Truck Wrecks - Why do I need a lawyer?
To protect you. If you don’t have a good lawyer, insurance companies will take advantage of you. They will try to record your statement right after the wreck -- DO NOT GIVE A STATEMENT without your lawyer present. The insurance company may try to get you to sign away your claim, so DON'T SIGN ANYTHING without your lawyer’s approval. The insurance company will definitely try to pay you MUCH LESS than your claim is really worth, so DON'T NEGOTIATE without your lawyer.
I was just in an accident with a truck. What do I do?
Get everyone to safety, get or give emergency first aid, and call 911. Don’t move the vehicles before the authorities arrive unless safety require you to. Don’t leave the scene before law enforcement arrives (that is a crime) absent a medical emergency.
Cooperate with the authorities and everyone else, but don’t admit fault. Answer questions truthfully and factually, but don’t apologize or say you did something wrong. Take photos of everything including the truck’s license plate, and the truck driver's insurance card. Don’t leave without getting the truck driver’s contact and insurance information (look at their insurance card and driver's license yourself).
Go to the hospital or your doctor ASAP. Tell them exactly what happened, and do what they tell you to do. If you didn’t go to the hospital right after the accident, go to the Emergency Room or your doctor as soon as you can. Delay in getting treatment can be very bad, so don’t wait. Participate in your care -- ask about getting x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, etc. Keep all your medical follow-up and therapy appointments, do all the therapy and exercises, and take all the prescribed medicine, even if you already feel better. If you have health insurance, give every medical provider your health insurance card, and insist they bill everything to your health insurance. If you don't have health insurance, it is still critical for you to get appropriate medical care, so ask Lewis Coppedge about other ways to pay for your treatment.
Report the accident to the trucking company's insurance company and to your own, no matter what the truck driver says or promises. Do not agree not to report the accident, even if the truck driver begs you. Write down your claim numbers and each adjuster's name and phone number. Ask for a rental car, and ask your insurance company what your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) policy limits are. Cooperate with both insurance companies, but DO NOT GIVE A STATEMENT without your lawyer present.
Most trucks are required to carry much more insurance than most cars do, so you need to hire a lawyer immediately to collect the evidence and other information necessary to make sure you are fully compensated for your injuries.
Call your lawyer, preferably a specialist who is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law, like Lewis Coppedge. Lewis has been Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law since 1995, and Lewis regularly deals with personal injury cases including truck accidents. Make sure to tell Lewis if you have “full coverage” on your vehicle, including Personal Injury Protection (called “PIP,” which will help pay your medical bills) as well as Uninsured/Underinsured coverage ("UM," which pays if the other driver does not carry enough insurance to cover ALL your damages).
Ultimately, your job is to focus on getting well. Be smart about it, and do everything your doctors and therapists recommend. Medical research shows that many symptoms from truck wreck injuries, especially soft-tissue injuries or Whiplash, can be hidden and may not surface until weeks after the wreck, so pay close attention to any changes, pains, or anything else unusual. Report them immediately to your doctor and ask what to do about them.
Do I really need a lawyer to represent me?
Yes, because if you don’t, the insurance companies will take advantage of you. No law forces you to have your own lawyer, but the other side will have a team of claims handlers whose job is to minimize your claim. So unless you have lots of experience handling all the different aspects of truck accident cases, you simply will not have the training, skills, experience, and specialty knowledge to avoid being shorted.
Truck accidents are complicated. They involve multiple layers of insurance (the trucker’s liability insurance policy, your auto policy, your health insurance, and maybe more), each of which has multiple and distinct coverages (liability, UM/UIM, PIP, med pay, etc.). The language and technical terms can be confusing and frustrating. The adjusters never explain which piece of the puzzle they are dealing with, what the other pieces are, who will handle what, what else is coming up or going on behind the scenes, what your case is really worth, and all the other things you really need to know to handle your case properly. Going it alone is foolish, or even reckless. Trying to do it all yourself, without a knowledgeable lawyer representing your interests, puts you at a terrible disadvantage.
The economic pressures caused by a truck accident can be overwhelming. Many people cannot pay their medical bills, and do not know how to handle the collections agencies. A Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer, like Lewis Coppedge, can help you get the treatment you need, and keep the bill collectors off your back. If your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company may try not to provide you a rental vehicle, try to pay you less than what it is worth, and try to leave you still owing more on it. Lewis Coppedge can help you understand your options and avoid that.
If your injuries keep you out of work, you may lose your income. Lewis Coppedge can help you get full compensation for your lost wages, plus any loss of wages or wage earning capacity in the future.
Remember, you only have this one wreck to deal with, but the insurance adjuster handling your case may be handling hundreds of other cases. Insurance companies profit by making their adjuster pay you less than your claim is worth. Insurance adjusters will be FIRED if they pay you “too much.” To keep them honest, you need an experienced lawyer who knows all the angles and will fight for you. You need someone who knows the ropes. Someone who will look out for you and make sure you are treated fairly.