Chareleston Truck Accident FAQ
What should you do after an accident with an 18-wheeler or large commercial truck?
An accident with a large truck can be a traumatic event, so it might be hard to think clearly right after it happens. But it is important to gather as much information as soon as possible.
First, contact law enforcement authorities as soon as possible. It is important for them to complete an accident report, which can help preserve evidence.
If you are physically able, take photos of the scene of the accident. Include photos of all the vehicles involved and your injuries from many angles. Gather as much other information as you can. Of course, that should include the truck driver’s name, license number, insurance information and employer. Get the Department of Transportation (DOT) numbers for the truck and the trailer. Also, collect information on any other people involved in the accident or those who were eyewitnesses to it. Be sure to get contact information because finding people after they disperse from an accident scene is more difficult.
Leave your vehicle as it is until it can be examined and appraised. Your claim will include the estimate for how much it would cost to repair your vehicle or whether it is beyond repair. In addition, expert assessment might be necessary to determine if a defect was involved in the accident.
Of course, if you need medical attention, you should seek it as soon as possible. But even if you feel fine after the accident, you still should be examined by a physician. Some injuries, including whiplash, can be hard to determine except by a medical professional. Also, it is necessary to document your injuries to determine if the accident caused them.
One of the most important actions you should take is to contact a lawyer with experience in handling accidents involving trucks. Trucking companies generally hire talented lawyers who know how to protect the companies and limit their liabilities, so you need someone just as talented in understanding the complicated legalities involving commercial trucks and in protecting your rights.
Should I go to the hospital after my truck accident?
You should seriously consider going to a hospital after a truck accident. Sometimes, injuries from such accidents are so severe that there is no question that a trip to the hospital is necessary. However, even if your injuries seem minor, they might be more serious than you realize at the time. For example, the effects of a concussion or internal bleeding might not be immediately apparent, but they could be significant and long-lasting. Likewise, whiplash, which occurs when the neck is snapped forward or backward, might not cause much pain initially, but it could cause lasting damage to neck muscles, ligaments or discs of the spine. Also, back injuries involving the spine, muscles or ligaments could result in lifelong effects.
Another reason to do to a hospital after an accident is that you need written proof for any claims of injuries. Seeking medical attention days after the accident might not be good enough. If you would delay seeking medical attention, an insurance company or lawyers representing the trucking company could contend that, because you had a gap in treatment, there are doubts about whether or how much the accident contributed to your injuries. That could hurt your case for getting fair compensation for your injuries.
When should I contact a truck accident attorney?
Contact an attorney with experience in handling truck accident claims as soon as possible. Trucking companies generally hire talented lawyers who know how to protect the companies and limit their liabilities, so you need someone just as talented in understanding the complicated legalities involving commercial trucks and in protecting your rights.
If I am injured in a truck accident, who can I sue?
There are many possibilities for who you might sue in regard to a truck accident. The truck driver and the trucking company are likely possibilities. However, in some cases, other persons or entities might be sued. They could include truck manufacturers, anyone responsible for truck maintenance or drivers of other vehicles whose actions might have contributed to an accident. It is important to obtain the services of a lawyer with experience in handling truck accident claims to make sure that all possible defendants are identified.
How can an 18-wheeler accident attorney help me?
Accidents involving trucks can be very complex. It is important to engage the services of a lawyer with experience in handling truck accident cases. Such an attorney would be familiar with laws and regulations affecting the trucking industry, know how to obtain evidence from such sources as a truck’s “black box” and reports filed with government agencies and be able to understand how reports of medical injuries could relate to a claim. An experienced attorney would know how determine whether persons or entities other than the driver or trucking company should be sued. In short, obtaining the services of an experienced lawyer is the best way to ensure that your rights are preserved and that you obtain as much compensation as you deserve.
How can I gather evidence after I’ve been involved in a wreck with an 18-wheeler?
It is important for you to document as much as possible about the accident, so you can preserve your rights. If possible, take as many photos of the crash scene and the vehicles involved in it right away. If you cannot take photos right away, such as if you were severely injured and had to be transported to a hospital, return to the scene as soon as possible to take photos and look for evidence about what might have contributed to the accident. That includes checking for trees, other vegetation or other objects that might have obstructed a driver’s view or such problems as a missing stop sign or a malfunctioning traffic signal.
You should get an expert assessment of damage to your vehicle. Document the damage with photos before allowing the vehicle to be repaired.
Likewise, get medical attention and documentation for your injuries. Take photos of your injuries. Save any torn clothing and any items, such as eyeglasses or cell phones, damaged in the accident.
Gather information from any eyewitnesses who might be available. Get their contact information, so they can be interviewed later.
Contact a lawyer with experience in handling claims in trucking accidents. Such a lawyer will know how to obtain data from the truck’s “black box” or cameras it is equipped with, as well as information filed with government agencies regarding safety inspections of the truck.
How is fault determined in an accident involving a truck?
Determining fault in a truck accident is a combination of actions involving law enforcement, insurance companies and the court system.
Of course, law enforcement authorities are the first people to investigate the scene of an accident. They evaluate the scene, take witness statements and issue a report. Law enforcement authorities also can issue citations to drivers for such issues as excessive speed, failure to yield or intoxication. Those reports and citations can be used to determine negligence or liability in a case.
Insurance companies’ adjustors examine the circumstances of each accident, the vehicle involved and the statements of eyewitnesses. They then determine who might have been at fault. Sometimes, they assign fault proportionately. For example, both drivers in a car-truck accident might be assigned some of the fault if one was speeding and the other failed to yield.
