If you or someone close to you suffered harm in a truck accident, your decisions and actions in the days, weeks, and months that follow can have a significant impact on your legal rights and financial future. Here are some suggestions of steps you can take to safeguard your interests, and reasons why you should contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Overview of Your Rights as a Truck Accident Victim
To grasp why you should take certain steps in the wake of a truck accident, it helps to have an understanding of the rights and interests at stake for you and your loved ones.
Your Rights to Compensation
As a truck accident victim, you generally have the right to seek compensation for the harm you’ve suffered from anyone who has liability for what happened. The parties who might owe you that compensation can include, for example, truck drivers, trucking companies, other motorists, road contractors, government agencies, automotive manufacturers, and various insurance companies.
In general, as the victim of a truck crash you may recover payment for your:
- Medical expenses in treating crash-related injuries and health conditions
- Day-to-day expenditures related to living with or adapting to your injuries
- Costs of repairing or replacing your damaged vehicle or other personal property
- Loss of income and job benefits from missing work
- Loss of future income or job opportunities due to temporary or permanent disabilities
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Loss of independence and diminished quality of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
If a truck accident caused the death of your loved one, you may similarly may receive compensation from liable parties for the impact of that loss, which may include:
- Loss of your loved one’s income, financial support, or services
- Loss of your loved one’s companionship, consortium, guidance, and society
- Your emotional distress (only available in some states)
- Your loved one’s pain and suffering before death (only available in some states)
- Your loved one’s medical and other accident-related expenses before death
- Funeral and burial costs
In certain truck accident cases, victims can also recover additional monetary damages to punish an at-fault party’s extremely reckless or intentional misconduct. And sometimes, the at-fault party’s violation of a statute also entitles a victim to receive further damages.
What’s Involved in Getting Compensation
Obtaining the truck accident compensation to which the law entitles you isn’t necessarily easy or straightforward, however. Frequently, it requires filing lawsuits or insurance claims, and being able to prove in court (if necessary) why someone is liable to you and how much you deserve to receive.
Truck accident victims can’t realistically do those tasks on their own. They don’t have the time, energy, knowhow, resources, or training to force at-fault parties and insurance companies to pay monetary damages. Instead, truck crash victims need skilled truck accident lawyers to handle the claim process for them. Hiring an experienced lawyer is the only reliable way to obtain the maximum available compensation for the harm and losses you suffered because of a truck accident.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away
Seeking prompt medical attention is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to safeguard your interests after a truck accident. There are multiple reasons why. For one thing, your health and well-being are a priority. For another, seeking care creates medical records that a lawyer can use as evidence to support your claim for damages. And for another, you will get blamed for your health problems—and risk losing out on compensation for them—if you don’t take reasonable care of yourself.
Go to the doctor immediately after a truck accident even if you think your injuries are minor or that you survived the crash unscathed. Research shows that you can’t trust your own evaluation of your health after a crash. Stress and adrenaline can get in the way of accurate self-diagnosis. And some severe, potentially life-threatening injuries, like brain trauma and internal bleeding, might not show immediate symptoms.
Seeking the care of a qualified medical professional is the only safe way to protect your health. Let a doctor check you over, identify and document your injuries, and begin any needed treatment. Then, follow the doctor’s recommendations. Schedule necessary surgeries, take your medication, do your physical therapy, and go to follow-up appointments. Do what’s reasonably possible, in other words, to safeguard your health and heal as much as possible.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at Your First Opportunity
After addressing your immediate medical needs, make contacting a qualified truck accident lawyer your next priority. Don’t wait a moment longer than necessary. The sooner you connect with a lawyer about your truck accident, the better your chances of receiving maximum compensation for your losses.
Why contact a lawyer so soon? Simply put, because there’s a good chance your legal rights to compensation are at risk after a truck accident and you need a lawyer to protect them immediately.
Truck crashes rank among the most destructive and legally complicated of all motor vehicle accidents. They frequently leave behind multiple injured victims. And numerous parties—individuals, business, government entities, and insurance companies included —could face significant financial liability for the damage they inflict.
This complexity poses challenges for individual truck crash victims like you. In the wake of an accident, the parties facing potential liability will often immediately begin trying to avoid financial responsibility. They may point the finger at each other, blame accident victims, or engage in legal maneuvers designed to escape liability, for example.
