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
After a truck accident, one of your first moves will be to call your insurance company and file a claim. You will typically receive a phone call from an insurance claims adjuster in charge of investigating the accident within a day or two of the crash.
Your conversation with this person is a minefield most truck accident victims aren’t prepared to navigate – often resulting in settlements that don’t come close to the true value of the claims. When speaking with your adjuster, here are some key things to keep in mind.
- Stay Calm & Collected
- It can be intimidating to speak with an insurance adjuster – especially when you’re already shaken from the crash. It’s important, however, to have a level head and keep track of what to say and what not to say during your conversation. If you’re not in a state to do so, don’t answer the call until you are. What you say during your conversation can greatly impact the state of your claim.
- Understand The Adjuster’s Bottom Line
- The insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. Go into the first phone call knowing that the adjuster probably knows less about your case than you do and that he or she will try to encourage you to settle quickly and probably for less than you could receive with a personal injury claim or a lawyer’s help.
- Stick to Facts & Basic Details
- Answer questions truthfully, but do not speculate about what happened, what caused the crash, or who is to blame. Simply state things you know to be true, such as how fast you were driving and where the crash occurred. Do not give your insurer or the truck company’s insurer any of your own opinions about the accident. Feel free to tell an adjuster you don’t feel comfortable answering a question that seems in any way subjective.
- Refuse to Record or Write a Statement
- Do not record a statement or even talk about your personal injuries until you’ve spoken to an attorney. You may not have all the facts of your case, and the things you say could reduce your chances for compensation. If the adjuster says you must record a statement to proceed with your claim, hang up and call a Florida truck accident lawyer. Give limited information in your first conversation, and set limits on how often the adjuster can call you in the future.
- Resist The Urge to Say Yes to a Fast Settlement
- Quick settlements save the insurance company time and money, but they are typically not in the claimants’ best interests. Your claim’s value could be much greater than what the adjuster initially offers. Don’t take the bait. Stay strong and reject quick settlement amounts until you know how much your claim is really worth.
- Keep a Record of Your Conversation
- Keep track of important information about your phone call with the adjuster. Write down their name, telephone number, address, and the company they represent before you start your conversation. Jot down information the adjuster gives you as well as what information you gave them. The more you can recall about your discussion, the more you can help your truck wreck 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.
To learn more about truck accidents, 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.