The size and weight of trucks are the key factors contributing to the extent of injuries in a truck collision. If a truck accident injures you, you may be entitled to compensation. To recover damages, you must prove the at-fault party’s liability and demonstrate their negligence.
Your chances of obtaining fair compensation depend on your steps after the truck accident. From calling the police and speaking to witnesses, to collecting medical bills and hiring a truck accident attorney, each step affects the strength of your case.
Let’s look closer at what to do and avoid after a truck accident.
What to Do at The Truck Accident Scene?
The road to damage recovery starts when you sustain injuries in the accident. If your injuries are severe, the first step is to seek medical assistance. Anything else comes second. Your main goal is to get high-quality treatment.
Detect Your Injuries
It can be hard to detect your injuries. Whatever seems minor at first could turn into something more severe. That’s why it’s imperative to call 911 and wait for medical professionals to arrive.
In case someone else is injured in the accident, provide as much assistance as possible without worsening your injuries.
Move Away From Danger
Truck accidents are often severe. When the crash occurs, the vehicle can roll over or ignite, harming your health. Make sure to get out of the way and help others move away from the vehicles.
Call the Police
According to Colorado law, you must report any traffic accident that causes injuries or property damage. To notify the police, call 911 right after the accident.
Police officers will arrive at the scene and file a report. This report may turn into key evidence that proves your right to damage recovery.
When the police arrive at the scene, be careful about what to say to them. Your understanding of the accident may be highly subjective. It’s often easy to say something that can hurt your future case. Allow the police to conduct an independent investigation.
If you aren’t seriously injured in the crash, try to collect as much evidence as possible.
This evidence can include:
- Detailed photos of the accident scene (debris, skid marks, potholes, etc.)
- Photos and videos of each vehicle involved in the crash
- Photos and videos of your injuries
- Contact information of eyewitnesses
If you can’t collect any evidence due to your injuries, don’t worry. Your health comes first. You can get information from the police report. If you decide to hire an attorney, they will conduct an independent investigation of the accident scene to collect essential evidence.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney
Even if the at-fault party’s negligence seems obvious, you must prove it to obtain compensation. Doing this without a lawyer is possible but challenging.
The earlier you contact a personal injury attorney, the faster they can investigate the accident and collect evidence to prove your case. Evidence and witnesses’ memories can fade with time, so you could lose an opportunity to build a strong case if you do not act fast.
What to Do to Recover Damages After a Truck Accident?
To recover damages after a truck accident, you must prove the at-fault party’s negligence. A big part of this process is identifying who the at-fault party is.
Identify the Responsible Party
You might hold several parties responsible for your truck accident:
- Trucking company – The employer is usually responsible for the driver’s actions on the road. You must file a claim with the trucking company’s insurance provider to get compensation.
- Truck driver – If the truck driver was operating the vehicle under the influence or running personal errands, you may hold them personally liable for the accident. In this case, you must sue the driver directly.
- Other traffic participants – If negligent actions of another driver, pedestrian, or cyclist caused the truck driver to crash in your vehicle, they could be held partially responsible.
- Government – If the government failed to repair the road or install proper signs, they could be liable for the collision. But only if you manage to prove their negligence and involvement. Doing this is usually much harder than filing a claim with an insurance company.
Identifying all at-fault parties is imperative to getting the money you deserve. Remember that they may not all be in the police report. To find these people and companies, you must conduct your own investigation. Better yet, delegate it to an attorney.
Besides the evidence you collect right after the accident, you must present other types of proof for maximum damage recovery. Evidence collection is a continuous process.
You would need to gather:
- All medical records demonstrating the extent of your injuries (bills, doctor’s reports, receipts, prescriptions, etc.)
- Evidence of property damage (photos, repair estimations, bills)
- Personal journals (to demonstrate the effect injuries have on your quality of life)
- Photos and videos of your injuries
- Eyewitness testimonies
Besides the above evidence, which you can collect fairly easily, you also may need to obtain:
- Expert witness testimony (when expert witnesses such as doctors testify to the extent of your injuries and their possible long-term effects on your health)
- Police report
- Truck inspection report (a certified truck inspector usually checks the vehicle before it leaves the scene of the accident)
- Videos from nearby cameras.
- Black box information (some trucks have black box devices that record important information about the driver’s behavior)
Getting this type of evidence may not always be simple. If you decide to hire an attorney, they can use their experience to obtain the necessary information to strengthen your case.
To secure your right to compensation in a truck accident case, you must demonstrate that your injuries resulted from someone’s negligent actions.
