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What Can I Do to Protect My Rights After an Atlanta Truck Accident?

What Can I Do to Protect My Rights After an Atlanta Truck Accident?Being involved in any kind of motor vehicle accident can be scary but being involved in a truck accident – especially if you are in a passenger vehicle – can be downright terrifying. And with good reason: The average passenger car weighs about 4,000+ pounds, according to a 2022 study from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In contrast, the average tractor-trailer tips the scales at approximately 80,000 pounds when fully loaded and around 35,000 pounds when empty.

Whether a truck is full or empty, it clearly has the advantage in an accident. Any car accident has the potential to cause serious injury or even death, but the odds increase when the accident involves a truck. And when it does, those serious injuries and deaths are more likely to occur in the passenger vehicle. According to the independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly 5,000 people in the U.S. died in large truck crashes in 2021. Of those deaths, 16% were truck occupants, while “68% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.”

Even a truck accident that does not result in a fatality can still cause severe physical injuries and mental and emotional trauma. Understanding and protecting your rights if you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident is imperative. Trucking companies have powerful insurance companies with attorneys whose sole responsibility is to protect the company from liability whenever possible. When an accident occurs, it is their goal to place the blame squarely on the other driver.

How can I protect my rights after an Atlanta truck accident?

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, including when and where a truck accident takes place, there may not be eyewitnesses or camera footage to help explain what caused the accident and who is at fault. What you say to the police and anyone else at the scene of the accident is important, as it may be used to document the accident. Trucking companies and their insurers are not eager to write large checks to people who are hurt in truck accidents – or to the loved ones of those killed in deadly truck accidents. To protect yourself and your rights after a truck accident, you should:

  • Get a police report. The police report is the first documentation of the truck accident, and it is vital to have one even if the accident seems minor. When you give your account of what took place, describe the accident to the best of your ability. Be honest, clear, and concise, and provide only the facts of what happened – do not speculate in any way. Above all, do not admit fault in any way. Your insurance company and your truck accident attorney will send experienced accident investigators to analyze the scene and all the details of the accident – as will the trucking company’s insurance company and attorneys – to help determine what happened and who caused the accident. Preemptively admitting to, or suggesting, that you may be even partially to blame for the accident may impact the outcome of your case.
  • Gather information. If you, someone from your vehicle, or a loved one who comes to the scene can safely do so, it is important to gather as much information as possible. This includes:
    • Photos of the scene, including the position of the truck and your vehicle, any visible damage to the truck or your car, the location where the accident took place, the roadway and any signage or traffic signals, etc.;
    • The name and contact information for the trucking company; and
    • The truck driver’s name, contact information, insurance information, driver’s license number, and the license plate of the truck.
    • The police will likely include much of this same information in the police report, along with a sketch of the accident scene. However, photos often tell a much clearer story of what occurred, and any documentation you gather at the accident scene may help your insurance company and truck accident lawyer.
  • Seek medical attention. Getting the proper medical attention after a truck accident is critical because it may save your life and document your injuries. Of course, you will go to the hospital if you have suffered a serious or catastrophic injury, any broken bones, a head injury, are bleeding, or are showing other outward signs of injury. However, if you do not have any visible injuries, it may be your first instinct to say that you are fine and refuse medical attention at the scene of the accident. This is a common mistake. Adrenaline can run high after an accident, masking the pain of injuries. What may seem like only a minor ache can in fact turn out to be a serious internal injury or soft-tissue damage like whiplash or another spinal cord injury which can require expensive, and often ongoing, medical treatment. Serious or catastrophic injuries may require a lifetime of medical treatment and care, leaving you unable to provide financially for yourself or your family.

Additionally, even a seemingly minor truck accident can cause serious mental and emotional trauma that can impact your daily life, your career, and take a toll on your physical health. Even if you do not leave the scene of the accident in an ambulance, it is important that you get checked out by a physician as soon as possible if you feel any type of aches, pain, or stiffness following the truck accident. Having a doctor or other medical professional document your injuries can play a vital role in determining what compensation, if any, you are entitled to for the injuries you suffered. Any unreasonable delay in seeking medical attention may open the door for the trucking company’s lawyers to claim that your injuries are not as severe as you claim or that your pain and suffering is not real.

  • Contact an experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyer before speaking to the trucking company or accepting any settlement. The trucking company’s goal will be to settle your claim for as little compensation as possible, even if they are 100% at fault for the accident or if you or a loved one suffered serious or catastrophic injuries. The trucking company or their insurer will offer what they claim is a generous settlement, but in reality, is the lowest amount deemed “reasonable” and will likely not cover your expenses related to the accident — or come close to compensating you for your injuries, expenses, and pain and suffering. The medical care and financial support that you or your loved one may require after a truck accident cannot be calculated quickly and must be determined by experts – not lawyers who are looking for a fast and cheap settlement. Georgia recognizes the mental and emotional trauma an accident like this can have on an individual or family, and therefore does not place a cap, or limit, on compensation for pain and suffering experienced in a truck accident.
  • Keep a list of your expenses. In a personal injury lawsuit, especially one involving a truck accident, every penny counts – and they can add up quickly. It is important to maintain a list of any expenses related to the accident, such as:
    • Medical bills such as:
      • Doctor co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses;
      • Prescription medications;
      • Over-the-counter medications;
      • Medical equipment or devices (e.g., a brace, crutches, etc.); and
      • The cost of any tests, surgeries, or other procedures.
    • Lost wages due to missing work because of your physical, mental, or emotional injuries.
    • Loss of future earning if your ability to do your job was impacted by your injuries.
    • Vehicle damage, including the cost of repairing or replacing your car, and any out-of-pocket expenses while your car is undrivable.

Protect your rights after a truck accident in Atlanta

If you or a loved one were involved in an accident with a big rig or commercial truck in the Atlanta area, it is important that you protect yourself and your rights. The trucking company and their insurer will do their best to shift the blame for the accident onto you rather than admit to any liability and take responsibility for the negligence of their driver or any defect with their truck.

Speaking with a skilled Atlanta truck accident attorney before agreeing to any settlement is the best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones. Georgia law allows accident victims up to two years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury lawsuit, so there is no reason to rush to a settlement and accept more compensation than you are entitled to and may need to cover medical and other expenses related to the accident. The Atlanta truck accident lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP are experienced in all aspects of truck accident cases. We understand the rules and regulations of the trucking industry, and we know exactly how trucking companies and their lawyers operate – and how to build a case against them. Serving the greater Atlanta area from our office in Brookhaven, we fight for our clients and have a proven track record of securing high-value outcomes for those we represent. We can do the same for you. Give us a call or complete our contact form today to schedule a free consultation.

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