The aftermath of getting hit by a semi truck is stressful, painful, and chaotic. However, it’s critical not to allow that chaos to undermine your future claim or case. Making the wrong moves early on could enable insurance companies to dispute or minimize your rightful compensation down the road.
Here are some major missteps to avoid during this challenging time:
Not Immediately Calling the Police
Regardless of how minor the collision seems, one of the first things you should do after the accident should be to get law enforcement to the scene immediately. Even if the truck driver stops and is cooperative, call 911 right away. Having the responding officer interview the truck driver and witnesses means official statements get documented while the facts are still fresh.
The police report created can include critical details that support your claim later, such as:
- The exact time and location where you were hit by a semi truck or where the crash occurred
- Weather, lighting, and road conditions that existed
- Whether drugs, alcohol, or distractions played a role
- Which vehicle had the legal right of way
- Whether speed limits were violated
- Marks and measurements showing points of impact
- Any vision obstructions like signs or trees
- Whether the truck’s safety equipment malfunctioned
- Which driver’s actions primarily caused the crash
In addition to the report, police may take photos, speak with medical responders, gather contact info for witnesses, check the vehicles for defects, and issue citations.
Having an objective law enforcement investigation from the very beginning prevents the trucking company or driver from disputing basic facts later. It also demonstrates you did everything correctly from a legal standpoint right away.
Not Taking Extensive Photos Yourself After Getting Hit By A Semi Truck
You should never rely solely on the photos within a police report after any motor vehicle accident. It’s critical to comprehensively photograph the scene yourself using your smartphone or camera until police arrive and while they conduct their investigation. Capture images of:
- All damage to both vehicles from multiple angles and distances
- The interior of the semi cab if possible
- Your visible injuries like bloody scrapes or swelling
- Tire marks, oil spills, debris fields, and points of impact
- Street signs, signals, medians, and any blind spots or vision obstructions
- The semi’s license plates, DOT number, and any identifying stickers
- Any apparent maintenance issues like bald tires or leaking fluids
Ask any passengers or witnesses to take photos too for additional documentation. If you are transferred to an emergency room before police arrive, return later to photograph the untouched crash scene if possible.
Photos vividly show what happened for later negotiations and legal proceedings.
Failing to Get Witness Statements and Contact Details
After a commercial truck collision or getting hit by a semi truck, eyewitness statements are invaluable for reconstructing how the crash unfolded in detail. Speak to any bystanders calmly and get their full names, phone numbers, addresses, and written statements about what they observed before they leave the area. If they have cell phone videos or dash cam footage, ask them to send you a copy.
Independent eyewitnesses are crucial because the trucking company will likely dispute your version of events later. Witness statements provide third-party verification of critical details like:
- Which vehicle seemed at fault or out of control
- What maneuvers each vehicle was making prior to impact
- How fast the semi appeared to be traveling
- Whether the truck driver seemed impaired or distracted
- If the semi clearly had mechanical issues or equipment violations
- Any words or actions from the semi driver after the crash
Following up quickly with witnesses also makes it less likely their memories will fade or change. Their perspectives could bolster your claim that the truck driver was negligent in some way.
Declining Immediate Medical Evaluation and Treatment After Getting Hit By A Semi Truck
The physical trauma inflicted by a semi truck collision can be catastrophic, even if latent. Internal bleeding, spinal cord damage, brain injury, whiplash, broken bones, and organ damage may not manifest obvious symptoms immediately. The high kinetic energy involved makes medical complications likely.
Therefore, you should not refuse EMS transport to an ER after any semi truck crash, even if you seem unscathed. Let qualified doctors run tests to make an accurate diagnosis sooner. The detailed medical records generated become evidence of your physical condition in the critical hours just after the accident occurred. Thoroughly documenting injuries now makes it harder for insurers to claim later your health problems are unrelated. Prompt diagnosis also enables faster treatment to mitigate the collision’s effects.
Not Consulting an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Quickly
Because commercial truck claims involve federal regulations, complex policies, specialized experts, and specific laws, accident victims should retain skilled legal counsel immediately.
Experienced and skilled attorneys like those at Zehl & Associates Injury & Accident Lawyers can make a huge difference in your case. This is because an experienced attorney knows how to secure evidence effectively, identify all liable parties, build a compelling damages case, negotiate optimally, and prepare for litigation if necessary.
Do not wait weeks or months to hire a qualified lawyer. The trucking company’s insurance provider will act quickly to minimize payouts by casting all blame on you, disputing injuries, discrediting witnesses, and dragging out negotiations. An adept lawyer can level the playing field by:
- Preserving key evidence like EDR logs, GPS records, and cell phone usage
- Coordinating accident reconstruction experts
- Interviewing eyewitnesses before memories fade
- Reviewing critical federal regulations
- Corresponding with healthcare providers
- Calculating all current and future costs associated
- Determining all available insurance coverage
Retaining legal counsel promptly limits mistakes or oversights by you that insurers will exploit. Your lawyer can handle the legal complexities appropriately while you focus on recovery.
Providing a Recorded Statement Too Early Right After Getting Hit By A Semi Truck
In the days or weeks after getting hit by a semi truck, you will likely be contacted by claims adjusters representing the truck driver and trucking company. They may request a recorded statement or interview by phone detailing your recollection of how the crash occurred.
