Decatur Truck Accident Attorney
HS Law represents victims in Decatur who have been personally injured by a tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle.
What to do at the scene of the truck accident
Following your accident with a truck, your first interaction will likely be with the driver of the commercial vehicle.
Interacting with the driver of the commercial vehicle
Your emotion might be running high immediately after the accident. Now is not the time to establish fault or blame.
Tips for interacting with other drivers
Limit your interactions. Do not debate who caused the accident or argue.
Call 911 to report the car accident and wait for police to arrive. Your 911 calls are transcribed and will be requested if a lawsuit is filed. Lawyers obtain these transcripts by filing an open records requests.
Do not get out of your vehicle if you are injured or road conditions are unsafe.
If it is safe to exit your vehicle and you are physically able, take photographs of the vehicles. Photos can be vital to your case.
Talking to police officers at the scene of a wreck
After calling 911, a police officer will arrive on the scene. The police officers job is to collect information. Your job is to provide them with the facts.
Tips for talking with police officers
- When police arrive on scene, try your best to remain calm.
- Limit your conversation to the facts of what happened.
- Do not make any admission of fault.
- Do not add any unsolicited information. For example, some people tell police that they were in a rush to get somewhere or they were looking at their child in the back seat.
- Keep your statement short and sweet. If the other driver turned left in front of you, simply tell the officer that and stop talking. If you were hit from behind, tell the officer that and stop talking.
- Do not worry about getting the other driver’s insurance information. The police officer will obtain his or her insurance information and other relevant information and include it in an accident report. Most reports are available within 3 to 5 business days.
Typically, the officer will provide you with the report number. If the officer does not, you need to ask him or her for the report number. You or your lawyer will need this to order the report.
Finally, the police officer will ask you if you need medical assistance. Always err on the side of caution. Your adrenaline will likely be running high and masking pain.
We highly recommend getting checked out by a medical professional after any accident with a commercial vehicle. If you tell the officer you need medical help, he or she can quickly dispatch an ambulance to transport you to the emergency room to treat your injuries.
Side note: If you start feeling pain hours or days later, it is not too late. Some symptoms take time to surface. Go seek medical attention immediately and contact the attorneys at HS.
WE GET RESULTS
Wrongful Death Car Accident
Car Accident Neck Injury
Car Accident Back Injury
Receiving Medical Treatment
After your accident there are a few different places you might receive medical treatment.
Medical treatment immediately after the accident
If you were seriously injured or requested medical assistance from emergency personnel at the accident scene you will be transported by an EMT to the hospital where you will be treated by the staff nurses and doctors.
Tips for talking to medical professionals
Limit your conversation to injuries related to the car accident.
But be sure to tell the doctor about all injuries related to your car accident. While you may be focused on what is causing the most immediate pain, do not forget to tell the doctor about all injuries. For example, you may suffer a broken wrist that is very painful in a car accident and also have minor neck pain.
If you don’t report the initial injury, insurance companies will try to argue that any injury not initially reported was the result of subsequent accident or injury.
If asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, do not “try to be tough”. If you pain is an 8 out of 10, be honest and report that number.
Do not downplay your pain. Doctors need honest answers to provide the best treatment possible. By downplaying legitimate injuries, you are giving insurance companies the evidence they need to minimize the value of your case.
Other medical treatment options
Primary Care Doctor. If pain arises after you leave the scene of the accident, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor.
Chiropractic Professional. Licensed health-care providers who treat injuries and damages to your joints. In many cases, a chiropractor will use an x-ray to assess your injuries.
Orthopedic Doctor. These physicians can help diagnose, and treat, injuries to your joints, tendons, and bones. In many cases, an orthopedic doctor will be able to assess your injuries using an MRI or x-ray.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Some types of injuries like broken bones and large cuts make the need for medical attention clear. Other symptoms, like minor aches and pains, should also be checked out by a medical professional immediately to avoid the long term consequences of a lingering injury.
The most common car accident injuries
Types of Damages You Can Sue For After a Truck Accident
Generally, you are entitled to pursue all damages that were caused by the truck accident. These damages include:
Property damage. Includes vehicle repairs, transportation costs and diminished value of your vehicle
Medical costs. Current medical bills, future medical bills
Lost Wages. Including past and future lost wages.
Pain and Suffering. Including past, present, and future pain and suffering.
Punitive Damages. Every trucking case brings with it a chance for the injured party to recover punitive damages. In a trucking case, the opportunity to recover punitive damages is much more common.
The types of damages you have suffered will help determine the value of your case.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I was just involved in an accident with a big truck, can I wait before hiring a truck accident attorney?
