Can I Sue for Being Hit by a Semi Truck?

January 25, 2021 | Chris Costello, Esq.

Can I Sue if I Have Been Hit by a Semi Truck Driver?

If you have been hit by a semi truck you likely have injuries and damages to your vehicle and are wondering if you can sue for damages. The short answer is yes, you can sue the semi truck’s insurance carrier and driver IF the semi truck driver was at fault for the crash. 

The days following a semi truck accident are often traumatic and exhausting for injured victims. In addition to the pain and emotional turmoil, you may be concerned about paying medical expenses, especially if you cannot work due to your injuries. A tractor trailer accident lawyer can help you obtain a settlement that covers your costs so that you can focus on recovery.

Semi Truck Accidents 

Commercial vehicles often weigh 80,000 pounds or more, while the average four-door sedan weighs between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds. The force of the impact frequently has devastating results for the occupants of the car. If you are involved in a collision with a semi truck, receiving medical care is a priority. You should go to the doctor, even if you don’t think your injuries are serious. One of the most common tactics insurance companies use to devalue your claim is to use your medical records against you. From their perspective, if you didn’t seek medical care after the crash, your injuries aren’t severe.

An experienced tractor trailer accident lawyer can help you understand the compensation you deserve for damages. Several factors affect the value of a semi truck accident cases:

  • Who was at fault for the crash
  • Property damage to your vehicle 
  • Impaired earning capacity and lost wages
  • Total medical expenses for accident related injuries 
  • Pain and suffering due to semi truck accident injuries 

Do I have a Semi Truck Accident Claim?

An experienced semi truck accident lawyer can help meet with you and discuss whether you have the grounds for pursuing a claim. When helping you determine if you have a case your lawyer needs certain facts pertaining to the crash:

  1. How many vehicles were involved?
  2. How big was the commercial truck?
  3. What type of truck was it (e.g., tanker truck, tractor trailer, flatbed, moving truck, construction vehicle)?
  4. Condition of the truck
  5. Number of occupants of all vehicles involved 
  6. License plate
  7. Any additional identifying information

If your vehicle needed repairs, take receipts that detail the work done and the cost. This helps establish the extent of the damage. If you used one or more rental cars while yours was in the shop, get those receipts too.

Semi Truck Accident Accident Evidence

If you took pictures at the accident scene or images of your vehicle after the crash, take them to your initial consultation, or send them to your lawyer ahead of the meeting. 

Request a copy of the police report as soon as you can. It often has additional information the attorney needs, such as the contact information of other accident victims. The report may also list eyewitnesses and their account of the accident.

Tractor Trailer Accident Injuries 

If you have any injuries from the crash it is very important you seek medical attention right away.

Although you don’t need your entire medical history to get started, it is useful to have the records related to your accident injuries. Depending on the details of your case, you may need records of your full history as the case progresses. If you have personal injury protection benefits, you must meet specific requirements and be diagnosed shortly after the accident.

Your lawyer needs the contact information for any doctor you have seen, prescribed medications with dosages and diagnosed medical conditions. Include the names and data for any physical therapists, chiropractors or other medical professionals you have seen, including massage therapists. If you made purchases for equipment, such as for a TENS unit, over-the-counter pain relievers, crutches, or wheelchairs, take the receipts with you. These costs can be reimbursed as part of your compensation.

As you seek medical treatment it is very helpful if you can keep a complete list of all the medical providers you see and include the dates you visit each provider. This list will help your accident attorney make sure they have a complete set of your medical records if they are needed for a settlement. 

Semi Truck Accident Lost Wage Accident Claim 

If your injuries prevent you from returning to work, your semi truck settlement may include reimbursement for lost wages. To calculate this value, your lawyer needs to know:

  • How much you make
  •  Where you work
  • Your role 
  • How long you have worked there
  •  A copy of a recent paystub should be among the documents you bring to your meeting. 

If you have returned to work or have received workers’ compensation benefits due to the accident, take documentation reflecting this as well.

How long do Semi Truck Accident Settlements Take? 

There is no short direct answer for how long a semi truck accident settlement process can take. Every case is different and it greatly varies based on the facts surrounding the wreck. 

In 2018, more than 100,000 big rigs were involved in injury crashes. Of those accidents, there were nearly 5,000 fatalities. While few truck occupants were hurt, most occupants in the other vehicles involved in an accident were. If the bills are piling up and you or a loved one is struggling to recover from your injuries, an experienced commercial truck accident attorney can help you keep your case on track.

Quick Semi Truck Accident Settlement Offers 

The truck driver’s insurance company may contact you within a few days of the crash with a settlement offer. This offer typically arrives before you fully understand the severity of your injuries or how your recovery will look. Don’t accept any offer without seeking legal advice first. If you take the offer and the insurance company closes the case, you cannot go back later if the settlement doesn’t cover all your damages. You could find yourself facing mountains of medical bills without the funds to pay them and unable to get the quality medical care you need for your recovery.

Consult an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

When do I Need to Contact a NJ Truck Accident Lawyer? 

It is very important you contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as you can after the crash. There are various important deadlines surrounding claims such as statute of limitations to file a claim. 

Additionally, witnesses are often willing to talk about the details in the aftermath of your accident, but the more time passes, the more they can forget. Their recollection and yours can become less reliable. Over time, evidence degrades and disappears, which can make a successful claim more challenging. The sooner you contact an attorney about your injuries, the sooner your truck accident lawyer can submit a reasonable claim and negotiate with the insurance company.

What Should I Bring When I Meet with my Semi Truck Accident Lawyer? 

You need to provide several pieces of information so that your attorney can establish the value of the claim. Gathering what you need before your first meeting can help the process move forward faster. 

To help your attorney better evaluate your claim it is very helpful if you can bring the following items: 

Accident Information 

  1.  Accident Report
  2. Pictures of Scene
  3. Pictures of Damages
  4. Witness Information

Vehicle & Insurance Information 

  1. The name and contact number of your insurer
  2. The name of the policyholder
  3. The policy number
  4. Any insurance information you have for the other drivers
  5. Pictures of Vehicles
  6. Any estimates or documentation you have regarding property damage.

Medical Information

  1. Copy or picture of your medical insurance card
  2. Injury Information
  3. Any discharge summaries you have from the emergency room
  4. List of medical providers you have seen to date for accident injuries. Also include a list of dates you have seen medical providers, if possible.
  5. List of medical providers you have seen for the past 5 years.
  6. Pictures of any injuries from crash.

If you do not have all of this documentation that is okay, just bring as much of it that you do have.

Big truck accidents often cause catastrophic injuries. Spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, severe burns and amputations can turn your life and those of your family upside down. Insurance companies often try to minimize the settlement amount.  Contact an experienced local New Jersey tractor trailer accident lawyer near you to help ensure you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.

Chris Costello, ESQ.

Chris Costello, ESQ.

Chris handles matters in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and is an active member of the New Jersey Association for Justice as well as the Burlington County Bar Association. As a Burlington County personal injury lawyer, Mr. Costello has served as chairman of the Burlington County Bar Association Personal Injury Committee and lectured on topics related to auto accidents and insurance law.

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