What are the causes of trucking accidents?
Trucking accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. You know that it takes longer for you to stop than other vehicles. That doesn’t change the fact that sometimes you’re expected to stop on a dime.
When a truck accident is caused by the truck driver, it’s often because of:
- Lack of experience
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Impaired driving
- Failure to obey traffic laws
- Poor decision-making
However, the truck driver isn’t always the one to blame for the accident. In cases where the other driver is to blame for the accident, it’s often because the other driver:
- Follows you too closely
- Drives in your blind spot
- Texts while driving
- Performs illegal maneuvers
- Cuts you off
- Is driving while intoxicated
Even though all of these causes for trucking accidents could happen with beautiful weather, the chances for a crash increase when the roads are slick or not clearly visible.
What should I do if I am involved in an accident with a truck?
If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident, you might be shocked and unsure of what to do next. It’s important for you to keep your composure. By following the steps listed below, you can greatly impact what your insurance company pays for or what a court awards you in the future. Here’s exactly what you should do to make sure you get the best possible settlement.
1. Call the police right after your trucking accident happens.
Immediately after your accident happens, call the police. You want to quickly report what has happened so the police can see the site of the accident as soon as possible. This allows them to thoroughly document and take pictures of the scene and interview witnesses.
By waiting until a little later to call the police, debris from the crash might be removed and witnesses might leave. Both of these might weaken your case, so you really want to make sure to call in your crash as fast as you can.
While waiting for the police to arrive; get the name, license number, and insurance information of the other person involved in the crash. If it looks like one of your witnesses is getting antsy to leave, get his or her name and number so the police can follow up with that person later.
2. Take your own pictures.
Yes, the police will take pictures of your accident, but you should feel free to take your own. You want to take photos of the crash from every angle possible. If there are skid marks, be sure to include those in your shots. Take pictures of the damage to your truck and the other vehicle. If you’re injured, take pictures of that, too.
The point is that you want to take so many pictures that you can tell your side of the story and easily show someone else what happened. After all, this might be what your lawyer needs to do if you end up in a trial. The difference between showing your story with police photographs and telling your story with your own pictures could result in significantly more money for you.
3. Get medical treatment ASAP—even if you don’t think you need it.
Never refuse medical treatment. You’re not a medical professional, and you don’t know whether you’re truly injured or not. Shock can cause you to feel fine or you might have a type of delayed injury.
Have the emergency workers who arrive at the scene of your accident examine you. Then, go to the emergency room and have the doctor there take a look.
At the hospital, the doctor will be able to order more specific tests to detail your injuries. Then, the doctor will note your injuries in your chart. With extensive medical proof of your injuries, it will be harder for the insurance company or other parties to refute your claims of injury.
4. Make and keep copies of anything related to your case.
If it’s about your accident—whether it’s texts, emails, phone calls, medical records, bills, or anything else pertaining to your accident—make a note of it. You might want to have a notebook or Word document specifically for information about phone calls, texts, and emails. This way, all of your notes are located in one place.
Then, when you’ve chosen a lawyer to represent you, have everything photocopied or printed and keep the hard copies for yourself. Give a copy of everything to your lawyer.
5. Don’t talk to any representatives for the insurance company or lawyers for the other side.
If anyone calls and wants to talk to you about your trucking accident, tell them to speak with your lawyer. That might sound rude. After all, if the person calling is polite, you don’t want to be a jerk. But, what you might not realize is that insurance adjusters and other people who might call and try to talk to you about your accident have been specifically trained to be very nice and put you at ease.
They make everything seem like no big deal, like they’re just finishing up some paperwork so they can send your check. But, what they’re really doing is trying to get you to spill the beans and say things that might damage your case.
These people are not on your side. They’re trying their best to find holes in your claim so their company doesn’t have to pay as much money.
6. Don’t sign anything unless your lawyer says to.
Whether it’s a waiver, release, settlement agreement, or some other document about your truck accident; don’t sign it unless your lawyer tells you to. People working for the insurance company will try to trick you. They might casually ask you to sign something. Even if the person makes it seem like no big deal, have your lawyer review it first. You wouldn’t want to accidentally sign something that results in you receiving less money.
Injured as a result of a truck accident?
Driving a truck is a huge responsibility. In a single moment, you can go from happily rolling along the highway to being injured in an accident. It’s very common for truck drivers to receive some sort of injury when an accident happens because of the force put on the body during the crash.
