If you were injured in an accident involving a tractor trailer or 18-wheeler, there are a few things you should be aware of immediately following the incident. How the accident itself and the following time period are handled can affect whether you get full compensation for your damages through a settlement or trial.
What to do following an accident involving a semi-truck:
Expect other insurance companies to contact you.
An accident with an 18-wheeler can be much more complicated than a regular car accident. Many parties are often involved in the typical trucking/transportation process. Different companies may be responsible for the loading of the truck, vehicle maintenance, trailer maintenance, and hiring drivers, each with their own insurance providers.
Below are just a few of the possible causes for a tractor trailer accident:
- Trucking company did not follow proper safety policies.
- Negligence on the part of the truck driver.
- Truck was poorly/improperly maintained.
- Trailer was poorly maintained.
- Trailer was improperly loaded.
The chart above demonstrates how the resolution of a trucking accident can quickly become convoluted. There could be multiple insurance companies attempting to contact you regarding their clients. Each of these insurance companies may represent only one of the potentially responsible parties but each of them will be interested in protecting their assets and is not working on your behalf.
Do not provide claims adjuster with any more than necessary information.
You may be contacted by claims adjusters shortly following the accident. The responsibility of a claims adjuster is to investigate insurance claims and to quantify the extent of the loss. These adjusters will try to pin fault for the crash on you because any fault of the claimant can reduce or prevent the claim for damages.
How to handle initial contact with a claims adjuster:
- Give only limited personal information
- Give no details about the accident
- Give no details about your injuries
- Do not accept any early quick settlement offers
When speaking with a claims adjuster, it is wise to keep conversations short. Providing them with your full name and contact information is fine, but set limitations on the conversation and make it clear that you will not discuss the accident with them over the phone. The claims adjuster wants to hear your side of the story in order to gain information about the accident that may place more fault on you, resulting in less required compensation. Many claims adjusters will try to put words in your mouth that they can later use to deny full compensation.
Do not accept quick/early settlement offers.
The claims adjuster may push you towards accepting an early settlement, making it sound like they are helping you out by doing so. This may be tempting since you will receive compensation immediately, but the amount could well be far less than what you may receive after a full evaluation of your injuries and damages. Accepting an early settlement offer is generally only beneficial to the insurance company since they now have to perform less work to resolve the claim, and will pay out a lower settlement.
Accepting an early settlement offer means you will no longer be able to pursue claims for your injuries from the insurance company, and any future complications due to injuries caused by the accident may go uncompensated.
If you are injured see a physician immediately after the accident.
Due to the adrenaline that your body will produce during and following a traumatic event like an auto accident, you may not immediately notice any injuries that may have been sustained. It may be days before you notice any symptoms.
Common injuries/symptoms that are associated with auto accidents:
- Neck/Shoulder pain and stiffness
- Back pain
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Numbness in extremities
- Changes in personality or normal physical functions
If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to seek medical treatment immediately. Symptoms such as headaches, abdominal pain/swelling, and changes in personality or physical function can be the result of life threating injuries caused by a concussion, a blood clot in the brain, internal bleeding, or other traumatic brain injuries.
It is also important to seek medical attention quickly in order to document your injury . If too much time passes prior to treatment, the claims adjuster may try make the argument that your pain/injury may not be as severe as stated since you waited so long to be seen by a physician. This may result in under-compensation for your injuries.
Contact an Attorney as soon as possible.
If you were involved in an accident with a tractor trailer or 18-wheeler and begin to feel pain, are currently seeking medical attention, or are in contact with a claims adjuster or insurance company, immediately contact an attorney experienced in these types of accidents. An experienced attorney will know the ins and outs that come with a tractor trailer accident. They can help to determine who is at fault for your injuries, and will be an indispensable asset in navigating the settlement process.