Being in any car accident can cause stress, but being in an accident with a truck can be even more serious due to their size and power. Truck accidents can cause significant damage to your vehicle and in the worst case, seriously injure someone involved.
But while your emotions are probably running high after a truck accident, it’s important to take proper precautions directly after an accident in order to protect yourself and any claim that you may later decide to bring regarding the accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, contact the lawyers at Zinda Law Group today for a free case consultation.
1. Report the Collision to the Proper Authorities
When you are in a truck accident you should always call the police. If anyone involved in the accident has been injured, you should also request an ambulance.
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2. Write Down Contact Information for Witnesses
In a personal injury claim, the facts of the accident are immensely important because that is how the court determines who was at fault. If there were witnesses at the scene, you need to make sure you are able to get in touch with them so they can share what they saw. Get the information of anyone who saw the accident so that your lawyer can follow up with them to gather evidence for your theory of the case.
3. Document the Evidence at the Scene
Thoroughly document everything at the scene of the accident. Make sure to keep copies of all bills and expenses that you have to incur from the accident, including medical bills and repair bills, and that you document the damage done to your vehicle before it is repair.
In addition, make sure that you receive a copy of the police report or accident report. In general, you should have evidence of everything you do after the accident and as much evidence as you can about the circumstances of the accident—having too much evidence will never be a problem, but not having documentation of something that appears minor at the time could become a significant issue in the future.
You should be taking pictures of the scene of the accident so that you document it as thoroughly as possible. This will not just be important to introduce in court as evidence that the accident happened as you are claiming it did, and that the consequences were what you are claiming they are. It also provides helpful information for your lawyer when he is creating the argument he will use to pursue compensation for you.
Your lawyer was not at the accident, and while you probably have a recollection of what happened, you are more likely to be aware of what was going on in your car than everything happening with the other party. In addition, your memory may be impacted by the stressful events. Your lawyer needs to be able to recreate the scene of the accident as throughly as possible not just to present the most accurate version of events to the court, but because any small details might be helpful to make your case as persuasive as possible.
Common Evidence To Collect After Trucking Accidents
- Electronic Control Module “Black Box”: The Electronic Control Module, also known as the “black box,” holds data on how the truck has been driven. This can include highest speed, average speed, time driven, hard stops, and speed before hard stops. This can give you powerful ammunition if the information does not match the driver’s logs.
- Tire Tread: The wear and tear on a tire can indicate the safety or condition of the vehicle;
- Brakes: Many trucks on the roadway are over their hours of service and have faulty or defective brakes;
- Driver’s Logs: The logs will show whether the driver and company were in violation of the driver’s hours of service and if the driver was overworked;
- Driver Qualification File: This file will show whether the driver and company were meeting the legal criteria for qualified drivers;
- Scene Inspection: A scene inspection gives a first-hand impression of what happened at the crash, including tire marks, road gauges, and other crucial evidence;
- Vehicle Inspection: Inspecting the truck allows you to assess the damage, and see if the truck was tampered with or improperly used;
- Cell Phone Data: This data can indicate whether a driver was on his cell phone at the time of the incident, which is usually illegal under regulations;
- Social Media: Posts on social media often show whether the company and the driver take compliance seriously, and may lead you to evidence that shows the driver was at fault.
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4. Seek Medical Attention
If anyone at the scene of the crash has been injured, or struck their head very hard (even if they feel fine or did not lose consciousness), they should receive medical attention as soon as possible. However, if you do not have any urgent injuries or believe you were not injured at all, you should still go to your doctor after the accident to ascertain your condition.
This is important both for health reasons and because of your claim. Some injuries do not become apparent immediately, but can still become extremely serious and sometimes life threatening if not treated promptly, such as concussions. But it is also important to receive diagnoses from your doctor as soon as possible if your injury is from an accident because in a personal injury lawsuit, the more time that has elapsed between the accident and your diagnosis will give the opposing party more ammunition to cast doubt on your assertion that you were injured in the accident involved in the lawsuit and not in another way in the intervening period.
5. Document Your Medical Treatment
When you file your personal injury claim, you will be asking for money for the damages you have received. When you are requesting money from another party as a result of them harming you, the court wants to see specifically what damages were suffered. Make sure that you document whatever medical treatments you received and how much they cost, so that it is clear exactly how you were harmed in your truck accident and what damages you should receive in compensation.
