What to Do After a Truck Accident

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, you’re likely injured and overwhelmed. Due to the massive size and weight of 18-wheelers and semi-trucks, truck accidents tend to cause more severe damage and injuries compared to typical car crashes.

In the days and weeks following a serious truck wreck, it’s normal to have many questions about what to do next to protect your health and legal rights.

A truck accident attorney can advise you on the key steps to take after a truck accident to look after your well-being, build your insurance claim, and explore your options for compensation.

While every accident is unique, following these general tips can put you in a much stronger position to recover physically, emotionally, and financially.

Seek Medical Care and Follow Your Treatment Plan

Your health should be the top priority after any auto accident, especially a truck crash.

Due to the violent forces involved, truck accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, crushed or amputated limbs, severe burns, and complex fractures. Even if you were fortunate enough to walk away from the wreck, you may have hidden injuries with delayed symptoms that need professional evaluation.

Get examined by a doctor as soon as possible after a truck accident. Seeing a physician right away does two important things:

  1. It ensures any obvious and subtle injuries are diagnosed and treated early before they can worsen. Prompt care leads to better medical outcomes and a quicker recovery.
  2. It creates an official record linking your injuries to the accident. This documentation is vital evidence for your insurance claim and any legal case. Without it, the trucking company and their insurer may argue the crash didn’t cause your injuries.

Depending on the type and severity of your injuries, your treatment plan after a truck accident may be lengthy, involving surgery, hospital stays, medications, physical therapy, and multiple follow-up appointments. Although this process can be physically and emotionally draining, attend all doctor visits and carefully adhere to your treatment plan.

Insurance companies always seek reasons to deny claims or pay as little as possible. If you skip appointments or ignore treatment recommendations, they’ll argue that you aren’t as hurt as you claim or didn’t do your part to improve your condition. This can seriously damage your case.

Keep in mind that some truck accident injuries, like brain trauma and psychological conditions, often involve persistent complications that may never fully heal. By diligently following through with medical care, you demonstrate your injuries’ legitimacy and lasting impact. This strengthens your claim for maximum compensation.

Collect and Preserve Important Evidence

Collect and Preserve Important Evidence I Truck Accident

Evidence is the foundation of any successful truck accident claim. The more proof you have of the crash and the resulting losses, the better your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation, either through an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit. Start gathering evidence as soon as you can while the details are still fresh in your mind.

Key evidence to collect after a truck accident includes:

  • Photos of the damaged vehicles from multiple angles
  • Photos of the accident scene, including traffic signs, skid marks, and road debris
  • Photos of your visible injuries
  • Contact and insurance information from the truck driver
  • Names and numbers of any eyewitnesses
  • Copies of police reports
  • Medical records and bills related to your injuries
  • Pay stubs showing missed work and lost income
  • Truck company information, including the name on the truck and any DOT numbers
  • Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses like medications, medical equipment, and transportation to doctor visits

Write down everything you can remember about the moments before, during, and after the crash, including what you saw, heard, and experienced.

Keep a daily journal detailing your injuries, pain levels, treatments, and how the accident has impacted your daily activities, relationships, and mental state. This written record can be powerful evidence to illustrate your damages.

Save all physical evidence from the accident, such as bloody or torn clothing, vehicle parts found at the scene, and your damaged personal items. Take photos of the evidence, then store it in a clean, dry place. Avoid washing clothes or making repairs.

If the insurance company requests a statement or access to your medical records, politely decline until you consult an experienced truck accident attorney. The same goes for any settlement offers.

Insurers often try to get crash victims to accept lowball settlements before they understand the full extent of their injuries and legal rights. Let your truck accident attorney handle these conversations and paperwork on your behalf.

Carefully Document Your Injuries and Damages

To get compensated after a truck accident, you must prove that someone else’s negligence caused actual, quantifiable harm. You must also document your injuries and damages.

In legal terms, “damages” are how the accident and your injuries have negatively impacted your life. Some damages are economic, meaning they involve definite dollar amounts like:

  • Hospital bills
  • Ongoing medical expenses like physical therapy and prescriptions
  • Lost income from missing work
  • Reduced future earning capacity if you can’t return to your previous job
  • Property damage to your vehicle and belongings

Other damages are non-economic. These subjective losses are harder to pin down but equally important:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish and distress
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium (harm to your spousal relationship)

To prove your damages:

  • Keep copies of all bills and receipts related to the accident.
  • Provide your attorney with pay stubs to calculate lost income.
  • If you don’t have clear paperwork for certain economic damages, write down your detailed notes and estimates.

For non-economic damages, the key is showing how your injuries have diminished your quality of life.

Has chronic pain and limited mobility left you where you cannot play with your kids or enjoy your favorite hobbies? Are you struggling with depression, anxiety, nightmares, or PTSD? Have visible scars impacted your self-esteem and relationships? Tell your attorney about these challenges and include them in your daily injury journal.

The more evidence you can provide of the accident’s negative effects on your physical, emotional, and financial well-being, the stronger a case your attorney can make for maximum compensation. Remember, you only get one shot at a settlement or verdict, accounting for your current and future anticipated losses.

