Although trucks are a vital part of the economy as they transport goods all over the country, the fact remains that large trucks operating in an unsafe manner pose a huge risk to others on the road. Passenger vehicles face significant risks when involved in a crash with a truck because, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and other sources, trucks often weigh 20-30 times more than cars. These huge vehicles are also taller and have greater ground clearance. This means that a crash with such a large moving object can cause catastrophic injuries that might cost you money now and well into the future. Recovering compensation for your losses might be the only way to move ahead with your life. So today, we will discuss what to do after a truck accident so you can increase your chances of success in your injury claim.
How Common Are Truck Accidents?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large truck accidents caused 4,965 fatalities in the United States in 2020, with 71% of the victims being occupants of other vehicles.
Several factors can contribute to truck accidents, including driver fatigue, distracted driving, improper loading, and equipment failure. Federal law requires commercial truck drivers to follow hours of service regulations that govern how long truckers can drive before they must take a break. Even if drivers don’t feel fatigued, they meet the definition of negligence if they violate their maximum service hours. Negligence can also include speeding, driving while intoxicated, and following so close that the driver cannot avoid a rear-end collision. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that truck braking capability is a huge factor in truck crashes. Loaded tractor-trailers require 20-40% more distance than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes. When trucking companies and drivers contribute to an accident, they should pay for the harm they cause.
What to Do After an Accident with a Semi-Truck
After a truck accident, the most important thing to do is ensure everyone is safe and receiving medical attention if necessary. Immediately after the accident, call 911. If there is any indication you or a passenger might be injured, get checked out by first responders, and don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room.
Next, exchange contact information with other drivers involved in the crash. Some of this information includes:
- Insurance cards, including policy numbers;
- Driver’s license numbers;
- Driver’s home address, phone number, and email address;
- License plate numbers;
- Contact information for the truck driver’s employer and trucking company; and
- Identifying information about the truck and other vehicles involved.
It is also helpful to gather evidence at the accident if you or a passenger feels healthy enough to do so. Relevant evidence might be pictures of the accident (from multiple angles, if possible), crash damage, road conditions, weather conditions, and road debris. Collect contact information from witnesses who stopped to help if you can.
While it may be tempting to post about your accident on social media, insurance companies often use social media against claimants. Avoid posting anything about the accident, and if possible, avoid posting anything at all until your case resolves. You can be sure that the opposite side is watching what you post for evidence that you are happier and healthier than you claim.
Steps to Take During the Claims Process
During the claims process, your attorney, insurer, or both will collect additional truck accident evidence to support your claim. The goal on your part is to prove that the negligence of the truck driver, trucking company, or another party caused your accident. While you can obtain some of this evidence yourself, obtaining other evidence will likely require the assistance of a truck accident attorney.
Relevant evidence might include the following:
- truck accident documentation
- inspection reports
- the driver’s qualifications and driving records
- dispatch instructions
- weigh station and loading dock reports
- driving logs
The claims process should also include a claim for sufficient money to repair your vehicle. As such, a repair estimate is an essential piece of evidence. Every insurance company has requirements for getting vehicle damage appraised, but you still have the right to have your own body shop appraise your vehicle. Just be clear to the shop that they should not work on your car until after you speak to your attorney and the insurance company.
Additionally, insurance policies require policyholders to inform them when an accident occurs, so report the crash to your insurance company. However, we recommend speaking with an attorney first because the insurer will try to use your words against you. Your attorney can go over the details of how to speak with the insurer. But generally, be polite while keeping your answers short. If you give long answers, you potentially give them more ammunition to use against you. The same holds true if the trucking company’s insurance company calls.
Truck Accident Compensation
After sustaining injuries in a truck accident, you may wonder what compensation you can obtain. Generally, the highest cost the insurance company should reimburse you for is your medical expenses, as you are entitled to compensation for any medical bills directly related to your injuries. You may also be eligible for compensation for any future medical bills you can reasonably expect to incur.
Additionally, many truck accident victims miss time from work, or their injuries are so severe they can no longer work. In either case, you might qualify for financial compensation for lost wages or earning capacity.
Because truck accident injuries are often more severe than those seen in an average car accident, they can cause tremendous physical pain and mental suffering, which might also be compensable. While pain and suffering are not objectively measurable, a truck accident lawyer can help estimate the potential value of your pain and suffering and ensure you receive compensation.
Need More Information on Steps to Take After a Semi-Truck Accident?
Even after reading this, we hope you have a better idea of what to do after a semi-truck accident. But the lingering trauma of an accident can make it difficult to handle all of this alone. If you’ve been involved in an accident with a large truck, the professionals at James Horne Law, PA, will investigate the accident in detail to determine all potentially responsible parties. James Horne is a Martindale-Hubbell AV-Preeminent rated attorney who can guide you through the steps to take after a truck accident. He can also take your case to trial if needed. Contact him today to confidentially discuss your case.