Truck accidents can be severe. Even pickup trucks can do a lot of damage when colliding with a car or other passenger vehicle. That’s why it’s crucial to protect yourself by knowing what to do after a truck accident.
By “protect yourself,” we mean physically and legally. Besides getting medical treatment, you’ll need to ensure the at-fault person is held responsible for your financial losses. If you didn’t cause the truck accident, you should not have to pay for any costs of the accident. The driver at fault for the collision is legally liable for all damages.
Insurance Companies Will Try to Settle for Less
Most truck accident claims will resolve out of court through negotiations between you and the truck driver’s insurance company. However, you should always understand that insurance companies aren’t on your side. Their primary goal is to get you to settle for way less than what your damages truly are, since this saves them money.
The best way to fight back against the insurance company, outside of hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer, is to take proactive steps in building a solid case for your claim. This means that you should take several crucial steps to ensure that fighting for your settlement is much easier down the road.
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Steps You Should Take After a Truck Accident
To account for these factors after a truck accident, if you’re able, here are several steps you should do after a truck accident. First, always ensure that you or anyone else involved in the accident is safe. If anyone needs immediate medical attention, it’s okay to put these steps aside to ensure the wellbeing of others or yourself.
Stay at the Scene and Report the Accident
In Georgia and many other states, it’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident that involved injuries, vehicle damage, or deaths. If you do leave the scene, you could be charged with hit-and-run, which brings a whole other host of problems.
You must also report the accident if injuries, deaths, or property damage exceeds $500 under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 40-6-273. So, after the accident, stay at the scene and call 911 to report the accident.
Really grievous injuries are common in truck accidents, so call for emergency medical help if it’s needed. Wait there until the authorities arrive. Leave your vehicle in the same position after the accident unless it’s in an unsafe location that could cause another accident.
Not moving your vehicle will help preserve the accident scene. Either way, put on your hazard lights. When the police arrive, an officer will assess the scene, ask you questions, and create an accident report. You should always request a copy of this report for your records. It will be a crucial piece of evidence if you file a truck accident claim.
While you’re at the scene, exchange the following information with the other driver(s):
- Name, phone number, address, and email address
- Insurance information and policy number
- Driver’s license number
You should also get the name and contact information of the driver’s employer if they are driving a truck for work. It’s also a good idea to note any specific marks or decorations on the driver’s truck. If they are driving for an employer, their company may be ultimately liable for your damages.
Talk to Witnesses
Look for anyone who saw the accident and is still at the scene. Ask them what they saw and whether they’d be willing to make a statement about it. Either way, ask for their name and contact information. Witness testimony can be compelling for a truck accident claim, and your attorney will probably reach out to this person later.
Use your phone or a camera to take pictures of the scene. This includes:
- The entire accident scene
- Any identifying signs of landmarks nearby to show the location
- Your injuries and the injuries of anyone else in your vehicle
- Damage to your vehicle
Photographic evidence can also be beneficial in an accident case, and they help preserve the scene even if it’s moved or altered later. You should also document any updates on your injuries over time by taking more pictures or writing down any changes. Pictures can show how bad your injuries were and the length of your recovery.
Get Medical Treatment
Since truck accidents involve enormous vehicles, injuries tend to be very serious and even deadly. If you or anyone else in the accident has life-threatening injuries or anything that needs immediate treatment, this should be step number one. Call 911 right away and get emergency medical help.
If you do not need immediate treatment but have any type of pain or injuries, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident. Your adrenaline is high after a stressful accident, so the pain can take time to show up fully.
Get checked out by a medical professional for any pain at all. If you don’t get medical treatment for an injury soon, it may impact your ability to seek total compensation for your injury costs.
What to Do After You’ve Sought Treatment
After you’ve done your legal duty, gathered what evidence you could, and saw a doctor for a checkup, your case moves into the next phase. Here’s what you need to do after you’ve sought medical treatment for your truck accident.
Be Very Careful What You Say
An adjuster for the other driver’s insurance will likely reach out to you after the accident. If you talk to them at all, do not apologize, admit any blame, say you’re okay, accept any money, or give a recorded or written statement.
This also extends to social media. Even noting that you had an accident and saying you’re doing okay can be damaging to your case. Do not comment on news articles about your accident either. Anything you mention online could be used against you.
It’s best to talk to a truck accident attorney before talking to the insurance adjuster or posting anything online about your accident. They can advise you on what to do and what not to do after a truck accident.
Get Your Vehicle Appraised
If your car is not a total loss already, take it to a mechanic even if it looks fine. There may be hidden damage to the frame that can drastically affect the value and the safety of your vehicle. By finding the damage early, you can add it to your claim.
It’s important to make this just an assessment. Your insurance company may want to approve any repairs before you do them. You might even be required to take your vehicle to an approved body shop for examination. The shop should know what to photograph as evidence, but you can also take your own photos.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer
If you were not to blame for your accident, contacting a truck accident lawyer is highly recommended. A trusted attorney can fight for the compensation you’re legally entitled to as an accident victim.
Even if you think you might be partially to blame for the accident, call an attorney. In Georgia, you may still recover for damages if you are less than 50% at fault under OCGA § 51-12-33. Plus, a lawyer can look at the details of the accident and give you their legal opinion about how you should proceed.
Keep Records of All Accident-Related Bills
After the accident, keep detailed records of every expense related to your crash. That includes medical bills and receipts for vehicle repairs. Also, carefully follow your doctor’s advice during your recovery. Finally, you want to show that your injuries are honest and take treatment seriously.
Don’t Miss Your Deadline to File a Truck Accident Claim
Due to the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, you must file a truck accident lawsuit within two years from the date of your accident. The time goes quickly because there is a lot of evidence to be collected and a case built along the way. That’s why it’s best to call an experienced attorney as soon as you can after your accident to get the ball rolling.
How These Steps Help Your Truck Accident Lawyer
By following the steps above, you protect your health, and you protect your claim. You also give your truck accident lawyer a head start on your case. With the evidence you’ve gathered, it will be faster to assess your claim and start pursuing compensation.
You’ll also avoid many of the pitfalls that can jeopardize your claim, like admitting fault, not speaking with the police, or giving away too much information to the insurance adjuster. While this may seem like a lot of things to track soon after your accident, you can focus on recovery once your lawyer takes over.
Outside of the legal obligations, the most important thing you can do is see a doctor even if you feel fine. Early detection and treatment of hidden injuries will improve your health and reduce the pain and suffering you could experience after a truck crash.
Get Help With Your Truck Accident Claim
If you have little to no experience handling truck accident claims, it’s best to hire a lawyer to help you. Even though you can negotiate for a claim on your own, doing so against an insurance company with powerful lawyers and lots of resources can be immensely challenging. Our lawyers will:
- Help you gather critical evidence for your claim
- Consult with experts to get their supporting testimony
- Handle all your communications with other parties
- Ensure that the insurance company understands the severity of your injuries and damages
- Review all offers made by the insurance company to ensure they’re fair
- Help you understand all the legal options available for your case
We want you to prioritize your health and recovery from your accident. Let us handle all the legal grunt work while you rest and heal.
Talk to Our Truck Accident Lawyers Today
If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a truck accident, John Foy & Associates can help. We know what you need to do after a truck accident. We don’t get paid unless we win you money, so working with us is risk-free.
For a free consultation with one of our truck accident attorneys today, call us or fill out the contact form on this page to get started.