Truck Accident FAQs
Truck accidents are terrifying and amid the chaos surrounding the accident scene, a thousand questions are probably swimming through your mind. While it is challenging to answer every question an 18-wheeler accident victim may have, Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has prepared some answers to some of those our clients ask most frequently.
What should I do immediately following an 18-wheeler accident?
Generally, if you can physically do so, at the accident scene gather as much information as possible. This includes the names and contact information of witnesses, photographs of the scene of the accident including damage to the vehicles and injuries involved. In addition, obtain information for the other drivers, including names, license numbers, registration information, and insurance information. Once you have all of this information, you must get medical attention.
Why get medical attention if I feel uninjured after a truck accident?
Not getting proper medical attention following a truck accident is a mistake. Often, victims report feeling fine only to discover they have life-threatening injuries such as internal bleeding. No matter how you feel following an 18-wheeler accident, always go to the emergency room or see your own doctor immediately after the accident. This step will also assist you with your insurance claim and could save your life as well.
What should I tell my insurance company?
Naturally, you want to report any accident to your insurance company. However, before you do, there are some basics you should know:
- Do not give a recorded statement – These may be used out of context to minimize or deny your claim. Remember, if you agree to provide a recorded statement, the insurance company will scrutinize every answer and use the information you provide to hold you partially liable for the accident.
- Stick to the facts of the accident – Do not elaborate about the accident or the possible causes. Simply provide the date, time, and location of the accident and advise them which law enforcement agency took the formal report.
- Avoid answering irrelevant questions – You want to discuss only the accident, not your injuries, or damage to your vehicle. Advise the insurer of your intention to seek guidance from a truck accident attorney.
You are under no obligation to speak with any other driver’s insurance company. Refer those calls to your attorney to address rather than attempt to talk to them. Chances are the point of their call is to gain additional information from you to minimize their exposure.
How are truck accidents different from car accidents?
It is easy to think a roadway accident is a roadway accident, but that is not always the case. First, if you have a collision with another car where a speeding driver struck you from behind, chances are it was simply your car and the other driver.
When it comes to a truck accident, other considerations include:
- Trucks are much bigger than cars – According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a full truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. That weight in comparison to approximately 6,000 pounds for a car is a staggering difference. Victims of truck accidents will likely suffer far more injuries.
- Truck drivers have state and federal rules to follow – Unlike cars that follow state laws, truckers have to follow both state and federal regulations. This includes regulations restricting hours driven and more. A violation of a federal rule could mean the trucker’s employer could be partially liable for injuries a truck accident victim sustains.
- Higher incidents of manufacturing issues – In general, truck accidents have higher incidences of failing tires and brakes. This could complicate a truck accident victim’s injury claim.
These are only some of the ways a truck and car accident differ. Victims of a trucking accident generally suffer more serious injury than those who are injured in an accident involving two cars.
How is liability determined following a truck accident?
So many rules and regulations apply to truck drivers and trucking companies, you will need someone who knows all of them. Generally, a truck accident attorney will know what questions to ask and know what documents to request. Items like trucking logs, inspection records, and onboard monitoring systems can help determine the cause of an accident and may also help shed light on how the 18-wheeler driver contributed to the accident.
What are the typical damages awarded in trucking accidents?
Like any accident, we cannot promise any results. You may, however, include certain items in trucking accident claims (as in car accident claims).
Some broad areas of potential compensation include:
- Medical care for victims – Your care immediately following an 18-wheeler accident, follow-up care, and when needed, estimated future medical needs.
- Past and future earnings – Usually, your lost wages are easy to calculate. However, if you have suffered a catastrophic injury, you may need to include estimated future earnings in your claim.
- Pain and suffering – Depending on the state you live in, you may seek compensation for your pain and suffering following an 18-wheeler accident.
- Property damage – You may include damage to your vehicle and other personal property in your truck accident claim.
Families who lose a loved one in a trucking accident may pursue a wrongful death claim. The notable difference between a standard truck accident claim and a wrongful death claim is that the family may seek reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses. Speak with your truck accident lawyer about these claims.
What causes 18-wheeler accidents?
Truck accidents have no single cause. Like cars, human beings drive these highway behemoths. People are not always careful. Road rage, driving under the influence, or distracted driving can cause accidents.
