Getting hit from the rear by an 18-wheeler is the most common truck accident in the United States. Tractor-trailers take about 40 % longer to stop than the car you drive, and truck drivers frequently allow no adequate safety cushion between vehicles which can lead to a rear-end 18-wheeler accident. Because the truck can weigh up to 40 times more than the car it hits, the damages are generally much more severe.
What to Do at the Scene or the Rear-End Accident
- Get information from the truck driver.
- Take photographs with your cell phone of the scene and the vehicles.
- Take the contact information every witness you identify.
- Always wait for the police.
- Tell Paramedics every area of concern.
Always make sure you are staying in a safe area after the accident. To avoid being hit again by another distracted driver.
Dealing with Your Property Damage Claim
Handling your property damage claim through the truck driver’s insurance policy is often a very frustrating experience. Trucking companies and commercial trucking insurers are not set up to handle property damage claims, rear-end truck accidents timely. Some people wait for months to get their cars fixed.
It usually is better to turn the property damage portion of your claim over to your auto insurance for handling. Taking this approach transfers the frustration from you unless your insurance company deals with the trucking company back. Often, people are reluctant to claim their policies and only doing so after waiting months for the trucking company to respond.
When There Are Injuries From the Rear-End Collision
Trucking companies and their insurance companies are very businesslike and efficient in dealing with handling injury claims after a rear-end 18-wheeler accident. For accidents where the company is worried about the severe injury, the actions of the trucking company will be quick and designed to save them money.
If the injuries are severe, you can expect a robust initial investigation design to uncover a defense for the truck driver and trucking company. The first line of attack is looking for scapegoats to take responsibility for the accident off of the trucking companies driver. One common tactic in many rear-end truck accident cases is to claim the vehicle hooked from the rear “suddenly moved into their lane.” Making up facts to defend the claim is the first order of business for many trucking companies.
Another tactic frequently utilized when the trucking company is worried about damages is to videotape the injured person by hiring an investigative staff to put the plaintiff under surveillance. With this tactic, the insurance company is hoping to take something out of context to make the injured person look bad.
Medical Treatment Issues From a Hit in the Rear by a Big Truck
Obtaining proper and consistent medical treatment is vital for your health. Following your doctor’s orders should be a no-brainer for everyone. Unfortunately, deductibles or even lack of insurance coverage can pose a problem for many people. Understand that lapses in treatment or not going to the doctor by trying to tough it out can work against your injury claim against the trucking company. Their jury argument usually goes something like “if it was that bad you would have gone to the doctor.”
Another issue important to address is making sure the appropriate medical professional is treating you. With 18-wheeler collisions, spinal cord injuries are prevalent. If you suspect your spinal cord has been injured, you probably should not be handled by a chiropractor. The sooner you are in the hands of an expert or specialist like an orthopedist or neurosurgeon, the better your chances for recovery are and the sooner your medical condition can be diagnosed and treated appropriately. It usually takes an MRI to diagnose a disc problem accurately.
Another common injury from rear-end truck accidents is a head injury. If you have symptoms of a head injury like:
- Mood swings
- Personality changes or
- Balance issues
See a neurologist early if you suspect a brain injury after an accident.
It is always a mistake to consider settling your injury case after a trucking accident until you are sure you have a complete handle on your medical condition and necessary treatment. A tactic used by insurance companies to reduce the amount they pay out on clients is to pressure the injured for a quick settlement before the extent of the injuries is known. Early settlement merely shifts the burden or risks of loss on the innocent victim and is a mistake.
Preserve Evidence after an 18-Wheeler Accident Rear-End Crash
While trucking companies will have a quick and thorough investigation because they are prepared to deal with accidents, individual victims probably have not been through a severe crash before and had no idea what to do. Making sure that the trucking company preserves evidence before it is destroyed can make or break a case.
One tactic used by the defense interests after a rear-end crash with a semi is to put the big truck back in service when possible preventing an inspection by the injured person’s representatives. Computer data also called Black box data shows the application of brakes and speeds and other significant evidence. The truck itself can be defective, and a source of liability for the trucking company and should be inspected in some cases.
While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require the trucking company to keep specific paperwork, they need not keep it forever. It is essential that the victim or the victim’s representatives send a letter demanding particular evidence be preserved early and before the evidence has been changed, lost or destroyed.
Finding the Best 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured most likely, you will require an attorney to assist you to maximize the compensation you will receive from the insurance company for the truck driver.
The insurance companies that write commercial policies for trucking companies or a small group and those insurance companies keep records of attorneys. Who represents you with your 18-wheeler collision is the most important choice you will make. Choose the best attorney for your rear-end truck accident.
Understand that the critical choice is the specific attorney who will do the work on the case. Many personal injury victims make the mistake of hiring a law firm only to have their case handed off to an inexperienced associate or junior partner. Having a junior lawyer is a disaster for the victim.
The most important choice you will make making sure that the attorney you choose is experienced, qualified and has a track record in rear-end 18-wheeler accident cases. You must also make sure the attorney who commits to doing the work on your injury is the one who works the case and not a junior lawyer.
If you can’t get a commitment from the experienced attorney in the firm to do the work, find another lawyer. Repeatedly personal injury victims hire a law firm only to end up with a very inexperienced attorney learning on the job and hurting their case.
Commitments by the experienced attorney to “oversee” and to “supervise” are worthless. Were you needing surgery and researched the best doctor to operate, would you accept a doctor choosing an associate from his firm to handle the procedure?
Do not be afraid to interview a few different lawyers until you are comfortable with an attorney who is best for your case.