Getting into an accident with a semi-truck or tractor-trailer is scarier than a typical car accident. Large trucks are significantly bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles; the odds of walking away unharmed, even from a fender-bender, aren’t in your favor.
Seek medical care first, then get a lawyer
Once you’ve sought necessary medical care, your first move after a truck accident is to contact an attorney. You’ll need an attorney because truck accidents are more complex than passenger vehicle accidents. Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against a truck driver or a trucking company will require extensive knowledge of laws you may not even know about.
For example, Vecchio injury lawyers in Plano, Texas explain that large trucks are governed by state and federal laws that don’t apply to passenger vehicles. For instance, driving hours are limited, drivers are required to inspect and maintain their trucks, and all drivers are required to document various activities, including rest and meal breaks.
If the truck driver broke any federal or state laws that may have contributed to your accident, your attorney will use that to strengthen your case.
Document your experience
Ideally, you’ll want to document your experience as soon as possible before you lose track of important details. Document things like:
· What road you were on when the accident happened
· The angle of your vehicle when it was struck
· The time of day or night the accident occurred
· If you noticed the truck driver was distracted
· Who had the right of way at the time of the accident
· Witness license plate numbers and/or emails and phone numbers
Document as many details as you can recall. Don’t leave anything out. Even if you remember what color shirt the truck driver was wearing, document that.
Details that don’t seem relevant to your case might become relevant. For example, if you thought you saw the truck driver drinking from a beer bottle, document that. Your perception may have been accurate.
Commercial truck drivers account for a number of DWI and DUI convictions.
For instance, a truck driver in Nevada killed five bicyclists while high on meth. Another truck driver in Pennsylvania crashed his truck while drunk and a curious driver found him standing naked by his rig down the side of an embankment.
Contact your insurance company
After any accident, contact your car insurance company right away. Even when the accident was clearly not your fault, always notify your insurance company of a crash.
If your car was totaled in the accident, your policy should cover at least part of the value, if not the entire value. However, this depends on what state you live in and who is determined to be at fault.
If you’re in one of few states that require drivers to carry no-fault car insurance, your insurance policy will cover your medical bills and damage to your vehicle. However, in most states, including Texas, the at-fault driver will be held responsible for your injuries and damages.
Either way, don’t hide your accident from your insurance company. Even when the truck driver is clearly at fault, your insurance company still needs to know about the accident. Hopefully, you have a liability waiver that eliminates your need to pay a deductible on the damages.
Think about your future – how will your needs change?
How serious are your injuries? How will they affect your future ability to care for your family or earn a living?
When a passenger vehicle or a motorcycle collides with a large truck, the resulting injuries are usually severe. For example, these five serious outcomes are common:
· Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
· Severe head and neck injuries
· Limb amputations
· Bone fractures
· Permanent spinal cord or nerve damage
If you’ve experienced any of the above outcomes, think about how that will affect your future. You’ll probably win financial compensation through your lawsuit, but that will only carry you so far. It’s important to consider how you’ll need to adjust your life to compensate for your injuries.
Will you need a caregiver to help with basic tasks like housekeeping and running errands? Will you need help cooking or bathing? Maybe you’ll just need to have your car modified to make it easier to drive.
Hopefully, your life won’t change too much. However, it’s important to consider potential changes so you can start planning ahead.
Don’t fight your case without a lawyer
To maximize your compensation, hire a truck accident attorney. The law is too complex to represent yourself. Don’t risk getting a bad deal. A lawyer will have all the experience required to get you the compensation you deserve.