Few incidents are more frightening than being seriously injured or losing a loved one in an 18-wheeler accident. If the unthinkable happens, there are important steps to take – and mistakes to avoid – to protect your rights and receive just compensation.
Reach out for the appropriate medical help. In addition to your immediate medical needs, a family physician may be one of the best sources to find out what type of doctor you or a family member may need. If you are already seeing a specialist, be sure to contact an independent medical professional and ask about the specialist’s reputation. Mitchell, Goff and Mitchell, LLP, has years of experience in dealing with medical professionals and can help.
· Get the facts. Truck operators know the value of the prompt investigation of serious accidents and will have someone on the scene shortly afterward to gather the facts. You or a family member should notify your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident and ask them to make a prompt investigation. If possible, get the names of any witnesses, including those of any investigating police officers or the agencies they represent. Don’t try to take detailed statements, instead focus on getting their names, addresses and phone numbers.
· Do not try to settle your case yourself. Adjusters are professionals, but they will not necessarily look out for your interests. Find out if the adjuster represents the trucking company or your insurance company. If the adjuster represents the trucking company, get a business card and tell the adjuster that your attorney will be in contact. If the adjuster presses for the name of your attorney, be polite, but firm, and just repeat that your attorney will contact the adjuster. If the adjuster insists that you provide a statement, make sure that your attorney is present.
· Contact an attorney. After a serious 18-wheeler accident, you or a family member will need an attorney to represent your interests. In most cases, a competent attorney will represent you based on being paid a contingency fee – a legal fee that will be paid based only if there is a settlement. The attorney will conduct a thorough investigation, including acquiring accident-scene photos, the measurement of skid marks and witnesses’ statements, as well as preserve evidence and expert-witnesses’ reports. Mitchell, Goff and Mitchell, LLP, are experienced attorneys in handling truck accident cases. If we take your case, one of the named partners will represent you or your loved one. We never pass cases to another firm as a matter of routine.
· What the attorney should do. Depending on the facts, it is sometimes necessary to impound the 18-wheeler and other vehicles involved in the accident. Truck owners have a duty to properly maintain their equipment. This makes the truck’s owner liable for damages caused by improper maintenance. The truck’s manufacturer may also be liable if the truck’s equipment fails. When possible, this evidence should be preserved for trial or inspection by qualified experts. It is not unheard of for a trucking company to move a truck out-of-state to make discovery more difficult, so prompt action is necessary. It is also frequently necessary for the attorney to obtain expert witnesses who can testify as to cause of the accident. It is always necessary to have medical evidence that will connect you or your loved one’s injuries to the accident, including the cost of past and future medical expenses. The attorneys with Mitchell, Goff & Mitchell, LLP, have years of experience with both types of witnesses and will present your case is the best possible light.