What Can I Do To Protect My Rights After a Truck Accident?
A truck accident can have devastating consequences on several aspects of your life, ranging from your physical and emotional health to your financial well-being. The law accounts for the damage that trucking accidents and other catastrophic events cause and allows victims to pursue compensation for their losses via personal injury claims.
Though filing and pursuing a claim is a legally-given right, there are certain things victims can do — or fail to do — that may result in the forfeiture of those rights. Likewise, there are steps they can take to protect them.
As a team, we at Hensley Legal Group have over two decades of experience representing injured individuals throughout Indiana. For more than 20 years, we have earned a reputation for serving as knowledgeable and trustworthy counsel that competently guides victims from injury to maximum recovery. A large part of our success stems from the fact that we partner with our clients and help them make the most informed decisions regarding their claims and their health. Education begins with intimately understanding one’s rights and responsibilities after a truck accident.
At the Scene of the Accident
You can begin protecting your rights to compensation immediately after the accident occurs and when you are still at the scene. If you are able, take one or more of the following steps.
Call the Police
Per Indiana law, you are almost always required to notify the nearest law enforcement agency following a collision. We say almost always because the requirements leave little room for negotiation. The reporting requirements are as follows:
- The accident occurs in an Indiana city that requires you to report accidents
- The property damage exceeds $1,000
- The accident resulted in the injuries or death of one or several individuals
- Your insurance company requires you to report the accident
Regardless of what state law says, it is always a good idea to contact law enforcement after a truck accident, as a police report can go a long way toward establishing fault.
Take Pictures of the Scene
If you are able, take pictures at the scene of the accident. Some things to document are as follows:
- The scene of the accident itself, including the location of the vehicles, skid marks on the road, any traffic signs or signals, nearby landmarks, and other pertinent details
- Any injuries you or other accident victims sustained
- Any and all damages to your vehicle and, if possible, damages to the truck
For your pictures to serve as effective evidence, they should, ideally, contain a time and date stamp. If you do not have your phone on you, cannot find it or cannot get up to take pictures yourself, ask a witness to take pictures on your behalf.
Identify and Gather the Information of Witnesses
In most accident cases, there are individuals who witnessed the crash happen. If your case is one such case, and if you can, go up to the witnesses and ask them for statements and/or their contact information. If you cannot talk to witnesses yourself, or if you do not feel comfortable doing so, ask the attending officers to do it for you. If you notice any security cameras near the scene of the accident, make note of them and, when you have a moment, ask the shop owners if you can get a copy of the footage.
Do Not Admit Fault
Last but not least, do not admit fault. Moreover, do not indicate that you shared any responsibility for the incident, as the opposing party can, and likely will, use your statements against you.
In the Days Following the Accident
What you do in the days immediately following your truck accident can make or break your trucking accident claim. Our personal injury lawyers advise accident victims and their families to take the following steps as soon after accidents as possible.
Seek Medical Treatment
If your injuries are not severe enough to warrant a trip to the ER, schedule a visit with your primary care doctor as soon as possible. Your primary care doctor should have extensive records of your health from before the accident. They can use these records to make comparisons of your health after the incident, and to identify any changes, regardless of how major or minor.
Even if you feel fine after the crash, there is still the risk that pain, tissue damage and other symptoms will manifest in the days following the incident. If latent injuries do manifest, immediate treatment can help them from growing worse. Moreover, evidence that you sought medical care immediately can indicate to insurers and jurors that you did what you could to prevent serious injury but that it occurred regardless.
Finally, medical records and doctors’ notes will serve as your strongest evidence in a personal injury claim. Without them, you may struggle to prove any actual damages, in which case, you may not have a claim.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Indiana law mandates that any person involved in a reportable vehicle collision provide Operator’s Proof of Insurance within 10 days of the incident. The state requires you to take this step to ensure that you carried the state-mandated minimum insurance coverage at the time of the incident. Failure to submit this report in a timely fashion could result in the suspension or revocation of your license, the suspension of your vehicle registration and misdemeanor charges. Not only can complying with the state’s reporting requirements help you avoid unnecessary criminal charges and fees but also, it can bolster your claim, as it will only serve as further documentation of your side of the story.
Be wary, however, about what you say to the insurance adjuster. Give him or her straight facts, but do not provide any opinions or additional details. Let your attorney do most of the talking.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you sustained any injuries in a trucking accident, you will want to contact a truck accident lawyer right away. The right attorney can review the evidence and facts of your case and determine if you have a case. If you do, they can also give you an estimated value. They can also advise you on what more you need to do to open your claim and ensure its success.
One crucial piece of advice your attorney should give you is in regard to when to file. In Indiana, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. Failure to file your claim within two years may cause you to forfeit your rights to compensation.
After You File Your Personal Injury Claim
Once you file a trucking accident claim, there are a few simple things you can do to protect your rights and increase your odds of recovering the maximum amount of compensation. Those are as follows:
- Remain completely open and honest with your personal injury lawyer.
- Avoid posting on social media, as any photos of you or comments about your activities could harm your personal injury claim.
- Avoid speaking to your or the defendant’s insurance company without your lawyer present.
- Avoid accepting the first settlement offer the insurance company makes.
- Keep a detailed journal about your injuries and emotions post-crash, and how they affect your life.
- Continue to seek medical treatment as recommended by your doctor.
Above all, be patient and trust that your lawyer is actively working to help you recover full and fair compensation.
If you or a loved one was recently involved in a truck accident, do not risk your potential claim by attempting to resolve your claim on your own. Contact Hensley Legal Group to schedule your free case review today.