When you studied for your drivers’ license test and took a drivers’ education class, you learned about many mistakes to avoid in order to prevent traffic accidents. You have probably applied those lessons learned so well that you have been in only a few car accidents in your life, and probably have never been in a truck accident. Therefore, you have probably not thought much about how what you do or do not do in the immediate aftermath of the accident can have long-lasting consequences. What you do as soon as the vehicles collide makes a big difference, but so does what you do in the days and weeks following the accident. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2017 there 37,133 lives lost in commercial motor vehicle accidents and large trucks and buses account for 13% of the traffic fatalities. To get the compensation you deserve after a truck accident, contact the Kansas City truck accident injury lawyers at Foster Wallace.
7 Mistakes To Avoid After a Truck Accident
Leaving the Scene of the Accident Without Communicating With the Other Driver or the Police
No matter how scared or angry you are, you should not leave the scene of a traffic accident without seeking medical attention, exchanging contact information with the other driver, and notifying the police of the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is against the law, and you can face criminal penalties for it.
Putting Your Foot in Your Mouth
You should notify the police about an accident, but you should not give them any information that could lead an insurance company or a court to determine that the accident was your fault. Just explain the events leading up to the accident as you experienced them. When you file a claim with your insurance company, likewise, keep your description of the accident short and straightforward. In the weeks following the accident, you might get more phone calls from insurance adjusters asking you for more details about the accident. If you have hired a lawyer and are planning to file a lawsuit, simply give the insurance adjuster your lawyer’s contact information and ask them to talk to the lawyer. We at Foster Wallace usually send out a “letter of representation” to the insurance company informing them that we represent our client and to communicate with us moving forward. Your truck accident injury attorney will know what to say (or not to say) in response to the insurance adjusters’ questions, even if you do not.
Not Gathering Information and Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
Take as many pictures and as much video footage at the scene of the accident as you can. Record the damage to your car and to any other vehicles involved in the crash. Photograph the other driver’s license plate. If you have visible injuries, photograph those, too. Take a panoramic video, showing the stretch of road or intersection where you were driving just before the accident; the video will also show the weather conditions. Your personal injury lawyer and the insurance adjusters can interpret these images and videos, but your only chance to capture some of them is at the scene of the accident.
Not Getting Medical Evaluation Promptly
The time to have your injuries examined is right after the accident as well as a few days after the accident because sometimes injuries take time to manifest. If you file a lawsuit, the defendant could try to argue that your pain is from a pre-existing condition instead of from the accident. Therefore, you should go to a doctor’s office or hospital immediately after the accident, even if you do not feel like you are seriously injured. Symptoms of serious internal injuries might not present themselves until later, but you want your medical records to have accurate documentation of the accident. You may be worried about the expense involved of seeking medical attention but it can be crucial to your case.
If the police officer or EMTs offer to have you transported to the hospital, do not refuse, even if you feel well enough to get there by yourself. You might unknowingly make your injuries worse, and your refusal of treatment could make it harder for you to recover damages in a lawsuit.
Not Keeping Track of Accident-Related Expenses
An important part of a truck accident lawsuit is showing the exact amount of financial losses you incurred because of the accident. Therefore, it is essential to save every bill and receipt related to your treatment, including for prescription drugs, medical equipment, and physical therapy.
Signing the Settlement Offer From the Insurance Company
A few weeks or a few months after the accident, you will receive a settlement offer letter from the insurance company. Even though the letter will contain instructions for you to sign and return it, you should not sign it until after you have reviewed it with a personal injury lawyer. If you sign the letter, it means that you accept the settlement about being offered and you agree not to file a lawsuit in relation to the accident. Most of the time, the amount in the settlement offered letter is only enough to cover the vehicle damage and the medical bills you received right after the accident, if that. If you suffered serious injuries that require ongoing treatment, the settlement amount offered by the insurance company probably will not be enough.
Not Filing a Truck Accident Injury Lawsuit in Time
According to the Missouri Revised Statutes 516.120, the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit in connection to a truck accident is five years after the accident. This is longer than the two years offered by most states like Kansas (K.S.A. § 60-513), but if you are living with serious injuries after an accident, then the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is probably the farthest thing from your mind. If you miss the deadline, however, the court will not consider your lawsuit, even if you suffered permanent injuries in the accident, and even if it is completely obvious that the accident was the truck driver’s fault. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, and he or she will make sure that you meet all the deadlines related to your lawsuit.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Kansas City truck accident you should speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.