9 Biggest Mistakes After an Accident
From never-ending construction on Interstate 35 to commuters streaming into the DFW metroplex every day, the Dallas-Fort Worth area poses numerous conditions that can make a serious accident more likely.
Several other interstates run through the city as well — major shipping lanes that are full of semi-trucks careening along the roadways — which means that the chances of a trucking accident are high.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious semi-truck collision, you’ve probably suffered severe or catastrophic injuries. A professional truck accident lawyer can help. Call the Law Offices of Laird & McCloskey today for a free consultation about your case.
The certified truck wreck lawyers at Laird and McCloskey have identified nine key mistakes that motorists sometimes make after an accident. These mistakes or oversights can affect your ability to claim and collect damages in the event of a truck tragedy.
After an accident, you may not feel hurt — and by the time your injuries present themselves — it may be too late. After a truck accident, your body releases adrenaline that can mask any immediate feeling of pain. Also, many people may think feeling stiff, sore, or disorientated is normal.
Misjudging the extent of your injuries and failing to identify the signs of common injuries can make rehabilitation and treatment more difficult. Accept the help of emergency medical service workers, who are trained to diagnose car crash injuries and start a proper course of treatment right away.
Failing to obtain a timely diagnosis can lead insurance companies — either yours or the trucking carriers — to believe you aren’t as severely injured as you actually are and thus deny your claim.
Even if you think you feel fine, our legal team typically discourages victims from immediately declaring that they’re okay. You actually may not be okay and may inadvertently sabotage your claim.
You don’t have an unlimited amount of time to act after a truck collision. Texas has a statute of limitations to file a claim. That is, you only have two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. However, there are other reasons why you should act fast.
Although filing a lawsuit may not be the first thing on your mind about after a wreck, there are several good reasons to act promptly:
You may be owed damages for your medical care or even burial expenses for a loved one if the accident was fatal. Medical bills can quickly mount. Fortunately, a car accident lawyer is your advocate and can take the stress of filing the claim off your shoulders.
You may think that an insurance company is on your side — after all, they’re seeking to give you money, right? Wrong. Insurance adjusters care most about saving their insurance company money, and they do this by asking you enough questions to get the information they need to deny or minimize your claim.
Insurance adjusters know that accident victims are under stress and worried about their medical care or replacing their vehicle. However, don’t trust what the insurance company says without consulting your car accident attorney first.
You have a contractual obligation with your car insurance carrier to inform them of the accident, but don’t give a recorded statement or details they don’t need. Most importantly, don’t admit any form of fault for the accident. Try to refer all conversations with the insurance company to your car accident lawyer.
You don’t have any responsibility to the other party’s insurance company. There is no benefit to you for providing any statement or information to their representatives.
Sometimes, the other driver may try to talk you out of calling 911 and instead offer to swap information. In Texas, you’re required to report an accident if someone was injured, the collision was fatal, or there was more than an estimated $1,000 worth of property damage.
Even if you don’t feel that hurt or your car doesn’t look damaged, you still need to call the police. They will compile the report that the Texas Department of Transportation requires.
This crash report is a critical part of filing your claim, as it establishes liability and details the circumstances of the crash, including witness statements. Your truck accident lawyer and an insurance company will also require the report for your claim.
In addition to creating the accident report for you, the responding officer can determine whether any driver was violating the law by driving under the influence, speeding, or failing to yield. If the other driver receives a citation, it can help your case.
It’s always a good idea to report any accident. Pursuing a claim is difficult without evidence to support it.
Right after the accident, a lot of people will be asking you questions, including the other driver, the police, and the insurance companies. No matter who you’re talking to, don’t say anything that could be interpreted as an admission of fault.
You can’t take back anything you say, and the other party’s lawyers and insurance companies may try to use your early statements to contest your claim. Additionally, you may receive citations or insurance rate increases that you don’t deserve.
A thorough investigation sheds more light on who is really at fault for the accident. Trust the police to gather evidence at the scene and your truck accident attorney to further investigate the causes of the crash.
The moments after an accident are chaotic, and valuable evidence can disappear before you realize it. The police will want to clear the scene quickly so traffic can resume and those injured can get prompt treatment.
Before leaving the scene, take time to compile as much information as you’re capable of (but don’t make your injuries worse by doing so!) You can:
An accident journal can help you document your injuries, starting from the first medical attention you receive. Write down your pain level and your diagnosis. Continue to update your journal with how your injuries have impacted your life and what kind of aftercare and physical therapy you’re getting.
Injuries after an accident aren’t just physical. There’s significant emotional trauma, too. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is quite common after a serious accident. Document if you have trouble sleeping or if you note changes in your mood and emotions.
Insurance companies want to settle fast and for as little as possible. It’s tempting to accept. Receiving a check right away can help you pay your bills and get your car fixed.
But remember: Settling early only benefits the insurance company. If you require ongoing care, such as physical therapy or surgery, the other party is also responsible for compensation for that care.
Hold out for the compensation you deserve. Once you accept a settlement, you’re on your own for the cost of any subsequent medical care or therapy.
Always talk to your lawyer before signing any forms from the insurance company. You might be signing away your legal rights! Documents that the insurance company asks you to sign are legally binding, and you’ll be required to comply with their terms.
Releases are common for an insurance company to ask for. When you accept a settlement from any part of your claim, the release absolves that party from any further obligation to you. For example, in a truck accident, both the driver and the carrier may be responsible. If you sign a release, you can’t sue that party after getting the check.
Or an insurance company may ask for medical authorization. This allows them to review your medical history. Using this tactic, the insurance company may subsequently claim that you were already hurt before the accident and deny your claim.
Don’t share on social media after the accident. The other party may use pictures you post as evidence that you aren’t seriously hurt. Any info you share may weaken your credibility.
Keep your social media clean of any information about your case. You may want to suspend your accounts temporarily or just don’t post any updates until the case is settled.
Failing to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer is the worst mistake you can make.
When you are involved in a commercial truck collision, you are dealing with the company that hired the driver and, in some cases, the municipality responsible for a government vehicle. These parties have large legal teams to protect them — and you deserve to have an advocate in your corner.
Have you been involved in a truck accident in Fort Worth? We can help.
The Law Offices of Laird & McCloskey are truck accident specialists and our lawyers are two of only five board-certified truck accident attorneys in DFW. Call today for a free consultation about your case!