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Accidents involving tractor-trailers, otherwise known as “18-wheelers” or “big rigs,” occur frequently and often lead to serious injuries. Because these devastating accidents have the potential to carry serious, life-changing consequences, it is important to understand what can be done following an accident. This article will discuss some important topics relating to trucking accidents, including what should be done immediately following a crash, as well as what a trucking accident attorney can do for you.
If you or a loved one has been in a trucking accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call the lawyers at Zinda Law Group at (512) 246-2224 for a free case evaluation.
Document as Much as Possible
A common, yet critical, mistake made by people who have been hit by a tractor-trailer is failing to keep an organized record of the accident and the effect that the accident has had on the person’s life. Failure to keep such a record can make it difficult to prove the extent of your injuries and damages, thereby hurting your chances at seeking maximum compensation for your losses.
Thus, one of the most important steps you should take following an accident with a tractor-trailer is to “document” the accident by creating a thorough record of the incident. This personal record of your accident should include important things such as:
- Copies of any police reports or accident reports
- Photographs of the vehicles and resulting damage
- Photographs of your injuries as a result of the accident
- Photographs of the scene of the accident
- Witness statements, if any
- Medical bills
- Pharmacy bills
- Rehabilitation bills
- Car repair estimates
By keeping a running record of these documents from the time of the accident until settlement or trial, you can strengthen the value of your claim. This means putting yourself in a better position to prove the extent of your injuries and damages.
Exchange Information with the Truck Driver
After an accident with a tractor-trailer, it is important and legally required, for you to exchange information with the other driver. If a driver fails or refuses to exchange information with you, you can call for police officers to attend the scene.
When exchanging information with the driver of a tractor-trailer, be sure to collect the following critical pieces of information:
- Name of the driver
- Driver’s driving license number
- Driver’s phone number
- Driver’s address
- Name of driver’s employer
- Employer’s phone number
- Employer’s address
- License plate of the vehicle
- Insurance company and policy number(s)
Although a personal injury claim may still be filed in the event that you forget or otherwise fail to collect this information, gathering this information can make the claim filing and settlement process much less of a hassle.
Do Not Admit Fault or Make Any Statement About the Accident
Another common mistake made by people who were hit by a tractor-trailer is to admit fault for all or some of the accident. Because these admissions can be used against you during the settlement process, falling victim to this mistake can mean diminishing or destroying the value of your claim.
With this is mind, it is critical that you understand that you should never admit fault or make any statement regarding the accident. Even if you believe that you caused the accident, you should refrain from admitting or accepting any type of fault. Other circumstances may have contributed to the accident, thereby making the question of fault difficult to determine.
Similarly, it is important that you refrain from making a statement about the accident. When speaking to police officers or other responders, it is okay to describe your injuries and medical condition. However, you should avoid making statements which can be interpreted as admitting or accepting fault for the accident.
It is also critical that you understand that it is within your rights to refuse to speak with the other insurance company until you have consulted with an attorney. Many times, the insurance company who insures the truck driver or trucking company will contact the victim after the accident. During these communications, the insurance company may encourage the victim to make a statement regarding the accident. The insurance company may then use this statement against the victim in order to reduce the value of the victim’s claim. You can protect yourself from this tactic by refusing to speak with insurance companies until after you have discussed your case with a truck accident attorney.
Get Your Injuries Seen by a Doctor As Soon As Possible
A significant percentage of accidents involving tractor-trailers result in serious injuries which necessitate a visit to the emergency room or trauma center. However, many accidents result in delayed-onset injuries which can take hours or days to manifest. For instance, if a victim is rear-ended by a tractor-trailer, the victim’s vertebrae may have shifted or misaligned. Although the victim may not experience the physical effects of this injury at the scene of the accident, the victim may begin to feel intense pain later that night or the next morning.
Therefore, it is important that you seek medical treatment as quickly as possible following an accident with a tractor-trailer. Receiving prompt medical attention will not only increase your chances of recovering from the injuries sustained in the accident, but it may also prevent future related injuries from occurring. Failure to seek medical treatment in a timely fashion may lead to chronic pain and injuries down the road, which can mean overwhelming medical bills.