It’s usually not in your best interests to provide any official statements to these adverse parties until your lawyer has fully investigated the case. Anything you say that contradicts the official police report or evidence could be used later to discredit you. Wait until your attorney firmly establishes the facts and verifies your account aligns with other information discovered. They can also prepare you for providing an accurate, detailed statement.
Neglecting to Document All Collision Injuries and Effects
To receive fair compensation in an accident case involving a semi truck, you must comprehensively document all physical, psychological, emotional, and financial harm related to the truck accident. Be honest and thorough when describing injuries and treatments to healthcare providers, insurers, and your attorney. Even minor cuts or bruises noted by EMS at the scene should be included. Possible truck accident impacts include:
- Broken bones requiring surgery and rehab
- Spinal injuries causing reduced mobility
- Internal organ damage affecting function
- Traumatic brain injuries causing cognitive impairment
- Disc herniations leading to chronic nerve pain
- Psychological trauma like depression or PTSD
- Inability to perform regular work duties
- Lost income and professional setbacks
- New susceptibility to illness or infection
- Anxieties about driving or traveling by vehicle
- Stress on personal relationships
Keep a journal detailing all effects you notice after the crash. Update your doctors frequently about any changes or emerging symptoms. This shows the complete short and long-term physical, mental, professional, and financial toll the semi truck collision inflicted.
Not Retaining Trucking Industry Experts
Specialized expert analysis helps establish violations of trucking regulations or mechanical defects that caused or contributed to the crash. Your attorney should retain qualified experts immediately to:
- Download electronic logging device (ELD) data that verifies driving hours
- Retrieve the truck’s black box accident data
- Review inspection reports and maintenance records
- Examine crash scene evidence
- Evaluate the truck and trailer’s condition
- Analyze the driver’s training and experience
- Assess the motor carrier’s safety record
These experts can identify hours of service (HOS) falsifications, undiagnosed equipment malfunctions, inadequate driver training by the company, and other negligence or regulatory failures. Their unbiased perspectives strengthen your claim significantly by revealing the accident’s root preventable causes.
Giving Insurers Access to Medical Records After Getting Hit By A Semi Truck
Insurers will probably request access to your medical history and records after the truck crash to assess damages. However personal injury attorneys usually advise clients not to consent to the release of full medical records.
Your lawyer can provide only information pertinent to your collision-related conditions and treatment. This might include medical reports detailing accident injuries, prescribed medications, worker restrictions, specialist referrals, therapy notes, and recommended care. Sharing only selective records prevents fishing expeditions by insurers that undermine the value of your damages.
Failing to Track Expenses Methodically
Document all truck accident-related expenses down to the penny, including:
- Itemized medical bills, co-pays, deductibles
- Prescriptions and medical equipment
- Pay statements for missed workdays
- Receipts for taxis, trains, buses to appointments
- Auto repair invoices, rental car costs
- Home health aide fees
- Medical mileage reimbursement forms
Disorganized expense tracking gives insurers room to underestimate your losses. Maintaining meticulous financial records proves the monetary magnitude of your damages conclusively. This helps convey the true extent of your suffering and difficulty caused by the negligent semi driver’s actions.
Accepting an Early Settlement Offer
Eager insurers may offer a quick settlement within a few weeks of the truck crash to close the case before its full costs materialize. Politely decline any settlement offer until your attorney determines it adequately covers your complete short and long-term damages. Many accident victims do not realize their optimum compensation value because severe injuries persist long after a quick payout.
Be wary of settlement offers that seem generous upfront but fail to account for:
- Future medical treatment needs like surgeries
- Chronic pain care like nerve ablation procedures
- Physical therapy and home healthcare
- Psychiatric treatment for PTSD
- Future lost income and professional setbacks
- Reduced retirement savings due to lost work
- Lower lifetime earnings potential
With your lawyer’s counsel, insist on full and fair damages for your injuries and any other losses you might have suffered. Do not let negligent trucking companies off easy by agreeing to deficient settlements too quickly.
Neglecting to Hire Your Own Accident Reconstruction Expert
Never rely solely on the police report’s diagram and photos during legal proceedings. Retain an independent specialty expert to recreate the accident sequence in detail. A qualified reconstructionist can analyze:
- Vehicle crush damage and points of impact
- Skid marks, scrape patterns, and debris fields
- Sight lines, lighting conditions, and signage
- Road design factors like curvature
- Speeds, positions, and motions of both vehicles
- Human reaction times and vehicle weights
- Conclusions of other experts retained
Your expert may identify additional factors overlooked by police supporting negligence by the truck driver, such as excessive speed. Their scientific analysis can also disprove any alternate theories promoted by the trucking company’s experts.
Not Reporting Complete Details to Doctors
When describing the truck collision to healthcare providers, be sure to give thorough details even if minor. For example, report getting jostled violently, hearing loud sounds, or smelling burning rubber. Mention striking your head or parts of the truck cab interior during impact. Small sensory details like these indicate the sheer physical trauma you endured.
Thoroughly conveying the events also helps doctors make connections to your emerging symptoms later. Never downplay the crash circumstances or assume details are insignificant. Everything you disclose helps build an accurate picture of the horrific incident and its effects on your body and mental state.
Recovering from a catastrophic semi truck collision is grueling enough without making legal errors that jeopardize fair compensation. Avoid these mistakes in the aftermath of the crash so your rights and interests stay protected. An experienced truck accident lawyer can also provide invaluable guidance when you are vulnerable, overwhelmed, and need to prioritize recovery first. With smart actions from the outset, you position yourself best for maximum damages recovery down the road.