After a serious truck accident, your safety should be your priority. However, a close second should be contacting an experienced injury lawyer so they can start an investigation into your claim. Building your case early on can strengthen your claims and help you make a financial recovery. Read on to learn why.
Start Building Your Truck Accident Claim Immediately
Most people don’t start thinking about insurance claims and lawsuits right away after a serious truck accident, and that’s understandable. However, you need to remember that your medical bills and other costs from the crash will mount over time, and taking legal action may be the only way for you to address those costs. To help your case, it’s vital that you preserve important evidence and document the crash as best you can.
If possible, you should:
- Call 911 immediately and cooperate fully with the police investigation
- Seek medical care for your injuries and attend all follow-up appointments
- Take pictures of the crash site and your injuries
- Get contact information for the truck driver, the trucking company, and any witnesses
- Obtain the truck driver’s insurance information
This basic information will help your attorney assess the situation and give them the tools they need to begin a more detailed investigation.
However, trucking accidents often lead to serious injuries, and you may be too injured or too busy with medical treatment after the crash to gather all this information. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can help you with every step of the process, but you can make their work easier and give your case the best chance of success if you contact them as soon as possible after the wreck.
Over Time, Memories Fade and Witnesses Disappear
If you’ve been injured in a collision with a truck in Oklahoma, the law allows you a two-year window to file a truck accident claim against the driver or trucking company. However, if you wait that long, it might be impossible to find the people who witnessed the crash. And even if you find them, they may no longer remember all the details of the event.
Memory is unreliable and fades quickly, which means it’s always best to get witness statements early on. When you get a written or recorded statement from an eyewitness, you can use this information throughout your claim and can even refresh a witness’ memory with it at trial.
The Trucking Company and Its Insurer Will Aggressively Fight Your Liability Claims
After a truck crash, the insurance company for the trucking carrier will likely rush an “emergency response team” to the scene. This team’s goal is to help the trucking and insurance companies avoid liability. To accomplish this goal, they’ll try to spin the evidence so that it shifts blame to other parties, including the crash victims. Sometimes, important evidence “disappears” in the wake of their investigation.
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However, the insurance company won’t stop there. They will also scrutinize your claim and look for any reason to deny it. They might argue that you had pre-existing conditions, that your actions contributed to the crash, or that your medical care is either unreasonable, unnecessary, or both.
To counteract the insurance company’s aggressive strategies, you’ll need an experienced truck accident lawyer who can anticipate these tactics and fight them with evidence and knowledge of the law.
Trucking Companies Don’t Have to Keep Evidence Forever
Federal and state trucking regulations say that trucking companies and truck drivers must keep detailed records regarding time on the road, truck maintenance, and other important information. If the driver or company violated these regulations, their failure to comply could provide powerful evidence in a truck accident claim.
For example, driver fatigue is one of the top causes of truck accidents. Truck drivers are typically limited to driving 11 hours per day for safety reasons. After that, the law requires them to take a 10-hour rest period. To make sure drivers comply with these hours-of-service regulations, each driver must keep a detailed logbook that records their activities. When a driver breaks the hours-of-service rules (usually because of pressure from their employer) and causes a wreck, the driver’s logs play an important role in any legal action that follows.
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However, the law allows trucking companies to destroy these records after a certain amount of time. While the companies must keep records indefinitely if they’re related to a crash or ongoing litigation, sometimes companies simply dispose of crash-related records anyway. The best way to prevent the trucking company from destroying important evidence in your case is to work with an attorney who can send an official letter demanding that the company preserve all records related to the crash that injured you.
There are also certain types of evidence that the trucking companies can destroy or erase almost immediately. Modern semi trucks contain an array of electronic devices that track the truck’s speed and mechanical functions as well as the driver’s behavior. These systems, which are sometimes called telematics systems, help trucking companies track their drivers and vehicles.
Telematics data is also incredibly valuable to truck accident lawyers, who can use it to reconstruct the crash and uncover the factors that caused it. However, unless you work with a lawyer and compel the trucking companies to preserve this evidence, they will destroy it before long.
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Finally, defective parts and poor maintenance practices often play a role in truck accidents. When injury or wrongful death claims result from these crashes, the parts in question and the truck’s maintenance records provide critical evidence.
However, the trucking company will typically repair its trucks quickly and get rid of the damaged parts since they want to get their vehicle back on the road and making money as soon as possible. And the law only requires trucking companies to retain their repair and maintenance records for 6 to 12 months. Again, the best way to prevent the trucking company from destroying this important evidence is to work with an attorney who can send an official preservation letter.
Contact Atkins & Markoff for Help if You’ve Been Injured in a Truck Accident in Oklahoma
At Atkins & Markoff, we have the resources and experience needed to handle complex truck crash cases. We’re here to listen to your story, and we’ll fight relentlessly to get you justice and compensation if we can take your case.
If you’ve been seriously injured or even lost a loved one in a crash involving a tractor-trailer or other large truck, contact Atkins & Markoff today by calling 405-607-8757 or by filling out our quick and simple online contact form. We’ll get back to you right away. Your initial consultation is free, and we handle all personal injury cases on a ”no-recovery, no-fee” basis, so you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless we get you a settlement or win your case in court.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.