All of us understand the importance of large trucks in providing goods to consumers, supplies to manufacturers, and materials to builders. Semis and other big rigs are integral parts of our economy, and they help provide us with food and clothes for our families, places to live and work, and roads to drive on. However, these roadway behemoths injure and kill many people every year in truck accidents.
After a truck accident, a victim should first notify law enforcement officials and seek medical attention. The steps after a victim has sought medical care could affect their ability to seek compensation for their injuries. Therefore, you need to know what to do after a truck accident, and you need to contact an Augusta truck accident attorney for advice on your options and help with your case.
Protecting Victims After a Truck Accident
Truck accident victims often suffer serious injuries. This is a proven fact. Trucks are significantly larger than cars. When a car and a large truck collide, the car’s operator typically suffers more serious injuries. Family members often must act on behalf of a truck accident victim. One of the initial steps which should be taken is notifying the victim’s insurance company. However, the less detail that is provided to the insurer, the better.
In some cases, providing too much information could cost you. Only notify insurers of:
- Date and time of the accident
- Location of the accident
- Law enforcement division who responded to the accident
- Where the vehicle is located
- Name of another driver, if available
This step allows a claim to be opened on behalf of a truck accident victim. Family members should avoid going into how the accident occurred or providing other information about the accident. Once you notify the insurance company about the accident—or maybe even before that—contact a truck accident injury lawyer immediately. This important step will help preserve your legal rights.
Truck Accidents Are Very Common and Dangerous
In one recent year, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 100,000 people were injured in a truck accident. Motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists are at risk of being involved in a truck accident.
Some of the injuries victims may suffer include:
- Broken bones
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Back injuries
- Burn injuries
- Internal injuries
These are only a small sampling of the potential harm a victim may suffer in a wreck with a large truck.
Protecting Legal Rights Following a Truck Accident
After a truck accident victim has notified their insurance company and hires a truck accident lawyer, they can:
- Maintain their privacy. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. For starters, victims (and their family members) should avoid discussing the accident on social media. In addition, avoid speaking with insurance company adjusters, the person responsible for the accident, the employer of the trucker, or any person who inquires about the accident. All these inquiries should be referred to the victim’s lawyer.
- Create a record. A truck accident injury lawyer will ask for a detailed description of everything the victim remembers about the accident. This information will help file a compensation claim.
- Maintain accurate records. Providing a truck accident lawyer with all records related to medical treatment and other losses that a victim incurs will help establish the dollar amount of the final demand for settlement.
Victims of a truck accident should also ensure they follow all instructions provided by their medical team. This includes taking medication on time, attending follow-up appointments, and following recommendations for activity levels.
Victims need time to heal from the physical and emotional toll that a truck accident takes on them. This is another good reason to ensure an experienced truck accident lawyer is handling the claims process and other matters on behalf of the victim.
What a Truck Accident Victim Can Expect From a Law Firm
When a lawyer acts on behalf of a truck accident victim, they will protect their client.
Some of the important steps they will take include:
- Investigating the accident. Using police reports, witness statements, traffic cameras, and statements made by the people involved in the accident, a lawyer will conduct a complete investigation to determine fault. Once liability for the accident has been established, the lawyer will help the victim understand what steps may be taken on their behalf.
- Check insurance coverage. Large trucks have different insurance coverage requirements than regular automobiles. Understanding what coverage the trucker had before the accident can help establish the potential financial recovery a victim can expect.
- Preparing a settlement demand. A truck accident lawyer will help prepare a settlement demand for the victim’s losses. The lawyer may avoid this step until the victim’s recovery reaches its maximum potential. This means that no further medical intervention will result in an improvement in their physical state.
Truck accident lawyers are prepared to help their clients deal with all aspects of their claims, including dealing with insurance company adjusters. They will work closely with the victim to ensure they have an accurate record of all out-of-pocket costs and other losses associated with the injuries suffered in a truck accident.
What Compensation Can a Settlement Obtain?
A victim may claim two types of compensation following an injury that a settlement can pay:
Economic losses include medical expenses. These expenses include hospitalization, surgical procedures, special diagnostic tests, prescription drugs, medical devices such as crutches, wheelchairs, or hospital beds, and transportation to and from medical visits. If there is any reason to believe a victim will require future medical care due to the extent of their injury, this could also be included in the claim.
