Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Being involved in any sort of accident poses a challenge, but crashes involving commercial trucks can be completely overwhelming, especially if you've suffered a traumatic brain injury or another catastrophic injury. In the wake of a truck accident, you probably have dozens of questions and no idea where to turn for answers. And with medical bills and other expenses piling up, you need guidance right away.
That's why the truck accident lawyers at NLE Law have prepared this list of questions and answers based on our extensive experience handling big cases and catastrophic injuries. Our mission is to make you whole again. To do that, we'll look at the big picture of your case and prepare with your entire lifetime in mind.
- What do I need to do if I've been hurt in a truck accident?
- I keep getting calls from an insurance company. What should I do?
- The trucking company is located out of state and they aren't taking my calls. Can an attorney help?
- I'm not one to sue, but I need my medical bills paid. What can I do?
- How can an attorney help me prove the truck driver is at fault?
- Should I accept a settlement offer from the trucking company or their insurance?
These general questions and answers should give you an idea as to how to proceed in the aftermath of a truck accident. But because every accident is unique, we encourage you to speak with an attorney as soon as possible about your specific circumstances. Contact us today, and we'd be happy to meet with you for a free consultation. We can come to your home, your hospital room, or wherever is convenient for you.
As with any accident, you need to remain at the scene - unless, of course, you need to go straight to the emergency room due to your injuries. Be sure to get the name and contact information of the truck driver and the trucking company. If there were other motorists involved or witnesses to the accident, you need to exchange contact information with them as well. Stick to the facts of what happened, and don't say anything at the scene that could be construed as admitting fault for the accident.
If you have a camera - or a cell phone - take pictures of the accident scene, including skid marks, damage to vehicles and any other property, and any other evidence that could be relevant to reconstructing what happened. Do this right away before any vehicles are moved. If you have visible injuries, take pictures of those as well.
See a doctor right away, even if you feel fine. You may have suffered a brain injury or another "invisible" injury such as damage to your internal organs. Getting immediate medical help is the best choice for your help.
Remember, the trucking company will start their investigation right away. They will likely have a team at the accident scene within hours. That's why you need to get an attorney on your side right away as well. Reach out to NLE Law as soon as possible to discuss your case.
The trucking company and their insurance carrier aren't on your side. When they call, it's to reduce their own liability by any means necessary. You need to report the accident to your own insurance, but stick to the facts of what happened in that initial phone call and don't say anything admitting fault. You have no obligation to speak with the trucking company or the insurance adjuster at all. Instead, direct their inquiries to your attorney.
While some trucking companies may try to reach you right away to quickly settle your case - often for much less than you need - others may try to hide behind their out-of-state status and refuse to get in touch with you at all. In situations like these, you need an accomplished attorney on your side. NLE Law has handled many cases involving out-of-state trucking companies, and we understand how to get them to come to the negotiating table - and how to hold them accountable if they won't.
In some cases, we may need to work with a local attorney in the trucking company's state in order to take legal action. If we need to do that in your case, we'll split the fee with the other attorney, so you won't end up paying more.
We hear this question a lot from incoming clients who are worried about the stigma associated with lawsuits. Many people believe that there are too many frivolous lawsuits. We agree, but as NLE partner Mike Nelson explains, the vast majority of those lawsuits aren't filed by injured people.
The reality is that if you've been hurt due to a trucking company's actions, the trucking company should be responsible for paying for your medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy and any other expenses you'll incur as a result. You're not being opportunistic or trying to win "life's lottery" - you're asking to be made whole again.
Moreover, contacting an attorney right away doesn't mean you're trying to sue. In fact, the sooner you contact us, the more likely it is that we'll be able to avoid litigation entirely and negotiate a settlement with the trucking company. When truck accident cases do end up in court, it's usually because the trucking company and their insurance representatives asked for a trial.
That depends on the circumstances of your accident. In general, we'll investigate the accident scene, interview witnesses and review records relevant to your case. For instance, if we suspect the trucker who hit you was fatigued, we'll ask to see the hours of service log - a document that the trucking company is legally required to maintain - to determine whether the trucker had worked too many hours or skipped mandatory breaks.
In many cases, we can find direct negligence on the part of the trucking company in addition to mistakes made by the trucker. For example, our investigation may show that the trucking company failed to conduct a background check before hiring a trucker who had a history of drunk driving. Our claim may be based on negligent hiring, supervision, retention or other forms of negligence on the company's part.
Not without talking to an attorney first. A settlement offer shortly after the accident is often a "low-ball" offer that won't pay for the full cost of your accident. Accepting that offer could deprive you of your legal right to be made whole again. That's why you need to wait until you've finished your medical treatment and review the offer with an attorney to make sure it actually provides for your long-term medical, emotional and financial needs.
Accepting a settlement offer after a truck accident is particularly dangerous because there are always multiple insurance companies involved. The cab and the trailer typically have separate insurance. You'll also be dealing with your own insurance carrier and potentially insurers representing other motorists involved in a crash. A settlement with one insurance company may affect the other companies' liability as well. At NLE Law, we know how to review and combine applicable coverage to make sure you recover all of the compensation you need.