A commercial truck accident is unlike any other type of crash. Semi-trucks are large and heavy, which means the occupants of other vehicles are likely to suffer serious injuries in an accident. These injuries can result in substantial damages.
You may be entitled to significant compensation following a commercial truck accident. However, it is crucial to start protecting your rights and preserving the viability of your claim promptly.
At Colombo Law, we have extensive experience representing clients in complex trucking accident litigation. Our commercial truck accident lawyers take action immediately by investigating the wreck, collecting important evidence, and handling communications with defendants and insurance companies.
Hurt By A Truck?™ Call Colombo Law at (304) 599-4229 today for a FREE case review.
What Are My Rights?
If you were injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you have the right to pursue compensation for any damages you and your loved ones have sustained. These damages may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of future income and earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
- And more
Your right to compensation hinges on whether the truck driver and any other parties were negligent. If you can prove negligence, your claim is likely to succeed.
Read More: How Do Truck Accident Lawsuits Work?
As you would expect, trucking companies don’t like dealing with accident claims. Their insurers don’t like them either, and they will both use a number of tricks to make legitimate cases go away. Sometimes this involves making a low settlement offer. In other cases, they might dispute or deny liability in the hopes that the victim will just give up.
If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a commercial truck accident, you can’t just assume you will be treated fairly. You need to start asserting your rights from the moment the crash occurs.
Protecting Your Rights After a Truck Accident
What you should do immediately following an accident depends on whether or not you are able to stay at the scene of the accident. If you are seriously injured and unable to remain at the scene, there are only two things you need to do:
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Contact a lawyer ASAP
Emergency workers may evaluate your injuries and determine that you do not require immediate treatment. But, if you are able to remain at the scene of the accident, it is in your best interest to do the following:
1. Take Photographs
For the safety of other drivers, accident scenes need to be cleaned up quickly. This can result in the loss of important evidence. It is up to you to document the scene before this happens.
If you have a smartphone, you should take photos of anything that might be relevant to your case. This includes the damage to any vehicles, road conditions, the weather at the time of the crash, etc. You should also take photographs of any skid marks, debris in the road, and other details that can support your claim.
2. Exchange Information with the Truck Driver
Whether you are in a car accident or a commercial truck accident, the need to exchange information with the parties involved remains the same. The main difference is that you will need additional information from the truck driver in order to bring a claim.
You need to get the truck driver’s personal information (name, address, and phone number) and insurance coverage information, as well as the license plate number for the rig (NOTE: the truck and the trailer may have different license plates; make sure you write down or take a picture of both). In addition, you will need the name and contact information for the trucking company that employs the driver (if applicable; some truck drivers are owner-operators who own their trucks and are self-employed).
3. Interview Witnesses
The evidence you collect at the scene serves as the foundation of your truck accident claim. If any witnesses saw the accident, their testimony can provide additional support.
You should not hesitate to ask witnesses at the scene to describe their perspective on the crash. Write down what they say or, if they don’t mind, record their statements. You will also need to get the name and contact information for each person in the event that you and/or your truck accident lawyer need to follow up with them for your case.
4. Make a Statement to the Police
In West Virginia, motor vehicle accidents resulting in injury, death, and/or property damage that appears to exceed $1,000 must be promptly reported to the nearest police department (see West Virginia Code § 17C-4-6). As a general rule, it is best to notify the police of any accident if you are unsure about the severity.
Virtually all commercial truck accidents will need to be reported to the police. Injuries and substantial property damage are the norm, and fatalities are more common in these collisions than in other types of accidents.
Read More: Semi-Truck vs. Car Accident Statistics
Provide honest answers to any questions the responding officer has, and do not apologize or suggest you were at fault. Once your statement is on the record, it can be very difficult to overcome such an admission to get the compensation you deserve—even if the evidence shows that you are not to blame.
5. Get Medical Treatment for Your Injuries
Truck accident injuries are often serious. Although you may receive treatment at the scene, you should go to the hospital or see a doctor immediately following a commercial truck accident.
Getting medical attention is essential for your health and well-being. It is also crucial for protecting your legal rights after the accident, as thorough medical records will be necessary for proving the extent of your injuries and supporting your claim for damages.
6. Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Unless your policy says otherwise, you will have approximately 30 days to notify your insurance company that you were involved in an accident. Generally speaking, it is best to report the crash as soon as possible to ensure that you maintain the right to any applicable coverage.
The majority of damages will be paid by the at-fault parties’ insurance. However, your insurance may pay for some of your losses while you are waiting for your case to be resolved.
7. Be Careful What You Say
You need to be extremely cautious about the information you share following any kind of accident. This includes communications with any insurance company (even the one through which you have coverage) and posting online. Other than close family members and any attorneys you choose to consult, you should avoid saying anything that can be used against you by the parties in your case.
8. Get a Copy of the Police Report
You can request a copy of the accident report through the West Virginia State Police website. Call (304) 746-218 or complete WVSP Form 141 and send it by mail or by email to the Traffic Records Section. A truck accident attorney can review the crash report and ensure that all of the information is accurate.
9. Focus on Your Recovery
Keep any appointments you have with your doctors and other medical providers. This will allow for your injuries to be fully documented and a prognosis to be reached.
It is also important to keep records of all of the ways the commercial truck accident has impacted your life. This includes holding onto any medical bills and receipts, tracking the days you miss from work and the wages you lose as a result, and noting any physical and psychological issues you experience.
10. Talk to an Attorney
The best way to protect your rights after a truck accident is to consult a lawyer as soon as possible. Seeking legal counsel promptly gives your lawyer a greater chance of recovering crucial evidence from the scene of the accident. This in turn means more time for your attorney to build a strong case on your behalf. Your attorney can also advise you of any steps you need to take to protect your rights.
Read More: How to Choose a Truck Accident Lawyer
Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident? Contact Colombo Law Today
Truck drivers and trucking companies should be held responsible when their negligence causes accidents. However, recovering compensation for damages can be challenging.
For more than 20 years, Colombo Law has been a leading advocate on behalf of the victims of truck accidents. We have achieved significant verdicts and settlements for clients who suffered injury or lost loved ones in crashes involving multiple types of commercial vehicles.
Start protecting your rights after a commercial truck accident today by contacting Colombo Law for a FREE case review. Our truck accident lawyers serve clients in Morgantown and all of West Virginia.