10 Steps to Take After a Truck Accident
By Chris Dixon
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a truck accident, you could be eligible to recover compensation for your suffering. It’s vital to the success of your claim and the protection of your rights to act quickly after an accident happens and consult a lawyer. In the meantime, the Dixon Injury Firm has created this list of the 10 steps to take after a truck accident to hopefully provide guidance for your case.
Seek Medical Attention
An estimated 4,102 people were killed in truck accidents in the U.S. in 2017. If you are injured in a truck accident, it’s critical to seek immediate medical attention. Truck accidents can cause severe injuries such as head trauma, dashboard injuries, internal bleeding, and more that could affect victims’ quality of life and productivity. Seeking immediate medical attention after an accident is essential to prevent injuries from worsening. Your physician can diagnose your injuries from the accident, treat them, give you a prognosis (semi-permanent, permanent, fatal), and file a medical report that records your injuries. Your medical report can be a powerful piece of evidence when proving that the other driver is at fault for the accident and liable for reimbursing you for damages from the accident.
Call the Police
It’s crucial to call the police right after an accident happens and file a police report. Police reports typically include information from the accident such as:
- Evidence from the accident
- A detailed sketch of the scene of the crash
- Statements from those involved in the accident
- Accounts from witnesses to the crash
- Contact information from drivers involved in the accident
- Information about what and who police believe caused the crash
A police report can be powerful evidence when proving fault for a truck accident. The truck driver’s insurance company will attempt to do everything in their power to blame the responsibility of the crash on you or provide you with the lowest settlement possible. If this happens, your lawyer can use the police report to defend your claim and prove that the truck driver is liable for your damages.
Gather Evidence From the Scene of the Accident
Without significant evidence, such as photos of road marks, property damage, injuries from the crash, the truck driver’s license plate, and more, it is nearly impossible to prove what happened in the crash. Evidence preserves the details from the accident and doesn’t allow for information to be altered or falsified. While the police will gather evidence from the accident, they might not collect as much evidence as you would. If your injuries prevent you from collecting evidence yourself, you can send a close friend or family member to do so on your behalf. This step is crucial, as it can greatly influence the outcome of your case and potentially cause you to miss out on thousands of dollars for your claim.
Swap Contact and Insurance Information with Other Parties Involved
The more information that you can collect from the other driver, the better. If you can get the truck driver’s name, address, insurance information, the name of the company they work for, and their truck number, this can speed up the process of recovering damages. Your copy of the police report from the accident should include this information, but it can be a good idea to collect this evidence yourself to be safe.
Get Contact Information From Witnesses
Witness reports can be compelling pieces of evidence for an accident. Witnesses are unbiased parties that can provide detailed, unfiltered accounts of what they saw happen in the crash, which can go a long way when proving fault in an accident. The police report should include reports from witnesses, but it’s essential to collect contact information from witnesses for your lawyer. If you and your lawyer decide to take your claim to court, witness testimonials can be powerful when defending your claim against the other party in trial.
Discuss Your Case with a Lawyer
Truck drivers are required by federal law to report accidents to their employer and undergo post-accident drug and alcohol testing. If a truck driver fails to do this, they could face the revocation or suspension of their license, fines, and losing their job; this is where your lawyer comes in. Your lawyer has the experience needed to use the truck driver’s negligence to benefit the outcome of your claim and win the maximum amount of compensation for your case.
Obtain Proof of the Truck Driver’s Employment
If you are injured in a truck accident, you might be eligible to recover damages from both the truck driver and the company that they work for under the Vicarious Liability Act. With the help of your lawyer, this can be proved with documentation of the truck driver’s employment by a trucking company. It can be difficult to obtain this documentation, but an experienced lawyer will have the resources needed to retrieve this information to support your claim.
Write a Demand Letter
A well-written demand letter is a critical component of a successful insurance claim. It’s essential to have your lawyer help you write a demand letter and offer guidance on which damages you should claim from the crash. If you were injured in the accident or your property was damaged, a powerful demand letter can recover reimbursement for your injuries and losses. Demand letters typically include:
- The damages that you are claiming from the accident
- Evidence that supports your right to recover these damages
- Your copies of the medical and police report from the crash
- Contact and insurance information for those involved in the crash
File an Insurance Claim
Insurance claims should always be filed with the help of an experienced attorney. Filing an insurance claim without an attorney could be the difference in potentially thousands of dollars in missed compensation. If the other party’s insurance agent doesn’t offer an acceptable settlement, your lawyer can decide whether it’s worth further negotiation, filing a lawsuit, or accepting the settlement.
Decide Whether to Settle In or Outside of Court
Most truck accidents are settled outside of court through mediation and negotiation, but taking your claim to court can be beneficial in some cases. If the other party’s insurance company refuses to offer an acceptable settlement, you and your lawyer can decide if it makes sense to take your case to trial. Keep in mind, trials can be expensive and lengthy and should only occur if your lawyer is certain your case will win. Truck drivers are required by federal law to have liability and cargo insurance in case of an accident, so you could potentially recover between $300,000 to $5,000,000.00 if your truck accident claim wins in court.
How an Attorney Can Help With Your Case
The average commercial truck weighs 20 times more than the average passenger vehicle. If a truck rear-ends a passenger vehicle on the road or swerves and strikes a vehicle, this could result in severe or permanent injuries. If you or someone you love has been in a truck accident, you need an attorney by your side to help with your case. Your attorney can defend your case against the truck driver’s large insurance company and negotiate until an acceptable settlement is reached; if it isn’t, your lawyer can fight for your case in court on your behalf. If you are ready to take action with your truck accident claim against a truck driver, contact the Dixon Injury Firm today. Our attorneys offer free consultations, are available 24/7 to discuss your case, and won’t back down until they recover the most compensation for your suffering.