Truck accidents are one of the worst types of motor vehicle accident. The size and weight of an 18-wheeler dwarfs any passenger car and can wreak havoc among other vehicles on the public roads of Falls Church, VA. Unfortunately, these are not rare occurrences in our city, and anyone might be involved in a crash, resulting in severe or catastrophic injuries. When such an unfortunate accident happens, trucking companies and their drivers should compensate you for your damages. And an experienced Virginia truck accident lawyer at VACAIL will make sure that this happens.
We are experienced in tractor-trailer accidents and other types of traffic crashes involving commercial vehicles. We know how to negotiate with the insurance companies working for the trucking industry. And when we do not get the desired results during negotiations, we are not afraid to take these big firms to court and make sure that all negligent parties pay for your damages.
Do You Really Need a Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer to Represent You?
As we will explain in more detail in the tips below, personal injury law in the state of Virginia is complex and very strict. Without an experienced legal counsel, you may lose time and money battling for justice with no results. You must remember that, for a significant period of time after trucking accidents, many victims have to stay in the hospital to recover from their physical injuries and then move to a rehabilitation center in order to recover as much of their strength and mobility.
You may not have the financial resources, ability, and knowledge of the law to take care of all the legal procedures needed to file a personal injury claim successfully. Remember that you are not suing only truck drivers, but also their employers – large companies with lots of experienced lawyers and a big insurance firm protecting their interests.
Thus, hiring your own Virginia truck accident attorney to help you prepare, file, and negotiate your accident claim might be a good idea.
Useful Tips to Remember and Apply after Truck Accidents
Although you have truth on your side, winning a case against a trucking company and its insurer is not easy. Many of the following decisions you make after the accident can influence the outcome of your truck accident claim.
An experienced Virginia truck accident attorney will advise you to:
1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately after the Accident
The first thing you do after making sure that you are safe, out of the flow of traffic, is to call 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance and the police at the accident scene. In many cases, you may need emergency medical assistance, since impacts with semi-trucks and 18-wheelers are typically devastating accidents.
At the same time, the police should investigate the crash and issue the accident report – which will be used later to justify your demand for damages. If you are not seriously injured, you should wait at the accident scene until the police arrive and give a brief description of how the accident occurred. Do not say anything concerning who may be at fault for it.
Even if you do not think that you are seriously injured, you should still let the ambulance crew check you and take you to the hospital. Some injuries will show symptoms hours or days later. And, if there is a gap between the moment of the accident and the moment when you seek medical attention for the accident injuries, the insurance representative sent by the liable parties’ insurer will claim that you suffered the injuries in a separate accident, on a different date.
2. Collect Information and Evidence at the Accident Scene
Depending on how severely injured you are, you should try and take as many photos as possible at the accident scene. Focus on:
- your injuries
- the damages to your vehicle
- the position of the vehicles on the road
- skid marks
- potholes, debris on the road (if applicable)
At the same time, you should exchange insurance information with the truck driver. During the conversation, you should try and find out a few essential elements in determining fault for trucking accidents:
- if the truck driver is an employee of the trucking company
- what type of cargo they carry and who loaded it
- how long they have been driving when the accident happened
The first and second elements will determine whether the trucking company is vicariously responsible for your accident and whether there are any additional parties to the accident (the cargo owner who overloaded the truck, for instance).
The third element may prove that the trucking accident was caused by a fatigued driver, who skipped the compulsory breaks imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
3. Make Sure that You Follow the Prescribed Treatment
You may think that you are saving money if you skip physical therapy appointments or do not refill your prescriptions. But remember that the insurance representative working on behalf of the trucking company is monitoring everything you do.
Any failure to mitigate your damages will be used against you as proof that you are not as seriously injured as you claim. Moreover, it is against your best interests, because your injuries may get worse or you may not make a full recovery and remain with ongoing issues, such as a disability or impairment for the rest of your life.
4. Do Not Discuss the Accident with Insurance Adjusters
Insurance adjusters representing the trucking company may approach you as soon as you have reached the hospital. They take advantage of the vulnerability of automobile accident victims and they try to obtain their signature on a lowball settlement or to make them say something self-incriminatory.
Remember that at this point you are still in shock and, possibly, under the influence of pain medication. You are in no position to think clearly and the adjuster will know how to lead you on with specific questions. The only thing you should say is that your Virginia truck accident lawyer will contact them shortly to discuss your compensation for loss and damages.
5. Disclose Previous Injuries and Medical Conditions to Your Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer
Here is the deal – once you reach the point of hiring a Virginia truck accident attorney to win your case, your entire medical history will be available to the other party’s attorney. They will know about your past accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
Your own attorney should know about them first. Why? Because if you had a back injury from moving furniture around the house, the other party may try to claim that your current symptoms are caused by that injury, not by the truck crash. Knowing the information beforehand, your Virginia truck accident lawyer can prove that your present condition and the pain you are suffering are not just the side effects of an older injury.
6. Respond to Your Lawyers’ Requests in a Timely Manner
Time is of the essence in any personal injury case. The statute of limitations in Virginia for this type of case is 2 years after the date of the accident. Thus, while your Virginia Truck accident lawyer is doing their best to win you maximum compensation during negotiations with the insurance company, there is still a chance that your case may go to trial.
For this reason, you should try and respond promptly to your lawyer’s request for documents or various data and information. Any delay works in the insurer’s favor – they can simply wait until the statute of limitations runs out and you don’t get any kind of compensation.
7. Keep All the Bills and Receipts
You accumulate so many bills and receipts after a truck accident and they take up space in your home. But do not throw them away, because they are the proof of your actual economic losses as a result of the accident. So, make sure that you save at least the following:
- the towing company bill for removing your car from the accident scene
- estimate for the costs to repair your car
- any hospital bills
- receipts for refilling your prescriptions
- bills for rehabilitation, physical therapy, and counseling
- payslips that prove the amount of wages you typically earned before the accident
When it comes to justifying the fair compensation you seek, each of these documents represents a piece of evidence.
8. Send Updates about Your Condition to Your Virginia Truck Accident Lawyer
During the negotiations with the insurance company, your Virginia truck accident attorney will have to answer questions about your current condition. Thus, whenever you make an improvement or (unfortunately) suffer a relapse, you should notify your lawyer.
Up-to-date information is crucial to make your case believable and improve your chances of winning the maximum compensation you seek.
9. Stay Away from Social Media
Many accident victims hurt their own cases by posting photos and videos on social media. Even if you are in pain, you are trying to put on a brave face for your family and friends. But insurance adjusters will interpret these images differently.
They will use them to prove that you are not actually in pain, since you are able to pose for photos surrounded by friends. The best policy is to stay away from your social media accounts until your claim is settled.
10. Follow Your Lawyer’s Advice
The only person you should listen to is your Virginia truck accident attorney. Not your friend, not your neighbor, not some article you read online. Any deviation from your lawyer’s strategy can derail your case and cause you to lose time and even a significant part of the compensation you should receive.
At VACAIL, you are in good hands. We are a team of experienced personal injury attorneys serving Falls Church, VA and we know how to win your case. Let us do the work on your behalf and you will see the results you expect – compensation for your pain, suffering, and economic losses.
We encourage you to schedule a free case review with us as soon as possible after your accident: 804-332-6561!