As a victim, you may need a lawyer to engage with those parties as soon as possible. An attorney can ensure that their strategies don’t affect your rights to receive maximum compensation. Importantly, a lawyer can also take over all dealings with insurance companies and defense lawyers on your behalf, so that you don’t need to worry about their harassing phone calls or high-pressure tactics.
Contacting a lawyer immediately protects your rights in other ways, too. It creates the greatest opportunity to locate key evidence and witnesses supportive of your case. It ensures that you do not miss critical deadlines for asserting your rights to monetary damages. It maximizes the probability of identifying every party and insurance company who may owe you monetary damages. And it gives you access to a legal professional who has seen other clients confront the challenges you now face and knows how to guide you toward a brighter future.
And don’t worry about the cost. Truck accident lawyers offer free consultations to injured victims and their loved ones. And if you decide to hire them, they’ll almost always agree to work on a contingent fee basis, which means you pay nothing upfront and nothing unless they win for you.
Beware of Quick Settlement Offers
Once you have an attorney in your corner, you can generally count on not having to worry about being contacted by insurance companies or at-fault parties’ lawyers. They will usually have to go through your attorney if they want to discuss your case.
But until then, stay on the alert. Insurance adjusters, defense lawyers, and other representatives of at-fault parties may try to contact you directly. And their calls, emails, or texts may aim to get you to settle your case quickly for a fraction of what they truly owe you.
A settlement is an agreement to resolve a legal claim. In a typical truck accident settlement, the injured victim (you) receives a payment from an insurance company or at-fault party in exchange for releasing them from further liability for your losses. A settlement is a final, binding contract. You typically only get one shot at it, so it’s crucial to settle only when you feel you’re getting the best deal possible in your circumstances.
Insurers and at-fault parties offer quick settlements hoping to take advantage of you during a difficult, chaotic moment in your life. They’ll contact you and offer to pay you right away. They’ll try to make their offer seem generous and caring. They’ll tell you it’s for the highest amount you can expect to get.
But the reality is just the opposite. Quick settlement offers made directly to victims like you almost always fall far short of the amount you have the right to receive. They also come with conditions that insulate the paying parties and others connected to them from ever having to pay you another cent in the future. Agreeing to a lowball settlement offer can be—and usually is—a costly mistake.
Don’t engage with anyone who wants to talk with you about settling a truck accident claim you may have against them. Instead, refer them to your lawyer. An experienced truck accident attorney can handle settlement negotiations on your behalf and get you the maximum payment available. And a lawyer can draw on past training and experience to advise you about whether to accept or reject a settlement offer (settlement decisions are always yours to make).
Avoid Publicly Discussing Your Accident or Injuries
It’s understandable to want to tell others about what happened to you in a truck crash. Social media, in particular, gives you a platform for keeping friends and acquaintances up to date on your accident, injuries, and healing process.
But be careful. As a truck accident victim you may have claims to make against large and well-funded at-fault parties and insurance companies who would prefer not to pay you if they can find a justification. They have the resources to monitor what you say in public and online, and unfortunately they’ll jump at the chance to use your own words against you, even if it means taking them out of context or deliberately twisting their meaning.
The safest course of action is to avoid publicly discussing your accident and injuries altogether. Staying tight-lipped, especially online, protects you from making an unintentional but costly mistake. If you must speak about what happened, run what you plan to say past your lawyer first to make sure it won’t harm your case.
Communicate With Your Lawyer About Changing Needs and Priorities
You can count on your truck accident lawyer to keep you up to date about the latest developments in your case. But remember to treat communication with your lawyer as a two way street! In particular, keep your lawyer informed about any significant medical, financial, or life changes that may affect your needs or priorities.
For example, tell your lawyer about:
- A new or different medical diagnosis related to your accident or injuries
- Getting or losing a job
- The birth of a child
- The death of a loved one
- Marriage or divorce
- A new accident or injury
- Relocation or change of residence
- Changes in your contact information (phone, email, messaging apps, etc.)
Your truck accident lawyer’s job is to get you the best result for your situation. But you can’t assume your lawyer will learn about changes in your life from someone other than you. Staying connected with your lawyer ensures that the outcome of your case can be tailored to your interests as much as possible. And of course, it’s critical to make sure that your lawyer always knows the best way to reach you to discuss your case.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today
You have significant and potentially valuable rights to protect after suffering harm and losses in a truck accident. Following the tips above—especially getting prompt medical care and calling a lawyer immediately—can go a long way toward ensuring that you receive the compensation owed to you by at-fault parties and insurance companies.
To learn more about your rights after a truck accident upends your life, contact a skilled personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.