We all know how to file a claim after a car crash, but what about the truck accident claims process? Does being involved in a collision with a semi-truck change how that process works? And if so, how?
Today’s blog discusses how the accident claims process works for big rigs accidents. Navigating the claims process is a very stressful experience, so let us guide you through it.
At the Scene of the Accident
Call the Police
The truck accident claims process technically begins at the scene of the accident since that is where you’ll gather most of the evidence you’ll use in the claims process.
The first thing you’ll want to do is call 911 to report the accident. Police will come to the scene and fill out a report. You’ll want to get a copy of that report. It will help you with the insurance claims process.
Assess Your Injuries
Ambulances usually accompany police to the accident scene. Even if the accident seems minor, a driver or passenger could be injured. Emergency first responders will provide an on-site physical examination to detect any injuries. Anyone who’s injured will be transported to the hospital for further care.
It’s critical to document everything. To begin, you’ll want a photo of the other driver’s ID and auto insurance cards, as well as pictures of the accident scene. Take pictures from every angle you can so that you have plenty of evidence showing how the accident happened.
Take photos from your angle as well as the other driver’s angle. Get up-close and far-away shots of the accident and, most importantly, the damage. We recommend taking as many photos as you can since it’s better to have more than you need vs. not having enough. You’ll also want to take some notes.
You’ll want to make sure that your photos or notes document the following:
- The other driver’s car, including the year, make, model, color, and license plate number
- The exact location of the accident; take note of cross streets and nearby landmarks
- Names and phone numbers of all witnesses involved
- When the police arrived, along with each officer’s name and badge number
- The names and ages of all drivers involved
- The exact date and time of the accident
- How fast each driver was going
- What the weather conditions were like
- Road conditions
After the Accident
Create a Chain of Evidence for Your Injuries
The truck accident claims process involves your injuries, too. If you are injured, having documentation of your injury at the accident scene will help prevent the other driver’s insurance company from claiming that your injuries are unrelated to the accident.
If you are injured but not enough to go to the hospital, go to your primary care provider or local urgent care. This will create a chain of evidence linking your injuries to the accident.
Whose insurance company you call depends on where you live and who was at fault in the accident. In Utah, accidents are “no-fault,” meaning that you report the accident to your insurance company regardless of who hits who. They will pay for a portion of your car repairs and medical bills. Your policy determines the amount they pay.
Utah also has a “comparative negligence” law that works in tandem with its no-fault status. This means that both drivers can be at fault to different extents. If you are less than 50% responsible for an accident in Utah, you can collect compensation for the accident.
If you live in an “at-fault” state, the driver who caused the accident is responsible. Sometimes, blame is 100% one driver’s fault, but it can be 50/50 or unequal. For example, it could be 60/40 or 80/20.
In an at-fault state, this means that both parties are partially responsible. The more fault you have, the more your insurance company will pay the other driver. If you’re 80% responsible for the crash, then your insurance company will pay for 80% of the other driver’s costs. But, in an at-fault state, you can collect 20% of damages from the other party if you’re only 80% responsible.
Being partially or wholly responsible for an accident in an at-fault state is not good since it will cause the cost of your insurance to go up.
The Severity of the Accident
What sets truck accidents apart from car accidents is how much worse they can be. The sheer size of a truck makes it much more challenging to drive, so driver error is often considered.
But regardless of driver error, a big rig smashing into a car can cause far more devastation than two cars colliding with each other.
Suing the Truck Driver and Trucking Company
When you’re in an accident with a truck driver, you can sue them through their insurance company. Not only that, but, likely, you can also sue the truck company they drive for. That’s what sets the truck accident claims process apart from car accidents.
Trucking companies are responsible for training their drivers. This includes ensuring they have proper credentials, certifications, and licenses to operate a truck. They must also follow federal, state, and company guidelines for driving their vehicle. If they fail to do any of this, the company they work for can be held liable for insufficient training.
The only caveat to this is if the truck driver is an independent contractor instead of an employee. Trucking companies are liable for their employees, but their liability for independent contractors is more limited if they have any liability at all.
Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton
Now you know what information to collect at the accident scene, the importance of getting medical help, and how insurance works. It’s a lot to take in, isn’t it?
That’s why we highly recommend hiring an attorney to help you handle the aftermath of crashing with a truck. This is especially true if you want to sue the truck driver.
While many claims are settled between insurance companies, suing is different. Some documents must be filed with the court and hearings to attend. It can quickly get very overwhelming.
Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton has represented truck accident victims for over 25 years. We specialize in the truck accident claims process and work hard to get you the compensation you deserve for your car repairs, injuries, and pain and suffering.
Being in an accident is never fun. No one ever plans to be in one. So, allow us to take the stress off your shoulders. We’ll be with you every step of the way. Contact us today for your free case evaluation.