Building Your Case After Being in a Truck Accident
The strength of a truck accident case doesn’t rely only on the details of the accident – it also depends on the efforts of the plaintiff and his or her attorney during settlement negotiation or litigation.
Building a strong truck accident case takes gathering evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses, hiring experts to testify, retaining a good attorney, and other important steps. Here’s how to build the strongest case possible after a truck accident, straight from the desk of an experienced Florida truck accident lawyer.
1. Don’t Admit Fault
In the moments following the initial collision, what you say to the truck driver and to other parties matters. Do not apologize for the accident or say anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt. Be polite and remain calm, but do not admit fault for the crash.
Wait for the police to arrive, investigate the accident, and assign fault on their own. It is not up to you to admit fault or to place blame on anyone at the scene of the truck crash. If you’re afraid to say anything, stay quiet until police arrive. Make sure to give the police your side of the story, so that it becomes part of the official record.
2. Preserve and Gather Evidence
The evidence you gather and preserve from the scene of the accident and in the days following can go a long way toward proving your claim. Collect information such as where the truck crash occurred, which directions both vehicles were heading, how the collision happened, the truck driver’s name, and your police report number.
One of the most important pieces of advice you’ll hear from a truck accident attorney is to preserve the evidence found in the truck’s black box. The black box, or electronic logging device, capture’s critical information from the seconds leading up to the crash, such as the driver’s speed and braking.
Data in the black box can often help a claimant prove fault and liability.
Take photographs of the scene if possible, making sure to capture any property damage and personal injuries, like these examples of angles. Call on an attorney for assistance preserving the all-important black box evidence from the truck’s electronic data logging system.
3. Create a Crash Folder
The more organized and detailed your crash evidence, the stronger your case. Do your truck crash lawyer a favor and keep all documents and information relating to the accident tidily stored away in a folder or file in a safe location.
Your folder should include copies of your police report, medical records, hospital bills, treatment recommendations, insurance claim information, correspondence with insurance companies, letters from your employer about missed work, and any other documents that relate to your accident.
4. Talk to Witnesses
There are a few ways to obtain eyewitness statements. At the scene of the truck accident, make sure you or a friend jot down the names and contact information of anyone who was involved in or who witnessed the truck crash. If you can obtain signed or recorded statements from the witnesses at the scene, do so while the memories are still fresh in their minds. Here are some questions to ask witnesses. If you cannot do this, the police should do it for you.
Another way to get eyewitness evidence is by contacting them later after you’re released from the hospital and in touch with a truck accident lawyer. Eyewitness statements of how the truck driver was operating the vehicle and what caused the accident can significantly help maximize your various damages during a lawsuit.
4. Be Cautious When Speaking With Your Insurance Adjuster
When a truck crash happens, your next move will be filing a claim with your insurance company. A day or two later, you’ll probably get a call from an insurance claims adjuster whose job is to investigate the accident.
This conversation could be something you aren’t prepared to deal with, which can often result in a settlement that’s nowhere near the true claim value. When speaking with your adjuster, here are some key things to keep in mind.
- Stay Focused & Collected
- It can be alarming to talk with an insurance adjuster, especially if you’re upset about the accident. It’s vital to keep a level head and know what to say and what not to tell the adjuster. If you aren’t prepared for the call, don’t take it. Your claim may be greatly impacted by what you say during that conversation.
- Realize The Adjuster’s Intent
- The insurance adjuster is not working for you. Their allegiance is to the insurance company. Begin the first phone call with the knowledge that the adjuster probably doesn’t know much about your case and will try to get you to settle quickly. They’ll also likely offer less than you could get with help from an attorney or personal injury claim.
- State the Facts & Details
- Be honest, but don’t hypothesize about what happened or who was at fault. Keep it simple: share details that you know are true, such as your speed and the location of the crash. Do not offer opinions about the wreck to your insurer or the truck company’s insurer. Tell an adjuster if you are not comfortable answering a question that appears to be subjective.
- Do Not Give or Write a Statement
- Refuse to record a statement or even speak about your Personal Injuries until you’ve talked with a lawyer. You may not have learned all there is to know about your situation, and the words you use could decrease your chances of reimbursement. If the adjuster says you must record a statement to proceed with your claim, hang up and call a Florida truck accident lawyer. In your first conversation, release limited details and put a cap on how often the adjuster may call you in the future.
- Resist Fast Settlement Offers
- Quick settlements are good for the insurance company because they save time and money. However, fast settlements are rarely in the claimant’s best interests. The value of your claim could be much greater than the adjuster’s initial offer. Don’t rush into anything! Maintain composure and reject a fast settlement until you know what your claim is truly worth.
- Keep Track of Your Conversations
- Write down the important details that come out of your conversation with the adjuster. Jot down their name, phone number, address, and the company they work for prior to the discussion. Note the information the adjuster provides you, as well as the details you give them. The more you retain about your conversation, the more you will aid your truck crash lawyer in the future.
Follow the above steps when speaking to your adjuster as well as watch this short video on tips to speaking with your insurance adjuster.
5. Work with a Trusted Truck Crash Lawyer
The main component in building a strong truck accident case will be your truck accident lawyer. Your lawyer is the person who can tactfully handle the accident discovery phase, which typically involves interrogating the opposing party in the lawsuit.
Your lawyer is also the one who has resources to reconstruct your accident, if necessary, as well as to conduct an in-depth investigation into what caused the truck accident. A lawyer will have access to experts who can help build your case, such as:
- Truck accident investigators
- Crash reconstructionists
- Medical and injury experts
- Trucking industry experts
- Specialists in the subject at hand, such as in roadway maintenance
- Forensic engineers
The resources, tools, knowledge, and skilled professionals a lawyer puts you in touch with is priceless. Only a lawyer can build the strongest possible case for you – a case that will stand up to scrutiny and analysis in front of a judge or jury.
Working with a truck accident lawyer can help you understand if your truck accident case has merit in Florida, determine the value of your case, name the defendants, collect proof of fault, obtain important records and documents, and ultimately win your case. Follow these steps to build your case and go home with the best settlement award or jury verdict possible.
Want to know about truck wreck cases? Read our Comprehensive Guide for Truck Accident Victims or to learn more about the different types of truck accident cases we cover, read our comprehensive list of truck accident cases in Florida.