A Guide to Truck Accident Laws in Dallas
When you have been in any car accident, the last thing you want to think about is calling a lawyer. But, you should. Especially in truck accidents which can entail so many more complications such as the person at fault for the damage to goods being shipped by both parties. Ensuring you know what to do before the unthinkable happens, is vital for your future finances. Truck accident laws in Texas, and thus Dallas, are very strict. This is to ensure that the person who is at fault is held accountable, and those who were harmed by their negligence are treated fairly. This means that it is even more important to be sure of what you need to do, what you need to say, and what you need to avoid saying in Texas as opposed to some of the surrounding states. This article will breakdown the laws and logistics of dealing with a truck accident claim. And why you need a lawyer to do so.
What are the first things I need to do?
First of all, ensure that you are okay. Assess yourself for injuries before even trying to move too much. You are likely in shock, so you may not immediately realize how badly you are injured. If you seem relatively fine, its time to assess the vehicle. If not, wait for the first responders. When you are looking at your vehicle for damage the chances are there are things you won't notice, that is why it is a good idea to photograph everything. Even if it doesn't seem damaged at all. Luckily, we all carry cell phones with us nowadays so you have a decent camera on hand. It is also a good idea to briefly check the people from the other vehicle are okay and don't need an ambulance to be called. Simply asking "Is anyone hurt?" is enough. When you get the all-clear, get back inside your vehicle and call the cops. Make sure you let them know there has been an accident. Tell them where and when and if anyone is injured.
What should I avoid saying or doing?
Regardless of whose fault it truly is, you should never assume the blame. Never apologize, never use any terminology that could be construed as you hit them, rather than the other way around. Refer to it as an accident but don't discuss the details. If you apologize they could argue that you have assumed responsibility. This can be a problem in Texas because everyone is typically very polite. Now is not the time for politeness! You should also avoid staying in your truck if it is smoking or very badly damaged. You have no idea what could happen, odds are it won't burst into flames. But why run the risk? Conversely, if you are on the highway it is a good idea to stay in the vehicle. You are at risk of being hit just hanging out at the side of the road.
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How long do I have to file a police report?
In Dallas and Texas as a whole, you should file a report with the police as soon as possible. You can do it in person when they arrive at the scene. They may want to bring you back to the station to go over it in detail if it seems like a complex case. Don't worry, this is quite normal. It doesn't mean you are in trouble, and no, they can't arrest you. You only truly need to file a report if the damage is over $1000, which it most likely will be. Even minor bumps could be argued to cost over $1000. It is better to file the report and have it dismissed than fail to file it and be forced to pay out of pocket.
How long do I have to file an insurance claim?
Insurance claims are a little more lenient time-wise. You have between 24-48 hours to make a claim depending on who your insurance provider is. They give you a little time to deal with your injuries, stress, filing police reports and getting a good night's sleep. Then, however, its open season. You will be expected to provide them with everything that you can. You may or may not have been informed who was at fault already but that isn't always the case. This may be battled out in the courts by your insurance company for months. The reason you are given such a short time frame is so you can't go and do additional damage and then file it as a claim. You one hundred percent DO NOT want to try and do this. As you will lose out on your claim and may even be sued by your insurance company. People often get into a small accident, find their bumper is cracked, so they go and smash up their rims and headlights so they can be replaced too. This is illegal and very stupid.
Do I need an attorney and if so when should I hire one?
You aren't required by law to have an attorney. But, you probably should retain one. The reason being that they can take care of the legal and insurance issues that you may struggle with. Especially if you are dealing with injuries. If you fail to hire an attorney and the other party hires a great one. You are losing the case. You may not be at fault, but you will lose the case. There is a reason lawyers spend so much time at college or university. It is hard to win a court case, and you want to win. If you sustained serious injuries you should not have to pay for them out of pocket. Your lawyer will ensure that you don't. The best time to hire a lawyer is as soon as you feel comfortable. Before you speak to the insurance company if possible. As they may have some advice for you regarding wording, pictures sent, and legal jargon. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Bringing a lawyer in as early on in the process as possible can save you a whole lot of headaches.
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If you have been in an accident involving a truck, it is important that it is reported immediately so that all possible actions can be taken to ensure the best result for YOU.
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