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What To Do After A Truck Accident

semi trucks on a highway backup cameraTruck accident statistics in the U.S. are sobering. Every year, more vehicle occupants sustain injuries or die due to a collision with a large truck. In 2019, 159,000 individuals got hurt in a truck crash. The vast majority (114,000) of those injured were passenger vehicle occupants. In 2010, those figures were 81,000 and 61,000, respectively. Truck accidents accounted for four percent of all injury-causing accidents in the U.S. in 2019. According to federal law, the maximum weight of a semi-truck driving on U.S. highways is 80,000 pounds. Even a large SUV that weighs in at 6,000 pounds doesn’t stand a chance against a large, fully loaded truck. If you get into a crash with one, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. However, the insurance companies will not offer a fair settlement, no matter how serious your injuries or egregious the truck driver’s actions. You have to fight for a settlement that covers the extent of what you lose. Taking the right steps after a truck accident can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Ensuring Everyone’s Safety Is Your First Priority

Whenever you have an accident, the immediate safety of all involved (and any bystanders) is of utmost priority. If anyone is hurt, call 9-1-1. If you cannot make the call yourself because of your injuries, enlist the help of a bystander. Indiana law requires those involved in a car accident to call the police if anyone is injured or killed or there is more than $1,000 in property damage. Though you might not think your injuries are serious at the time, it’s still critical for you to call the law enforcement agency on the scene.

Gathering Contact Information

After you call 9-1-1 and make sure the scene is as secure as possible, gather the contact information for other drivers, passengers and witnesses. When obtaining information from the truck driver, be sure you also get information about the driver’s:

  • Insurance provider
  • CDL license information
  • U.S. Department of Transportation number and Unified Carrier Registration
  • Indiana ID number (for intrastate drivers)
  • The trucking company the individual works for

This information is critical for your case and makes obtaining evidence later in your claims process more manageable.

Receiving Medical Attention

Regardless of how minor you think your injuries are, do not delay seeing a doctor. If an ambulance arrives on the scene, accept medical attention at that time. Car accident injuries are not always immediately apparent. They may take days or weeks to show up. However, medics and doctors know what signs to look for, and if you need medical attention later, they have baseline information about the accident and your injuries. Relatedly, if you drive yourself to the emergency room or clinic, make sure you tell the doctor about the truck accident. When you get into an accident with a large truck, you may also experience shock. This natural defense mechanism can mask pain and injuries. When you delay getting help, you can make your injuries worse.

Documenting the Scene

If you are physically able, take photos and videos of the accident scene. Get as many as you can, from all angles, both close up and standing back from the scene. If your injuries prevent you from documenting the accident, request the aid of a witness. The accident investigator may also take photographs, but it doesn’t hurt to have your own documentation.

Consulting With a Truck Accident Attorney

Expediency is imperative when you are involved in a truck collision. The truck driver’s insurance company will act fast to shift the blame to you and deny you the compensation you deserve. Additionally, the longer you wait to act, the harder it gets to obtain the evidence you need. Contact a truck accident attorney as soon as you are able. The attorney can immediately assess your case and advise you on your next steps.   If the evidence indicates that the truck driver or another entity was at fault for your accident, and you hire a lawyer, the attorney can get to work building your case by:

  • Gathering evidence of liability
  • Obtaining the police reports
  • Obtaining medical documentation, including physician reports and your bills
  • Calculating your lost wages
  • Consulting with medical and mental health professionals
  • Consulting with accident reconstructionists
  • Gathering witness testimonies
  • Communicating with the insurance companies

An accident attorney may improve your chances of receiving fair compensation for the totality of your losses.

Obtaining Your Certificate of Compliance

Indiana law requires all drivers to carry sufficient auto insurance, with liability coverage minimums of $25,000 for injuries or death of one individual, $50,000 for the death or injuries of two or more people, and $25,000 for property damage. No matter who is at fault in the truck accident, you need to obtain a Certificate of Compliance (“COC”) proving you met the insurance requirements at the time of the accident. You get the COC from your car insurance company.

Handling the Insurance Companies

When you are in a truck accident, you may receive a call from the driver’s or the trucking company’s insurance representatives. Their representatives may begin asking you questions about how you’re doing or how your recovery is going. They may seem genuine and concerned, but they have one main goal: saving the insurance company money. Claims adjusters are adept at asking the right questions to get you to talk and they can use anything you say to reduce your compensation amount. You are under no obligation to speak to the insurance company representatives. They may tell you that you have to provide a statement and they have to record it. Neither of these is true. You can simply tell them that you do not wish to speak to them. If you have an attorney, you can refer them to your lawyer. The insurance company may even offer you a settlement. If so, you can be sure that the number they give you is insufficient. No matter how good the settlement sounds, you may not want to accept it. If you do, you can’t change your mind or go after the insurance company for more money later. This means that if you experience any complications from your injuries or your current bills keep piling up, and you continue to miss work, you foot the bill for any costs you incur beyond the settlement amount you agreed to.

Filing Your Claim

Rather than accepting an offer from the at-fault party’s insurance company, you can file your own claim with the insurance company. Your claim should contain information about the accident and evidence pertaining to liability. Additionally, you should provide evidence for your:

  • Current medical expenses
  • Projected medical expenses
  • Current and future lost wages
  • Rehabilitation and physical therapy costs
  • Psychological therapy or counseling services

The amount you ask for in your claim needs to reflect how much you have already paid out, as well as estimates for how much your injuries may cost you in the future. It should also cover your losses in wages, productive capacity and pain and suffering.

Hiring an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney

At Hensley Legal Group, we have the experience you need to fight for fair compensation for your injuries and losses after a truck accident. We can help you through the entire process, from gathering the evidence to taking the insurance company to court, if necessary. Let us handle your truck accident case while you manage your recovery. Get in touch with us today for a free case review.

Sources:
https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813110
https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/policy/rpt_congress/truck_sw_laws/index.htm#ex1
http://iga.in.gov/legislative/laws/2020/ic/titles/009#9-26
https://www.in.gov/dor/motor-carrier-services/usdot-and-ucr/
https://www.in.gov/dor/motor-carrier-services/usdot-and-ucr/ucr-usdot-numbers-and-indiana-operating-authority-checklist/
https://www.in.gov/bmv/licenses-permits-ids/suspension-and-reinstatement/proof-of-financial-responsibility/