Truck Accident FAQ
Q. What is a truck accident?
A. A truck accident is any accident involving a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle.
Q. If injured by a semi or commercial truck, do I have a better case for receiving damages?
A. Yes, you do. Truck drivers are expected to meet higher standards. If you are injured in an accident and violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act can be proven, you may have a case against not only the driver but the carrier as well. The best way to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve is to hire a personal injury attorney to evaluate the merits of your case.
Q. Why is it important to get a copy of the driver’s log after an accident?
A. Drivers are only allowed to drive a certain number of hours per day before they must sleep. Establishing the fact that the log was properly kept is vital to evaluating if violation of the law contributed to the accident.
Q. Should I stay in my truck after an accident or get out?
A. Remain in the truck if you feel dizzy or feel any pain. Do your best to remain calm, and avoid changing positions. Pain in the neck or back can indicate a serious injury that could be made worse by climbing out of the truck. It is far better to wait for and ambulance or EMT than to end up crippled for life. No insurance claim is going to give your mobility back.
If your airbag deployed, there may be some haze in the cab, but there is no need to get out of the truck hastily unless you see fire or smell smoke. If the truck isn’t a safe place to be, then do what you have to do. Get out, and get as far away from any traffic as possible.
Q. What is the first thing I should do if I am in a truck accident?
A. First, if you or anyone else is injured, call 911. Give as many details as to your location as you can. Then call the police. While you are waiting, get as much information as possible, including name and contact information of the truck driver, license plate number, and contact information of passengers and eyewitnesses to the accident. Be sure to get insurance information.
Q. When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, should I talk to them?
A. Yes, you should. Whether you are the victim or the cause of the truck accident, limit yourself to discussing the facts. Avoid taking blame for the accident or making accusations.
Q. Is there any information I should get to support a potential claim?
A. Yes. You should take pictures of the accident scene if you can. This should be done as soon as possible, as evidence is often swept away within hours. Also, take pictures of yourself and any passengers immediately after the accident. Follow up with pictures a few days later, when bruises, etc. become apparent.
Q. How soon after an accident should I contact my insurance company? Do I even need to contact them, if I wasn’t at fault?
A. Whether or not you were at fault, contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Stick to the facts and let the insurance company evaluate them. Meanwhile, hiring a truck accident attorney could make the difference between a successful claim and no claim at all.
Q. Who can I sue if I am injured in a truck accident?
A. You can sue the person driving the truck, the company the person is driving for, the owner of the trailer, the shipper whose goods the tractor-trailer was carrying and/or any other entity that may have contributed to the accident ( a tire manufacturer whose tire blew out, for example).
Q. Should I contact the other driver’s insurance company?
A. Unless you want to jeopardize your case, hire a truck accident attorney to handle any communication. Most people have no concept of how the other side can twist something you have said so that you are robbed of much of the compensation you deserve, if not all of it.
Q. How soon after an accident should I contact an attorney?
A. When dealing with a truck accident, it is important to make contact with an attorney as soon as possible. You can be sure that the trucking company is going to investigate the accident immediately. You need a lawyer who is on your side to do their own investigation just as quickly.
Q. If I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt when my truck accident occurred. Can this be held against me in a suit for damages?
A. According to the Washington State Safety Restrain Coalition web site, failure to wear safety restraints does not constitute negligence and cannot be used to prove negligence in a civil case.
Q. I have been asked to release my medical records to the truck driver’s insurance adjuster. Should I do this?
A. Absolutely not. Always consult a qualified personal injury attorney before releasing any information, or your case may be seriously impaired.
Q. If I file a personal injury claim, will we settle out of court or go to trial?
A. Many truck injury cases can be settled out of court. A lot depends on what the insurance company offers as a settlement for your claim. If we feel that the amount is fair to you, we will settle out of court. But if the offer is unacceptable, we may take the case to trial.
Q. If I feel fine after a truck accident, should I still go to see a doctor?
A. Anyone who was in the car during an accident should consider seeing a doctor to make sure that there aren’t any hidden injuries. Often you won’t feel the effects of an injury until the next day or two. Scheduling a doctor’s visit the day of an accident is a wise precaution.
Q. I feel fine. Should I go ahead and settle the truck accident claim with the insurance adjuster?
A. We don’t recommend it until you have seen a doctor and made sure that all is OK with your body. You want to be sure that all your medical costs and loss of work, etc. are covered as well. You will also want to get your own quotes for repairs before settling anything.
Q. I feel that I may have contributed to the truck accident. What should I do?
A. While you may feel that you are at least partly at fault, you may not be the best judge of that fact. There are many factors that contribute to an accident—alcohol, road conditions, a faulty manufacturer installation, to name just a few. It’s better not to shoulder any blame at the scene of the accident, and let more qualified investigators evaluate the accident scene and trucker’s information.
Q. I said some things at the scene of the truck accident that I now realize weren’t accurate. Will this hurt my case?
A. It is quite common for details to be incomplete at the time of an accident. After you go home, you mind replays the accident repeatedly. In the process, you become aware of details that you overlooked at first. While it is always challenging explaining why your story isn’t the same as you stated at the scene of the car accident, hiring a good personal injury attorney is one of the best ways to get the support you need for your side of the story.
Q. My air bags didn’t deploy during my truck accident. Can I sue the car manufacturer?
A. This depends on which situations the manufacturer has warranted the air bags to deploy under. If the air bags failed under these warranted situations, then a qualified personal injury attorney can help you pursue your case.
Q. How much does it cost to speak with you about my situation?
A. We never charge for an initial consultation and for a review of the facts surrounding your case. Feel free to call Rob Kornfeld at 1 (800) 282-4878 or e mail Rob@Kornfeldlaw.com for a free initial consultation or to schedule an in person appointment at a location convenient for you or at our office location(s).
Author: Rob Kornfeld