rule of thumb is to seek care the same day of the truck collision, or at least within 72 hours afterwards.
2. Exchange Information with the Truck Operator:
As with any motor vehicle crash, you should obtain basic contact and insurance details from the operator of the truck. However, with a truck accident, it’s also important to get information regarding that person’s employment – if possible.
You may have a claim against the driver’s employer, truck company, or other entities involved with operating the truck as a business.
3. Gather Information and Evidence:
If you’re physically able based upon the nature of your injuries, try to get as much detail from the scene of the accident as possible. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the surrounding area, noting traffic signals, signs, lanes of traffic, obstacles to visibility, and other factors.
If there are individuals who may have witnessed the collision, obtain their contact information as well.
In addition, if there are businesses in the immediate vicinity, you may approach them regarding the presence of security cameras. The video footage may have captured important details that relate to fault in the truck accident.
4. Don’t Make Statements to the Insurance Company:
There are many DO’s involved with truck accidents, and one very important DON’T. Other than notifying the truck driver’s insurance company about the crash, never make any statements to employees.
As mentioned, insurers are typically working against you as the victim of a crash. They don’t have your best interest in mind, so you put your rights at risk by discussing the accident and your injuries.
5. Consult with an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer:
As soon as possible after the incident, you should reach out to a lawyer that focuses on truck crash claims. Your attorney can handle the claims process with the insurance company, including:
- Conducting an investigation;
- Collecting and reviewing your medical records;
- Preparing claims forms and supporting documentation; and,
- Negotiations with the insurance company.
Attorneys know the tricks insurers use as a basis for denying payment or offering a low-ball settlement amount, such as blaming the truck accident on you or contesting the severity of your injuries.
If your lawyer cannot reach a fair, reasonable settlement amount with the insurer, the next step is taking the matter to court.
Litigation involves technical, complex areas of law, along with very strict court procedural rules. Your 18 wheeler accident attorney will fight for your rights throughout the legal process, through such tasks as:
- Drafting the complaint to initiate the truck crash lawsuit;
- Attending all court hearings and conferences;
- Raising motions that favor your position;
- Defending motions brought by the defendant;
- Engaging in discovery, including requests for documents and written interrogatories;
- Taking the depositions of the truck operator, employer, witnesses, and other entities involved in the case; and,
- Preparing for and representing you at trial.
How Contacting a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Contacting a lawyer right away after a truck collision is an advantage in ensuring you get the compensation you deserve as an injured victim. With an attorney’s help, you’re in a better position to recover the full amount of monetary damages you’re allowed by law, including:
- Medical costs, such as surgery, emergency care, long-term treatment, rehabilitation, and others;
- Lost wages, if you’re out of work because of your injuries;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional anguish;
- Scarring and disfigurement;
- Decreased quality of life and enjoyment; and,
- Losses based upon how your injuries affect your personal relationships.
Discuss Your 18 Wheeler Truck Accident Claim with an Experienced Attorney
If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a truck crash, skilled legal representation is essential. To learn more about your rights and remedies, please contact VanDerGinst Law, PC to set up a free consultation with our truck accident lawyers.
We can tackle the legal challenges involved with filing an insurance claim, and we’re equally prepared to advocate on your behalf in court.