Another area of economic loss includes lost income. This area is typically the largest portion of a demand settlement. Lost income includes any income a victim loses while recovering from their injury. There may also be an income claim which may be lost in the future if the victim cannot return to their normal employment after suffering a truck accident injury.
Victims should also let their truck accident lawyer know if they had to make home modifications to remain safe while recovering, pay outside help to perform household chores such as landscaping or incur other expenses outside of their normal spending due to the injury they suffered.
Economic losses are typically the easiest ones to prove because receipts, canceled checks, or tax returns clearly show the financial impact of injuries on the victim and their family.
A victim may also claim non-economic losses. These losses are often more challenging to prove and assess a dollar amount because they are more ambiguous. However, this should not prevent a victim from discussing them with their truck accident lawyer.
Some of these losses may include:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
Experienced truck accident lawyers who have experience handling these types of claims will explore all possible sources of compensation on behalf of a victim.
Insurance Adjusters and Truck Accident Claims
A trucking company that learns their driver is at fault for an accident will notify their insurer immediately. The insurance adjuster may immediately contact the victim to obtain a statement. This is one of the reasons why a truck accident victim, or their family member, should contact a lawyer immediately following an accident.
Insurance adjusters have one job. To minimize the losses an insurance company will face when their client is at fault for an accident. Chances are, two adjusters will be assigned to a claim after a truck accident. One adjuster will handle the medical and lost wage portion of a claim, while the other will deal with property damage associated with the claim. Neither one is looking out for the interests of a truck accident victim.
Should a victim not have a lawyer advocating on their behalf, the insurance adjuster may begin to ask what seems to be innocent questions. Make no mistake that these questions are not as innocent as they appear.
An adjuster may also:
- Ask for recorded statements. A truck accident victim should never provide a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. This includes the adjuster or adjusters working for the liable party’s insurer or their own. Recorded statements can be used later to contradict information presented to bolster a victim’s claim.
- Request medical records. While an insurer may ask for the medical records associated with a truck accident, adjusters often go further. They may ask the victim to sign a broad medical release form that allows the insurer to obtain all of a victim’s medical history. This information may be used to minimize the amount of a final settlement demand. Victims should not sign any paperwork sent to them by an insurer without having them reviewed by an experienced truck accident lawyer.
- Offer a low settlement early in the process. Unfortunately, the more serious the injury suffered by a victim, the faster an insurer may offer a settlement. There are two reasons for this step. First, insurance companies understand that while someone is recovering from an injury, they are likely facing some financial stress. Secondarily, they know the longer a victim takes to recover from their injury, the higher the settlement they may seek.
Truck accident victims should always remember that an insurance adjuster is working to protect the insurance company’s interests, not the victim’s. When a truck accident lawyer is working as their advocate, the lawyer will take every measure needed to provide the insurer with the information they need while continuing to protect the victim from being taken advantage of financially and otherwise.
Time to Process Truck Accident Claims
Victims should prepare for the time it may take to process a truck accident claim.
Their truck accident lawyer may need to:
- Prove liability. Even if a police report shows law enforcement believes the trucker may be at fault for the accident, the insurer may dispute liability. However, a truck accident lawyer can evaluate the police report and other evidence, including witness statements, to prove liability.
- Submit a demand. Truck accident lawyers will work with clients to establish a settlement amount. Once this is completed, they will submit a demand for settlement to the insurer.
Field an insurer’s counteroffer – Often, an insurance company will make a counteroffer to a settlement demand. The lawyer will discuss this counteroffer with the victim to determine if it is acceptable.
- Negotiate. Several rounds of negotiation may occur before a victim gets a reasonable settlement offer. In some cases, the insurer will refuse to agree, at which time a truck accident lawyer could file a lawsuit for their client. While most accident injury cases do not go to trial according to Black’s Law Dictionary, when a victim hires a truck accident lawyer, the lawyer can take a case to trial if the insurer refuses to negotiate in good faith or offer a fair settlement.
Every step a truck accident victim takes following an accident could affect their case and the final settlement they obtain. If you hire a truck accident lawyer, you will make better decisions and obtain a better outcome.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Immediately
You only have a limited time to pursue damages from a truck accident, and you have no time to waste in contacting an attorney and getting the process started. If a negligent truck driver injured you or killed a close family member in a truck accident, contact an Augusta truck accident lawyer at The Hawk Firm today.