Truck accidents are devastating, no matter how they occur. If you were in a truck accident, you have already seen the effects of the severe damage to your vehicle and your severe injuries. If you are dealing with all that fallout, and you know that the accident was not your fault, you probably wonder when you must file a claim in time to seek compensation for your injuries.
The time frame for filing a claim varies by state. However, you generally have somewhere between one and four years to file a claim for a truck accident before it is too late. Contact an Omaha truck accident lawyer right away to file your claim on time. If not, you may not recover the compensation that is rightfully yours after the crash.
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The Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Even though it is most often the driver of a commercial truck that causes truck accidents, it is usually the other drivers and passengers who suffer the most damage. But why do truck accidents happen? What can truck drivers do to avoid these accidents and keep the roads safer for everyone?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), speeding, drinking and driving, and driving while fatigued are three of the most common causes of accidents for large trucks.
Driver errors caused 87 percent of crashes involving big trucks, including:
- Non-performance from falling asleep, or a medical event.
- Distraction, inattention, etc.
- Decisions such as speeding, driving too fast for road conditions, following vehicles too closely, etc.
- Reactions such as panicking, overcompensating, or exercising poor directional control.
Other crashes included vehicle problems such as failed brakes or tire malfunctions and environmental issues such as roadway debris or poor driving conditions. However, many large trucks cause the accidents in which they are involved.
If you were in a truck accident that was not your fault, and you know the truck driver should be held responsible, you want to file a claim against them as soon as possible. When you file a personal injury claim, you can win compensation for your losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and even the emotional suffering you endured.
Damages That You Can Claim After a Truck Accident
Due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, many truck accidents result in very severe injuries, especially if you drove or rode a much smaller vehicle with little protection. Truck crashes usually end up causing severe damage to other vehicles they hit, sometimes even totaling those vehicles.
Here are some things you can claim as damages after a truck accident:
- Medical expenses from emergency room visits, therapy, surgeries, procedures, prescriptions, the purchase of medical equipment, etc
- Property damage expenses to repair or replace your car and any other important property like a cell phone that the accident damaged.
- Loss of income from the time you took off work during your initial recovery
- Loss of earning capacity if you cannot return to the same job, lost your job, or can no longer work for as many hours/days a week due to your injuries.
- Pain and suffering, in general.
- Emotional trauma or distress such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Scarring, disfigurement, and the emotional humiliation and distress that might accompany such injuries
- Loss of consortium with your loved ones
- Loss of life enjoyment from losing the ability to perform activities you once loved
These are the main categories of damages to look at after you have been in a truck accident. However, there may be other damages you can claim depending on the circumstances in your case. You should speak to a truck accident lawyer who can guide you through the process and ensure you claim every type of damage for which you deserve compensation.
How to File a Claim after a Truck Accident
After a truck accident, a lot may go through your mind. It will be hard to remember everything you need to remember about the steps you need to take to file a claim. That is why talking to a lawyer as soon as possible is helpful. A personal injury attorney can help you take the necessary steps without forgetting anything crucial.
However, there are plenty of things you can do on your own to get started with filing a claim after a truck accident. Once you choose a lawyer, they can help you continue the process and pursue it to its conclusion.
Here are some steps you should take right away to get your claim started:
- Call an ambulance. You must seek medical attention, especially after a severe truck accident. Some injuries may not show up until later, and you may not always know, or be able to prove which were caused by the accident if you do not get medical attention right away.
- Call the police. It is essential to get a police report after your accident. If they are not already on the scene, call the police to ensure they file a report that you and your lawyers can look at later.
- Take photos of the accident scene and your injuries. If it is safe to do so, it is helpful for lawyers to have evidence from the scene when preparing a complaint against the at-fault party—pay close attention to apparent injuries and property damage.
- Gather contact information. You will need to get in touch with the truck driver, the truck driver’s insurance and possibly the trucking company. You should also get contact information for any witnesses who were at the accident scene; do not rely on the police to get that information for you.
- Collect your medical records and bills. As you receive treatment, keep any medical records and bills provided to you as evidence for your claim.
- Help gather other evidence. With your lawyer’s guidance and support, you will gather your medical bills and records, receipts for medical expenses, photos or video from the accident scene, witness statements, and expert testimony from those who can testify to the various impacts of your injuries or the cause of the accident.
- Call a lawyer. You want to contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible if you intend to file a claim against the truck driver or trucking company.
Who Else Might You Hold Responsible for a Truck Accident?
While drivers are the most common instigators of truck accidents, they may not always be the only party at fault. If, for example, their trucking company overworked them, they may escape blame.
The FMCSA, knowing how often fatigue causes truck accidents, regulates how many hours a truck driver may drive.
For example, truck drivers of property-carrying commercial trucks cannot drive:
- More than 14 consecutive hours after 10hours off
- More than 8 hours without at least 30 minutes off
- More than 60/70 consecutive hours in a seven/eight-day period without at least 34 hours off
If a trucking company forces a driver to break the FMCSA guidelines because they are in a hurry to see cargo delivered, they can and should be held responsible for causing the accident.
In addition, you may hold a trucking company and/or a truck manufacturer responsible if brake or tire failure caused the accident. If a manufacturer or a repair person neglected their duty and refused to properly repair something on the truck or address a potential issue, you may be able to hold them responsible.
How to Prove Fault in the Truck Accident
It is always hard to prove how an accident occurred and who you can hold responsible.
If you can gather and keep them, key pieces of evidence can prove how and why an accident happened.
- Witness statements. If anyone saw the truck accident, you need to try to get a statement from them. Try to do this at the accident scene if you can. If not, get contact information from the witnesses so that you and/or your lawyer can reach out to them later. Again, do not rely on the police to get this information for you
- Police reports. If possible, get a police officer to fill out a report. These officers will gather contact and insurance information for all involved parties and may acquire additional evidence as well. Additionally, in many trucking accidents the police may assist in completing a Department of Transportation report which can contain additional information relevant to how the accident occurred.
- Medical records and bills. You need to know how much you suffered after an accident and how the accident led to that suffering. Keep all your medical records and sign a HIPAA release form to allow your lawyers to gather any records your hospital or care provider may have.
How to Choose a Lawyer After a Truck Accident
If you have been in a truck accident and don’t know how to proceed, seek support from a truck accident lawyer. A truck accident lawyer can guide you through the entire process of gathering evidence, deciding who caused the accident, and filing a claim on time to ensure you get compensation.
Choose a personal injury lawyer with experience in truck accidents and a passion for ensuring justice for victims like you. The best lawyers will pursue a case for you, negotiate the best settlement, and pursue a claim in court should that become necessary.
After a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer near you for a free consultation and guidance on how to move forward with your claim.