- 1 Immediate Steps to Take After a Truck Accident
- 2 Seek Medical Attention
- 3 Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
- 4 Preserve Evidence and Document the Accident
- 5 What Not to Do After a Truck Accident
- 6 Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
- 7 Statute of Limitations for Filing a Truck Accident Claim
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 9 Get Help from Experienced Wilmington Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Driving alongside trucks of any size can be an anxiety-inducing experience, especially when witnessing a truck accident unfold before your eyes. With 18-wheelers and other big rigs sharing North Carolina's roads, it's essential to exercise caution, as collisions with these large vehicles can lead to serious injury or even death.
Unfortunately for passenger vehicles, size matters when it comes to being in an accident with a truck. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety-Highway Loss Data Institute, 68% of truck accident fatalities involve occupants of passenger vehicles. These concerning statistics are only compounded by the fact that North Carolina saw a 9% increase in deaths due to accidents on the road in the first half of 2022, as reported by the National Safety Council Preliminary Estimates.
No one wants to think about being in an accident with these commercial vehicles. However, the reality is that accidents happen when you share the road. Knowing what to do after a truck accident to protect yourself is crucial, especially if you take legal action to seek compensation for your injuries. In this blog post, a Wilmington truck accident attorney shares what to do after a truck accident – and what not to do.
If you've been in a truck accident, don't hesitate to contact a member of our team. We understand how overwhelming it can be to deal with the aftermath of a truck accident, and we're here to speak for you. Call us at (910) 341-7570 for a FREE case review. Who speaks for you? We do.
Immediate Steps to Take After a Truck Accident
Assess Injuries and Call 911
Assessing injuries and calling 911 is the first and most important step after a truck accident because it ensures injured parties receive medical attention as soon as possible. If anyone is hurt, getting prompt medical care can help prevent injuries from worsening and increase the chances of a full recovery.
Additionally, calling 911 is important because it alerts emergency services to the accident and can prevent further accidents or injuries from occurring. Time is of the essence in these situations, and getting help as soon as possible can make all the difference in ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone involved in the accident.
Move to a Safe Location, If Possible
If you can, move yourself and your car to a safer location, such as the shoulder or a nearby parking lot. This will help prevent further accidents or injuries from occurring.
Gather Information from the Scene
Collect as much information as possible from the accident scene. This evidence will be crucial in building your case and pursuing compensation. Keep these steps in mind:
- File a Police Report. After calling 911, it's also important to file a police report as soon as possible. A police report provides an objective account of the accident, which can be valuable when pursuing legal action or seeking compensation for your injuries or damages. It can also assist in determining who is at fault for the accident and help file an insurance claim.
- Take Photos of the Accident Scene and Damages: Be thorough when capturing images of the accident. Document the positions of the vehicles, skid marks, debris, and surrounding road conditions. Also, remember to take pictures of the damages to your vehicle and the truck.
- Collect Contact Information from Witnesses and Involved Parties: Witnesses can be invaluable in corroborating your account of the accident. Obtain their names, phone numbers, and statements if possible.
- Obtain the Truck Driver's Insurance and Company Information: The truck driver's insurance and employer details are essential for pursuing compensation. Request their insurance card, driver's license, and the name and contact information of the trucking company they work for.
Seek Medical Attention
The Importance of Timely Medical Treatment
Seek medical attention immediately following a truck accident, even if you feel fine. Timely medical treatment can prevent injuries from worsening and improve your chances for a full recovery. Some injuries aren't immediately apparent after an accident. For instance, you might not feel the effects of a concussion or internal bleeding until hours or days later.
By seeking medical attention promptly, you can catch these hidden injuries early and receive the appropriate treatment.
The Role of Medical Documentation in Legal Proceedings
Your medical records provide crucial evidence that links your injuries to the truck accident, making them an essential component of your claim. You create a well-documented trail that strengthens your case by promptly seeking medical attention and following your doctor's recommendations.
Insurance adjusters and opposing attorneys will scrutinize your medical records to assess the validity of your claim. Comprehensive and timely documentation can make it more difficult for them to argue that your injuries were pre-existing or unrelated to the accident.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurers have a dedicated hotline or online platform for reporting accidents, so find the method that suits you best. Be prepared to provide your policy number, details of the accident, and any pertinent information you gathered at the scene.
Preserve Evidence and Document the Accident
The Importance of Evidence Preservation
It's crucial to maintain all evidence related to your truck accident. This documentation can significantly impact the outcome of your case and help your attorney build a strong claim on your behalf. Evidence may include:
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Any communication with insurance companies or the trucking company
Organizing and Storing Documents and Photos
Consider creating a dedicated folder or binder to store all your accident-related documents and photos. Organize them chronologically or by categories, such as medical records, correspondence, and repair estimates.