In addition, you may not have control over:
- Poor weather conditions – When a storm comes out of nowhere, drivers may fail to take proper precautions.
- Poor roadway conditions – Just like the weather, road conditions including potholes, wet or icy surfaces, construction equipment, or animals jumping out in front of a truck can cause accidents.
- Other drivers on the road – Sometimes an erratic driver makes a move that jeopardizes a truck driver’s safety and in the interest of keeping themselves safe, they inadvertently cause an accident.
Keep in mind, other negligent behaviors and regulatory violations can result in truck accidents, including:
- Poorly maintained trucks or trucking equipment
- Poorly distributed loads or over-loading
- Negligent hiring practices
- Hours of service violations
- Defective brakes, tires, or electronic truck components
As you can see, several factors can contribute to an 18-wheeler accident. This is another reason why it makes sense to work with an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Are 18-wheeler accidents more common than car accidents?
No, they are not. However, since the Federal Highway Administration estimates more than 150,000,000 trucks are on U.S. roadways, it probably comes as no surprise that nearly 90,000 people annually suffer an injury in truck accidents. While these accidents only account for about 3 percent of annual roadway accidents, more than 80 percent of these accidents involve more than one other vehicle. The injuries are also generally worse.
What should I do if an insurance adjuster contacts me?
Refer them to your attorney. All insurance companies are different. You may hear from multiple adjusters—one from your insurance company, one from the truck driver’s insurance company, and perhaps one from the driver’s employer’s insurance company. Do not discuss the accident or your claim with any of them before speaking with an experienced attorney.
Truck accident victims need to understand the insurance adjuster’s job is to minimize the amount of money an insurance company is ultimately going to pay to a victim for their losses.
The adjuster may:
- Ask leading questions – An open-ended question requires more than a yes or no answer. Adjusters are specifically trained to extract certain information from accident victims. They could ask you the same question in various ways to attempt to get different answers. Keep in mind, adjusters are not on your side.
- Ignore your claim – In some cases, you may hear nothing from an adjuster. Instead, you will get a check in the mail with a form attached to it saying this is your settlement for your recent accident. Do not cash the check. Once you do, you forfeit any rights to additional compensation. They do this to make sure the insurer does not pay any more than necessary. Call your lawyer immediately.
- Suggest you do not need a lawyer – You should view this as a red flag. This often means the insurance company suspects they could have greater liability. They know most victims do not understand what laws protect them and they simply take advantage of this lack of knowledge.
Once you file a claim with an insurance company and speak with an attorney, the lawyer representing you should handle all communications with the insurance adjuster. Remember, someone who has experience dealing with insurers will have a full understanding of the types of documents they will request, what to watch out for in the fine print, and what questions to ask.
Insurers have attorneys who are working to protect their interests. When you work with Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, you will be working with a team that will be serving as your advocate—their commitment is to you, the victim, not to the insurance company.
How long does it take to settle an 18-wheeler claim?
That depends on a lot of factors. Some claims settle relatively quickly because insurance companies know the sooner they settle, the better. When an insurer is negotiating in good faith, you and your attorney may resolve your claim faster. If the insurance company denies your claim, the process could get more complicated, which can mean additional time.
In some cases, insurance companies keep their offers so low it is impossible to get them to agree to a final, sensible settlement. In these cases, your truck accident attorney may recommend taking your claim to court. In these cases, a settlement takes longer—this is largely dependent on how busy the civil court is in your area.
You remain in full control over the settlement process. Your attorney will offer their best advice regarding the settlement, but you are the one who decides whether to accept the offer. While your attorney serves as your advocate, the process protects you and your interests.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer in an 18-wheeler accident claim?
Victims who have suffered an injury in a truck accident, or those who have lost a loved one, should contact an accident injury attorney for a free consultation. Once they have asked the attorney about the claims process and their options, they can then decide to hire them to represent them through the entire process.
Should you decide to hire a truck accident attorney at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we will provide you with a detailed retainer agreement. This agreement will include our fees, which we don’t collect unless we obtain a settlement or award on your behalf. There may be other fees, including document prep fees and court filing fees, which you may be responsible for regardless of the outcome of your truck accident claim.
With offices across the country, we can serve clients in many states. If you or a loved one were injured in an 18-wheeler accident, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH) to find out your and your family’s rights and options.