Did you know that every 15 minutes a person is killed or seriously injured in a semi-truck accident? In fact, more than 300,000 truck accidents occur each year in the United States. Truck accidents are listed as one of the most dangerous types of traffic collisions in the country.
When a tractor trailer collides with a smaller vehicle, the results can be catastrophic, if not deadly. Semi-trucks without a trailer can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 25,000 pounds, whereas trucks with a loaded trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. In comparison, most passenger vehicles only weigh around 4,000 pounds.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a semi truck crash, the most important thing after taking care of your health is finding an effective semi-truck accident attorney to protect your legal rights. The following article is a step-by-step guide on how to build a strong truck accident claim with The Advocates.
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What are the Most Common Causes of a Truck Accident?
Commercial trucks like big rigs and delivery trucks present many dangers to smaller vehicles and their passengers. Seemingly minor driving errors can lead to devastating results when a truck collision occurs. Some of the most common causes of semi-truck accidents are:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- Failure to secure load
- Improper cargo loading
- Poor employee training
- Failed truck inspection
If you were injured in a truck accident, you might not know where to turn. An accident lawyer with The Advocates can help you determine the cause of your crash and help you build a strong legal claim.
What Evidence Do I Need from My Truck Accident?
When a truck accident occurs, you should try to collect as much evidence from the scene of the crash as possible. Such evidence includes:
- Truck Driver’s Information
- Full name
- Contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license
- Truck driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Vehicle information
- Cargo being transported
- Witness Information
- Full name
- Contact information
- Leave a witness statement for the police
- Pictures of your vehicle and other vehicles involved
- Videos of damages
- Photos of the truck’s license plate
- Any injuries from the crash
- Additional evidence including traffic signals and road conditions
We understand that it may not be possible for everyone to collect evidence from the scene of a truck accident. If you are able to gather evidence, it’s important to note that these photos and statements will be crucial to have when you file a personal injury claim with insurance.
Who Will Be Held Liable for my Semi-Truck Accident?
A thorough investigation of your truck accident is necessary in order to determine who is responsible for the crash. It’s possible that one or more parties will be held liable for compensating you and other victims for your injuries and losses. These are the following parties that could be held accountable for the crash:
- Truck driver
- Trucking company
- Owner of the rig
- Cargo shipper or loader
- Manufacturer of the truck or parts
- Party responsible for truck’s maintenance
- Government contractors
- Other vendors
As you can see, truck accidents are very complex and difficult to face without the help of a trusted injury attorney. In truck collisions, any third-party vendor can be held responsible if their negligence contributed to your accident. If the investigation shows that several parties are liable, you and your lawyer will be able to maximize the compensation you receive for your accident.
What if I was Partially At-Fault for the Accident?
Even if you were partially responsible for the truck accident, you may still be eligible for compensation for your injuries and losses. Luckily, most states use a comparative negligence rule which allows accident victims to receive a reduced amount of damages based on the degree to which the plaintiff’s negligence caused the crash.
What Are the Legal Steps After Being in a Truck Accident?
When you have been involved in a truck accident, the first thing you should do is call emergency services. Because of the sheer size of a truck, injuries and collision damage are usually much more severe and your health is a top priority.
Once you’ve taken care of your health, you should contact a semi-truck accident lawyer right away so that you can begin the process of filing and following a personal injury claim for your truck collision. Here are the most important steps to building a legal claim and winning your case:
1. Sign a written agreement with your truck accident attorney.
You should make your professional relationship with your truck accident lawyer official by reviewing, discussing and signing a written agreement stating the terms for your legal representation. Make sure you ask questions and have a clear understanding of the basic points of agreement before signing anything.
Establishing this communication from the very beginning will allow you to trust your lawyer’s guidance in helping you retrieve maximum compensation for your accident.
2. Let your attorney communicate with insurance and claim adjusters.
Once you and your legal team begin building your injury claim, you should only discuss your case with your attorney unless advised otherwise. You will need to report your truck accident to your own insurance company and other parties, but you should not give any information to the trucking company’s claim adjuster as well as other insurance companies, even if they reach out to you.
Do not sign any documents or answer questions of any kind without first speaking with your lawyer. Sharing the details of your truck accident injuries outside the required agencies, such as your insurance, the police, the DMV and doctors, can jeopardize the success of your legal claim.
3. Investigate the evidence from your truck accident.
At this point, you’ve probably already had the opportunity to present basic evidence to your attorney. It’s pivotal that you share this information, including details about your medical visits and physical therapy, to help your legal team move forward in building you the strongest personal injury claim possible.
4. Send a demand letter to the insurance company responsible for your injuries.
Now that you and your attorney have collected and reviewed the evidence from your crash, the next step is for your lawyer to draft and send a personal injury demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. The letter will address how you, the injury claimant, have been affected physically, financially and emotionally from the crash.
Importantly, the letter will map out the “demand,” which is the specific payment amount that will be accepted in order to restore you justice.” This will be an agreed upon amount between you and your attorney.
5. Your attorney will negotiate the best settlement offer for you.
Once the trucking company receives the demand letter, the insurance company has two options. The trucking company can accept your demands and settle out of court or they can negotiate terms and present you with a counter-offer.
6. File a Lawsuit if Negotiations Fail
If you and the trucker’s insurance company cannot reach a deal on a fair settlement amount, then you have the option to file a lawsuit and take your case to trial. Most cases are settled before this step. However, if your demands go unanswered or negotiation is out of the question, you’ll want the best truck accident lawyer to take the at-fault party’s insurance company to court.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Truck Accident?
If you are injured in any type of accident, such as a car collision, truck accident or motorcycle crash, you will need to file your injury claim as soon as possible. The reasons for this is because there are legal deadlines you will need to meet in order to recover any compensation for your injuries and losses. The longer you wait to file your legal claim, the more difficult it will be for you to prove negligence against the at-fault party and win your case.
It’s true that deadlines vary from state to state. For example, Florida has longer time limits on personal injury claims than most other states. Truck accident victims must file a claim within four years in the state of Florida from the date of the crash, whereas accident victims in California have only two years. Your attorney will be able to help you file a truck accident claim depending on the state you live in within the appropriate time frame.
You Need an Advocate After Your Semi Truck Accident
Truck accident cases are far more complicated than car accident collisions for a multitude of reasons. Truck collisions involve multiple parties and can be difficult to navigate alone. The semi-truck accident lawyers with The Advocates understand the ins and outs of commercial and public carriers, as well as determining liability for complex injury claims.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury from a truck accident, you will need an experienced truck accident attorney to help you recover compensation for your injuries and losses. For more information on how The Advocates can build you a strong legal claim, contact our lawyers today. Simply call us at 307-224-9378 or use our online chat to speak with a live attorney. Don’t wait. You deserve an Advocate.