Involved in a Truck Accident?
Trucks are everywhere on the roads, ensuring the items we depend on daily including food, clothing, and fuel are where they need to be when we go to purchase them. While we may find a truck in our way on the roads annoying, we seldom give much thought to the valuable work they do on a daily basis. In fact, most of us never think about trucks or truckers outside of being frustrated we cannot see around them on the road. Unless, of course, you are in an accident that involves a truck. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident get the advice neccessary for recovery from the experienced truck accident lawyers at Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney.
Truck accidents are all too common. In fact, reports from the U.S. Highway Department indicate there were more than 116,000 accidents across the United States involving a truck during a recent nine-month period. Truck accidents during this period of time caused more than 55,000 injuries and cost more than 3,300 people their lives. For those people who are involved in a truck accident, or those who lose a loved one, they often do not know what they should do following a truck accident.
Protecting Yourself, Others, and Evidence
There is always a great deal of confusion following an accident. Everyone is shaken up and generally, there is an air of panic. This is perfectly normal, but the sooner you take these steps the better:
- Ensuring everyone’s safety – In the immediate aftermath of an accident, make sure everyone is safe. This may involve moving your vehicle out of the roadway if possible, making sure no one is in danger of suffering more serious injury. Checking on every driver and passenger is a must.
- Contacting law enforcement – Regardless of the type of accident, contacting law enforcement and advising them there has been an accident is a must. Make sure you indicate during your call if there are injuries that would require EMS to attend the scene. This is probably a given when there is a truck accident given the disparity in size between cars and trucks.
- Exchange information with drivers – Someone on the scene should make sure the names, driver’s license information, license plate numbers, and insurance information for all drivers is obtained for later use. This information will also be contained in the police report if you can’t get the information.
- Photograph as much as possible – A picture paints a thousand words: Taking photos of the scene of the accident including damage to the vehicles involved, traffic signals, skid marks on roadways, and injuries could be useful later. Remember, no details are too minor, so include images of any surrounding businesses, speed limit signs, or road hazard signs. Fortunately, today most of us carry cell phones that can easily obtain photos.
- Do not refuse medical care – Even if you believe your injuries are minor, and chances are they are not, you need to be seen by a qualified physician. If EMS has arrived on the scene, go to the hospital, and make sure the attending physician knows you have been involved in a truck accident.
Always remember to preserve evidence following a truck accident because once you file a claim, you will want as much documentation as possible to back up that claim.
Recording Information Following a Truck Accident in Florida
Once you have sought medical care and are at home recuperating, make every effort to keep track of certain things. For example, if you are going to be out of work, you should make note of when your physician says you can return. Additionally, if you show any additional symptoms of injury such as sudden headaches, backaches, or other unexplainable pain, you should make a record as well. For those who suffer the trauma of an accident, you may see changes in your mental state, such as trouble sleeping, feeling like you have no control, etc.
This information should be recorded as well. Make sure to keep a record of any expenses associated with your injuries including medical visits including specialists, pain medications, tests, etc. This will be important information when you file a truck accident claim.
Truck Accident Insurance Claims Are Always Complicated
Trucks must carry minimum levels of liability insurance. This includes Property Damage Liability (PDL) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Keep in mind, PIP is designed to cover “all necessary and reasonable medical expenses” of victims. Trucks must maintain $750,000 worth of coverage per incident. You should also be aware that PIP only covers 80 percent of your medical expenses, leaving you to pay the remaining 20 percent, which you may have to do if your insurance will not pick up the difference. This is why you need to seek guidance from an experienced Orlando truck accident attorney as soon after the accident as possible.
Chances are fairly good you will receive a call from an insurance adjuster shortly after you report the accident to your insurance company. Since Florida is governed under no-fault statutes, this is the normal process. However, because of the size disparities between cars and trucks, there is a higher than average possibility you will have suffered serious injuries, which means you may need to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve. This is when claims get complicated. When an accident involves a commercial vehicle, there may be more than one person responsible for the accident.
While it may seem simple enough to claim the driver is at fault, there are other possibilities, including:
- Trucking company – If a trucking company has failed to maintain their vehicles properly and the accident was a result of failing brakes or other mechanical issues, the trucking company may be partially liable for your injuries.
- Employer or contractor – In some cases, the person who owns the truck is not the same person who hired the driver. The driver may be an independent contractor who has been hired by a trucking company to make deliveries or pickups. In some cases, drivers are employees of one company, but are loaned to other companies.
