Fierce competition in the trucking industry and driving too many hours has resulted in trucking companies and truck drivers cutting corners and compromising on safety. On average there are approximately 1/2 million trucking accidents in the United States each year. Of those, approximately 10% result in serious injuries or fatalities. In most cases the passengers in the automobiles are the most seriously injured and the truck drivers usually walk away uninjured.
Common causes of truck accidents:
- Driver fatigue
- Brake failure
- Tire blowouts
- Shifting loads
- Overloaded trucks
- Unsafe equipment
- Reckless driving
- Improper maintenance
- Driving under the influence
- Violating safety regulations
- Rushing to meet deadlines
- Poor background checks of drivers
When you are involved in an accident with a truck:
Be calm. Think before you speak. Emotions usually run high after an accident and therefore it is not a good idea to try and prove you were not at fault for the accident. It is very important that you not accuse the truck driver of some wrongdoing. All this accomplishes is getting the other person angry at you. Keep in mind that this person will later be reporting the accident to their insurance company and if they are angry at you, they will do everything within their power to try and blame you for the accident. The insurance company has a legal obligation to defend what their insured reports to them. At the appropriate time and place we will prove that you were not responsible for the accident.
If anyone is injured, call the paramedics. There is nothing more important than your health. Keep in mind that if you are injured and you do not seek medical attention right away, the insurance company will not believe that you were injured. The insurance company only believes what can be proven through medical documentation. They are not going to take your word for it.
Exchange information with the other party. Provide only your driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance information. It is extremely important that you obtain the license plate numbers of both the tractor and the trailer, the truck drivers name, address, telephone numbers, driver’s license number, date of birth, insurance company name and policy number. This information is crucial to our investigation.
Call the police. When speaking to the police officer, be precise about the facts of the accident. Be simple and not complicated. Do not embellish or exaggerate what happened in the accident. It is important that you be clear about the use of safety belts and the description of what hurts you.
Take photographs. Accident scene photographs are critical to resolving liability disputes. We suggest you take the following types of scene photos:
- Damage to involved vehicles, including license plates;
- General area of the accident scene;
- Point-of-rest of each vehicle and its lane position;
- Visible skid marks;
- Traffic control devices.
Remember, you can’t take too many pictures. This physical evidence will be powerful help in countering an adjusters claim the accident was your fault and/or not that serious.
When you get home, be sure to take photographs of your physical injuries, too. In many cases you may sustain a bruise from your seat belt on your shoulder or chest. You may sustain burns from exploding airbags or have cuts from flying glass. Very often accident victims sustain knee injuries when impacting the steering column or dashboard.
Photographing a knee bruise is very important. We have had several clients suffer for months with knee pain that did not go away. Later, an MRI revealed an internal problem that required surgery. The photographic evidence will counter an adjustor’s argument that the internal knee problem was pre-existing or another injury occurred sometime between the accident and when the MRI was taken.
Look for witnesses. It is quite common the truck driver will not acknowledge responsibility for the accident or attempt to partially blame you. The insurance company for the other person has a duty to defend their insured’s version of the accident. They will deny your claim until we can prove otherwise. Even if it is a rear-end collision and the other party admits responsibility to you, still look for witnesses. We have had many situations where the truck driver reported to their insurance company that our client made a sudden lane change in front of them, cutting off their stopping distance, which caused the rear end collision. One or more witnesses can make all the difference in your case.
Call our office immediately. The sooner we start our investigation the better off you will be. It is crucial that we be able to immediately follow up on witnesses and obtain and preserve physical evidence.
Most importantly, DO NOT talk to the other persons insurance company. Keep in mind that insurance companies employ highly trained professionals called “adjusters.” Adjusters will attempt to lull you into a false sense of security by telling you it is very important to get your side of the story, "before they make a liability decision against their insured.” The first thing they will ask is your permission to take a “recorded statement.”
This would be the biggest mistake you could make. The adjuster already knows that you are going to blame their insured. What the adjuster wants is to extract as much information from you as possible that can be used against you later.
The adjuster will piece together your responses to his carefully prepared questions, in order to support their insured’s version of the accident and thereafter justify denying your claim or passing on a percentage of liability onto you. Remember the adjuster is NOT your friend. We are your friends and protectors! You can seriously damage your case by speaking with any insurance company representative. If you do, it may be difficult to undo the damage. Call us immediately to avoid this critical mistake.
Call Maas & Marinovich before you have an accident. We will gladly send you our FREE pamphlet titled, “What To Do In Case Of An Accident.” Keep it in your glove compartment, then in the event of an accident, follow the checklist and call us immediately. This will help us protect you and get the maximum recovery for your claim.
Contact us about your legal matter today!