The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry, reports that well over 300,000 truck crashes each year result in injuries as well as a few thousand fatalities. This includes truck accidents that occur each year across Georgia and Gwinnett County. If you have been in a truck accident, you probably have many questions about what you should do next. Truck accidents are among the most severe of all traffic crashes because a truck’s weight, which can be up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded, creates massive destruction upon impact.
In most scenarios, it is in your best interest to have a qualified truck accident attorney review your case and advise you on your options going forward. Until you have time to schedule a consultation, you can review the following frequently asked questions about Gwinnett County truck accidents.
Do I have to report a truck accident to law enforcement?
Georgia law requires you to contact the police and report an accident anytime someone involved is injured or dies. You also need to report the accident if it is obvious that the accident led to more than $500 in property damage. This is a low threshold for destructive truck accidents that often lead to thousands of dollars in property damages. In most cases, the police will come to the scene of the accident and fill out the report, so you do not have to worry about compliance. Yet, if law enforcement doesn’t come to the scene, you should call 911 or head to the nearest police station.
How do I get a copy of my official crash report?
You will have to wait a few days for the officer who came to the scene of the truck accident to complete the report and upload it to Georgia’s database. Once your report is available you can purchase a copy online through BuyCrash.com or submit a request to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). If you can’t obtain a copy because of physical limitations related to your injury, we can help you. If you seek compensation in your truck accident case, you need to prove that the accident caused your injuries. The official police report from your accident is a crucial part of that evidence.
I did not cause the accident. Do I still need to file an insurance claim?
Georgia has a fault-based insurance system. This means after a truck accident you will need to file a claim with the truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurance carrier, which could be the same if the trucker is an owner/operator. Whether or not you caused a truck accident, you should always report it to your insurance company. You likely have a clause that requires you to report all accidents where your coverage might apply.
Also, it can take months before you see any compensation to pay for damages or medical expenses. In these cases, insurance carriers sometimes pay a claim on your policy and seek reimbursement from the trucker’s or trucking company’s insurance policy.
I walked away from the truck accident. Do I really need medical treatment?
Just because emergency responders did not have to rescue you from your car with the Jaws of Life after a truck accident does not mean you did not suffer accident injuries. During traumatic events like car accidents, an adrenaline rush can mask your pain for some time. Also, some injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, take hours or days to show symptoms.
For your health and to provide medical documentation of your injuries, you should always have a doctor check you out for common accident injuries. Even something as seemingly harmless as a little soreness, some bruising, or a headache can indicate internal injuries. Some internal injuries are fatal if left untreated.
How much time do I have to take legal action after a Gwinnett County truck accident?
Georgia law allows you two years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. You will likely take action against the truck driver and/or trucking company, but possibly other parties, too. Courts are strict about the two-year statute of limitations. You can expect that they will not hear your case beyond the two-year time limit. You should, however, contact an attorney sooner because you don’t want evidence or witnesses to disappear.
Should I hire an attorney after a Gwinnett County Truck accident?
Yes. At the very least, you should consult with an attorney to discuss the viability of a claim. Truck accidents typically cause severe injuries that devastate victims and their families. Their large insurance companies have adjusters and legal teams who are skilled at intimidating and manipulating victims into unfair settlements. An attorney knows how to deal with these tricky tactics.
Not only can your lawyer handle communications with the insurance company, but he can also likely negotiate a higher settlement for you. Also, when insurance companies do not want to pay out or simply deny their policyholder’s liability, a skilled truck accident attorney can fight for you in the courtroom.
Should I take a settlement offer from the trucking company’s insurance carrier?
Before doing anything, you need to discuss the offer with us. Large trucks typically have large insurance policies, but that doesn’t mean the carrier wants to pay out a claim. An insurance company that knows their policyholder is liable sometimes offers a quick settlement soon after a truck accident. They want to tempt a truck accident victim into accepting a settlement offer so they do not have to pay out a larger settlement or jury award later.
When you accept an insurance settlement offer, the carrier will typically expect you to sign a waiver that states you will not sue. In most situations, an initial settlement offer is far less than what you deserve for your accident and injuries.
Instead, you should discuss this offer with an attorney and consider it as the first move in the negotiations game.
Brauns Law, P.C.
3175 Satellite Boulevard, Bldg 600
Duluth, GA 30096