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Is it worth hiring a lawyer after a truck crash – or should I just settle?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Deciding whether to hire a lawyer after a truck crash or to settle directly often depends on the specifics of your situation, including the severity of the accident, the clarity of liability, the extent of the damages or injuries, and the offers made by insurance companies. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed decision:

1. Severity of the Accident and Injuries: If the truck crash resulted in significant injuries, property damage, or fatalities, it is usually advisable to consult a lawyer. Legal representation can help ensure that all medical costs, lost wages, and other damages are fairly compensated.

2. Complexity of the Case: Truck accident cases can be complex, involving multiple parties (like the truck driver, trucking company, insurance companies, and possibly parts manufacturers). A lawyer can navigate these complexities and identify all potential sources of liability and compensation.

3. Dealing with Insurance Companies: Insurance companies often aim to settle for the lowest amount possible. A lawyer experienced in truck accident cases can negotiate with insurance companies to ensure a fair settlement.

4. Understanding of Legal Rights and Regulations: Trucking is heavily regulated, and a lawyer with expertise in this area will understand the relevant laws and regulations, which can be crucial in establishing liability and the extent of damages.

5. Assessment of Total Damages: Calculating the full extent of damages, including future medical expenses, ongoing care, lost future earnings, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering, can be complex. A lawyer can help ensure that all current and future damages are accounted for.

6. No Upfront Costs: Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win the case or obtain a settlement. This can make legal representation accessible without upfront costs.

7. Stress and Time: Handling insurance claims and legal proceedings can be time-consuming and stressful, particularly if you are recovering from injuries. A lawyer can handle these aspects, allowing you to focus on recovery.

8. Statute of Limitations: Be aware that there are time limits for filing a lawsuit. A lawyer can ensure that all legal actions are taken within the required timelines.

If the accident was minor with no serious injuries and liability is clear, settling without a lawyer might be straightforward. However, in more complex or severe cases, having legal representation can be crucial to protect your rights and interests. It’s often beneficial to at least consult with a lawyer for an initial assessment of your case before deciding how to proceed.

What are common mistakes truck drivers make after being involved in an accident?

After being involved in an accident, truck drivers, like anyone in a stressful situation, can make several common mistakes. Being aware of these mistakes can help drivers handle the situation more effectively and protect their interests. Here are some of the common mistakes:

1. Failing to Report the Accident: Not reporting the accident immediately to their employer and to the police (especially if there are injuries or significant property damage) is a significant mistake. Reporting is not only often legally required but also important for insurance and record-keeping purposes.

2. Not Gathering Evidence at the Scene: Neglecting to take photographs or videos of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved, road conditions, and any relevant signage or signals. This evidence can be crucial in insurance and legal proceedings.

3. Admitting Fault at the Scene: Sometimes, drivers might inadvertently admit fault at the scene of the accident due to stress or confusion. It’s important to avoid discussing liability until a full investigation is conducted.

4. Not Collecting Witness Information: Overlooking the collection of contact information from witnesses who saw the accident can result in losing valuable third-party accounts of the incident.

5. Neglecting Medical Attention: Some drivers may avoid seeking medical attention immediately after the accident, either because they don’t feel injured or are preoccupied. However, some injuries, especially internal ones, may not be immediately apparent.

6. Not Complying with Drug and Alcohol Testing: Failure to undergo required post-accident drug and alcohol testing can lead to severe legal and professional consequences.

7. Inaccurate or Incomplete Reporting: Not accurately completing required reports for the employer or insurance company can complicate the claims process.

8. Improper Communication with Insurance Companies: Providing too much information or the wrong information to insurance companies can sometimes work against the driver’s interests. It’s often advisable to consult with a lawyer before giving detailed statements.

9. Not Seeking Legal Advice: Especially in cases of serious accidents, failing to consult with legal counsel can result in drivers not understanding their rights or the implications of the accident.

10. Discussing the Accident Publicly: Sharing details of the accident on social media or with others can lead to misinterpretations and potentially complicate legal proceedings.

Being aware of and avoiding these common mistakes can help truck drivers better manage the aftermath of an accident, ensuring their legal rights are protected and the situation is handled appropriately.

What evidence should truck drivers always get after being involved in an incident?

After being involved in a truck accident, it’s crucial for a truck driver to gather evidence effectively to protect their interests. Here are some of the best ways to do so:

1. Photographs and Videos: Take comprehensive photos and videos of the accident scene from multiple angles. This should include damage to all vehicles involved, skid marks, road conditions, traffic signs, and any environmental factors that may have contributed to the accident.

2. Witness Statements and Contact Information: If there are any witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact information. If they are willing, take a brief statement or video testimony of what they saw.

3. Driver’s Logbook and Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Data: Preserve the driver’s logbook and any data from the truck’s Electronic Logging Device, as this information can provide crucial context about the hours driven and rest periods taken prior to the accident.

4. Dash Cam Footage: If the truck is equipped with a dash cam, secure and save the footage from around the time of the accident. This can provide critical evidence about the circumstances leading up to the accident.

5. Police Report: Obtain a copy of the police report as soon as it’s available. The report will include the responding officer’s observations and may contain information about potential traffic law violations or other contributing factors.

6. Cargo Records: If the truck was carrying cargo, document the state of the cargo after the accident. Damage to the cargo can sometimes provide insights into the dynamics of the accident.

7. Medical Records: If medical attention was sought, keep detailed records of all injuries and treatments received. This documentation is important for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings.

8. Weather and Traffic Conditions: Document the weather and traffic conditions at the time of the accident. This can include taking photos and noting down any unusual conditions.

9. Insurance Information: Exchange insurance information with all parties involved in the accident. This is standard procedure in any vehicle accident.

10. Notes and Personal Account: As soon as possible, write down your own account of what happened, while the details are fresh in your memory. Include any relevant details leading up to the accident, such as road conditions, your speed, and actions taken to avoid the accident.

11. Mechanical Inspection Reports: If a mechanical failure might have contributed to the accident, secure a professional inspection of the truck to identify any potential issues.

Gathering this evidence methodically can significantly help in any subsequent legal or insurance proceedings, providing a clear and comprehensive account of the accident from the driver’s perspective.

At J&Y Law Firm, we recommend seeking professional legal advice from us after being involved in a truck accident. For further guidance or to discuss your specific case, contact J&Y Law Firm at (877) 426-6580, and our team of experienced attorneys will be happy to assist you.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.