A semi-truck accident is a life-changing event. According to the FMCSA, big rig trucks are involved in more than 200,000 injury accidents annually, about 20 percent of the total truck crashes reported. Approximately 5,000 accidents that involve large trucks result in fatalities each year. The size and weight of tractor-trailers can cause much more severe injuries and damage than a standard passenger vehicle.
If a semi-truck accident injures you, you are probably coping with property damage, loss of work, severe injuries, or even the death of a loved one. It may be tempting to take the first settlement offered by the trucking company or their insurance carrier; however, this can cost you significantly more in the long run.
Once you have signed a settlement, you cannot submit any future claims for the accident, which can be especially problematic if you experience long-term effects. That’s why, although it may take longer to settle, work with a truck accident lawyer. A seasoned accident lawyer will help you obtain the total compensation you deserve.
What to do After a Semi-Truck Accident
When you are in a semi-truck accident, ensure your health and safety. Call 911 for emergency services, and wait for paramedics to check you for injuries. Even if you feel fine, have a medical professional assess your condition, as the adrenaline from the accident can mask injuries. If an ambulance doesn’t take you to a hospital, it is still a good idea to see your doctor soon after an accident, especially if you begin to feel pain in the days following the accident.
If you can, document the accident site with photos and a written account of the accident. Take photos of the vehicles, the positions at which they came to rest, skid marks, damaged objects like guardrails, and any other evidence that shows how the accident unfolded. Obtain the contact information of any witnesses, and file a police report.
If you are on a busy road, the authorities’ main concern will be clearing the roadway, so get as much evidence as you can while the accident scene is fresh. Note that the truck driver may attempt to alter the accident scene to avoid fault. The truck company and their insurance carrier will want to shift the blame to you, to pay as little as possible. Since fault will form a major factor in your claim, do not say anything that implies you are at fault.
Reach out to your accident attorney as soon as possible, so they can begin the work of compiling evidence and building your case. A semi-truck accident claim can take months if it goes to trial, so you want your attorney to be involved as soon as possible.
Damages You Can Claim From a Semi-Truck Accident
When a semi-truck accident injures you, the damage can be extensive. You will likely receive an offer shortly after the accident from the trucking company or their insurance carrier. While the number may seem like a lot, insurance companies will often lowball victims to avoid paying the full amount for all losses incurred due to the accident.
To avoid losing money after a semi-truck accident, contact a local attorney with experience handling semi-truck accident claims. They will be able to help you claim the full range of damages you are owed, including:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Prosthetics, medications, and long-term medical care
- Loss of work
- Reduced income capability, including necessary career changes
- Reduced quality of life
- Emotional and mental pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
How Long It Takes to Settle a Semi-Truck Accident Claim
Truck accident claims can take weeks or months to conclude, especially if they go to trial. An experienced accident attorney will be able to walk you through the process and help you compile evidence to make the best case for comprehensive compensation.
The trucking company and their insurance provider will do everything in their power to reduce the amount they have to pay. If you accept a settlement too soon, you will be left with long-term medical bills, loss of income, and other severely debilitating effects of the accident. Instead of accepting the first offer you receive, allow your attorney the time to build a solid case that encompasses all of the current and future costs incurred due to the accident.
Waiting on claim negotiations and court proceedings may seem overwhelming, especially if you are currently experiencing financial hardship due to an accident. Although an immediate settlement may seem like the ideal solution, by agreeing to the settlement you waive any right to future claims.
That means that if you lose your job, can’t work in your previous field, or require long-term care, you will end up paying for those costs out of pocket. Instead, check with your attorney. They can help you defer payments while you wait for your claim to resolve. That way you can take the time needed to recover your maximum compensation.
Consult an Experienced Attorney
To get the compensation you deserve for your semi-truck accident claim, select an attorney who has experience handling truck accidents in your area. Experienced semi-truck accident attorneys will compile the appropriate documentation to build your case, including photos, witness statements, police reports, medical bills, and doctor’s notes. They consult with industry experts to calculate your future costs, including long-term medical treatments, medications, prosthetics, loss of income, quality of life, and loss of companionship.
They may also help you obtain medical treatment and other assistance while your claim is in process, so that you can focus on recovery.