Understand Your State’s Statute of Limitations

Understand Your State's Statute of Limitations I Truck Accident

Every state has a law called the statute of limitations that puts a strict time limit on your right to file a truck accident lawsuit. If you miss the filing deadline, the court will almost certainly dismiss your case. This will leave you where you cannot pursue compensation in court, limiting your recovery to whatever small amount the insurance company is willing to pay.

In most states, the statute of limitations for truck accident injuries is between one and four years from the crash date. Some states have a separate deadline for vehicle damage claims. The clock typically starts ticking on the day of the accident.

However, some states have special rules that can extend or shorten the base filing period. For example:

  • The “discovery rule”—In some states, if you don’t discover your injuries right away, the statute of limitations starts on the date you knew or reasonably should have known you were hurt.
  • Exceptions for minors – The filing deadline may extend until the injured person’s 18th birthday if they were under 18 during the accident.
  • Government claims – If your truck accident involved a government employee or vehicle, you may have to follow an accelerated timetable to preserve your rights.

Don’t wait until the last minute to take action. The sooner you connect with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer, the sooner they can build your case while the evidence is fresh.

Once you decide to move forward, your attorney will ensure all paperwork is prepared properly and filed on time so you don’t miss out on badly needed compensation.

Be Prepared for the Truck Company’s Defenses

Be Prepared for the Truck Company's Defenses

Trucking companies and insurers make massive profits by collecting premium payments and minimizing payouts after wrecks.

When crash victims pursue injury claims, the trucking and insurance companies have teams of lawyers ready to pick apart the case. Expect them to use every trick in the book to shift blame and limit liability.

Common defenses in truck accident cases include:

  • Claiming you were fully or partly at fault for the crash
  • Disputing the seriousness of your injuries
  • Arguing your injuries were pre-existing and not caused by the crash
  • Asserting that you failed to mitigate your damages by not following doctor’s orders

To succeed with these defenses, the trucking company’s legal team will scour your background for any evidence to use against you.

They may:

  • Dig through your medical records for prior accidents or conditions
  • Comb your social media feeds for posts “proving” your injuries aren’t that bad
  • Hire private investigators to spy on you when you leave the house
  • Interview your friends and acquaintances about your activities
  • Demand sworn testimony about your health and the crash

The best way to counter the truck company’s defenses is to have your attorney conduct a thorough investigation and coach you to avoid common mistakes. With a skilled lawyer’s guidance, you can sidestep the traps that ruin many truck accident cases.

Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer

Don't Accept the First Settlement Offer

After a truck accident, the insurance adjuster may contact you with a quick settlement offer to resolve your claim. As tempting as fast cash can be when you’re hurt, and missing work, accepting the first offer is rarely in your best interest.

Remember, insurance companies are for-profit businesses. No matter how friendly the adjuster seems, they aim to close your case as cheaply as possible. The initial offer is virtually always a “lowball” amount that doesn’t come close to covering your bills and suffering.

Worse, once you accept a settlement, you must sign a release waiving your right to pursue further compensation. This means if you develop future complications and expenses from your injuries, you’ll be stuck paying out of your pocket.

Instead of jumping at the first offer, let an experienced truck accident attorney assess your case’s full value and negotiate on your behalf. At the very least, before considering settlement, you should complete your medical treatment or reach maximum medical improvement (the point where medical professionals don’t expect your condition to improve further). This ensures that all your damages receive proper consideration.

Don’t Let the Trucking Company Destroy Essential Evidence

Trucking companies must follow strict federal regulations for vehicle maintenance, driver hiring and training, cargo loading, hours of service, and more. Violation of these safety rules causes thousands of preventable truck crashes every year.

If the trucking company’s negligence played a role in your accident, some of the most powerful evidence can come from their records. Your attorney will want to review documents and data such as:

  • The truck’s “black box” recording device
  • Driver logs and time sheets
  • Truck inspection and maintenance records
  • Driver personnel files
  • Results of drug and alcohol testing
  • Cargo loading manifests
  • Internal company accident reports

However, trucking companies don’t keep these records indefinitely.

Federal law only requires them to preserve documents for a limited period, such as six months for driver logs and a year or more for inspection reports and black box data. When facing an injury claim, the company is financially incentivized to destroy harmful evidence as soon as legally allowed.

To prevent the loss of critical evidence, your truck accident lawyer can send the company a “spoliation letter” instructing them to preserve certain documents and records relevant to your case. A spoliation letter notices the company and outlines the severe court penalties for destroying evidence.

Of course, your attorney must know the accident occurred and have time to draft and send the spoliation letter before the company’s deadline to discard records. That’s another reason to consult with a truck accident lawyer while the evidence is fresh.

Hire an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney

Most truck accident attorneys offer free initial consultations, so getting a legal opinion on your case costs nothing.

Reach out to a lawyer in your area as soon as possible after a crash to explore your rights and options for compensation. The road to recovery starts with one call to an experienced Boonville personal injury lawyer who will fight for the justice you deserve.