Most people in South Carolina who are involved in tractor-trailer accidents do not know what to do in the immediate aftermath. Suffering serious injuries in an unexpected accident with a large truck can be devastating, and you might not know what to do.
If you are struck by a semi-truck, taking the right steps can help you to protect the potential rights to recover damages for your economic and noneconomic losses. Here is some information about what to do after a tractor-trailer accident and what you might expect.
I just got hit by a tractor-trailer. What do I do?
It is common for people to feel a rush of adrenaline when they are struck by tractor-trailers. This can make you feel confused and unsure of how to handle the situation. Immediately after your accident, try to remain as calm as possible and assess the situation. Determine whether you are injured, and check others involved in the accident for any injuries.
Call 911 to summon the police and emergency medical personnel, and remain at the scene until the police arrive. Never leave the scene of an accident until you are cleared to do so. If you leave without waiting for the police, you could be criminally charged even if the accident was not your fault.
While you are waiting, ask for the names and contact information for everyone involved in the accident and any witnesses who might have seen what occurred. If you can, take pictures of the truck and your vehicle as well as any other cars that might have been involved. Try to take pictures of the accident scene itself, including pictures of traffic signs, the weather, skid marks, and other relevant information.
When the police arrive, tell the officers what happened in the moments leading up to the accident and during the accident itself. Never apologize or admit fault. Even if you believe that you might have contributed to the accident’s cause, there may be factors that caused your accident of which you are unaware.
You should also make sure to get medical attention. Some injuries may not immediately show symptoms. Getting prompt medical care is important for helping to prevent your injuries from worsening and for demonstrating a clear link between your injuries and the truck accident.
After you have sought medical treatment, you should expect to be contacted by the trucking company’s insurance company. The insurance company representative may seem as if he or she truly cares about your injuries and your well-being.
Remember that the insurance company representative works for the insurance company and has the company’s best interests in mind rather than yours.
The adjuster or representative might ask you to give a recorded statement. You should never agree to provide a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. The companies use information from the statements that victims provide to them to use against them in their legal claims.
You should also not agree to any early settlement offer that might be presented to you by the insurance company. These types of offers are often far less than the value of your damages. If you agree to accept a settlement offer, you will be precluded from seeking additional compensation later when you realize that the amount was insufficient to cover your losses.
You also should not agree to sign a medical authorization form for the insurance company. The company might tell you that they need your permission to access your medical records to verify the extent and nature of your injuries.
In reality, the companies use medical authorizations from accident victims to comb through their medical histories in an attempt to blame the injuries on an earlier incident.
When you are asked to give a statement or to sign documents, simply tell the insurance company representative that you want to talk to a semi-truck accident lawyer before you will talk or sign anything. Finally, schedule a consultation with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
Am I owed money after an 18-wheeler accident?
Whether you might be entitled to recover damages after an 18-wheeler accident will depend on the determination of liability. If you contributed to the accident’s cause, you might or might not be entitled to recover compensation for your losses. South Carolina follows a modified comparative fault standard.
Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-1-300, contributing to an accident will not prevent you from recovering compensation as long as your negligence does not exceed the negligence of the other involved party. This means that you will be allowed to recover compensation in a negligence lawsuit filed against the truck driver and his or her employer as long as you were 50% or less at fault. If you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you will not be able to recover damages.
If you were partially at fault, the percentage of fault that is attributed to you will be subtracted from your total damages award. For example, if you receive a gross verdict of $1 million but are found to be 35% at fault, your net verdict will be reduced by 35% to $650,000.
Who pays my medical bills?
Truck accidents often cause severe injuries that require extensive medical care and rehabilitation. As a result, it is common for medical bills to start piling up quickly. You can use your health insurance to pay for your medical bills as they arise. Alternatively, your lawyer can help to establish medical liens against your potential future settlement or judgment award. He or she might also help you to secure an agreement from your healthcare providers to defer your payments until the resolution of your legal claim.
Who fixes my car?
A truck accident can result in extensive damage to your vehicle. In many cases, vehicles that are struck by semi-trucks are deemed to be total losses. The insurance company will send an adjuster to inspect your car and assess the damages. You may be asked to take your vehicle to a shop for an estimate. In many cases, the property damage portion of an injury accident claim can be handled much faster than the injury portion of the claim.
If the truck driver’s insurance company is disputing liability, you can have your vehicle repaired with your policy’s comprehensive and collision coverage. Your company can then file a claim against the trucking company’s insurance policy to recover the amount that it spent to repair or replace your vehicle. You might also be able to get a rental car while you are waiting for your vehicle to be repaired through the truck driver’s insurance or your policy.
How much money can I expect if I am hurt in an accident involving a truck?
The value of a claim will depend on multiple factors. Because every accident is unique, a lawyer can’t give you a quick value over the phone. Instead, he or she will have to investigate your claim to properly value it. Some of the categories of compensation that you might recover following a truck accident include the following:
- Current medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of your earning capacity
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Disfigurement and scarring
Get help from the Lovely Law Firm
It can be overwhelming to be injured in an accident caused by a tractor-trailer. You might be left facing mounting expenses while you are dealing with your injuries. The attorneys at the Lovely Law Firm are experienced with handling Myrtle Beach truck accident claims and are available to help you. Contact us today to schedule a free truck accident consultation by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 843.839.4111.