Each year, tens of thousands of people across the country are injured—and approximately 5,000 are killed—in accidents involving large commercial trucks such as big rigs, 18-wheelers, semis, and tractor trailers.
Some of those truck accidents, injuries, and fatalities occur right here in Georgia. According to the most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, nearly 200 people died Georgia truck accidents in 2016.
Due to the vast disparity in size and weight, collisions between passenger vehicles and large trucks are almost always catastrophic. Sadly, the passenger vehicle occupants tend to suffer the brunt of the damages. Victims may be left with devastating injuries that require extensive medical treatment and time off work, and result in unmanageable medical debt.
Georgia law allows truck accident victims to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of income, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other damages. Were you injured in a Georgia truck accident? Here's what you need to know to protect your right to recovery.
Why Your Post-Accident Actions Matter
Truck accidents are traumatic events that leave people feeling extremely shaken up and confused. But despite this, victims have their post-accident actions and behavior scrutinized by everyone from insurance adjusters to defense attorneys. What action truck crash victims take in the moments, days, weeks, or even months following an accident matters because of the significant impact it can have on their ability to collect fair financial awards.
Knowing which pitfalls to avoid, as well as how to gather essential evidence, can help truck accident victims strengthen their cases.
Gathering and Preserving Truck Accident Evidence
After a truck accident, victims should quickly gather evidence used to support a future insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. This process starts with the crash scene, which can include:
- Photos and/or video from the scene of the accident. This evidence should focus on the positions of the vehicles involved in the crash, as well as any relevant road or weather conditions.
- Photos and/or video of accident-related injuries. The sooner victims can visually document their injuries, the better.
- Contact, employment, and insurance information from the truck driver. While exchanging information with the commercial driver, victims should also make a note of whether he or she seems noticeably tired, distracted, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Contact information for people who witnessed the accident. Having this information on hand from the get go makes it easier for a victim's attorney to contact people who may be able to testify on their behalf.
The evidence-gathering process doesn't stop when the victim leaves the scene of the truck accident. Victims can also compile the following helpful information:
- The police accident report
- Accident-related medical records
- Medical bills and receipts
- Property damage repair or replacement estimates or receipts
- Documentation of lost wages
Mistakes to Avoid
Unfortunately, some post-accident actions might endanger a truck crash victim's ability to collect a fair financial award—even before they've filed their insurance claim or lawsuit. Here are some of the most common case-damaging mistakes victims can make:
- Apologizing or accepting blame for the accident
- Delaying seeking medical attention
- Accepting an insurance settlement at the scene
- Waiting too long to notify the insurance company of the accident
- Proving a recorded statement to the insurance company
- Waiting too long to consult an attorney
- Signing legal papers or accepting settlement offers without consulting an attorney
Hurt in a Georgia Truck Accident? Our Knowledgeable Attorneys Can Help
In commercial truck accident cases, injuries and other damages tend to be significant, which is why it's critical for victims to have effective legal counsel.
The skilled personal injury attorneys with Van Sant Law can help Georgia truck crash victims understand their legal rights and options, and fight for the financial recovery they deserve. If you were hurt in a truck accident that wasn't your fault, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.