Traveling on the busy highways and freeways of America can be dangerous. Many kinds of drivers are on the road, from student drivers to older adults who have been driving for over 50 years. You’ll also encounter numerous types of vehicles beyond passenger vehicles. You share the road with buses, double trailer mail carriers, garbage trucks, logging trucks, semitrailers, and tanker trucks, to name a few.
Having a good understanding of how some of these vehicles maneuver could prevent an accident from occurring. If you happen to be unfortunate enough to find yourself in an accident with one of these big rigs, you’ll want to know what steps to take to protect your rights after a truck accident.
What Should I Do Immediately After Impact?
If you have been in a collision with a commercial vehicle, knowing what steps to take is vital. The first step you will want to take is to stay at the scene if possible and call 911 if you are able. Once help is on its way, if you’re not injured, you will want to check the driver’s condition in any other vehicle involved. The 911 dispatcher may even ask you to check on the other vehicles so that they can dispatch the appropriate personnel as well.
Taking photos or videos of the incident is also crucial if you’re able. You can exchange contact and insurance information, driver’s license numbers, and all vehicle information with all drivers involved if you’re comfortable. If you’re not comfortable speaking with the other drivers or it is a hostile situation, wait for the authorities to come.
Once the authorities arrive, they will take over the situation. It’s vital to never make any statements about the crash prior to the authorities arriving. If you need medical attention, get it. Your life and well-being need to be of utmost importance. The authorities will be able to put everything together with witnesses and possibly dash cams that may have been in use. You should not stress about the details until you are well enough to do so.
When Should I File a Claim?
Once you are capable, you will want to file a truck accident claim, especially if there were injuries. A commercial driver will likely work for a larger corporation and will have the help of their lawyers. Chances are their lawyers will want to get victims to settle or admit fault. They will want to get the issue resolved as soon as possible and for as little money as possible.
Filing a truck accident claim and speaking with an attorney will help you protect your rights. Once you have a signed written agreement with an attorney, you should not speak with anyone but your lawyer. Your attorney will make sure your rights are preserved.
Once you have an attorney locked in, they should take control of the situation for you. However, having an idea of what to expect is essential. Your attorney will collect all evidence and investigate the accident for you. Once they can determine the truck driver is at fault, they will issue an injury demand letter to the trucking company and driver or insurance company. Your attorney will file and address any necessary paperwork. Some of this paperwork can be confusing and intimidating, so having an attorney will ease some of your worries.
Who Is at Fault?
When in an accident with a commercial vehicle, determining who is at fault is more than just what happened on the road. A driver of a commercial vehicle has more responsibilities to follow than a typical driver. If the commercial company has not upheld maintenance requirements such as tires, steering, brakes, headlights, tow hitch defects, or unsecured loads, they could be found at fault for these reasons. If the driver isn’t in compliance with the laws, such as being over on the legally allowed driving hours, they could be found negligent.
Some states have statutes that allow a person to seek compensation even if they’re partially at fault. The Legal Information Institute explains how you still could collect on an accident involving a commercial vehicle even if you’re determined to be partly at fault. Other reasons that someone might be deemed partially responsible could be driving under the influence, distracted driving, driving while emotionally agitated or drowsy, or engaging in aggressive behavior. Your attorney will do the necessary work to determine who is responsible.
What Can I Expect From a Settlement?
After all of the paperwork has been filed, negotiations should begin. Your attorney will make sure that you get what you deserve. If the truck driver was at fault, you’re entitled to medical compensation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of potential future earnings along with your vehicle damage. You must follow all medical advice and attend all appointments to help with your case. Your attorney should help guide you through this process to ensure you get the best settlement possible.
Once you have agreed to a settlement or a trial verdict is in your favor, your attorney will make sure you receive your compensation. For a collision that resulted in death or permanent disability, one should expect the settlement to be much higher. Again, insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they will try to get you to settle for as little as possible. They may also try to get you to sign a waiver claim. In doing so, you could miss out on a larger settlement, which is yet another reason why hiring an attorney is in your best interest.
Every time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you take the chance of being in an accident. No one ever wants to be in a tragic situation, especially with an 18-wheeler or another large vehicle. Understanding what to do if this situation occurs will ease an already stressful situation. If your luck is running short one day and you find yourself in an accident with a big rig, keep your friends at Alvarez Law in mind. Our knowledgeable team has the experience and expertise to go to battle for you after a truck accident.