Parker Waichman LLP

Have you been involved in a truck accident? If so, it may comfort you to know you’re not alone. Big rigs cause thousands of accidents on our roadways every year, often due to reckless driving, speeding, distraction, or fatigue.

In a battle between a semi-truck and your average passenger car, it’s clear which one wins. Commercial trucks are true heavyweights that can send your car flying with the slightest bump.

If you’ve chosen to instigate a semi-truck accident case, how can you sue the other driver (or their employer) and win? Here, you’ll find tips on how to prevail and win a generous settlement offer for your accident.

See a Doctor As Soon As You Can

This may seem like common sense, but you should visit a doctor as soon as possible after a trucking accident. If you delay, the insurance adjuster could use that as ammo against you. They might claim you weren’t truly hurt or that your injuries weren’t as bad as you claimed.

Many clients skip the doctor after what they perceive to be a minor accident, but doing so can haunt you. Without treatment records, your lawyer will have difficulty proving your injuries to the insurance company (or jury if the case goes to trial).

Of course, you should see a doctor to know how hurt you really are, too. Whiplash, spinal damage, internal bleeding, and brain injuries often don’t show up until days or weeks after an accident. You could wake up one day weeks after the accident and realize you’re in much more pain than you originally thought.

In short, visit a doctor ASAP to protect your health and boost your chances of winning your case.

Stay Tight-Lipped When Talking to Insurance Adjusters

Adjusters from the trucking company’s insurance provider can be very charming. They act like they’re on your side and say things like, “We only want to understand what happened” and “Are you sure you weren’t speeding even a little? It’s okay to admit it; everyone does.”

Don’t fall for it! Adjusters are on the trucking company’s side, not yours. They want to pay you as little as possible and will jump on any opportunity to lower or outright reject your claim.

If you intend to win your case, tell insurance adjusters the bare minimum. That means basic facts such as your name, phone number, and date of birth.

Do not go into a long diatribe or give the adjuster a play-by-play of the accident. And never, ever admit fault, even if you did cause the accident in some way.

Here are a few examples of what not to say to adjusters:

  • “I only looked at my phone for a second.”
  • “I didn’t realize the speed limit changed.”
  • “My baby was crying, and I had to check on them.”
  • “I didn’t see that stop sign.”

Understand the Statute of Limitations in Your State

To win your truck accident case, you’ll need to understand your state’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims. If you pass the deadline, there’s little point in suing because the law will bar you from seeking damages.

Deadlines for personal injury cases vary by state, but many (including Florida and New Jersey) give you two years to make a claim. You have three years in New York, but the state lowers that to two if someone dies in the accident.

Gather Evidence of the Accident

When it comes to winning your truck accident case, evidence is everything. Without enough evidence, proving who was at fault can be nearly impossible.

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and truck accident cases are no different. While at the scene of the accident, take pictures of anything that stands out to you as important. That could include damage to your car and other vehicles, hidden road signs, broken traffic lights, tire skid marks, and debris in the road. Take pictures of your injuries, too, if they’re visible.

You should also try to find witnesses who might have seen the accident. If you’re fortunate, a few drivers may have stopped to help. Ask what they saw and request their names and phone numbers so your truck accident lawyer can talk to them, too.

If the accident happened in front of a business, such as a restaurant or store, you’re in luck. The odds are good that at least one customer or employee saw the accident unfold.

Avoid Agreeing to a Settlement Too Soon

Agreeing to a settlement is a common mistake made by clients. Although the promise of that money can be irresistible, accepting the first offer the insurance company throws your way might not be the smartest idea.

That’s because plenty of insurers will toss you the lowest amount they think you’ll accept. This amount might seem acceptable, but the true value of your case could be far higher. There’s no way to know without talking to a lawyer first. And, if you take the settlement, you can’t decide to sue the trucking company later for a higher amount.

Always speak with a lawyer before accepting to know whether a settlement is fair. If the insurance company lowballs you, your lawyer can negotiate for more.

Don’t Talk About the Accident on Social Media

If you’re a social butterfly, it can be tempting to blast the details of your accident all over platforms like Twitter and Facebook. It feels comforting to talk about what happened, but social media is not the place to do it.

This is because insurance adjusters are very clever, and many will stalk your social media to look for any evidence they can use against you. If you say something “wrong,” the adjuster can point to that as proof the accident was your fault.

You should also avoid posting pictures of fun events until your case is closed. The insurance adjuster might see that picture of you at the beach and say, “Look, they’re not as hurt as they claim to be.”

Prove the Truck Driver’s Negligence

To win your semi-truck accident case, your lawyer must prove that the trucker or their employer was liable. Truck drivers can be negligent by:

  • Speeding to make time-sensitive deliveries
  • Failing to take breaks as mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Driving aggressively or recklessly
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

You might think it’ll be tough to prove negligence, but fortunately, nearly all semi-trucks come equipped with a black box containing details of the driver’s actions. This device can reveal whether they were speeding, swerving in and out of lanes, braking too hard, or driving longer than legally allowed.

In some cases, the trucker’s employer might be liable for the accident. Employers could be held liable for:

  • Demanding that employees violate hours of service regulations
  • Telling drivers it’s okay to speed as long as they make deliveries
  • Failing to inspect and maintain trucks
  • Failing to train drivers properly
  • Hiring drivers with a record of traffic violations

Truck manufacturers could also be held liable. This is less common, but if a manufacturer knew about a defect with their trucks and refused to issue a recall, you may be able to hold them legally responsible. For instance, if the brakes failed because of a defect despite the trucking company doing everything right, the manufacturer might have to compensate you for this failure.

Hire a Skilled Lawyer for Your Semi-Truck Accident Case

While winning your case without a lawyer is possible, this isn’t a route we’d recommend. Many people don’t have the time or know-how to navigate a complicated truck accident case. Hiring a lawyer will boost your chances of winning a higher settlement.

Your lawyer will:

  • Talk to witnesses and gather their accounts of the accident
  • Collect and organize evidence
  • Identify all liable parties
  • Explain your rights
  • Establish the value of your claim
  • File all paperwork on time
  • Talk to the insurance company on your behalf
  • Represent you if the case goes to trial

Our Attorneys Will Help You Seek Justice

For the strongest chance of winning your semi-truck accident case, you need a tough attorney who will stand by your side to prove negligence in your accident. At Truck Accidents Law Firm, our lawyers have years of experience winning settlements for truck accident victims. For a free consultation, contact us at 1-800-LAW-INFO today.