You've been hurt in a wreck with a commercial truck; you aren't alone. All across DFW, big rigs are causing major crashes from speeding, failing to yield, blind spot mistakes, faulty brakes, and the list goes on.
You know that in order to get the trucking company to pay for your medical bills, missed work days, decreased quality of life, totaled car, and other damages, you'll need to file a claim. And yet, too many innocent victims have been under-compensated because they made a mistake in their lawsuits. So how can you build a strong case against the trucker who hit you?
Know Who You're Up Against
If you've been injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler and you want to have a successful personal injury claim, you need to know who you're up against. Believe it or not, it's not the trucking company who you'll be fighting against - it's their insurance company.
Of course, the trucking company isn't your friend either. You should avoid talking to either them or their insurance company, and don't sign anything. Not until you hire a personal injury attorney who has your best interests at heart.
Reps from the trucking company want to lessen their part in the truck accident so that the insurance companies can pay you as little as possible for your injuries. One misguided signature can be twisted to put the fault on you, or say that you agree to receive minimal compensation, or ruin your accident claim all together.
Call the Police
Even if no one seems to be hurt, call the police. An officer will collect witness statements and record whose fault the accident was. That report will come in handy later. If the truck driver caused the accident, they'll likely try to dissuade you from calling the police, but don't be tempted to give in. You need that police report.
So what happens if you're reading this after you've already been in an accident, and you didn't call the police? Things get a big trickier, but they aren't impossible. However, I'd highly recommend consulting a truck wreck lawyer before taking any more steps forward - you'll need one if you ever hope to be compensated fairly, especially without a police report to back up your claims.
Get Your Injuries Treated
This is a big one. A lot of hurt truck crash victims wait to be treated because they think the trucker should pay for their injuries. They don't want to see a doctor until they have the money in hand. Although this line of thought is completely understandable, you might actually be hurting your case by forgoing a doctor's visit.
Remember, you're pursuing a claim for both current and future medical treatment, so you will need a doctor to accurately determine how severely you've been hurt and how much money it will cost to treat you. It's the basis of your case.
Take Pictures and Collect Information
If you're able to get the identification information from the trucker who hit you, the truck they were driving, the officer who answered the call, the insurance provider of all drivers involved, and any other information from the scene of the accident, you should. If you were too injured at the time of the crash to collect info or simply didn't think to do it, it's not too late.
Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and any bodily injuries. Return to the scene of the crash and take pictures of any damage that remains there. Pictures are priceless in serious tractor trailer accidents.
Don't Wait to File a Claim and Hire a Lawyer
This isn't a pitch - it's serious advice. There are dozens of reasons why you shouldn't wait to hire an accident attorney, but the main reason is this: you need to be sure your rights are entirely protected throughout the claims process. The longer you go without a lawyer, the more likely the insurance company is to spin the accident, let evidence disappear, or trick you into saying things that will lessen the value of your claim.
Aside from protecting you, a lawyer will begin an immediate investigation into the crash to collect crucial data before it's wiped away. For instance, I'm quick to prevent the semi truck from getting repaired so that we can use the dents as evidence and properly recreate the crash in court, if necessary. I also pull the driver's logs to see how long they had been driving prior to the accident (to show that perhaps they were driving drowsy and fell asleep at the wheel).
Then, there's the business of building your defense. Unfortunately, it's difficult to win a truck wreck claim in Texas. Laws and juries tend to lean in the defendant's favor, meaning that in order to succeed, you'll need an attorney who can convince them that you aren't just trying to capitalize on an unfortunate accident.
I offer a free case consultation to all potential 18-wheeler accident clients. Call me today at 817-294-1900 to set up a meeting to discuss your legal options.
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