The shock you experience in a truck accident may leave you unsure about the steps you need to take after the accident. At the scene, you should check that everyone is safe, report the accident to the authorities, and exchange information with the other drivers involved. After the accident, you should treat your injuries and find a Miami truck accident lawyer to work on your case. Your lawyer can gather evidence to build an effective claim. An attorney can also provide tips on strengthening your claim.
Steps to Take Immediately After a Truck Accident
Drivers should familiarize themselves with the steps they should take after truck accidents. That way, they will know what to do at the accident scene. The shock of a collision with an 18-wheeler often leaves victims feeling dazed and unsure of what to do.
The steps to take immediately after a truck accident include:
- Check on your passengers and other people involved in the crash. Call 911 to summon emergency medical assistance if you or someone involved in the accident has suffered injuries, appears distressed, or requests medical help.
- If nobody called 911, contact the local police department or highway patrol to report the accident and have an officer come to the scene to prepare an accident report.
- Move your vehicle to the side of the road if you can safely drive it. If not, carefully walk over to the shoulder or sidewalk to get off the road. Activate your vehicle’s hazard lights. If you or your car stay on the road in the path of traffic, you risk a second collision with an oncoming vehicle.
- Exchange license and insurance information with each driver involved in the accident.
- Get contact information from any eyewitnesses to the crash.
- Use your cell phone to take photos of the accident scene if you can safely do so. Try photographing critical details such as vehicle damage, skid marks on the road, traffic signs/signals, and weather/lighting/road conditions.
Common Injuries From Truck Accidents
Due to their size, 18-wheelers impart violent forces in a motor vehicle collision that can lead to life-altering injuries.
Examples of injuries that truck accident victims can suffer include:
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Degloving injuries
- Burns, particularly from post-accident vehicle fires
- Joint dislocations
- Ligament sprains or tears
- Muscle/tendon strains or tears
- Broken bones
- Whiplash injury
- Nerve damage
- Internal organ injuries and internal bleeding
- Herniated spinal disc injury
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Head and facial injuries
- Hearing or vision loss
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Traumatic amputation or limb loss
- Dismemberment or disfigurement
Contact an Attorney
You should also contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. Florida law gives you two years to file a lawsuit against the truck driver or trucking company for negligence.
Although two years may sound like a long time before you need to file your case, investigating a truck accident can take months. You may choose to negotiate a settlement with the trucking company to avoid the time and expense of litigation. The sooner you talk to a truck accident attorney, the more options you will have to pursue financial recovery for your injuries.
How an Attorney Can Help You After a Truck Accident
A truck accident attorney can prepare and pursue your legal claims, freeing you to focus your time and energy on medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Some aspects of the claims process that your truck accident attorney can help you with include:
- Investigating the accident to secure evidence for your case, including accident scene photos, traffic/surveillance camera footage, eyewitness statements, police accident reports, and truck EDR logs
- Reviewing the facts and circumstances of your case to identify all potentially liable parties and determine the availability of insurance coverage
- Working with accident reconstruction, engineering, and trucking industry experts to strengthen your case with expert reports and testimony
- Documenting your injuries and calculating the amount of compensation you might recover in your case
- Preparing and filing your formal claims and demand letters
- Communicating with the trucking and insurance company representatives on your behalf to negotiate a fair settlement
- Filing a lawsuit when litigation becomes necessary to pursue a favorable outcome to your truck accident case
Where Do You Find Truck Accident Lawyers?
Most truck accident lawyers offer free initial consultations, with no obligation for you to hire the lawyer at the end of the consultation. Free consultations allow you to speak with several attorneys to find the right one for your case.
To obtain referrals to a truck accident lawyer, check with:
- Acquaintances. You can ask family members, friends, neighbors, or co-workers who have hired truck accident lawyers if they can recommend their attorney. You may prefer referrals from people you know and trust.
- Attorneys you currently work with or have worked with previously. If you have hired a lawyer for a matter in another area of law, you might ask your attorney for referrals to truck accident lawyers whose work they know and respect.
- Lawyer directories. State, local, and specialty bar associations maintain directories of their members. You might also look through online directories of attorneys such as Avvo.
- Internet searches. Lastly, you might find lawyers via an internet search using a term such as “[Name of your city/county] truck accident lawyer” to find lawyers and law firms in your area who handle truck accident cases.
