Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents
Answers you can trust from an experienced attorney
Being involved in any accident can be bewildering and overwhelming, but that's doubly true when a commercial truck is involved. You may be seriously hurt and wondering what to do next. The trucking company may not be returning your calls. Medical bills may be piling up. You need an experienced advocate on your side, right away.
That's why Gary Martin Hays & Associates has prepared this list of frequently asked questions. If you've been hurt in a truck accident, here's what you need to know.
- What do I need to do after being hurt in a truck accident?
- I think the trucker who hit me was texting and driving. Do I have a case?
- Can I sue the trucking company? What about the shipper of the cargo?
- The trucking company is located out of state. What can I do?
- Will the trucking company pay my medical bills? If not, what can I do?
- If the trucking company or its insurance carrier calls me, should I talk to them?
- Should I accept a settlement offer from the trucking company or insurance carrier?
Above all, you need an attorney on your side who can stand up to the trucking companies and get you the compensation you deserve. These answers will give you a general idea of how to move forward, but every accident is unique, and we urge you to contact us today to discuss the specific circumstances of your case. Call 1-800-898-HAYS for your free consultation.
What do I need to do after being hurt in a truck accident?
As with any accident, make sure the scene is safe and call emergency services right away. Get the truck driver's name and contact information as well as the name and contact information for the trucking company. If any other drivers were involved in the accident, you need to exchange names and insurance information with them as well.
Collect as much evidence as you can at the scene. Use your phone to take pictures of the scene and any visible injuries. Write down names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. The trucking company will send investigators right away, and you need to collect that evidence to make your own case.
Don't say anything admitting fault for the accident to the truck driver, investigating officer or anyone else at the scene. Stick to the facts of what happened. Take note if the trucker - or any other driver - says something admitting fault, such as "I took my eyes off the road" or "I didn't see you pull out."
See a doctor right away. Even if you feel fine, you might have internal injuries that take time to become apparent. Getting that immediate medical attention is the best choice for your health.
Finally, call us right away. Again, the trucking company will start their investigation immediately. You need Gary Martin Hays & Associates on your side right away to protect your legal rights and build a strong case.
I think the trucker who hit me was texting and driving. Do I have a case?
Texting while driving a commercial truck is illegal in Georgia and throughout the United States, which means a texting trucker who causes an accident should be liable for any injuries caused. However, you need to prove it.
During our investigation, we'll comb through cell phone records and other documents that may prove the truck driver was texting at the time of the accident. We'll also interview witnesses whose accounts of what happened might show that the trucker was distracted behind the wheel. Truckers who text and drive put everyone on the road at risk, and we're here to help you hold the one who hurt you accountable.
Can I sue the trucking company? What about the shipper of the cargo?
In most cases, the trucking company can be found liable for the accident one way or another, but it depends on the circumstances. First, there's the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which means an employer is liable for damage caused by an employee while on the job. If the trucker is a direct employee of the trucking company, then this doctrine applies. However, if the truck driver is an independent contractor, it may or may not, depending on the nature of the relationship between the trucker and trucking company.
However, we may also be able to prove that the trucking company's own negligence caused the accident. For instance, if the trucker fell asleep at the wheel, our investigation may show that the trucking company put pressure on the driver to exceed the maximum hours of service or work through mandatory rest breaks. If the truck driver was drunk or under the influence of drugs, we may be able to show that the trucking company failed to conduct a background check and hired a driver with a history of driving under the influence.
Under most circumstances, the shipper of the cargo isn't liable for an accident - unless they also happen to own the truck - but there are exceptions. For instance, if the cargo was hazardous in some way and the shipper failed to adequately warn the trucking company of the danger, you might have a product liability claim against the owner of the cargo.
The trucking company is located out of state. What can I do?
This is a common issue following truck accidents. An out-of-state trucking company may try to drag out the claims process or even fail to return your calls entirely. They think that just because they're in a different jurisdiction, they don't have to give you the compensation you deserve.
Fortunately, we've handled dozens of cases involving trucking companies headquartered in another state - or even, in some cases, in another country. We're familiar with the laws surrounding these cases and will take all required steps to move your claim forward. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, we may need to retain a local attorney in the trucking company's home state; if so, we'll split the attorney's fee with them, so you won't end up paying more.
Will the trucking company pay my medical bills? If not, what can I do?
If the trucking company is liable for the accident, but we work to make them responsible for your medical bills - but they won't pay until after you've completed treatment. Instead, you'll need to use your own insurance to pay the medical bills in the meantime. If your car insurance policy has Med Pay coverage, use that first. Otherwise, your employer-provided health insurance should foot the bill.
However, if you don't have insurance, there's another way to get your medical bills paid. Once you've retained Gary Martin Hays & Associates, we'll work with our network of medical providers to get you treatment on an attorney's lien basis. That means the care provider will agree to treat you now and accept payment later, once you've recovered compensation for your medical bills from the trucking company.
If the trucking company or its insurance carrier calls me, should I talk to them?
Absolutely not. No matter how friendly an insurance company seems, its goal is to protect its client - that is, the trucking company - and reduce its own liability. Anything you say can and will be used to reduce or deny your claim.
This is one of the most important reasons you need to retain a lawyer immediately after a truck accident. We've handled hundreds of cases involving trucking companies. We know what the other side wants to hear - and what they can use against you. If a trucking company or insurance company contacts you, just tell them you've retained an attorney and ask them to direct all further questions to us. We'll handle it from there.
Should I accept a settlement offer from the trucking company or its insurance carrier?
Not without speaking with your attorney first! An early settlement offer from an insurance company is almost always a "low-ball" offer - one that won't come close to covering the full cost of the accident. Given that a trucking company's insurance policy will typically have much higher liability limits than an individual motorist's, the amount they're offering is probably much smaller than the amount they can pay if you have good legal representation.
Moreover, remember that accidents involving commercial trucks are very complicated from an insurance perspective. It's typical for the cab and trailer to have separate insurance policies, and there's your own insurance to consider as well - plus the insurance companies for any other parties involved in the wreck. Accepting a settlement offer from one insurance company can affect other companies' liability as well, and once you've taken a settlement, there's nothing an attorney can do for you.
That's why we urge you to speak with us right away after your accident and check with your attorney before accepting any settlement offer from an insurance company. We'll review all of the insurance policies relevant to the accident, help you understand - and prove - the full cost of the accident, and put all of our resources to work to get you a settlement or verdict that pays for that full cost.