Store your files in a safe and easily accessible location, and make digital copies to ensure they are backed up in case of damage or loss.
What Not to Do After a Truck Accident
While it's essential to understand the steps to take after a truck accident, it's equally important to know what actions to avoid. The following list outlines several things you should not do after a truck accident, as these actions can negatively impact your claim:
- Don't leave the scene of the accident: Leaving the accident scene before exchanging information with the truck driver or other involved parties can lead to legal consequences and harm your claim.
- Don't discuss the accident with the truck driver or their employer: Avoid making any statements or providing information to the truck driver, their employer, or their insurance company. Anything you say can be used against you in your claim.
- Don't post about the accident on social media: Be cautious about what you share on social media platforms, as insurance adjusters and opposing attorneys may use your posts to undermine your claim. Refrain from posting photos, discussing the accident, or sharing details about your injuries.
- Don't accept a settlement offer without consulting an attorney: Insurance companies often present initial settlement offers far below your claim's true value. Only accept their offer after discussing it with an experienced truck accident attorney. They can help you determine a fair offer and guide you through the negotiation process.
- Don't provide a recorded statement to the insurance company: Insurance adjusters may ask you to provide a recorded statement about the accident. Politely decline their request and consult with your attorney before sharing any information.
- Don't sign any documents without your attorney's review: Insurance companies or other parties may present you with documents to sign, potentially limiting your ability to receive fair compensation. Always have your attorney review these documents before signing them.
- Don't delay contacting an attorney: Waiting too long to consult with a truck accident attorney can harm your case, as crucial evidence may be lost or destroyed over time. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible ensures they can begin building a strong case on your behalf.
By keeping these "don'ts" in mind and following the advice of your truck accident attorney, you can avoid potential pitfalls and maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accident cases can be complicated due to various factors, such as federal regulations, multiple parties involved, and complex insurance policies. An experienced North Carolina truck accident lawyer can help you navigate these complexities, investigate the accident, gather crucial evidence to build a strong case and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf.
Your attorney will provide legal advice and represent you in court if your case goes to trial. They have the knowledge, skills, and resources to navigate the legal system and fight for your rights.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Truck Accident Claim
In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim resulting from a truck accident is typically three years from the accident date. This deadline is crucial, as failure to file a claim within this timeframe could lead to losing your right to seek compensation.
Consult with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible to ensure you meet all legal deadlines and have the best chance at a successful outcome.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How is a truck accident different from a car accident in terms of legal complexities?
A: Truck accidents often involve multiple parties, such as the truck driver, trucking company, and cargo loaders. Additionally, trucking companies are subject to federal regulations that can impact liability, making these cases more complex than standard car accidents.
Q: Can I still pursue compensation if I was partially at fault for the truck accident?
A: North Carolina follows the contributory negligence rule, which bars victims from recovering damages if they are found to have contributed to the accident in any way. A knowledgeable truck accident attorney can help assess your case and develop a strategy to minimize your perceived fault.
Q: How long does a truck accident case typically take to resolve?
A: The duration of a truck accident case depends on various factors, such as the complexity of the case, the willingness of parties to negotiate, and the court's schedule. Cases can take anywhere from several months to a few years to resolve.
Q: What if the truck driver was an independent contractor? Can I still hold the trucking company responsible?
A: In some cases, trucking companies can still be held liable for accidents caused by independent contractor drivers, particularly if they were negligent in their hiring, training, or supervision practices.
Q: What if the trucking company's insurance policy isn't enough to cover my damages?
A: If the trucking company's insurance policy is insufficient to cover your damages, your attorney may explore other avenues for compensation, such as pursuing a lawsuit against the truck driver or other negligent parties.
Get Help from Experienced Wilmington Truck Accident Lawyers Today
If you’ve been in a truck accident, we want you to know we understand and are here to help, whether you need a fierce litigator or simply a shoulder to lean on. Call the Speaks Law Firm today to find out what we can do for you.
Our firm is recognized by national organizations for our experience, professionalism, and results. We help good people injured in accidents recover fair compensation for their injuries. Who speaks for you? We do.
If you've suffered an injury in a truck accident, our North Carolina truck accident lawyers are here to help. We offer a FREE case review to provide guidance and help you understand your legal options. Contact us today at (910) 341-7570 or complete our online form.