Truck accidents are frightening, and they can change your life forever. If you have sufficient evidence, you can hold liable parties responsible for your losses. However, truck accident cases often require complicated evidence, and trucking companies might try to conceal or destroy evidence you need to prove your claim.
When you hire a truck accident attorney, they can send a preservation demand to the trucking company. This communication notifies the company that you might file a claim and demands that the company preserves anything that might serve as evidence in your case. If the trucking company fails to comply, it can face serious legal repercussions.
The sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner they can take steps to ensure you can obtain all the preserved evidence you need to seek compensation.
Evidence of Liability
You will need sufficient evidence to prove that the truck driver or trucking company’s negligence led to your accident and injuries. The following are only some examples of evidence that your attorney must work to preserve.
Trucking Company Records
Your case can benefit from records from the trucking company, including:
- Hiring records and the driver’s employment file
- Electronic hours of service logs
- Results of drug and alcohol testing of the driver
Black Box Data
Each truck should have an event data recorder installed, also called a “black box.” This device records the speed of the truck, whether the driver hit the brakes, and other important information regarding the driver’s actions before the accident.
Trucking companies must perform routine maintenance on their vehicles. Your lawyer will likely want to request copies of the trucking company’s maintenance records.
The Trucker’s Driving Record
Your attorney might check the truck driver’s driving record. Their driving record will give you an idea about their driving history, DUI convictions, tickets, license suspensions or revocations, and other pertinent information.
The Trucker’s Phone Records
It may be helpful to review the driver’s cell phone records from the time of the crash. Cell phone use is inappropriate for commercial truck drivers, and if you find proof that the driver was using their cell phone at the time of the crash, it can benefit your case. Texting and driving or making a call on your cell phone are both forms of distracted driving. Distracted driving is dangerous and can lead to liability for accidents.
Eyewitness statements can help prove your case. Your attorney will want to interview every witness who saw the accident, record the witness statements, and keep them with your case file. Those statements can provide helpful insight into creating a strong trial strategy.
Evidence of Your Damages
After an accident with a commercial truck, you may suffer various losses. If you are involved in an accident, and the truck driver is responsible, you are entitled to recover compensation for your injuries and damages.
To recover financially for your damages, you must prove you suffered losses. Here are the types of evidence you and your attorney must make sure is preserved:
If your injuries caused you to miss time at work, you are entitled to recover your loss. You can recover the money you lost from the first day of work you missed until you can go back to your job.
Keep records of the days that you missed. You can easily do so by keeping track of your pay stubs, keeping notes about the days you missed, and keeping copies of all doctor’s excuses if you need to see your primary care physician.
Future Lost Income
If your injuries prevent you from returning to work permanently, you can recover financially for the loss of income. Typically, injuries that cause disability prevent accident victims from returning to work. You can use your medical records to prove your disabilities.
Lost Earning Capacity
If you can no longer work in the same industry, doing the same job, or at the same rate as you did before the accident, you have lost earning capacity. For example, if you were a firefighter before the accident and your injury caused you to lose the ability to lift or climb, you might return to work, but you cannot return to the same industry.
Accident victims are entitled to receive the money they spend on medical treatment. To get the money you spent on medical treatment returned to you, keep copies of your medical bills. Always follow your doctor’s instructions and keep your record up to date.
Your attorney will use your medical records to help tell a story of exactly how badly you suffered an injury and what caused your injury. Expert medical witnesses may review your records to answer any doubts a jury may have about the cause of your harm.
Cost of Future Treatment
Your injuries may require ongoing medical care. For example, you may need physical therapy or inpatient rehabilitative care to fully recover from your injuries.
Cost of Paying for a Caretaker or Domestic Worker
If your injuries prevent you from taking care of your household needs, you may be entitled to recover the cost of hiring help. Some people who have suffered an injury in truck accidents may lose their ability to cook, clean, bathe and dress themselves, care for their children, or take care of their pets. The cost of hiring help can quickly add up.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to your tangible damages, you likely also have losses related to pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages include physical pain, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other mental conditions.
Loss of Consortium/ Companionship
Some injuries are so severe that it causes lost time with loved ones. If your injuries affected how you interact with friends and family, you might have a right to recover for loss of consortium or companionship.
