Because trucks weigh 20 to 30 times more than passenger vehicles, accident victims can suffer catastrophic injuries or death when a negligent trucker causes a crash. If you were injured in one of these accidents, you could incur expensive medical bills and be off work for months or longer without a paycheck while you recover from your injuries. Besides the worries over your health, the financial losses can be enormous. Fortunately, you may be able to hold the trucker and the trucking company he works for responsible for compensating you for your injuries. To increase the likelihood that you will receive what you are owed, you want to do everything you can to make your claim as strong as possible.
Steps You Should Take After a Truck Wreck
You can take certain actions right after your accident and afterwards as you recover from your injuries that will strengthen your claim for compensation. Here are some steps you can take:
- Seek medical care. Your health should be your first priority. If you suffered injuries, you want to seek immediate medical care. However, even if you do not believe that you were injured or believe you can “tough it out” until an ache or pain goes away, you should be checked out by a doctor. The symptoms of some injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries, and internal bleeding, can take days or weeks to develop to the point that they bother you. By seeing a doctor right away, you document your concern about being injured, which strengthens your claim. In addition, you can receive treatment for hidden injuries before they develop into more serious problems—sometimes life-threatening.
- Contact the police. You want to call the police at the scene of the crash and obtain a copy of the police report. It will contact helpful information, such as contact information for the trucker and witnesses, a narrative of what happened, and the officer’s conclusion regarding the cause of the wreck. You will need a copy of the police report when you file a claim with the insurance company.
- Obtain contact information. You cannot assume that the police officer will obtain the contact information for all the witnesses to your crash. You should get the contact information for the trucker, his employer and insurance company, anyone else involved in the crash, and witnesses.
- Take pictures. If possible, you should take pictures and videos of the scene, the damage to the truck and any vehicles, weather and road conditions, your injuries, and anything else you believe would be helpful in proving the trucker’s negligence.
- Notify your insurance company. Even if you do not plan to file a claim with your own insurance company, you want to report your accident to preserve your right to file a claim later if you decide that you need to do so. For example, your vehicle may be repaired sooner if you file a claim under your collision insurance coverage rather than waiting to resolve your claim with the trucker and trucking company.
- Keep records of medical bills and lost wages. You will need copies of your medical bills and documentation of the wages you lost to determine the value of your claim and prove your right to compensation when negotiating your settlement. Start collecting these documents right away after your crash.
- Do not give a recorded statement. The insurance company for the trucking company will most likely ask you to give a recorded statement. You are not required to give one as part of your claim, and it is never a good idea to agree to this. You could accidentally say something that you did not mean that the insurance adjuster could use to try deny your claim or reduce the amount you receive in your settlement.
- Follow-up medical treatment. It is important that you follow up on your doctor’s advice regarding your medical treatments both for your recovery and to help prove the seriousness of your injuries. If you do not follow your doctor’s instructions or go for periods without medical care, it can make it seem like your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
- Retain an attorney. One of your first steps should be to hire an experienced truck accident attorney. He can help you not make inadvertent mistakes, investigate your accident, and negotiate your settlement for you.
At Brauns Law, we can help you take some of these important steps as part of our investigation of your claim if you were too injured or did not know to take them. If you were injured in a truck accident, call our office today to schedule your free consultation.