Semi-trucks, also called tractor-trailers, are large and heavy, often weighing 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle. This makes them hard to maneuver and much more dangerous in motor vehicle accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 100,000 large truck crashes occur yearly. Of those accidents, nearly 5,000 are fatal crashes.
A semi-truck crash is more likely to cause catastrophic injuries, such as brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and loss of a limb. Fatal injuries are more common in occupants of passenger vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that passenger vehicle occupants account for approximately 68% of semi-truck crash fatalities.
You may feel understandably overwhelmed when you suffer injuries in a truck accident. Unfortunately, this is when many truck accident victims make critical mistakes that can harm their chances for financial recovery through a semi-truck accident lawsuit. Here are the 7 most common mistakes people make after a semi-truck accident and how to avoid them.
The 7 Common Mistakes After a Semi-Truck Accident
A severe or deadly crash involving a semi-truck accident can create significant physical, mental, and financial hardship for the victim and their family. Following a severe accident with a commercial truck, you could file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages from the at-fault party. To ensure the best chance for a positive outcome, avoid these 7 common errors:
1. Not Reporting the Accident Immediately
Following a semi-truck accident in which someone was injured, remain on the accident scene, and contact the police immediately. Most states require a crash report for accidents involving injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage. This police report can provide critical evidence for your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.
All involved parties should remain at the crash scene until emergency assistance arrives. The truck driver, drivers of other vehicles, and any passengers or affected bystanders should speak with authorities before leaving the accident site.
2. Neglecting Immediate Medical Attention
Truck accident victims often find themselves in the hospital with injuries. However, adrenaline can mask the pain immediately following an accident. Even if you feel fine, visit your doctor or local emergency room for a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Failure to document medical conditions that arise from the semi-truck accident can make it harder for you to include medical treatment costs in your injury claim.
Medical records can help you establish the causation of injury and prove that you suffered actual losses from the commercial truck crash. A semi-truck accident attorney can help you gather medical records and bills to ensure your medical treatment is included in your claim.
3. Admitting Fault at the Accident Scene
You may feel guilty or overwhelmed at the accident scene, but it is crucial never to admit fault. Remember, you only saw the accident from your perspective. Other factors may have contributed to the collision, which could alter liability. If you admit fault, you could become liable for your losses and those suffered by others involved in the accident.
State the facts rather than discuss fault with the authorities or your insurance company. Do not speculate about the cause of the accident. Instead, allow your personal injury lawyer to establish liability as they build your case.
4. Not Gathering Adequate Evidence
Trucking accidents often take place on busy roads. Once everyone is safe, the authorities’ primary goal is to clear the roadway and make it safe for traffic. After they clear the scene, obtaining the evidence you need to establish liability can be challenging. If you fail to gather sufficient evidence, you may be unable to prove your case and achieve a fair settlement.
If your injuries permit, take photos of the accident scene, including the vehicles’ final resting places, skid marks, damaged guardrails, and other documentation. Obtain names and contact details from witnesses, so your attorney can contact them later for statements. Other documentation you may need to prove your claim includes:
- Vehicle repair invoices
- Bills for medical treatment
- Receipts for prescription medication
- Pay stubs and documents that show lost income
- Police reports and written accounts of the accident
You may also consider maintaining a daily log of your injuries and how they affect your day-to-day life. A journal can help you establish the extent of your physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and compromised quality of life. A truck accident attorney can provide file assistance for gathering and organizing evidence.
5. Speaking With the Trucking Company’s Insurance Adjusters
The trucking company’s insurance carrier aims to reduce its liability. They may accomplish this by blaming others or convincing you to admit full or partial fault. Sometimes, they may tender an unreasonably low settlement offer or deny liability altogether.
You do not have to speak with the trucking company’s insurance adjusters until you consult with your lawyer. Before you give a statement, discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer. They can help you understand your legal rights and assist you in negotiations.
6. Signing Documents Without Legal Advice
In the confusing aftermath of a semi-truck collision, the trucking company or their insurance representative may ask you to sign a statement, waiver, or settlement agreement. Such documents are rarely for the benefit of the accident victim. Signing a document without attorney advice could waive your right to seek fair compensation for your losses. You could end up footing the bill for medical assistance and other expenses that arise from a truck accident that was not your fault.
Always consult with your semi-truck accident lawyer before signing documents. An attorney will be familiar with the tactics employed by insurance carriers and trucking companies. They can help you navigate the legal process and pursue the compensation you deserve.
7. Not Hiring a Specialized Truck Accident Attorney
Financial struggles are common after a semi-truck accident. You may feel that hiring an attorney is outside your budget while you struggle to pay your living expenses and medical bills on a reduced income. Fortunately, most semi-truck accident law firms take personal injury claims on a contingency basis. Instead of charging for their legal services upfront, the firm retains a portion of your settlement when they win your case.
Although you could handle the case on your own, you benefit from working with an attorney with extensive knowledge and experience with truck accidents in your area. To find a local attorney, type “semi-truck accident lawyers near me” in your search engine. Trucking companies and their insurance adjusters are notoriously aggressive. They will not hesitate to bully you into accepting a lower payout. An attorney specializing in truck accident cases can handle the negotiations while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
How Dunn Sheehan Assists Clients Post Semi-Truck Accidents
If you or someone you love experienced severe losses due to a catastrophic or deadly semi-truck accident, Dunn Sheehan’s skilled semi-truck accident lawyers are here to help. Contact our office today for a free case evaluation. A legal team member will review your case and advise you of your legal options.