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Being involved in a truck accident can result in serious injuries or damages and can be a terrifying experience. These accidents can happen quickly and without warning and leave you at a loss for what to do next.
A truck driving accident may involve several parties and can be complex. Accidents with trucks may be more destructive because they are larger and heavier than cars.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
To obtain full compensation for your damages, it is important to follow these steps and preserve your claim. The early stages immediately following a truck crash are the most important.
1. Avoid admitting fault.
Even if you think that you may have been fully or partially responsible for the truck accident, do not admit fault because you may not be aware of all of the factors that caused or contributed to the wreck. Such an admission may be used against you in future proceedings, especially if you later wish to hold someone else accountable for your losses.
At the initial collision scene, you may not be aware of what was going on inside the other vehicle, what traffic laws the other driver might have broken, or what other circumstances might have transpired in the seconds or minutes leading up to the crash. A subsequent investigation may later reveal that the other driver failed to yield to you, was texting at the time of the incident, or ran a stop sign. Unfortunately, if you already accepted fault for the accident, you may have a difficult time pursuing damages.
Drivers should avoid getting into lengthy conversations about what happened after an accident, for these conversations can lead to unprovoked confessions or admissions that do not necessarily reflect the facts of the accident. You must also avoid giving statements to insurance investigators or the family members of the other motorist, especially before you have a chance to retain counsel. While you are obligated to cooperate with the police and give any necessary information, you are not usually required to go into detailed conversations about who was legally responsible.
Avoiding these conversations can help you preserve the sanctity of your claim in the long-run. If you were injured and want to discuss your prospects for getting recovery, or if you need help deciding what to do after a car accident, contact a personal injury attorney for help. An attorney who is working for you will be able to evaluate your claim and help you seek the maximum compensation available to you.
2. Call the police.
One of the first steps in any car crash is to inform the authorities of the crash. This ensures that officers and first responders will respond to the crash and that you receive treatment for any injuries. You should provide as much detail to the police as possible about the other driver, including the vehicle they were driving and any witnesses to the crash.
3. Gather evidence.
Physical evidence is extremely important in accident and injury cases; many courts appreciate plaintiffs who can present them with physical proof and evidence to support their claim. After a truck accident, call the police, even if the damage appears relatively minor; the responding police officer will likely draft a written accident report, which is important because it documents when, where, and how the accident happened. After the police creates the report, ask how you can obtain a copy later, when it becomes available.
After a truck accident, do your best to document the scene as soon as possible and as thoroughly as possible on your own, and avoid leaving out any essential details. The best way to document the scene of a truck accident is to take photos or videos with your mobile device. Taking notes and describing the accident in written form can also help you recall the specifics of the accident later on in the litigation process.
After you have confirmed that everyone is safe, exchange contact information with the other party, being sure to get the other driver’s name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, and insurance information. If there are any eyewitnesses, try to get similar information from them, for witnesses can play a key role in proving your claim if your case proceeds to litigation.
Also, keep a detailed list of any expenses related to the accident; expenses can include medical bills, repair orders, or lost wages. If you were injured in a car accident and are uncertain about what to keep and what to throw away, speak with an attorney who can help you decide exactly what to do after a car wreck.
4. Seek medical attention.
There are many things that a driver can do after a truck accident to help lessen the burden of the collision. Regardless of the type of accident, involved drivers should always first check to see if anyone is hurt, even in minor fender benders; always check yourself and your passengers first. After you have ensured that the people within your vehicle are safe, you can then move to check on the people in the other involved cars; if anyone is hurt, immediately call for medical assistance.
Truck accidents can inflict many different types of injuries onto drivers and passengers alike. These injuries can vary in intensity, permanency, and frequency; some are invisible to the naked eye. Left untreated, some injuries can develop into life-threatening conditions or permanent disabilities.
Prompt treatment for any kind of injury is crucial, as many injuries can greatly affect the way your body moves and functions. If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, it is imperative that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. A medical professional may be able to help you mitigate the overall effects of your injuries.
