Being involved in something as serious as a Chicago truck accident will undoubtedly have an impact on your life, possibly resulting in serious injuries or even the death of a loved one. Your actions after the crash will have an impact on any potential settlement or injury claim to which you may be entitled, so it is important that you take the time to become familiar with the steps to take after a Chicago truck accident.
The most important thing to remember is to stay calm and do your best to ensure both your own safety and that of your passengers. Next, it would be in your best interest to contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer who is experienced in truck accidents.
Directly After the Truck Accident
As with any serious accident, first and foremost, you must call the police. Documentation of your Chicago truck accident, i.e. a police report, will prove invaluable in your injury claim. Also, officers who have dealt with such accidents in the past will be able to handle the situation far more efficiently than other individuals on the scene.
Your safety and that of your passengers is the first priority. Be sure you both receive immediate medical attention at the scene of the accident. If you cannot do this yourself, the police should facilitate care for those in need. Even if you do not think you need medical attention at that time, know that many accident injuries do not emerge until days or weeks after the trauma.
Collect as much evidence at the scene of the crash as your injuries will allow. This includes:
- Photographs of the damage to all vehicles;
- Witness names and contact information;
- Photos of the roadway, including evidence of skid marks and crash debris; and
- Your own notes of the circumstances that led to the crash.
While you are at the truck accident scene, do not admit any fault, apologize to anyone or engage in conversation with any witnesses or any one else involved in the crash, beyond getting complete contact information. When you speak with the police officer, or even your own auto insurance provider, stick to the facts and do not answer any questions that are not asked.
Be Guarded In Your Speech
Until you have had the chance to speak with a Chicago personal injury lawyer that knows how to investigate and settle truck accident cases, you should limit what you say to anyone. Any seemingly innocent comment could be taken as an admission of fault and/or used against you to lower the value of your claim. Particularly damning statements include:
- Open admissions of fault;
- A statement to the other driver indicating that “your employer will cover it”; and
- Any statements such as, “I didn’t see him” or “it came out of nowhere.”
This does not mean you should lie; when you do speak you should always speak the truth. After an accident, you may be injured, disoriented and scared. This is not the time to speculate about fault, particularly your own. Remember that it is far too early to know who caused what, and as such, it is in your best interest to stick only to the facts when speaking with authorities about your truck accident.
Medical Record Releases and Property Damage Estimates
Two types of documents that can severely impact the amount of damages you are eligible to collect through your Illinois truck accident claim are medical records and property damage estimates. In many cases the truck drivers’ insurance company will ask you to sign a release to allow them access to your medical records. Insurance companies also employ their own property damage estimators.
The danger of releasing your medical records to the other insurance company is that if you do not have your Chicago truck accident lawyer review the release statement, you may be allowing them access to previous medical records unrelated to your Illinois truck accident.
For example, if you sustain a back injury as a result of your Illinois truck accident, and the insurance company has access to old medical records that show you had back surgery 5 years prior, they can potentially use this as evidence to deny or significantly reduce your claim.
Property damage estimates that come from an insurance company or a contracted company are often much lower than most independent estimates. Approving a property damage estimate too early in the claims process can leave victims with higher repair bills because they accepted a low offer. Victims are often desperate for financial assistance and will accept these initial offers just to get the ball rolling on their settlement.
Do not accept any sort of check or settlement letter from an insurance company until your Chicago truck accident lawyer can review it. Many of these early settlements include fine print that can prevent you from requesting further compensation for future medical treatment that may come to light.
Until you are cleared by your doctor that no further medical treatment is necessary for your injuries, or a detailed treatment plan including long-term medical expense estimates has been drawn up, you should wait on signing any settlement offers. There are many unknown factors in the future of your medical and personal needs that shouldn’t be neglected in an early settlement.Hiring a Chicago Truck Accident LawyerTo prevent unintentional damage to your Illinois truck accident claim, you should seek the help of an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. By allowing your lawyer to help you handle the paperwork, reporting, and development of your claim, you better the chances of obtaining a fair settlement.
A Chicago truck accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. knows how to deal with both personal car insurance companies and the insurance companies serving the truck companies. Contact us today for a free case evaluation – 312-263-1080.