Reduced Quality of Life
Although there may be no way to quantify a reduced quality of life, accident victims are still entitled to recover from this loss. Injuries may reduce your quality of life if you now live with a disability or disfigurement. Loss of quality of life involves embarrassment related to the injuries, the inability to participate in activities you once enjoyed, and other negative changes to your life or challenges that are now present but were not before.
A wrongful death occurs when the negligent actions of someone prematurely end the life of the victim. Wrongful death cases are complicated and involve two types of damages. Wrongful death lawsuits can recover funeral and burial costs, lost financial support, lost guidance, and other losses of the family. They might also seek compensation for the pain and suffering and medical bills the victim would have incurred had they survived the accident.
How Can I Help With Evidence in My Case?
Preserving as much evidence as quickly as possible is essential to building a strong case. With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to preserve a lot of evidence from the scene of a truck accident and continue to preserve evidence throughout the life of the case.
Take pictures of your injuries and property damage. A picture is truly worth a thousand words. A visual representation of your losses can help tell your story to an insurance company or jury. Take as many pictures as you can.
Back your pictures up. To protect your evidence, you should have it on multiple devices. Keep your pictures on your phone and back them up to the cloud or keep copies on your computer, an external hard drive, or a flash drive.
Share Your Information With Your Attorney
Your attorney needs to know all the information you have collected regarding the case. They will review what you have and determine if they need to collect more information. They can conduct an investigation to gather additional evidence when necessary to create an effective case strategy.
Sharing your information with your attorney can also be helpful because another person has a copy of the information. Your attorney will likely have their own organizational system, and you can trust them to keep your information safe.
Keep Information Organized
You can use your phone to keep the names and contact details of the truck driver, their employer, and any witnesses to the accident. Keeping this information in your phone is an easy and accessible way to collect and share important information with your attorney and other members of your legal team.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
Avoid Speaking to the Insurance Company Before Speaking to An Attorney
After being in a truck accident, you will likely receive communications from many insurance companies. You may get calls from your insurance company, the truck drivers, the trucking company’s insurance carrier, and the insurance companies of any other drivers if more cars are involved. Do not speak to insurance adjusters without consulting an attorney.
Insurance companies want to protect their bottom lines, and they will use various tactics to avoid paying out your claim. One common tactic is to lock you into a story regarding the accident. They may call asking for a written or recorded statement. Do not give written or recorded statement unless you have spoken to an lawyer.
Get Medical Attention
You should see a doctor immediately after an accident. For your well-being and legal case, always see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. First, you may be suffering from an injury you cannot discover without a physical examination, like internal bleeding or organ damage. Seeing a doctor can save your life.
The success of your case may depend on how quickly you receive medical attention. It is easier to prove a causal connection between the accident and your injuries if you get the medical attention you need immediately after the accident.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
Contact a truck accident attorney immediately after the Florida truck accident. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the better. Your attorney can provide tips on navigating the beginning of a truck accident claim, which is often confusing and overwhelming.
How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help Me?
Your truck accident attorney will be an asset during the life of a truck accident claim. Your attorney can help you in the following ways:
Help You Collect and Preserve Evidence
Your attorney can help you by assisting you in collecting evidence. Truck accident attorneys tend to conduct their own investigations to get more information on the facts of the case. Truck accident cases are won based on the facts. Facts are needed to prove liability and causation. After an investigation, your attorney can help build a strong case for you to recover compensation.
Communicate With Third Parties on Your Behalf
Your attorney can act as a shield against the opposing interests of third parties. You can funnel any correspondence to your attorney’s office. This will help you focus on recovery instead of on the stress of dealing with insurance companies, debt collectors, or other third parties.
Keep the Case Moving Along at a Reasonable Speed
If you choose to hire a truck accident attorney, they can keep your case moving along at a reasonable speed. Unrepresented accident victims may have an issue getting in contact with insurance companies and may have a hard time negotiating a satisfactory settlement. It may delay the resolution of your case if you approach the case without legal representation.
Prepare Your Case for Trial
If the insurance company does not settle your claim, then your case will proceed to trial. Trial preparation is time-consuming and can be a complicated concept. You need an experienced advocate on your side to help you understand the best way to have a successful outcome.
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?
Every truck accident claim is subject to the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a deadline set by law that limits the amount of time you have to either settle an insurance claim or file a lawsuit for damages. Each state has its own rules regarding the statute of limitations, but in most states, accident victims have one to four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
Contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer quickly after the accident to ensure you do not miss the statute of limitations.