Thousands of truck accidents happen every year in the United States; in these, millions are injured. According to health and injury research, truck accidents most commonly cause the following injuries:
- Back injuries
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Disfiguring facial injuries
- Foot and ankle injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Knee injuries
- Neck injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Road rash
- Shoulder injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Wrist and hand injuries
If you are involved in a car accident, it is imperative that you see a medical professional to evaluate your injuries. Even if you do not have any apparent injuries, you should still visit a healthcare professional to avoid developing subsequent injuries later on down the road. A healthcare professional will be able to scientifically inspect your body and assure you that you have no serious injuries.
In addition to the obvious health benefits, visiting a healthcare professional may also have some legal use as well. If visited, a doctor will create an official medical report of your injuries. If you later wish to pursue your legal options, you may be able to use these medical documents as proof to the court of your injuries.
It is important to your claim that you demonstrate that you have made a good faith effort to recover and address your injuries as quickly as possible. If you were injured in a car accident and need help gathering evidence that will strengthen your case for seeking compensation for your injuries, contact a personal injury lawyer; they will be able to give you reasonable advice for what to do after a wreck. Once hired, a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer will be able to help you assess your injuries accurately and file a claim accordingly.
5. Speak with a truck accident lawyer.
Dealing with the legal consequences of a truck accident can be exhausting. Part of the reason why is insurance companies can be difficult to handle, especially if they do not want to compensate you completely for your damages. A collision attorney knows how to speak and negotiate with the insurance companies, potentially making the process go much more smoothly for all involved.
Winning compensation for losses incurred during an accident helps victims recover from an accident more quickly. If you are interested in potentially getting the highest compensation possible for your damages, an attorney may be able to help you. Once hired, a professional accident attorney will be able to help you determine fault, navigate the filing process, assess your damages, and negotiate with the involved insurance companies, taking your claim to court if a fair settlement with them cannot be reached.
How Are Truck Accidents Different from Other Car Accidents?
Truck accidents have the potential to be more fatal than car accidents. Trucks are larger and heavier than cars and cannot turn, speed up, or slow down as quickly as a car can. Often, truck accidents involve multiple vehicles, which can cause serious injuries, death, and extensive property damage.
Trucking companies are regulated by state laws as well as federal laws, which can make handling claims difficult without an experienced attorney. Trucking companies usually have a lot of insurance coverage and will have strict driving compliance requirements for drivers to reduce the number of accidents.
The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which includes regulations for truck weight and hours on the road. Each truck driver is expected to know these regulations, but they may not always follow them.
Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), heavy trucks were involved in 5.7% of all crashes in 2018. The number of crashes involving heavy trucks continues to increase in the past five years. The FMCSA estimates that in 2018, over 5,000 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes. There are a variety of causes that contribute to truck accidents in New Mexico. Some are due to weather conditions, but many causes are preventable.
The most prevalent and top contributing factors in crashes in 2018 were driver inattention, failing to yield to the right of way, and following too closely. The most prevalent and top contributing factors in fatal crashes include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driver inattention, and excessive speed.
Other common causes of truck accidents include:
The FMCSA strictly prohibits texting while driving, but it does not stop some drivers from allowing themselves to be distracted.
Some truck drivers are on a time limit to deliver their cargo and may feel pressured to continue driving even when tired. The FMCSA has regulations in place that require rest periods to reduce driver fatigue. Most fatal crashes occurred on rural highways or at night, between the hours of 6:00 pm and 6:00 am when drivers are tired.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS HLDI), drivers of large trucks are allowed by federal law to drive up to 11 hours at a time. Surveys conducted show that many drivers choose to violate these regulations and drive for longer periods at a time.
Improper Truck Maintenance
Large trucks need to be regularly serviced to ensure they are compliant with safety inspections and suitable for the road. Any mechanical failure can be catastrophic on the road.
