Truck accidents can cause devastating injuries and property damage: an average of $195,258 per crash with a medium or heavy truck and when the accident involves non-fatal injuries. If you’ve sustained injuries in a truck accident, you may find yourself wondering whether to retain an attorney. A lawyer can help protect your rights, help you seek compensation from the truck driver’s insurance company, and help provide valuable legal protection. If you’re still wondering whether you need a lawyer—or when to call one—consider some of the following important questions.
1) When Did the Accident Occur?
Ideally, you want to contact a lawyer as soon as possible following a truck accident. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner he or she can:
- Help you determine what amount of compensation you should seek.
- Collect valuable evidence that may help prove fault in the accident, including the driver’s logbook, traffic camera footage, or any evidence that the driver chose to drive under the influence of drugs, prescription medications, or alcohol.
- Talk with individuals who witnessed the accident to get their side of the story and gather more vital information about the accident itself.
Waiting to contact a lawyer could result in the loss of vital evidence, which may hurt your case and ultimately decrease the compensation that you receive. Contacting a lawyer early in the process can also provide valuable piece of mind throughout the entire legal process.
2) Has the Insurance Company Offered a Settlement?
Often, the truck driver’s insurance company will offer a settlement shortly after the initial accident report. However, these settlement offers usually fail to reflect the full financial compensation that you deserve for your medical bills, your pain and suffering, and your lost wages as you recover from the accident. Do you know how much you really deserve for your accident?
When you contact a lawyer, he or she will take a look at your medical reports, evaluate and discuss your injuries, and get a feel for how the accident has impacted your life. Your attorney will then help you better understand whether the insurance company’s settlement offer reflects what you deserve for your injuries. A qualified lawyer can:
- Offer advice about whether you should accept an insurance company’s settlement offer. In some cases, you may want to accept the offer, particularly if you want to move forward with your life as soon as possible, you need immediate access to the funds, and the settlement is close to the amount that your injuries have cost you. In other cases, the lawyer may advise waiting until you have a better idea of the full extent of your injuries. The lawyer may even advise that you reject the settlement offer altogether.
- Negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. A lawyer can fill out the paperwork to reject an offer, indicate how much compensation would actually compensate you for the full cost of your injuries, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
- Let you know when to stop negotiating and consider taking more serious measures, such as filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial.
3) Do You Need to Go to Court to Receive Compensation?
Ideally, you want to contact a lawyer long before you even think you might need to go to court over a truck accident. Remember, you want a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf throughout the insurance claim process, to provide valuable advice to you, and to help prevent you from missing out on vital funds. If you have rejected the insurance company’s settlement offer and plan to go to court to fight for adequate compensation, however, you should definitely retain an attorney to represent you.
When you hire a lawyer, he or she will fight for you in court. A lawyer will gather evidence, draft statements to submit to the judge, and sort through relevant information to ensure a concise, capable argument in court. All of these factors can make a big difference in winning or losing your case.
4) How Serious Are Your Injuries?
Truck accidents often lead to more traumatic injuries than traditional car crashes. The greater mass of big trucks requires more room to maneuver and turn. Not only that, the greater weight of the truck may cause more damage to crash victims than a smaller vehicle. Unfortunately, this means that if you suffered injuries in a truck accident, you’re likely facing a long road toward recovery. Consider the following:
- With traumatic brain injuries, you may lack the capability to communicate with the truck driver’s insurance company on your own. You may struggle to pull together the right words or to issue the statements that you need regarding the accident. Traumatic brain injuries may also make it difficult to keep up with the paperwork needed to handle your truck accident case. If you retain a lawyer, on the other hand, he or she will handle the paperwork for you and keep you on track with collecting vital evidence. Your lawyer will also handle all communications with the trucking company, which may prevent you from accidentally saying something incriminating.
- Serious injuries may leave you on heavy-duty painkillers. If you suffered an amputation, spinal cord damage, or even broken bones, you may need pain medications to help manage your pain. Unfortunately, those medications may also cloud your mind and make it difficult for you to communicate clearly with the insurance company. With a lawyer on your side, on the other hand, you will have someone else to handle these important communications and keep up with key details of your case.
