Semi-trucks are a critical part of industry as we know it within the United States. However, these large trucks pose a threat to smaller vehicles while on the road. In 2016, 4,317 fatalities occurred in crashes involving large trucks, a 5.4% increase over 2015. Out of those fatalities, 72.4% were occupants of other vehicles.
Although it’s rare, a truck accident can still happen when you least expect it. To prepare yourself, it’s important to understand what to do after an accident, your rights in Louisiana and what a truck accident case might look like.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
After a truck accident occurs, the aftermath is often a blur. However, there are some critical steps you should take to ensure your safety and the safety of others around you.
Step #1: Report
Just like any other traffic accident, you must stay at the scene. Make sure you’re safe, remove your vehicle from the road if possible and then call 911 to report any injuries. Once law enforcement reaches the scene, they will instruct you on what to do next. Make sure you receive a copy of the accident report for your records.
Step #2: See a Doctor
Get medical attention immediately for any current injuries. Even if you don’t have any emergent injuries that require an emergency room visit, seek medical attention anyway. Visit your doctor as soon as possible after the accident for a check to make sure no injuries are present.
Step #3: Get Information
Exchange information with the truck driver involved in the accident including their name, phone number, address, company, employer, etc. You’ll need this information should you decide to build a case. You should also notice if witnesses are around. If there are, take their statement yourself or get their contact information for the future.
Step #4: Speak with Your Attorney
Before you talk to your insurance company or anyone else for that matter, reach out to your attorney. They will advise you on what you should say and do next to make sure proper compensation is received for your injuries.
What Are My Rights in Louisiana?
Both Louisiana and the federal government have tight regulations that apply to trucking companies such as requiring higher levels of liability insurance and financial security. In Louisiana, you are able to file a negligence claim seeking compensation against the truck driver and the trucking company.
During your case, post-crash investigations and evidence should strengthen your claim, showing the driver at fault. As for the statute of limitations, you have one year from the date of the accident to report both personal injury and property damage.
What Can I Expect During My Truck Accident Case?
During your first consult with your attorney, they will gather information regarding your injuries, damages, any negligent actions by the other party and any information that proves the other party might be responsible. From here, if a case is established, your attorney will investigate, file the official lawsuit and begin the process of discovery.
Most of the time, both parties will agree to mediation instead of going to court. If this is the case, both parties and their attorneys will meet to discuss proper settlement through a third-party mediator. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, a trial will need to occur.
During the trial, your attorney will present the evidence and the defendant will present the other party’s evidence. The jury will deliberate and decide on issues such as the awarding of damages. The entire case could take anywhere from a few months to over a year, depending on the needs of your case.
What Amount of Compensation Can I Receive?
In each case, the amount of compensation is unique, depending on many factors. Compensation will be determined by the number of damages such as injuries and property damage that were involved in the truck accident.
Some of these damages can also include pain and suffering, loss of consortium and punitive damages against a defendant. The amount of compensation you seek can be determined by speaking with your attorney first.
Receive Legal Advice from an Attorney
The most important piece of advice to remember is this: seek legal advice from your attorney. A truck accident is a stressful time, but requires skill to navigate, especially if a negligence claim is involved. Proper evidence will need to be gathered to build your case. If you have suffered injury or other damages resulting from a semi-truck accident, speak to an attorney today.