Trucks carrying heavy loads will take longer to brake. It will also be harder for large trucks to see blind spots, so other drivers have to be cautious when driving near overloaded trucks.
Speeding is dangerous in any vehicle, but a large and fully loaded semi-truck will need more time and space to slow down and stop completely. Other drivers on the road who do not allow enough space for a truck to slow down and stop can put themselves in danger.
Truck companies must train their employees and require that employees obtain the proper license for driving a semi-truck.
Truck drivers should drive slower when road conditions are poor. Something as simple for other cars such as slowing down or turning is much more difficult in a fully loaded semi-truck. Trucks make wide turns, which make them more difficult to navigate.
Common Truck Types
There are different kinds of trucks, all of which can cause significant damage in a collision. Some of the most common truck types are:
- 18-wheeler or big rig
- Cargo trailer
- Flatbed truck
- Dump truck
- Tanker truck
- Cement truck
- Garbage truck
Truck accidents can cause serious injuries. Among these may include:
- Broken bones
- Cuts and bruises
- Internal bleeding
- Soft tissue damage
- Loss of limbs
- Crush injuries
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
Injuries sustained from a truck accident can be much more catastrophic than a regular car crash. Commercial trucks are heavier and larger than cars and can cause more damage.
Who Can You Sue in a Truck Crash Claim?
Knowing who to sue can be confusing and time-consuming. Allow our experienced New Mexico truck accident attorneys to help you pursue a lawsuit against all potentially responsible parties.
The Truck Company
The truck company may be responsible for negligent hiring or improper training. The trucking company may also be vicariously liable for damages caused by its driver if the driver was acting within the scope of employment at the time of the accident.
The Freight Company
This may include the shipper or cargo loader if the cargo was negligently loaded.
The Parts Manufacturer
The parts manufacturer or mechanic could be liable for negligent repairs or defective parts.
Is it Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Minor Accident?
Truck accidents are rarely minor, but even in minor accidents, having an experienced lawyer on your side is worth the cost. Many personal injury law firms are not equipped to handle the complexities of a truck case. Truck accidents are more complex and more expensive than car accidents.
Having a lawyer helps ensure that you recover the most compensation possible for any damages suffered. When it comes to an insurance adjuster awarding a settlement, it is beneficial to have a lawyer look over the settlement before you agree to it. Many times, insurance adjusters tend to offer lower numbers for settlements that will not be adequate for long term injuries or extensive repairs. A knowledgeable lawyer may know when to renegotiate and advise you on your options.
Sometimes minor accidents have major consequences down the line. Injuries that seem minor may worsen or existing medical conditions may be exacerbated. These injuries could end up causing costly medical procedures in the future. Hiring a lawyer who knows about personal injury and liability is worth investing in. Our New Mexico truck accident attorneys may be able to help.
Truck Accident Compensation
There are several kinds of compensation possible for New Mexico truck accident victims. Depending on the damages sustained, they will fall under one of two categories. You may have damages recoverable under one or both.
Economic losses are meant to compensate victims financially and can be calculated. These types of damages include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Property damage
- Funeral/burial costs
Non-economic losses are not as easily calculated and are more subjective to the victim. Factors for calculating these types of damages may include the severity of the injury, length of recovery, and extent of medical treatment. These types of damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Disabilities or diminished functioning
In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are meant to deter others from the same behavior if they acted recklessly or intentionally.
Do not allow an insurance claims adjuster to lower the amount of damages you believe you are entitled to. Insurance claims adjuster are notorious for offering low settlement amounts and may pressure you to sign them quickly. Allow a skilled attorney to go over your damages with you before signing any settlement offer.
Get Help from New Mexico Truck Accident Lawyers
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced truck accident lawyers have handled many victims involved in collisions. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek maximum compensation after a truck accident.
Our firm also believes that a truck accident injury victim should never have to worry about being able to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you will pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. Call us today at (800) 863-5312 to speak with a New Mexico attorney.