- Shipping company or manufacturer – When there is hazardous material in a truck, or a truck was improperly loaded, it may be the company that was responsible for the materials who can be partially held liable.
Keep in mind, each of these entities may have a different insurance company and each one may contact you through an adjuster. Not only does this confuse the claims process, but it also means you need someone who will work to protect your interests, and not the interests of the insurance companies who are involved.
Insurance Adjusters Are Not Trying to Protect Your Interests
Victims of a truck accident in Florida need to understand insurance adjusters are not there to protect their interests. Adjusters work in the best interest of the insurer they are representing. This is an economic matter—insurers collect premiums from their customers to make money and they lose money when they pay a claim. Therefore, it is clear the insurer’s interests and yours conflict with each other.
After a truck accident, you have the right to compensation to make you financially whole, which means your claim should include:
- Accident date medical bills – The more serious the injury you are facing, the higher the medical bills. The first medical bill you will get is most likely from EMS for transportation to the hospital. Then the other bills start piling up. Tests at the hospital, blood work, X-rays, MRIs, and other tests to determine the extent of your injuries. You may have to spend time in the hospital until you are well enough to go home.
- Post-accident medical bills – Whether you spend time in the hospital or not, chances are your medical bills will continue following the date of the accident. Pain medication, follow-up care, x-rays when there are broken bones or internal injuries, and visits to specialists may be necessary. Should you require rehabilitation, you can recover those costs as well.
- Current lost wages – While you are recovering from your injuries, you probably can’t work. This means you are losing out on your weekly or monthly salary. Additionally, you may miss out on some benefits that you would receive if working full time, such as pension account deposits, etc. You should not have to bear the financial brunt of someone’s negligence.
- Future lost wages – Because of the potentially devastating injuries suffered in a truck accident, you may have to modify your position at work. If you have to work fewer hours, take a lesser paying position, or if your injuries are permanent and you can’t return then the at-fault party should be responsible for making sure you are made financially whole.
- Modifications necessary – If you need specialized equipment in your home including lifts, ramps, wheelchairs, or you need your home modified to be accessible due to your injuries, you should not have to bear the cost of these modifications.
To understand more about how to work with insurance companies during your claim process speak with an experienced insurance dispute attorney about your case.
Financial Impacts of Truck Accidents Not Always Known Immediately
In some cases, it will take several months before the full impact of the financial costs of a truck accident will be realized. There is also a high probability the insurance company will try to settle quickly once a claim has been filed. There is a reason for this: Most insurers believe the quicker the settlement the less it will cost them—and this is true in most cases.
Remember that when an insurance company makes an initial offer, they will also likely include a caveat that could have a chilling impact for you to fully recover financially. The terms of the settlement will include language that clears them of any future liability. This means if you accept a settlement, and weeks later you require surgery or other procedures that are directly tied back to the injuries you suffered in a truck accident, you will likely not be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket costs.
You should remember the following after a truck accident:
- At the scene – Avoid saying or doing anything that may indicate you are partially responsible. This includes apologizing or indicating you did not see something in the roadway. In addition, make sure you do not say things like “I’m fine,” until a doctor sees you. Use caution speaking with other drivers, witnesses, and law enforcement to avoid potentially jeopardizing your claim.
- Take your doctor’s advice – Always keep your medical appointments, even if you think you feel fine. There is a reason doctors recommend follow-up treatments: they want to make sure you do not have long-term issues as a result of your injuries.
- Talk to a truck accident lawyer – As soon as you are contacted by an insurance adjuster, call a truck accident attorney who has experience handling trucking accidents.
- Do not rush back to work – If your doctor clears you to return to work, make sure you are fully recovered, and if not, let them know any concerns you have about returning. Do not exacerbate your injuries.
- Do not allow recorded calls – Insurance company adjusters may ask for your permission to record telephone calls with you. Refer them to you truck accident attorney—remember, there is a point to the questions an adjuster asks you, and they are not your friend. Even an innocuous question like “How are you doing today?” can come back and haunt you later.
Speak With an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney About Your Case
Because of the complex nature of a truck accident, and because there is a potential of multiple parties being liable, you must work with an experienced personal injury attorney attorney. Having a truck accident lawyer who is working in your best interest allows you to turn your focus to your physical recovery while they focus on getting you the maximum settlement for your injuries and ensuring you are not suffering financially as well as physically.
Truck accidents are life-altering, and if you have questions following a truck accident, contact a truck accident attorney for a free case evaluation. Not only will a truck accident lawyer help you understand what rights you have under the law, they can also explain what options are available to you following a truck accident.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814