Common injuries include:
- Back and neck injuries. After your accident, you could have minor back or neck pain. However, it’s very common for a truck accident to result in injuries like dislocated spinal discs. When this happens, it’s incredibly painful but often fixable with medical help.
- Broken bones. Sometimes, the break can be significant and require surgery to reconnect pieces of bone. Other times, it can be manageable with a cast or splint. In some rare cases, you could have a hairline fracture that just requires care and attention.
- Head injuries. Head injuries can significantly change your life after your crash. Some common brain injuries from an accident include blurred vision, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. These injuries are relatively minor and will most likely fade with time and help from a doctor.
However, there are more serious head injuries like a concussion or bleeding on your brain. With either of these conditions, medical treatment is crucial. Even with help from a specialist, it’s possible you might suffer from the effects of your crash months after it happened. It might even be career-ending.
- Internal injuries. Internal injuries happen virtually undetected inside your body after your crash. Some common internal injuries are damage to organs or internal bleeding. Right after the accident, you might look unharmed and feel fine. But, the only real way to know whether you have an internal injury is to seek treatment from a medical professional.
- Lacerations. In the scheme of this list, lacerations might seem like no big deal. You might look like you have scratches. But, in bad situations, it might look like you’re missing chunks of your skin. It’s important to have a medical professional examine and clean your wounds. Prompt attention to your injury could make the difference between having to fight off an infection or live with a horrible scar.
- Rib and torso injuries. When a truck crashes, it’s common for the driver to be flung forward into the steering wheel. This can damage the rib cage, which protects important organs like your lungs and heart.
- Seat belt injuries. Although seat belts are a safety tool (and you should always wear your seat belt), they can sometimes cause injuries like whiplash or bruise your chest.
- Spinal cord injuries/paralysis. Spinal cord injuries are very serious. When your spinal cord is injured, you could have pain or tingling in one of your extremities. However, in more severe cases, you could have paralysis, quadriplegia, or even die. Although some spinal cord injuries may improve over time and with medical care, many are permanent and life-changing.
What does a personal injury attorney do?
When you’ve been in a trucking accident, you have a lot on your mind. You’re thinking about damages to your truck and the other person involved. You’re thinking about injuries for all parties involved. You might even be thinking about whether you might lose your CDL license. But, the one thing you don’t have to think about is the law.
That’s your personal injury attorney’s job. You’ll want to choose an attorney with experience with your type of accident. Mind you, it’s not good enough for the lawyer to have experience with trucking accidents. He or she needs to have experience with cases that are a whole lot like your own.
Right now, the insurance company of the other party is doing their very best to minimize (or even completely eliminate) the amount of money they need to pay for the accident. In fact, they have a whole team of lawyers working to ensure you don’t see a dime of their company’s money.
That’s a scary thought, right? You versus a team of lawyers. Whoever knows the law best gets the larger share of the money. But, your personal injury lawyer won’t be afraid or intimidated. Your attorney will fight for you and the money that’s rightfully yours.
Maybe you’re hung up on having to pay a lawyer a percentage of your settlement. After all, you were the one who was injured, not your lawyer. Shouldn’t you be able to keep all that money?
Well, here’s the thing: You could represent yourself. You might even receive a few thousand dollars. And, without a lawyer, that would be all yours.
Or, you could have a qualified lawyer represent you and potentially finish with a settlement for a hundred thousand dollars. Even if you paid thirty percent to your lawyer, that would still leave $70,000 for you. That looks a whole lot better than if you represented yourself and just received a few thousand dollars, doesn’t it?
The above is just an example, but it helps you see why anyone serious about receiving the best compensation for their accident would want a highly skilled lawyer.
How much money can you get from an 18 wheeler accident?
After your 18 wheeler accident happened, you already knew you could be entitled to financial compensation. As long as you and the other party have insurance, your damages, injuries, and even your loss of income should be covered. That might leave you wondering, “How much money are we talking about?”
The simple answer is that it depends on three things:
- The amount of your damages
- How good your evidence is that you weren’t at fault
- How good your lawyer is
Figuring out your damages.
When you’re figuring out your damages, you’re mostly adding up the numbers. Here are the key factors that help determine a baseline for how much you should ask for and receive.
- Medical bills. When you’re keeping track of medical bills that need to be reimbursed, think about your past, present, and future. Gather the bills you’ve already received for the treatment you received immediately after your accident. Make notes about what other treatments or appointments you are going to currently. Then, think about your current situation. Will you receive treatment in the future for any accident-related injuries?
- Property damage. You can reasonably expect to have your truck restored to its pre-crash condition. However, you shouldn’t anticipate that your accident will result in a completely new truck. That won’t happen.