To do that, you must prove four elements of negligence.
- Duty of care – To be found negligent, the truck driver or other at-fault parties must have a legal duty of care to the victim. All drivers have a legal duty of care to other traffic participants on the road. They must follow traffic laws and act reasonably safe in all situations.
- Breach of duty of care – Next, you must prove that the at-fault party breached the duty of care. For example, the truck driver got distracted by a phone call, ran a red light, and hit your car.
- Injuries – To obtain compensation, you have to show that the breach of duty led to injuries. For example, the truck driver ran a red light, crashed into your car, and you sustained a traumatic brain injury.
- Damages – Finally, you must prove that the injuries you sustained due to the breach of a legal duty of care led to damages. For example, your traumatic brain injury required surgeries and post-op care.
Proving negligence is complex, especially if you are up against the trucking company’s insurance provider. These insurance companies have legal teams that work hard to avoid large settlements.
Without a legal professional in your corner, you could fail to prove negligence. In some cases, you could lose your right to compensation. In the worst case, the at-fault party may try to turn the tables and start proving your partial fault in the accident.
File a Claim
Depending on which party is responsible for your injuries, you must file a claim with their insurance company or go to court. Before you file a claim or start court proceedings, evaluate your damages and ensure your evidence is strong enough to back it.
In most cases, negotiating with the insurance company is the toughest part of obtaining a fair settlement. Insurance adjusters work hard to minimize compensations. They study your case, find your pain points, and use them to talk you into accepting a lower payout.
Many truck accident victims feel overwhelmed with injuries, numerous medical bills, and other related problems. This weak emotional state causes people to cave under the adjuster’s pressure.
It takes physical and emotional stamina to conduct successful negotiations, especially without legal experience. You have to be ready for a fight.
File a Lawsuit
You may need to go to court after a truck accident if:
- The at-fault party is uninsured (for example, the truck driver is using the truck during their off-hours, so the employer’s insurance doesn’t cover the damages, and the driver doesn’t have any personal auto insurance)
- The at-fault party is underinsured (for example, your damages exceed the amount of the insurance policy’s limit)
- You can’t agree on a settlement (the insurance company doesn’t want to offer a fair settlement)
You must present your case to the judge and jury in court. At any time during these proceedings, the at-fault party can offer a settlement to prevent the case from going to trial.
What NOT to Do After a Truck Accident?
A few things you might do after a truck accident can hurt your case. Keep them in mind until you obtain compensation.
#1. Take Money
If the trucker drove under the influence or worked beyond the legal time limit, they could face serious punishment. That’s why some may offer to settle the case on the spot.
While taking cash from a truck driver is legal, it’s illegal not to report the accident. Meanwhile, the damages you sustain in the accident may be much higher than what the driver can offer.
If you’ve already taken the money, don’t worry. You can still report the accident and return the cash. Failing to report an accident that involves injuries isn’t just against the law. It keeps you from recovering fair damages.
#2. Wait Too Long
Many people mistakenly believe they have a lot of time to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party or their insurance company. In reality, the statute of limitations limits your time to file a lawsuit. Depending on your location, it can vary from one to three years.
While you may have a year or more to file a lawsuit, waiting that long is a bad idea. Time erases evidence, clouds witness memories, and allows at-fault parties to leave the state.
#3. Admit Fault
When sharing details of the accident with the police or insurance company, never admit fault. Insurance adjusters can twist the simplest “I’m sorry” into a fault admission.
Remember, you don’t need to make any statements to the insurance company immediately. You can always secure an attorney’s assistance first. A truck accident lawyer can instruct you about communications and ensure you don’t make any wrong statements.
Admitting fault can make it hard to recover damages from the at-fault party, even if you can prove their negligence.
#4. Ignore Doctor’s Orders
Following your doctor’s treatment plan is important for recovering damages. If you don’t comply with medical recommendations, the insurance company can use this against you. Meanwhile, you could have trouble securing necessary testimony from expert witnesses.
#5. Accept an Unfair Settlement
The pressure of complex negotiations can make it tempting to accept an unfair settlement. As soon as you take the offer, you lose the opportunity to recover more damages from the insurance company.
If you have sufficient evidence to prove negligence and back your claim, you should fight for a fair amount.
Truck accidents usually lead to severe injuries. To recover fair damages after such accidents, you must prove liability, demonstrate negligence, provide evidence, and present a strong case to the insurance company or the judge.
A maximum payout after a truck accident is usually impossible without an experienced truck accident attorney. A professional legal approach is the key to getting the money you deserve.