If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a Texas truck accident, or the crash killed a close family member, you may not know what to do or where to turn for help. Dealing with a truck accident and seeking compensation from those responsible for your injuries and losses can overwhelm you, especially if you are recovering from your injuries or coming to terms with your loss.
Discussing your case with an experienced Texas truck accident attorney can provide you with answers and guidance on what to do next. Read on to learn of steps you can take to protect yourself and your legal rights to pursue compensation and reach out to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in your area for a complete and no-cost consultation about your Texas truck accident claim.
Steps to Take Following a Truck Accident in Texas
Following a truck accident in Texas that injured you or killed a close family member, some things you need to do to ensure your health and protect your legal rights include:
Get Medical Attention Right Away
Your top priority following a truck accident that hurt you or a family member is to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.
Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries, even if you don’t feel injured at first or your injuries appear minor. Some internal injuries may not manifest symptoms immediately, and you need a complete medical evaluation to rule out any underlying issues that could cause you problems later on. Additionally, you will need proof you sustained an injury and received treatment to file a personal injury claim.
If anyone suffered severe, life-threatening injuries in the truck crash, contact 911 and request emergency medical assistance.
Contact Law Enforcement
Texas law requires parties to report any vehicle accident that results in injury or death or causes $1,000 or more in property damage. Texas allows only 10 days from the accident to report the accident, but you want to report the crash sooner if you can.
Not only is it a legal requirement for you to report the truck accident, but police will generate an accident report that will provide details of the wreck and the officer’s opinion as to the accident’s cause. This report can serve as valuable evidence for your personal injury claim.
Move Yourself and Your Vehicle Out of Harm’s Way
If it’s safe to do so, move your wrecked vehicle out of the roadway and onto the shoulder. This ensures another motorist does not come along and collide with the wreckage, causing even more devastation and injuries.
If you can’t move your car due to the damage, at least stay away from the wreckage until law enforcement and emergency responders arrive. You don’t want a secondary collision to injure you further.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Your auto insurance policy probably requires you to report any accident you’re in, even if it’s not your fault. Contact your own auto insurance company, report the crash, and follow their recommendations.
If you don’t report the accident to your insurance company, you could miss out on using their resources to help you investigate the crash. Also, the insurance company may deny your claim or drop you from their policy altogether if you don’t comply with their requirements.
Get Contact and Insurance Information
You should also exchange personal contact information and insurance information with the truck driver and any other parties involved in the crash. Get the truck driver’s name and license number, along with their insurance details and their truck’s license plate number and DOT registration number. This information will become vital as you move forward with filing your claim and seeking compensation.
Collect Evidence at the Accident Scene
If you’re physically able at the time of the crash, gather as much evidence as you can at the accident scene. This can include taking photos of the vehicles involved and pictures of your injuries, as well as documenting skid marks, road conditions, and other factors that may have contributed to the accident.
These details can help your attorney determine the cause of the crash so they can assign liability to the appropriate parties. Your attorney may also obtain any surveillance video from traffic cameras or nearby stores that show the accident as it occurred.
Once you collect evidence, make copies of it all and keep everything in a safe location. This can include medical bills and hospital statements, repair estimates for your damaged vehicle, or fair market value costs to replace it. Maintain copies of any communications you have with any insurance companies involved, including your own, as well as communications you have with other parties involved in the crash.
Gather Witness Statements
Speak with any witnesses and get their version of events. You want to get their contact information and share it with your attorney in case they need to follow up with the witness or depose them to obtain their testimony for trial.
Watch What You Say and Don’t Sign Anything Without Speaking to an Attorney
The at-fault party’s insurance company may contact you to get your version of how the accident occurred. However, keep in mind that the insurer is not on your side, and the insurance adjuster or representative may ask questions to lead you to accept undue blame for the crash. Furthermore, the insurance company may pressure you into accepting a low settlement that does not cover your injuries and losses.
Do not say anything to the insurance adjuster or sign any documents without first consulting an attorney. If you accept an initial settlement, you cannot pursue additional compensation in the future.
Also, the insurance company can manipulate what you say and use your words against you. For instance, if the insurance representative calls and asks how you’re doing, and you say you’re fine just to be polite, the insurer may twist that to mean you did not suffer serious injuries and deny your claim.