- Lost wages. If you were injured and unable to work because of your truck accident, you are entitled to your lost wages. Similarly, if you were physically fine but your truck was badly damaged and that caused you to miss work, you can claim that as part of your lost wages.
But, don’t stop there when you’re figuring your lost wages. Lost wages aren’t just a collection of wages you missed out on in the past. If you’re still unable to work (because of your injuries or because of your truck’s damage), you need to think about your future lost wages. This is particularly important if you aren’t going to be able to be a driver again.
- Pain and suffering. How much does your pain cost? This can be a tough number to figure. However, if you are in therapy for accident-related issues, the cost of therapy can be a good starting point. Regardless of whether you have therapy bills or not, it’s your best bet to start with a high request for pain and suffering compensation. When negotiations happen, that will give you a little wiggle room while the other side whittles away at the actual money you’ll be awarded.
- Death or dismemberment. If your 18 wheeler accident, unfortunately, included the death of a loved one or dismemberment of yourself or a loved one, some additional expenses might be covered. This could include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the accident for anyone else who was in your truck at the time of the accident. If your truck accident resulted in a death; funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses of the deceased, loss of future income of the deceased, and loss of companionship could be covered.
Showing quality evidence that you weren’t at fault.
Figuring your damages amount is important. But really, the amount of money you’ll receive depends a lot on whether you’re at fault (even partially) for the accident. Although it’s important to have all your bills organized to justify why you’re asking for the dollar amount you are, you also need to prove that you weren’t to blame for the accident. If you go to trial, you’ll need to be able to show jurors your side of the story.
Showing them pictures of your injuries, pictures of the damage to your truck, and pictures of the crime scene paint a vivid picture in their memories. Witness statements and police reports are also helpful. Did the witness clearly see the other vehicle cut off your truck? What was the other driver’s blood alcohol level? Remember, everything you can do to prove you weren’t at fault will result in an easier decision for the jury about how much you should be awarded.
Quality evidence includes:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Testimony from medical experts
- Police reports
- Records of phone calls, texts, emails, and any other accident-related correspondence
You want a pile of evidence that’s a mile high. You want the insurance company’s lawyers to cringe when they see how much evidence you have. Most importantly, you want them to realize that if you go to trial, it’s going to be very expensive. This realization will yield a settlement offer and, if you’ve done a good enough job collecting evidence, the offer will be a reasonable one.
But, what if you’ve done a great job collecting evidence and the insurance company’s lawyers still seem to want to go to court? It probably means they think you’re asking for more money than a jury would award you. If this is your situation, you need to think carefully and unemotionally about your situation. Talk to your lawyer and listen to his or her advice. The last thing you want to do is invest your time and emotions on a trial that could end with a loss for you.
How do you find an attorney for your trucking accident?
Everything you’ve just read will help you do your part to receive the best possible settlement. But, there’s one more key ingredient to your success—the right lawyer. Here are some ideas of how to find the most experienced lawyer with trucking accidents:
- Ask your friends. Friends can offer a wealth of knowledge. Even if they haven’t been in an accident, they might have other friends who have. Then, they can let you know what that person said about his or her attorney.
Just make sure the lawyers that are recommended to you are experts in cases similar to your own. It’s not good enough for the lawyer to have experience with trucking accidents, he or she should have experience handling cases very similar to your own.
- Search online. By searching “trucking accident lawyers near me,” you’ll end up with some great results. Most likely, the top several results will be from ads that may or may not have lawyers that are actually near you. However, if you scroll down just a little bit, you’ll find all sorts of information about local lawyers who handle trucking accidents.
- Check out your State Bar Association directory. Every lawyer licensed in your state is part of the directory. Narrow your search by entering your city and/or that you’re searching for a lawyer with experience with trucking accidents.
After reading all of this, you might wonder why I would spend so much time teaching you how to shop around and find a lawyer. Why wouldn’t I just skip all that and say, “Hire us! We’re the right lawyers for your case!”?
Honestly, this is your case and you’re in charge. You should know what to ask and look for when you’re searching for your lawyer. Call multiple firms, talk to as many lawyers as you want. Then, when it comes time to make your decision about who you want to work with—who best represents you and your wishes—I’m confident you’ll be certain we’re the right lawyers for you.
Regardless of whether you choose to work with our firm or someone else, we wish you all the best in your trucking accident case. Please remember different states have different laws about trucking accidents and settlements that may come as a result of an accident.