If you get in a minor fender bender, do you need a truck accident attorney? How often do you have to call an attorney to help you deal with a truck accident claim, and what happens if you try to handle your claim on your own?
Dealing with the aftermath of a truck accident can be incredibly stressful, especially if the accident injured you. This post will help you understand when you need to reach out to an attorney for legal support on a truck accident claim. Working with a truck accident attorney can give you vital information about what to do next, including how to protect your right to seek compensation for your truck accident injuries.
When You Need to Call a Truck Accident Attorney
Ideally, you should contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after a truck accident. Truck accident claims can be more complex than car accident claims since they require more evidence to establish liability. An attorney can sort through all the evidence, determine which parties may share liability for your accident, and give you more information about how to pursue compensation.
You should call an attorney if:
The truck accident injured you and your property.
Because big trucks weigh so much, semi-truck accidents can cause devastating injuries, like brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, painful back and neck injuries, and broken bones. Any time you sustain an injury in a truck accident, you need a lawyer to help you fight for compensation. The insurance company that covers the liable driver may try to deny or devalue your claim, so having an attorney on your side will help you protect your rights.
Property damage claims are usually straightforward. You have your vehicle evaluated by a certified repair shop, and the insurance company should compensate you for the cost of repairs. However, injury claims are more complicated. Even if you suffered only minor injuries in the accident, you should still have a truck accident lawyer review the circumstances that caused your accident to make an informed decision about your next steps.
The insurance company tries to downplay the extent of your injuries.
Many injuries require ongoing medical care, like an extended hospital stay, multiple surgical procedures, or extensive physical therapy. However, the insurance company may try to downplay the extent of your injuries using several tactics. Their goal is to reduce the compensation they have to pay you.
They may try:
- Denying When Your Injuries Occurred: The insurance company may try to claim that your injuries did not occur at the time of the truck accident. For example, suppose that you sustained whiplash in your truck accident. You may not have sought medical care immediately, assuming that your symptoms would disappear in a few days. If the symptoms continued, you might have sought medical care several days or weeks later. In these circumstances, the insurance company would likely try to say that you sustained whiplash at another time. A lawyer could review your medical records and work with a medical team to establish when your injuries occurred and avoid this tricky tactic.
- Denying the Extent of Your Injuries: Different people respond to injuries differently. For example, one patient with a broken leg might get up and move around within a few weeks. However, another patient with a broken leg might need mobility aids months after the accident. You know what limitations you face because of your injuries. However, the insurance company may attempt to deny the full extent of your injuries. As a result, you may need to work with an attorney to establish how your injuries have affected your life.
- Rejecting the Necessity of your Medical Treatment: Sometimes, the insurance company may claim that you did not need all the medical treatments you included as part of your injury claim. You may have followed your doctor’s recommendations and undergone procedures to increase your odds of recovery. The insurance company may claim that you did not need all those treatments. A lawyer can help establish the necessity of your treatment plan, often by working closely with a medical expert.
The truck driver’s insurance company denies liability for the accident.
The police report from your accident will often state who likely caused the accident, including contributing factors. Your attorney will work to collect additional evidence to establish that the truck driver caused your accident. However, the truck driver may deny that he acted negligently, like driving while distracted. As a result, the trucker’s insurance company may deny liability, making it harder for you to pursue compensation. If this occurs, your attorney will need to gather evidence that shows how the trucker caused your accident. They may pull footage from traffic or dashboard cameras, speak to eyewitnesses, or hire expert witnesses to recreate the accident. This evidence will help your attorney hold the insurance company accountable.
You have any reason to believe that outside factors may have contributed to the accident.
Many truck accidents involve multiple liable parties. While the truck driver ultimately decides how to act behind the wheel, many factors can contribute to a truck accident. Some of those factors may remain entirely outside the truck driver’s control, such as:
How cargo gets loaded into a big truck can affect the driver’s ability to drive safely. Drivers should check their cargo every time they leave, even if they trust the loading company. Unfortunately, sometimes, drivers may not have adequate time to check their loads, or they may overlook an unexpected hazard.
Improperly secured cargo can cause a falling load accident on a flatbed truck. Loads can also fall out of the back of a trailer that did not get adequately secured. In an enclosed trailer, shifting loads can increase the risk of a jackknife or rollover accident.
Dangerous Policies and Procedures
After some truck accidents, a careful investigation may uncover that the trucking company shares liability for the accident. Trucking companies often share responsibility for accidents because they have dangerous policies that put drivers and others around them in additional danger on the road.
These policies may include:
- Pushing drivers to meet tight delivery deadlines, which could encourage drivers to speed
- Encouraging drivers to exceed the federally-restricted number of hours they can legally spend behind the wheel each day
- Employing drivers who have a long accident history or a history of dangerous driving behavior
- Failing to properly train new drivers before dispatching them for the first time
- Failing to monitor drivers’ records and behaviors on the road
Identifying dangerous policies and procedures can require digging through drivers’ logbooks and investigating trucking companies’ histories. Working with an experienced truck accident attorney with a legal team familiar with these documents can make that process much more manageable.
Big trucks, by their nature, require a great deal of maintenance. Federal rules require trucking companies to conduct regular maintenance and vehicle inspections. However, taking trucks in for maintenance means that trucking companies do not have them out on the road, making deliveries.
In some cases, that can mean significant income losses for the company. As a result, some companies put off needed maintenance, even after a driver reports a problem. Failing to provide required maintenance may make the company liable for an accident caused by their neglect.
The insurance company does not pay out on time.
If you have reached a settlement agreement with the insurance company, but you cannot seem to get the compensation you settled on, you may need an attorney to help negotiate and address the problem on your behalf. An attorney can help apply the pressure you need to push the insurance company to make your agreed-upon payments.
What Happens if You Do Not Have a Truck Accident Attorney to Help with Your Claim?
If you choose not to work with a truck accident attorney as you move forward with your claim, you may face several challenges.
- You may miss out on the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
- You may inadvertently accept liability for your truck accident, leaving you unable to recover compensation.
- It may take longer to settle your truck accident claim since you will have to fight to get the insurance company to listen to you.
- You may have trouble establishing how your injuries occurred, what treatments you needed, and how your injuries have affected your life.
Truck accidents are devastating. Their aftermath can pose both physical challenges and immense financial strain. Trying to handle a truck accident claim on your own could further those financial difficulties and make it harder for you to recover the compensation you deserve.
Instead of handling your claim alone, contact a truck accident lawyer to discuss your right to seek compensation, liability for your accident, and how you can move forward from the accident.