No, and we cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of not waiting. Oftentimes when an 18 wheeler is involved in a wreck, that sets off a chain reaction of events. Trucking companies have in place what is known as a rapid response team. On the team is the trucking company’s safety director, the company’s insurer, a defense attorney, an accident reconstructionist, and an investigator. Those folks receive word of an accident usually before the police have arrived at the scene. They immediately jump into action to take steps to protect their interests. That means that, even in the best of circumstances, the trucking company is several steps ahead of the injured party. Delaying retaining counsel only serves to further prejudice your rights. Do not wait. Please call a truck accident attorney at HS immediately to begin the process of protecting you.
I have heard the term spoliation. What does it mean and how is it relevant to truck accidents?
Spoliation refers to the destruction of evidence. Most people do not know that federal law permits trucking companies to destroy (or purge) certain documents after the passage of a certain time period. If those documents would have been critical to your case, you are simply out of luck. After being hired to represent the victim of a truck accident, HS Law will rush to preserve documents, videos, and other materials before they are destroyed, ruined, or lost. We do this by sending a preservation letter to the trucking company which demands that all materials relevant to your claim be preserved until your claim is resolved. Should the trucking company fail to preserve the materials, a judge can issue significant sanctions against the trucking company.
Most personal injury lawyers claim they are truck accident attorneys. How is HS Law different?
It is true that almost all personal injury attorneys advertise they handle truck accidents. However, that does not mean they are truck accident attorneys or even that they know what they are doing. At HS Law, our trucking lawyers were former defense attorneys who specialized representing truck drivers, trucking companies, and their insurers. For years it was our job to minimize (and in some occasions eliminate) the injured person’s recovery. We know the other side’s play book. It gives us a tremendous advantage in representing you after a trucking accident.
Do truck drivers have to be more skilled than regular motorists when operating commercial vehicles?
Yes. Most people realize that anyone driving an 18 wheeler must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). But there is so much more to it than that. Under the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), virtually every aspect of truck driving is regulated. These regulations, known as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), are numerous and they must be closely adhered to for a truck driver and the trucking company to “run legal.” When a client hires HS Law, one of our primary goals is to determine whether a driver and company are running legal or whether their decision to forgo the regulations is what lead to your accident and injuries.
What are some of the laws and regulations that typically govern truck accident cases that are not typically associated with car accident cases?
There are too many to list here, but one of the most important applies to drug and alcohol testing. Federal law provides a truck driver must be subjected to post-accident drug and alcohol testing when (1) the wreck involves a fatality, (2) the truck driver is cited and any of the vehicles involved in the crash are towed away, or (3) the truck driver is cited and someone receives medical attention away from the scene of the crash. Obtaining the drug and alcohol tests is often a key part of HS Law’s work when investigating a truck accident.
I had a wreck with a commercial vehicle, but not an 18 wheeler. Is my accident more like a car accident or more like a truck accident?
Most likely, your accident is more like a truck accident. The reason being is that at least some of the federal regulations will apply to the driver and/or company which hit you. Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) exceeding 10,001 pounds are subject to many of the same federal regulations for which drivers and companies of 18 wheelers must follow. For instance, the regulations are applicable to vehicles like a Ford F-350 truck when that vehicle is being used commercially.
I did not cause the accident with the commercial vehicle but my driving record is not very good. Is that something of which I should be concerned in bringing a claim against a trucking company?
No. Unless you have a conviction for a driving offense which was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year (i.e., a felony), driving related offenses are irrelevant and inadmissible as against the person bringing the claim.
If my driving record does not matter, does the driving record of the truck driver matter?
Yes. A truck driver’s record is significant and something HS Law will scrutinize. All companies which employ drivers of 18 wheelers are required by federal law to investigate a driver’s record before hiring him. This is done through a multi-layered process, including examining a truck driver’s motor vehicle report (MVR). And this process does not simply happen at the time the driver is hired, but rather trucking companies are required to annually review a driver’s driving record. Unsafe drivers having a pattern or policy of dangerous driving can lead to the injured person recovering punitive damages against the driver and/or company.
Do trucking accidents require the use of expert witnesses?
Sometimes. In some instances certain aspects of the wreck are so complicated that only someone with specialized training can resolve the complexity. At HS Law, we have a rolodex of some of the best experts in the country ready to help us investigate your case should the circumstances warrant it.
What types of damages can my truck accident attorney recover due to the truck driver’s negligence?
Generally, you are entitled to pursue all damages that were caused by the truck accident. These damages include property damage (including vehicle repairs, transportation costs and diminished value of your vehicle), current medical bills, future medical bills, past lost wages, future lost wages, and past, present, and future pain and suffering. In addition, every trucking case brings with it a chance for the injured party to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are virtually never recovered in a car accident case unless the defendant driver was under the influence or committed a hit-and-run. In a trucking case, the opportunity to recover punitive damages is much more common.