Although the initial consultation allows a truck accident attorney to learn more about your case to advise you about your legal options, you can also ask the attorney questions to help you decide whether to hire them.
Topics you may want to cover include:
- Experience. You may want to ask questions to learn about the lawyer’s experience with truck accident cases and trial litigation to ensure you hire an attorney you can trust with the knowledge and skill to handle your case through trial if necessary.
- The attorney’s evaluation of your case. You should also ask the attorney their opinion of your chances for recovering compensation, how long they think your case might take, and whether you might go to trial. You should also confirm whether the attorney has the time to give your case the attention and effort it deserves.
- The firm’s logistics. You should confirm whether the attorney you talk to will handle your case, whether you will work with another attorney, or if the lawyer plans to refer your case to another firm.
- Communication and working style. You should learn about the lawyer’s communication style, including whether you can expect a direct line to the attorney, how quickly the lawyer will respond to your calls or emails, and how frequently they will update you on the status of your case. You may also want to know your role in case preparation and what tasks the attorney expects you to perform.
Document the Accident and Gather Evidence
Once you’ve hired a truck accident attorney, your lawyer can help you gather evidence for your legal claim, including identifying what documents and records you should prepare.
Critical documentation you should gather for your truck accident case includes:
- The police accident report. If law enforcement responded to the crash scene, request a copy of the police accident report.
- Dashcam footage from your car. If your vehicle had a dashcam, download footage of the accident.
- Copies of correspondence with the trucking or insurance company. Keep any letters or emails from the trucking or insurance companies and take notes of phone calls with company representatives or insurance adjusters.
- Medical records from your treatment, including treatment notes from your doctors and physical therapists.
- Copies of bills, invoices, and receipts of any expenses you incur, including medical costs or vehicle repairs.
- Copies of your pay stubs or income statements if you miss work.
- Diaries or journals to write down your recollection of the truck accident and document the pain, emotional stress, and physical difficulties you experience due to your injuries and treatment.
What Not to Do When Pursuing a Truck Accident Claim
When pursuing a truck accident claim, you might jeopardize your legal claim by:
- Discussing the accident with the other drivers. When exchanging information with the other drivers involved, refrain from discussing details of the crash or trying to assign blame, as you may say something the insurance company later uses to deny your claim.
- Admitting fault or apologizing after the accident. Even if you think you caused the crash, the evidence may point to another party’s fault. And while you may want to offer apologies as a form of sympathy, they may seem like an admission of guilt.
- Failing to seek treatment or putting off recommended treatment. If you don’t treat the injuries you suffered in the truck accident, you may give the trucking or insurance company a reason to deny or minimize your compensation claim.
- Agreeing to give a written or recorded statement to the insurance company or sign a medical release. Although insurers may claim they need a statement or medical release to process your claim, they want the ability to go on a “fishing expedition” to find the information they might use against your claim.
- Posting about the accident or your social media. Insurers sometimes monitor the social media profiles of accident victims to see if they post anything that might contradict their official claims about the accident or their injuries.
Recovering Compensation After a Truck Accident
After a truck accident, you may have the right to recover compensation for your losses from injuries or property damage.
A financial recovery in your truck accident claim may provide you with money for your:
- Vehicle repairs or reimbursement of your totaled vehicle’s value
- Costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation, including hospital care, surgeries, prescriptions, doctor’s appointments, and physical therapy
- Costs of long-term care for permanent disabilities you’ve suffered, including home health services, housekeeping, or installation of disability accommodations
- Lost income from missed work or reduced earnings while on part-time/light duty during your recovery from injuries
- Lost future earnings and job benefits if you develop a permanent disability and can no longer work or be gainfully employed
- Physical pain and emotional distress
- Lost enjoyment or quality of life because of disabilities or permanent scarring/disfigurement
Knowing What to Do After Suffering Injuries in a Truck Accident Can Help You Protect Your Legal Rights and Interests
Drivers should know what steps to take after getting into a truck accident. Acting quickly after a crash can help protect your right to pursue compensation from a negligent truck driver or trucking company. Most importantly, remember to seek treatment for injuries you suffered in the crash and contact a Miami personal injury lawyer to help you with your legal claims.