A car hit by a semi truck can crumple like an accordion. When you are hit by a semi weighing close to 80,000 pounds, life turns upside down in a split second.
The pain and the shock would be enough to overwhelm you all by themselves, but now you must deal with financial distress as well. Nobody can undo your accident.
A skilled personal injury lawyer, however, can see to it that you receive full compensation for all your losses.
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately
Seek medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident, even if you don’t think you are injured. Some types of serious injury, such as traumatic brain injury, might not produce symptoms immediately.
Nevertheless, “I was hit by a semi truck” should be enough to get you an immediate medical examination. Don’t delay treatment, because medical records are important evidence.
Your claim is useless without evidence, even if you are in the right. You are going to need to determine the cause of the accident. The most common causes of truck accidents are:
- Malfunctioning brakes,
- Distracted driving,
- Blind spot accidents,
- Intoxicated driving,
- Tire blowouts,
- Overloaded cargo, and
- Falling debris.
One of the most effective ways to gather evidence is to file a lawsuit. Your lawyer can then use the discovery process to demand evidence from the defendant and third parties. If the defendant refuses, you can seek a court order.
You might, for example, seek the truck’s “black box” to prove how fast the truck was traveling at the time of the accident, or you might seek the driver’s cell phone records.
Prove That the Truck Driver Was Negligent
Determining the cause of the accident might turn out to be the most important step in proving liability. Under Ohio’s legal principle of negligence per se, if you can trace the accident to the violation of a trucking regulation, you can establish negligence.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will know trucking regulations by heart, and they will know where to look to prove a violation. If you can show that the driver violated a trucking regulation, you can prove that the driver was negligent. You can also prove negligence through independent means, even if the truck driver did not violate a specific regulation.
Prove That the Truck Driver’s Negligence Actually Caused the Accident
Once you establish negligence, whether or not due to the violation of a trucking regulation, you will need to prove that the truck driver’s negligence was a substantial cause of the accident. All the negligence in the world will make no difference if the negligence did not actually cause the accident.
You might, for example, use cell phone records to prove that the driver was talking on their cell phone at the moment of the accident. You might also use eyewitness testimony to establish that the driver was dozing off at a nearby truck stop, which could suggest that the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Prove the Amount of Damages You Suffered
Once you establish negligence and causation, you can hold the truck driver liable for all your losses, both tangible and intangible. Damages could include:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost income,
- Out-of-pocket expenses,
- Pain and suffering,
- Psychological distress, and
- Punitive damages (in extreme cases such as a DUI accident).
Keep a diary in which you record your day-to-day experiences with your injuries—how much you suffered, what you could not do, etc. Intangible damages such as pain and suffering might amount to well over half of your total recovery.
To Sue or to Settle?
In all likelihood, you will resolve your claim at the settlement table rather than in court. When a semi hits a car, the insurance company generally does not want to go to court and face a jury. You do need to be ready to win in court, however.
Otherwise, you will have no bargaining power. Select a lawyer with a track record of winning in court, and then let them do the negotiating for you. Your lawyer cannot agree to a settlement without your permission.
Decisive Action Makes the Difference
If you or your loved one has been injured or killed in an accident caused by a semi truck, call Aaron Bensinger, a partner at Balyeat, Leahy, Daley, Miller & Bensinger, LLC, at 419-595-4544 or contact us online for a free case review.
We serve clients throughout Northwest Ohio and beyond from our offices in Lima, Ohio.