To protect your rights and ability to pursue compensation, always consult an experienced legal professional before making any statements or signing any documents from the insurance company. Never post anything about the crash on social media and let your lawyer handle all communication with the insurance company on your behalf.
Be Aware of Texas’ Statute of Limitations
Like all other states, Texas has a statute of limitations on how long you have to file a truck accident claim in civil court. Texas allows you two years from the date of your accident to file suit. For better results and to ensure your claim is filed properly, you should have an attorney do it for you.
If you fail to have an attorney file your truck accident claim within the statute of limitations in Texas, the court may dismiss your case, and you will likely lose all legal recourse you have to pursue compensation.
Additionally, keep in mind that certain exceptions can extend the time you have to file, such as if a minor was involved or you can’t locate the at-fault driver. Many government agencies, such as local municipalities, typically have their own deadlines and requirements for filing an accident claim with them.
In many cases, you have a very short window to file with a lot of red tape to cut through in order to file a claim if a government-owned truck was responsible for the accident that injured you.
Contact an Attorney
Always contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area following a truck accident in Texas. A lawyer can answer your questions, offer advice, and help you navigate the complex legal process.
Truck accident claims are typically more involved and complicated than other personal injury claims because of the number of potential at-fault parties involved and the regulations and requirements surrounding the trucking industry. You need a legal advocate with knowledge of Texas and federal trucking laws as well as extensive experience handling truck accident claims.
Your lawyer can ensure you follow the necessary steps, get the medical care you need, and complete the requirements to file your claim properly and within any prescribed deadlines.
Will My Truck Accident Claim Go to Court?
As stated, most Texas truck accident claims settle before reaching trial. That said, you may need to take your case to court to get the compensation you deserve.
If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit against them and suing them in court for the compensation you need. Other scenarios where you may need to go to trial include if the insurance company unjustly denies your valid truck accident claim, disputes liability, or acts in bad faith regarding paying your claim.
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Receive from a Texas Truck Accident Claim?
You may be able to receive various forms of compensation from your Texas truck accident claim.
Texas allows injured parties to seek both economic and non-economic damages, which can include:
- Medical expenses and treatment costs, both current and past expenses as well as future medical expenses you may incur
- Lost income and other work-related benefits, such as tips, commissions, and bonuses, you would have received had you been able to work
- Long-term disability and lost earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from working at all or only in a reduced capacity
- Property damage for your vehicle and any other personal property the accident damaged or destroyed
- Pain and suffering for the ongoing physical pain of your injuries
- Emotional distress and mental anguish along with compensation for other psychological harm you experienced because of the trauma of the accident, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD
- Loss of consortium if your injuries affected your intimate relationships with your spouse or romantic partner
- Loss of enjoyment of life if your injuries negatively impact your ability to do the things you love
- Other out-of-pocket expenses for things such as travel costs, daycare expenses, and other tangible costs you paid for while dealing with your injuries and treatment
Additionally, if the truck accident killed a close family member, you may seek damages through a wrongful death claim. These can include compensation for funeral and burial costs, final medical expenses, lost income the deceased provided to your household, and more.
In certain rare cases, the court may also award punitive damages. These types of damages serve to punish the wrongdoer and send a message to others not to engage in that sort of behavior. Courts award punitive damages at their own discretion and usually only in cases of egregious negligence, wanton recklessness, or intentional misconduct. There’s no guarantee that you will receive these damages if you take your case to court.
Speak With an Experienced Texas Truck Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible
An experienced Texas truck accident attorney will improve your odds of getting a successful outcome. A lawyer can negotiate tenaciously for you and take the insurance company or responsible parties to court and represent you at trial if necessary. Handling a truck accident claim on your own is not something you want to attempt as you recover from your injuries, and a lawyer can hold the at-fault parties accountable and help you obtain maximum compensation.Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers in Texas at the Francis Firm today for a free consultation about your claim. We have more than 25 years of experience representing truck accident clients in Southlake, Dallas, and Fort Worth, and we are fully committed to helping you get the full and fair compensation you deserve.