When a lawsuit is filed in the case of a truck accident, it is up to the court to determine who was at fault and what the consequences should be.
Whether or not a case goes to court, you should consult with a lawyer with experience in handling truck accident claims to ensure that your rights are preserved and you received as much compensation as you deserve.
If I am partially at fault for the accident, can I still recover compensation?
Yes. More than one party can be at fault in an accident. Just because you might bear some responsibility for an accident does not prevent you from recovering some compensation. Although being partially at fault for an accident might limit your compensation, it would not necessarily prevent you from receiving compensation. Many factors are involved in determining fault, including any citations issued by law enforcement, assessments by insurance adjustors and the judgments of judges or juries. Engaging a lawyer with experience in truck accident claims can help ensure that you get as much compensation as you fairly deserve.
What damages can be recovered from a truck accident?
Victims of truck accidents can be entitled to compensation for a variety of physical, financial or emotional damages. Potential damages include: medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, diminished earning capacity, loss of income, and emotional distress. It is important to obtain the services of a lawyer with experience in handling truck accident cases to ensure that you get as much compensation as your deserve for the damages you have suffered.
Who can file a claim to receive financial compensation?
The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident with a truck, as well as any passengers of the vehicle, are obvious claimants. But other possible claimants include their family members, life partners, financial dependents and others who might suffer financially, especially in cases of fatal accidents that result in wrongful death claims. To sue, a person must meet the legal requirement of having “standing,” which means having a personal stake in the outcome of the case. A lawyer with experience in handling truck accident claims can help determine who might have standing to sue in any particular case.
My insurance company says that I shouldn’t use an attorney and that they would take care of everything. Should I still call a truck accident attorney?
An insurance company might have your best interests in mind, but it might not. Accidents involving large trucks are more complex – and often more harmful – than accidents that involve just car or other passenger vehicles. Obtaining the services of an experienced lawyer is the best way to ensure that your rights are preserved and that you obtain as much compensation as you deserve.
My insurance company wants to record a statement from me about the accident. Should I agree to this?
Contact your attorney first before agreeing to record any statement about the accident. The insurance company might not necessarily protect your rights to as much compensation as you fairly deserve. Engaging the services of an experienced lawyer is the best way to ensure that your rights are preserved and that you obtain as much compensation as you deserve.
What should I do if the trucking company or its insurance carrier calls me?
Do not make any statements to them. Such statements might hurt your claim. Get their contact information and then let your attorney handle it. Representation from a lawyer with experience in handling truck accident cases is the best way to preserve your rights and ensure that you get as much compensation as you fairly deserve.
But what if the trucking company’s insurance carrier offers me a cash settlement if I don’t contact an attorney? Shouldn’t I take what I can get?
No. The trucking company and its insurance carrier want to protect their interests, not yours. They are interested in minimizing payments they must make on accident claims. If they can get you to accept their lowball offer, they can avoid the possibility of having to pay you much more. You should protect your interests by working with a lawyer who is experienced in handling truck accident cases.
How long do truck accident cases usually take to settle?
Truck accident cases often are more complicated that accidents involving only cars or similar passenger vehicles. When cases are more complicated, it is not unusual for them to take longer to settle or to go to trial. Of course, the length of time to settle a case depends on the facts of the case. It is not unusual for a case to take 12 months to 18 months, especially when it goes to court for a trial.
Are there different rules that apply to accidents involving 18-wheelers and semi-trucks?
Yes. Truck drivers and trucking companies must comply with different laws and regulations than those that apply to non-commercial drivers. For example, truck drivers must meet certain qualifications and follow regulations such as limits to the number of hours they can drive. Also, trucking companies must have their vehicles serviced properly to ensure that they perform safely and meet inspection criteria. When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to follow these laws and regulations, their liability is greater when accidents occur.
Are 18-wheeler accident cases valued differently from other cases?
Accidents involving large trucks tend to be more severe that accidents involving just cars. Consider that a fully loaded truck and trailer can weight more than 80,000 pounds while a typical passenger car weighs only about 4,000 pounds. The size and mass of the truck make is more likely that people involved in such accidents will be more severely injured and vehicle damages will be greater.
Can any type of attorney help me with an 18 wheeler injury accident lawsuit?
Accidents involving large trucks tend to be complex. They involve laws and regulations that apply specifically to trucks and truck drivers. Your best means of protecting your rights and receiving fair compensation is by engaging the services of a lawyer with experience in truck accident cases.
How much do you charge for a truck accident injury case?
You pay nothing upfront. Consultation on your case is free. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we get paid only if we are successful in getting you payment for your damages and injuries. You pay nothing in attorney fees. Our payment would be a percentage of the final settlement.
What if the driver was drunk, drugged, or drowsy? Does my case get any special consideration?
If the truck driver was drunk, drugged or drowsy, your case against the driver and the trucking company is stronger. You are more likely to receive substantial payment for injuries and damages. But you need a lawyer with experience in truck accident cases to ensure that you receive all the compensation you fairly deserve.
The police report shows that the accident was caused by mechanical failure on the truck. Do I still have a case?
Yes. It is the responsibility of the truck driver and the trucking company to maintain the truck and ensure it can operate safely. Trucks are subject to more stringent state and federal regulations than passenger vehicles are. Also, if a truck has a mechanical failure, those responsible could include not only the driver and trucking company but also whoever was responsible for maintenance of the truck and perhaps the manufacturer of the truck or the part that failed. It is important for you to have a lawyer who is experienced in handling cases of truck accidents to ensure that the proper parties are held liable and that you get all the compensation fairly due to you.