What You Should Know if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident

February 20, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
What You Should Know if You Have Been Involved in a Truck Accident

Truck accidents are harrowing experiences, often with devastating consequences for those involved. Unfortunately, these accidents are not uncommon in Texas, where the highways stretch for miles. Those involved often suffer severe or fatal injuries. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, over 12,000 truck accidents occur annually in our state, with almost 400 leading to fatalities.

If you or a loved one have been unfortunate enough to have been in a truck accident, you may feel overwhelmed with medical bills and other expenses that come with serious accident injuries. You may find comfort in knowing that you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses. But getting the compensation you deserve isn’t always easy. Insurance companies often play hardball with accident victims.

Texas truck accident lawyers at The Francis Firm, we understand the challenges accident victims and their families face when dealing with insurance companies and trucking companies. In this comprehensive guide, we aim to provide you with essential information about what you should know if you've been involved in a truck accident.

Steps to Take After a Truck Accident

Here are some steps to take after a truck accident to protect your rights and improve your chances of recovering full and fair compensation.

1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention

After a truck accident, your health should be your top priority. Even if you don't feel seriously injured at the scene, it's important to seek immediate medical attention. Some injuries may not manifest immediately, and prompt medical care can help identify and treat potential issues before they worsen. Additionally, seeking medical attention creates a record of your injuries, which can be crucial for any future legal claims.

2. Contact Law Enforcement

Call 911 to report the accident and request law enforcement to the scene. A police report is essential for documenting the details of the accident, including the parties involved, witnesses, and any violations of traffic laws. Cooperate fully with the responding officers, providing accurate information and not admitting fault, as fault determination can be complex in truck accidents.

3. Gather Evidence

While waiting for law enforcement to arrive, if possible and safe to do so, gather evidence from the accident scene. Take photographs of the vehicles involved, the accident scene, road conditions, and any visible injuries. Exchange contact and insurance information with the truck driver and any other parties involved. Additionally, collect contact information from witnesses who can provide statements about what they saw.

4. Preserve Evidence

Preserving evidence is crucial for building a strong case. Do not repair or dispose of your damaged vehicle unless it is absolutely necessary for safety reasons. Keep all medical records, bills, and receipts related to your injuries and treatment. If you had any personal items damaged in the accident, such as a cell phone or laptop, document their condition and retain them as evidence.

5. Contact Your Insurance Company

Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with the necessary information, but be cautious about giving recorded statements or accepting settlements without consulting an attorney. Insurance companies often try to minimize payouts, so it's important to have legal guidance.

6. Consult an Attorney

After seeking medical attention and reporting the accident to your insurance company, it's wise to consult an experienced truck accident attorney. An attorney can help protect your rights and navigate the complexities of a truck accident case. They can also advise you on the appropriate course of action and help determine liability.

The Challenges of Truck Accident Claims

Unlike car accidentstruck accident claims often involve complexities, which highlights the importance of retaining qualified legal representation. Some issues that you may deal with following a truck accident include:  

  • Multiple parties involved: Truck accidents may involve the driver, the trucking company, the cargo owner, and even the maintenance company responsible for the truck's upkeep. Identifying all potentially liable parties is crucial for maximizing your compensation.
  • Extensive regulations: Trucking companies and drivers are subject to stringent federal and state regulations regarding logbooks, maintenance schedules, and driver qualifications. Investigating potential violations of these regulations can strengthen your case.
  • Complex evidence: Truck accidents often leave behind a wealth of evidence, including dashcam footage, electronic logging devices, and cargo manifests. Analyzing and interpreting this evidence requires an experienced legal team that understands accident reconstruction and truck safety regulations.
  • Insurance company resistance: Trucking companies and their insurers have significant resources at their disposal to minimize payouts. They may employ aggressive tactics to deny or undervalue your claim. Having a skilled legal advocate at your side ensures your rights are protected.

When Truck Accident Claims Become Lawsuits

Most truck accident claims are settled with insurance companies before lawsuits are even filed or cases go to court. Sometimes, accident victims choose to accept whatever settlement the insurance company offers without realizing all the damages they may be entitled to be compensated for.

Others may have their lawyers negotiate with the insurance company for a settlement that more accurately reflects the damages they suffered. However, certain circumstances may lead to filing your claim in civil court as a lawsuit:

  • Disputed Liability: If there is a dispute over who is at fault for the truck accident, and the parties involved cannot reach a resolution through negotiations, the injured party may choose to file a lawsuit to have a court determine liability.
  • Inadequate Settlement Offers: If the insurance company representing the at-fault party offers a settlement that is significantly lower than the actual damages incurred by the victim, the victim may decide to pursue a lawsuit to seek a more appropriate and just compensation.
  • Uncooperative Insurer: If the at-fault party's insurance company engages in delay tactics, refuses to negotiate in good faith, or unreasonably denies the claim, the injured party may resort to litigation to compel the insurer to fulfill its obligations.
  • Statute of Limitations: Failing to meet the statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit can also prompt the need to initiate legal action. If the statute of limitations is about to expire, the injured party may have no choice but to file a lawsuit to preserve their right to seek compensation.
  • Complex Liability Issues: Truck accidents often involve multiple potentially liable parties, such as the truck driver, the trucking company, maintenance contractors, and others. Determining liability can be complex, and if there is disagreement or confusion about which parties are responsible, a lawsuit may be necessary to sort out the legal responsibilities.
  • Lack of Fair Compensation: If the injured party's damages are extensive, including medical bills, lost wages, ongoing medical treatment, and significant pain and suffering, they may find that a lawsuit is the only way to pursue full and fair compensation.
  • Wrongful Death Claims: In cases where a truck accident results in a fatality, surviving family members may pursue wrongful death claims against the at-fault parties. These claims typically involve significant damages, and a lawsuit may be necessary to hold the responsible parties accountable.
  • Failure to Settle Out of Court: Some parties may simply be unwilling to settle out of court for a reasonable amount. In such cases, litigation may be the only way to compel them to accept responsibility and provide compensation.

Deadline for Filing Truck Accident Lawsuits

The statute of limitations in Texas for filing truck accident claims in civil court is generally two years from the date of the accident. However, some exceptions can shorten or lengthen this timeframe. It’s important to be aware of this deadline because, once it expires, you lose your right to bring a lawsuit against the responsible parties.

Two years may seem like a long time, but it can quickly pass, especially when dealing with injuries and recovery. It's best to consult an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you meet the deadline. Taking timely action protects your legal rights to seek compensation for your injuries and losses.

If You’ve Been Involved in a Truck Accident, Contact a Trusted Lawyer

Being involved in a truck accident can be a life-altering event, but knowing what steps to take can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Seek immediate medical attention, document the accident scene, preserve evidence, consult with an attorney, and be aware of your rights and responsibilities.

The Francis Firm, a personal injury law firm in Texas can guide you through this challenging time, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Your well-being is our top priority, and we are committed to helping you navigate the legal process with confidence.