Being struck by a commercial truck, “big rig,” bus, or other commercial vehicle can be a terrifying experience that leaves you and any passengers in your car with catastrophic injuries. To make matters worse, some trucking companies and their insurers are reluctant to pay full and fair compensation to you and your injured passengers. They may attempt to settle your case with you shortly after the accident occurs by offering a settlement amount that is below the amount you need to pay your expenses and cover your losses. If this fails, they may very well fight against you and argue that you deserve no compensation at all.
Tips for a Better Truck Accident Lawsuit
If your trucking accident case must proceed to trial, your ability to recover the compensation you need can depend on the quality of the evidence available to prove your case. To help ensure you have the best evidence available, consider the following tips:
- Get medical treatment – NOW! Very few trucking collisions involving a commercial vehicle and a passenger car result in no injuries. It is important you get evaluated and treated as soon as possible after the crash. If you can drive yourself to the doctor’s office or hospital on your own (or someone else can drive you), that is acceptable. Otherwise, strongly consider requesting an ambulance.
- Follow your doctor’s orders. If your doctor diagnoses you with any condition(s) and prescribes a certain treatment for that condition or those conditions, make sure to follow your doctor’s directions to the letter. Do not abuse or overuse pain medications and do not return to work until you have been cleared to do so by your doctor. Pointing out that you contributed to your injuries by not following your doctor’s instructions is a common (and effective) tactic by defense attorneys used to limit the amount of compensation you receive.
- Write down the name of the driver, the company name on the side of the truck, and the name on the trailer, if different. There may be a variety of companies that are responsible for causing or contributing to the crash, and your ability to recover full and fair compensation will depend in part on making certain that suit is brought against all responsible parties. A truck driver may be employed by a company or he or she may be an independent operator. The trailer may contain goods from another company. It is therefore helpful to write down the name and registration/plate numbers of both the cab or tractor as well as the trailer (better yet, take pictures if you have a smartphone and are able to do so).
- Get the driver’s insurance information, too. While you are obtaining information about the driver and his or her commercial vehicle, be sure to obtain the driver’s insurance information as well. You should obtain the names and policy numbers for any agency that is insuring the driver, the vehicle, and/or its cargo.
- Obtain the name of the primary investigating officer. You and your truck accident attorney will want to obtain the crash report prepared by the investigating law enforcement agency. While these reports in and of themselves are not often sufficient to win a case, they can be especially persuasive to judges and juries and contain important information about other witnesses, road conditions, etc. The crash report will not be completed at the scene and may not be completed for several days or longer. As a result, you will need to call and request a copy of the report some time after the crash occurred. This is an easy task if you remember the name, badge number, and agency of the primary investigating officer. Chances are that the officer who appears on scene first and/or talks to you is the lead investigating officer. If not, this person will be sufficiently connected to the investigation that he or she will know where a copy of the report is located once it is completed. At the bare minimum, write down the agency that appears on scene first (whether a local police force, county sheriff, or the state highway patrol).
- Write down everything you remember and everything you see. You will be telling your version of events multiple times, and it is important that you keep your story straight. As soon as you are able to do so, write down your recollection of events in as much detail as possible. Do not leave anything out – even the most minute detail may be valuable for your attorney to investigate further. Write down how the accident occurred and who was involved. What did the driver look like when he or she exited the truck? Was he or she stumbling or staggering? Did he or she appear sleepy? Did he or she smell of alcohol or a foreign substance? What was the weather like? Who witnessed the accident (describe any witnesses who appeared at the scene and indicated they saw the crash)? Once you have written your statement down, keep it in a safe space. Consider making copies and giving some to close family members and/or your attorney for safekeeping.
- Do not wait too long to seek legal help. Truck accidents involve federal and state laws and regulations as well as unique evidence not commonly found in traditional car collisions. The sooner you seek legal assistance, the sooner important evidence can be located and preserved and the quicker you can learn what rights to compensation you may have.
Contact a Greenville Truck Crash Lawyer for Assistance
Regardless of how many of the above steps you actually complete following your truck crash, contact the experienced Greenville truck accident law firm of David R. Price, Jr., P.A. as soon as possible. Even if you fail to get the name of the investigating officer or do not write a narrative of your accident, we may be able to help you obtain compensation from the at-fault truck driver. Call our firm today or contact us online for assistance.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.