- Serious injuries require higher levels of funds. Insurance companies often prove difficult to deal with when it comes to serious injuries and significant compensation. You want the full amount of compensation that you deserve under the terms of your policy; however, the company will likely offer you the minimum possible compensation. The more serious your injuries, the more the cost of your recovery. Equally, the more serious your injuries, the harder you may find it to convince the insurance company to agree to a fair amount of compensation. Not only that, with more serious injuries, you may not know what those injuries will cost up front. An experienced personal injury lawyer often has a better measuring stick for what your injuries will cost in the future.
- You need to focus on your recovery. Working with a lawyer means that you can keep your focus where you need it most: on your recovery. You shouldn’t spend all of your time dealing with insurance companies and handling paperwork. When you hire a lawyer, they can deal with those details, freeing you up to focus on your recovery.
5) What Information Does the Insurance Company Have?
Have you provided the insurance company with copies of your medical records? Have you already issued a statement about the truck accident? Ideally, you should contact a lawyer before you reach out to the insurance company to provide that information. While you want to start discussions with the insurance company as soon as possible after the accident to help expedite payment of the funds you need, you also want to consult with a lawyer before talking with the insurance company. Consider the following:
- Ideally, you do not want to make statements like, “I’m doing okay,” or, “I’ve been fine.” You also want to avoid making small talk about your activities with insurance adjusters. In some cases, the insurance adjuster may use those conversations against you. The adjuster may, for example, insist that your injuries cause less pain or difficulty than you initially stated. When you work with a lawyer, they can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf or provide you with vital information about how to handle such situations.
- You want to provide the insurance company with copies of all of the information they need. Insurance companies often have strict scales that display how much money they can give you for specific injuries or specific circumstances. Ultimately, however, every truck accident creates a unique situation that requires careful consideration from the insurance company. When you work with a lawyer, the lawyer will make sure you collect all the right information and pass it along to the insurance company. This, in turn, can expedite the process of getting your funds to you and ensure that you do not miss anything that may increase your amount of compensation.
Why Contact a Lawyer Early?
In a perfect world, the insurance company would offer a settlement amount soon after your accident that reflects the full cost of your injuries, including future costs. You wouldn’t have to worry about hiring a lawyer, nor would you have to wonder whether the funds reflect the full extent of your injuries and the property damage that occurred during the accident.
Many accident victims put too much faith in the system and in their insurance companies. These individuals often hold off on hiring a lawyer because they hope that the insurance company will provide them with a reasonable offer. Then, they find themselves scrambling to find and hire a lawyer late in the case because they did not contact anyone sooner.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, you should hire a lawyer as soon as possible in the process. You do not necessarily need to call a lawyer from the scene of the accident, but you may want to contact a lawyer once you know the full extent of your injuries, and there are a number of reasons why contacting a lawyer sooner rather than later can prove particularly beneficial, including the following:
Witness’s Memories Fade Fast
The longer you wait to contact a lawyer, the longer it will take to gather witness statements concerning the accident. Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the more ambiguous memories of a specific event become. Even minutes after an accident, witnesses may already have memories altered by other people’s perception of events or even the questions asked by a police officer at the scene of the accident. The sooner you get statements from witnesses, the better. Equally important, witness statements will more likely match when you obtain those statements soon after the accident.
The Longer You Wait, the Harder It Is to Collect Evidence
Some pieces of evidence disappear quickly after an accident. Skid marks on the road may tell quite a story, but they cannot tell that story if no one checks them. Likewise, many stores delete their surveillance footage within a matter of days or weeks. By contacting a lawyer early, you can get access to that vital evidence before missing out.
The Sooner You Call, the Sooner You Get Advice
Do you know what you can safely post on social media about your accident? Do you have to issue a statement when the truck driver’s insurance company asks you to supply one? What about your activities following the accident: do you need to limit them until you hear back from the insurance company?
For most people, the world of accident recovery presents a number of challenges, including questions you simply do not know how to answer. Fortunately, an experienced truck accident attorney can help guide you through the process, making it easier for you to understand what you need to do and how you should act during your recovery. A lawyer can provide valuable advice about how to talk to the insurance company, what you should ask for, how to handle social media posts about your injuries, and more. You cannot take advantage of that advice, however, without first connecting with an experienced truck accident attorney. The sooner you talk to that attorney, the sooner you can start following clear, comprehensive legal advice that will help you navigate this difficult process.
Get the Legal Help You Need
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, contacting an attorney as soon as possible will provide the legal support you need and help you move forward with your recovery. Most truck accident attorneys will provide you with a free consultation where you can learn more about the legal options and services available to you.