There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a trucking accident case—in part because nine times out of ten you’re dealing with a corporate entity with multiple insurance companies at the ready. They also usually have a plan in place for dealing with accidents that they make their drivers aware of as well as far as conduct and procedure go in order to ensure that they have the best possible advantage if someone files a claim against them.
Luckily, there aren’t a lot of run-of-the-mill mistakes that will completely ruin your case. An experienced trucking accident attorney can more often than not help you keep your case strong despite most slip-ups. Even so, you’ll want to avoid some of the more common, easy-to-make mistakes if possible—here are ten of the most common, avoidable mistakes in truck accident cases.
- Not receiving medical treatment.
If you’ve just been in an accident, the full extent of your injuries may not have come to fruition yet. If it seems like you don’t have to see a doctor, it’s still wise to at least see a chiropractor or doctor if you don’t think your condition warrants a trip to the emergency room—not doing so puts your wellbeing at risk and could look bad when you file a claim to get compensation because it makes your injuries seem less serious than they really are.
- Not contacting the police.
You should always contact the police in the event of an accident, even if it seems minimal—you may need the police report later on if your property damage or injuries are more serious than originally thought. The police report will have information that will be helpful through your claim process, including contact information for the truck driver, the company they work for, their insurance companies, any witnesses noted, and the officer’s unbiased summary of the crash. Because this document contains important evidence, it could very easily prove crucial to your case.
- Trusting your defendant’s insurance company.
By law, a trucking company is not required to pay you but has every right to defend itself. The company’s insurance carrier and their attorneys will use and exploit any technicalities in the case to either downplay their own liability or to completely deny your claims. They’ll endeavor to find any argument or piece of evidence that can be used to limit the company’s liability because that’s what they’re paid to do. Trusting them just makes their job easier and gives them too much power in your case.
The trucking company’s insurance carrier will also at times accept liability for your property damage (which is completely different from accepting liability for your injury claim), offer you an advance on your settlement, or even promise to pay for your medical bills to “buddy up” with you and lull you into a false sense of security. Stay on your toes and listen to your attorney.
- Settling too quickly.
Settling too quickly may of course get you less compensation than you truly deserve, but it also may be too early to tell the true extent of your injuries. If you settle too shortly after your accident, some potentially lasting pain or injuries may not have surfaced yet and you’ll have settled for less compensation than you actually need.
- Taking too long to settle.
The insurance company will try to drag out your case for as long as possible in hopes of reaching the expiration date on your statute of limitations. Once that date is reached, you no longer have the ability to hold the company accountable for compensation. On top of that, if you allow the carrier to stall your case, even if you’re still months off from the expiration date you could be past the point where a lawyer would be able to help your case. Stalling examples are the carrier claiming they’re waiting to interview witnesses, that they’re waiting to talk to their insured, telling that investigation or evaluation is ongoing, and more.
- Withholding information about the accident.
For the good of your records and your treatment, it’s important that you’re honest with your doctor about any pain or symptoms you’re experiencing—which means not under- or overstating the extent of your suffering. If your injuries aren’t accurately documented in your medical records, you may not get the full compensation you should.
It’s also important to be honest about any previous accidents or old injuries you may have “re-injured.” It’s a bad idea to try hiding these details from your doctor, lawyer, or the insurance company. An old injury won’t keep you from receiving compensation, but lying and misleading people involved in your case will.
- Failing to get a copy of the police report.
When you call 911 after an accident, if no one is hurt your best bet is to say you do not need an ambulance on the scene, but you do want a police officer to come out. After the officer arrives, insist that the officer fill out a Traffic Collision Report, which will record valuable details and witness statements that may otherwise be lost or difficult to recall later on.
- Using your insurance company’s preferred bodyshop.
An insurance company’s main priority is always to save money—meaning the repair or body shop they recommend to you may come with a convenient, expedited estimate for the damage your vehicle took, but you may be shortchanged the full repair or the replacement value. You don’t have to go with their preferred bodyshop and we actually recommend that you don’t. It’s smart to get several estimates from multiple shops and then decide which you’d like to go to.
- Not seeking a permanent impairment rating.
Many times, cases of back pain, neck pain, or other injuries sustained in accidents can stick around for years after the accident takes place. If you’re experiencing residual pain from an accident, ask your doctor to evaluate you for a “permanent impairment rating.” Having a documented rating can potentially increase your compensation amount.
- Waiting too long to hire a lawyer.
Trying to handle your case yourself without the legal expertise of an attorney spells trouble for your claim and any compensation (if any) that comes from it. It’s easy to say or do something wrong early on in your case before you may even know you have a case and do irreparable damage to your eventual results. Boughter Sinak, LLC offers a free initial consultation to kickstart your case. Contact us to get started today.
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