Although it does depend on the state, in this day and age, most American adults are regular drivers. Because of this, most people in the States more or less understand the protocol to follow after an automobile accident. They understand that drivers should make sure that everyone is okay, call for any necessary assistance, trade insurance information, et cetera, et cetera… Truck accidents, however, are a different story. Just like there are some major differences between trucks and cars, there are some major differences between truck accidents and car accidents when it comes to matters of insurance. This is especially true when it comes to commercial vehicles and any personal injury they may cause. Read on to find out more.
If you are driving a commercial vehicle, chances are that you are going to be covered by your employer’s liability policies rather than your own. Semi-trucks are massive not only in size, but also in valuation and risk. Because semi-trucks are so much larger than standard automobiles, they also carry with them a greater risk of deadly and otherwise catastrophic accidents. This, in turn, causes their insurance premiums to be accordingly pricey, as well. According to a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the United States saw an increase in the number of large trucks in fatal crashes by 225% from 2015 to 2017. The number of medium/heavy pickup trucks in fatal crashes also increased by 151%. That’s a lot of accidents!
The Wall Street Journal supposes that a great number of commercial trucking accident cases may even exceed one million dollars in value. An accident involving a semi truck can do an immense amount of damage, potentially lifelong—including loss of quality of life. Furthermore, insurance companies see every payment they make as a loss. Therefore, they have absolutely no reason to pay the true valuation of a truck accident claim. This is especially true when considering that many insurance companies actually offer liability policies that are far lower than a truck accident claim can actually be worth. This can come as a great shock to drivers under the misconception that their insurance company has their best interests in mind.
In order to best protect yourself in the unfortunate incident of a truck accident, there are a few steps that you may be able to take immediately following a truck accident. Many of these actions would be useful in any sort of accident, be it truck, single-car, or even multi-car. For one, you will want to make sure that no involved parties are injured. This is especially true in cases of truck accidents, as any vehicle weighing more than 20 tons could cause potentially life-threatening injuries. Make sure to call for help as soon as possible, if any is needed. Once somebody begins their treatment, they will also be able to have medical records stating the extent of their injuries and treatment. This will prove to be helpful in any claim that may follow.
Furthermore, you will also want to make sure you exchange any relevant information with all involved drivers. At this point in time, this should not involve signing any documents. You will want, however, to record the license plates of all involved vehicles, along with insurance information and driver’s license numbers. If you are driving a tractor-trailer in Colorado, this may be able to help your attorney get access to the trucker’s logbook as needed.
Finally, make sure you do not leave the scene of the accident prematurely. You will want to wait for first responders and law enforcement to arrive before going anywhere. This is true even if all those involved have suffered only minor injuries. Leaving the scene of the accident prematurely may be considered a sign of culpability. In any case, you will want to speak to the police who arrive in order to file an accident report and speak to any relevant reporters. It is important to have your account of the accident on the record.
As we have established earlier in this blog post, insurance agencies have every reason to minimize the settlement you receive in the case of a truck accident claim. It is likely that they will actually try to lowball you for all the losses you have suffered. With all this in mind, it is wise to keep the focus on facts when you are speaking to any claims investigators. They will want to speak to you as soon as possible. To do so, they may even come to the scene of the accident to speak to you. When you are dealing with these investigators, it is important to remember that you are not having a normal, everyday conversation. On the contrary, they are looking for any reason to deduct from the true valuation of your claim.
In other words, you will want to remember that anything you say at the scene of the accident can and will be used against you in a court of law. It is easy to say things in the heat of the moment that may be misconstrued against you. You will want to avoid saying things like “sorry,” just in case they are misinterpreted as an admission of guilt. In fact, most truck accident attorneys will advise you to not speak to any third parties at all, save for your own insurer, first responders, and your legal team. You should also remember to keep extensive documentation of the scene for your own records.
At Injury Victim Law, we understand that dealing with truck accidents is an incredibly stressful matter. If you or a loved one have recently been involved in a truck accident, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our qualified nationwide truck accident attorneys. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is dedicated to helping victims around the States. We are here to fight for your rights.