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Originally Posted On: https://www.legallee.com/understanding-the-truck-accident-claim-process/
In 2020, 4,842 large trucks were involved in accidents that ended in a fatality. 9% of all fatal accidents were related to significant truck accidents. One hundred seven thousand large trucks were part of injury accidents.
Being a victim of a truck accident can have a long-term and debilitating impact on a person’s life.
For many reasons, truck accident claims are also more complex than other types of personal injury claims.
If you’ve suffered a truck accident injury, you deserve compensation through a truck accident claim.
Read on to learn more about the process for making a truck accident claim.
Why Trucking Accidents Are Complex
There are a host of reasons why truck accidents cause more significant damage and make them more complex, too. A truck weighs 20 to 30 times what a passenger car around them weighs.
Large trucks with full loads can take up to 20 to 40 times longer to come to a stop than a passenger vehicle. Of course, this also means their impact in an accident can be more profound than a regular passenger vehicle.
The other issue for truck accidents is the liability for the accident.
If a truck accident occurs because a driver falls asleep at the wheel, it would seem that the driver is the liable party on the surface. Yet, it could also be that the company the driver works for doesn’t have good safety standards.
Perhaps the driver wasn’t educated about the employer’s expectations for stopping and sleeping, for example. The supplier could be putting demands on the company to get supplies more quickly delivered, making the driver feel like they can’t stop.
The issue of liability can be a complex puzzle in a truck accident claim. Liability can be connected to the following:
- The truck driver
- The owner of the trailer being hauled
- The owner of the truck cab
- The trucking company
- The truck driver’s employer
- The outside party responsible for maintaining the truck
Considering all of these parties as part of the liability and then adding in their insurance companies, it’s easy to see how a truck accident claim can quickly become complex.
Find a Truck Accident Lawyer
Before you ever consider making a truck accident claim, your first step should be to find an experienced truck accident lawyer. They will become your best resource in winning your case.
With so many parties involved and the issue of liability to be sorted out, you need a truck accident lawyer who knows where to start and how to work through a complex case.
It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to quickly reach out in an attempt to get accident victims to settle, even before they have legal representation.
Once you secure legal representation, you can focus on healing from your truck accident injury, and your attorney can begin filing a claim on your behalf.
The insurance companies won’t be able to pull any tricky moves and will know they need to negotiate in good faith once legal counsel represents you.
Only Communicate Through Legal Counsel
Once you have a truck accident attorney, all communication about your accident should go through your attorney.
Remember, there are likely to be many parties involved in the case when you factor in all the insurance companies for the parties who may hold some liability for the accident.
You should report your accident to your insurance company and identify that in the future, and all communication should go through your attorney.
If any other parties from the accident contact you, identify your attorney and direct them to your truck accident lawyer. In fact, the less you say to outside parties, the better.
You don’t want to comment on the accident that another party might try to use against you in future negotiations.
You also want to be careful not to sign any paperwork related to the accident—d—direct all communications and paperwork from the accident directly to your attorney.
Evidence and Discovery by Truck Accident Attorney
Once you’ve secured an attorney, they can begin the process of gathering evidence and discovery motions to prepare your claim. Your attorney will want to learn every detail about the accident and the background of the drivers involved.
Let’s take a closer look at the many places the attorney will gather evidence for your truck accident claim.
Police are often the first responders to an accident scene. They are responsible for assessing the accident scene and compiling the information into an official police report.
The report will contain details about the accident, involved parties, and witnesses. The police report may include the cause of the accident and information about damages and the parties sent for medical care.
The police report should include contact information for all involved parties and witnesses. This is always useful for an attorney gathering information about an accident scene.
While some witnesses may provide information to the police for the police report, it’s also essential for your truck accident lawyer to talk with witnesses.
Both your attorney and any involved insurance companies will likely want to interview witnesses as quickly as possible after an accident. They want to see if any details about the accident weren’t already disclosed.
They want to know what information the witnesses can provide about the events leading up to and including the accident.
While witness accounts are helpful, video is really effective in understanding the events around an accident.
Video footage may be available from a dash cam in the truck. There are also nearby traffic cameras or security footage from nearby businesses.
Video footage is beneficial, especially from multiple vantage points, as it can clearly spell out the chain of events before, during, and after an accident.
Sometimes police will take photographs of an accident scene. It’s always recommended if you’re able to safely snap photos at an accident scene.
Photographs from a variety of angles and both close up and from a distance, also help your attorney understand the accident and its impact.
This can be valuable evidence, especially if the truck accident claim ends up in court.
Insurance inspectors will look closely at vehicle damage, and your attorney may want to do the same.
Vehicle damage can help explain the pattern of events that lead up to the accident.
Sometimes an accident attorney will even hire an accident reconstruction specialist who will look closely at vehicle damage for information on how the accident occurred.
Medical records for your trucking injury will be the backbone of your accident claim.
The medical records also help to show the extent of your injuries from the accident and the potential long-term impact of your injuries.
Your medical care, bills, and long-term needs will be essential to your truck accident claim.
Cell Phone Records
Cell phones are often a culprit connected to distracted driving. Your attorney will want to look at cell phone records for the involved parties in an accident.
If the truck driver was using a cell phone while driving, it could point to them being distracted. Distracted driving can reduce reaction times and cause accidents.
Driver History and Logbooks
Another essential consideration is looking at the driving history of the truck driver. Do they have a history of accidents or distracted driving?
If the driver has a poor driving record, this can help connect liability to the driver. It could also mean the trucking company holds some liability for employing a truck driver with a poor driving record.
Truck drivers are also required to keep a logbook documenting their driving while out on the road. It should show how long they drove and how long they slept between drives.
If a driver has exceeded their legal limits, it can help to show their liability in the accident.
Your truck accident attorney will also want to see mechanical damage to the truck. If a mechanical issue caused the accident, then the party responsible for maintaining the truck and those who own the car will have liability in the accident.
Send Demand Letter to All Involved Parties
Once the attorney has completed gathering all the evidence related to the accident, they can prepare the demand letter that will be sent to the insurance companies involved.
This demand letter outlines the evidence in the case and the related expenses. It should outline the claim’s value from your side’s point of view.
Negotiate, Mediate, or Go to Court
Your attorney will begin negotiating with the involved parties and their insurance companies. The insurance companies may make an offer you don’t feel is fair or reasonable.
Remember, their goal is to pay as little compensation as possible. This is one of the reasons it’s so important for your attorney to have a strong picture of the accident and its impact.
You want your attorney to calculate the expected value of a case carefully.
Often a case is resolved with some back-and-forth negotiations. If that doesn’t work, the case may go to mediation or proceed to a court case for a jury to hear.
File Your Truck Accident Claim
A truck accident claim can be complex because of the many parties involved and the multiple parties who hold liability. It can also be important to get the compensation you deserve as a car accident victim.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you need an experienced attorney to handle your case. Contact us today so we can get to work on your truck accident case. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.