Finally, seeking prompt medical treatment following an accident can serve to strengthen the value of your claim. A proper diagnosis supported by doctor’s reports and other forms of medical records can be used as evidence to support your case. This evidence can be used during settlement negotiations with insurance companies or during the trial. A stronger case may mean a better chance at seeking fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Speaking to a Trucking Accident Lawyer
Consulting with an experienced trucking accident lawyer following an accident can be beneficial to your case for several reasons. To begin, a trucking accident attorney can rely on his or her experience in handling these types of cases in order to provide you with valuable legal advice moving forward. Because trucking accidents are a unique case that shares only a few things in common with typical car accidents, it is wise to consider speaking directly with a trucking accident lawyer.
Hiring a trucking accident attorney can also be beneficial when it comes to dealing with insurance companies. Insurance companies are notorious for finding ways to minimize payouts by any means necessary. Similarly, insurance companies are often hesitant or reluctant to pay for certain types of expenses such as costs incurred due to injury, or non-economic damages like emotional pain and suffering. Insurance companies will often resort to using tricks and strategies in order to accomplish the goal of paying as little as possible. For example, during an interview with the claimant, an insurance company may trick the claimant into admitting fault for all or part of the car accident.
A trucking accident lawyer can help protect you from insurance companies. The lawyer will guide you throughout the claim filing and settlement process, ensuring that you do not make any unnecessary statements that could hurt the value of your claim. A lawyer can also fiercely negotiate the settlement amount with the insurance company. In doing so, the lawyer will act on your behalf by negotiating a settlement amount that is fair and satisfactory. Should the case go to trial, the trucking accident lawyer can advocate and fight for you.
Understanding Your Compensation
Knowing what your claim is worth and how it is calculated is an important part of the claim filing and claim settlement process. Understanding this information may help facilitate the settlement and negotiation process.
In cases involving trucking accidents, if a lawsuit is brought against the truck driver or trucking company, the driver, company, or the insurance carrier faces the possibility of having to compensate the victim for the harm suffered. The damages that a victim of a trucking accident may seek compensation for are separated into two general categories: Economic damages and Non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages that can be accounted for and calculated. The primary components of economic damages involved in tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income (present and future)
- Property damage.
Medical bills include costs paid by the victim for services such as hospital visits, doctors’ appointments, pharmaceuticals, rehabilitation services, and physical therapy. Lost income corresponds to time missed from work due to injuries sustained as a result of the accident. If the injury prevents or impairs the victim’s ability to work beyond the date of the accident, lost income may also include the victim’s loss in earning capacity. Property damage refers to damage inflicted on the victim’s vehicle and personal belongings.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are subjectively evaluated by the jury in a lawsuit. Although this category of damages is difficult to quantify and calculate, non-economic damages are often more valuable than economic damages. Types of non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages are a separate component of damages that may also be awarded, depending on the jurisdiction. Punitive damages are not awarded to compensate the victim for losses incurred. Rather, punitive damages are meant to punish the at-fault party. Although punitive damages are rare, you may seek compensation for punitive damages in cases where the at-fault party’s conduct was found to be especially reckless or intentional. Punitive damages may also be awarded if the accident resulted in a wrongful death. In such cases, the victim’s surviving spouse or family members may seek compensation for punitive damages if the at-fault party’s conduct was found to be reckless, egregious, or intentional.
Trust the Attorneys of Zinda Law Group
A semi-truck accident can leave you in a financial bind. Your injury could leave you unable to work and result in lost wages. Medical bills or rehabilitation costs can add up. If the accident results in the death of a passenger, psychological distress can be devastating. The stress of dealing with all of these problems can take a toll.
Our truck injury lawyers can investigate your accident and determine if it was due to disregard of regulations, truck driver error, or if the trucking company is at fault. If you were harmed due to some else’s negligence, we can fight aggressively to seek the compensation you may be entitled to.
If you have been hurt in an 18-wheeler accident in Texas, consult with a truck injury attorney at Zinda Law Group today. Our team of experienced lawyers can advise and handle the legal work for you so you can focus on what is most important: your recovery. Call (888) 234-7042 or chat us today to set up your free attorney consultation.
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