6. Get Your Vehicle Appraised
The idea behind personal injury law is to put the victim in the place that he or she would have been had the accident or harm never happened to them. So if your car is totaled, that doesn’t mean that you will necessarily receive the value of your car when you bought it—you may only be able to receive the value of your car directly before the accident.
For example, if you bought your car for $30,000 and drove it for 10 years, it will not be worth $30,000 after ten years of use. If you are in an accident and your car is totaled, you will have to have your vehicle appraised to determine what the value was immediately before the accident. If the value was only $10,000, you will only be owed $10,000 in an accident suit, because the other $20,000 of value was lost over the ten years of using your car and so in the accident you only lost $10,000.
7. Interview Witnesses
If there were witnesses at the scene of your truck accident, ask if any of them saw what happened. Witnesses may be able to provide information about the circumstances of the accident even if they do not know exactly what occurred—they may be able to agree that a stoplight was red, or that the conditions of the road were foggy.
If a witness has information helpful to a case and your lawyer decides it would be appropriate, your lawyer may interview or even depose these witnesses later on as your case progresses, so it is important that you speak to these individuals now to determine if they have any useful information and to stay in contact with them.
8. Seek Help to Negotiate Early Settlement Offers
You should never sign anything at the scene of the accident or afterwards without speaking to your lawyer first to have a full understanding of the possible consequences of a settlement. This is especially important early on in the case, because you want to be sure that you have assessed all of the damages you’ve incurred from the accident.
For example, if you injure your leg in a truck accident and need surgery, you may be satisfied that an early settlement offer offers to pay for the surgery. But if the surgery is unsuccessful and your injury persists, and needs another type of management that is an ongoing expense, you will be sorry the settlement agreement was signed before you knew that this was something you had to face.
9. Use Caution When Discussing the Incident
Insurance companies and the opposing party or their counsel want to avoid having to compensate you for the accident by whatever means they are permitted to use. This could include disputing that your injuries are from the accident, or that they are not as severe as they are, or they could attempt to get you to admit fault in the accident.
You should never admit fault to anyone following an auto accident, even just in passing, because anything you say can be used to argue that the other party was not at fault and does not owe you compensation. Don’t just watch what you say in person, either, but be sure not to post about the incident on social media, either, for the same reason—your own statements could be used against you when pursuing a personal injury claim.
10. Get Help From Zinda Law Group Today
Being in a truck accident is stressful and can result in very serious consequences. Your focus should be on recovery, not on trying to handle the complexities of the legal system on your own. However, hiring a lawyer can seem expensive and complicated, especially when you don’t know what the outcome might be in court.
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced truck accident lawyers can fight for your right to compensation so you can recover from what’s happened to you. In addition, Zinda Law Group has a contingency fee structure, which means that unless you receive a favorable verdict, you will not pay anything—so you can be confident that no matter what, you won’t be paying legal fees on a lost case.
Common Mistakes After A Truck Accident
The biggest mistake our personal injury attorneys find after a truck accident is our client not collecting vital information with regard to the name of the driver of the truck, the insurance company that insures the truck, and the company that owns that truck.
Another common mistake is not calling the police and having a record of exactly what happened. Have the police investigate how things happened and why things happened.
If you’re hurt, make sure you seek medical treatment right away. There is no reason to wait while you’re in pain and symptoms aren’t being relieved.
Maybe the most important mistake that people can learn from is waiting too long to contact an attorney. This is a mistake for a couple reasons. First, the insurance company for the opposing party, the trucking company, will certainly call you, try to get a statement and tell you a little bit about how the process works. You want to make sure that your rights are being protected and your interests are being looked after.
Additionally, you want to make sure that an investigation occurs right away. By hiring an attorney, you can get that done promptly. The longer you wait, however, the more likely it will be that people disappear, witnesses forget what happened, or vital information is lost.
NATIONWIDE TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYERS
Zinda Law Group has a proven track record of handling 18-wheeler and commercial vehicle cases in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and throughout the United States. We can help you investigate the accident, find experts, and seek the compensation you deserve.
If you need help with your trucking accident case or have questions, please feel free to contact our firm for a free consultation.