What To Do Following a Semi-Truck Accident
Semi-trucks, big rigs, tractor trailers, 18 wheelers – you know them when you see them on the roadway. Due to their size and weight, these can be very dangerous commercial vehicles that we are forced to share the roadway with in pretty close quarters. Semi-trucks take up a large portion of the road, no matter where they are traveling on highways, through local business routes, or as they enter our communities. It’s the nature of the vehicle to take up most of the driving lane, but that can be distressing to other motorists navigating in and around these commercial vehicles on the roadway – especially to anyone who has been involved in an accident with a semi-truck. Accidents involving big rigs often lead to serious injuries, major property damage, and sometimes even fatalities.
If you are involved in an accident with a semi-truck and sustain injuries, you need to know what to do immediately following the crash. Trucking companies have entire risk management teams or highly experienced individuals and safety managers who are paid to limit the company’s exposure immediately following the crash. They have policies and procedures in place to restrict the at-fault commercial driver’s behavior, statements at the scene of the crash, and interaction with law enforcement who appear to investigate following a serious crash. In some situations, where a fatality or catastrophic injury has occurred, it is not unusual for safety managers and defense lawyers to fly to the scene within 45 minutes of an accident on personal corporate flights to manage the situation. No matter the circumstances or how minor your injuries may appear to be at the scene of a crash, you’re not a doctor, you just went through a traumatic event, you don’t know how your body will respond to the incident in the days, weeks and months ahead. You need to protect yourself and your future. You shouldn’t be out-gunned by these companies, you have rights and you need an injury attorney in your corner immediately to combat the company’s efforts to minimize your claim and shift responsibility away from the at-fault driver and commercial carrier.
Your first steps after the accident are vitally important, both for your physical health and for any personal injury claim your lawyer will file in the future. There are things you need to do at the scene of the crash for both safety and to assist the police in their investigation. After that, you will need to act fast and make the call and hire a qualified trucking accident attorney. Personal injury trucking accident attorneys have to act immediately to protect your rights against the trucking company. Here is a roadmap to both protecting your safety, health and legal rights.
- Call 911 immediately for help. Safety is your top priority in the first moments after a crash, so this should be the first call you make. If it is safe to remain inside your vehicle, stay there. If you exit your vehicle, do not leave the area until emergency services and the police arrive. If possible, leave your vehicle where it came to rest after the accident. This will help preserve evidence the police need to conduct an accident reconstruction at the scene and to file an accurate accident report, which could be crucial for your personal injury claim.
- If you can, check for other people affected by the accident. Often times these kind of semi-truck accidents involve more than one vehicle. If other vehicles were involved and you are able, check for other accident victims in the area who may be injured and need assistance.
- Take photos, videos, and audio of the crash scene. Immediately after the accident is your best opportunity to capture crucial evidence proving that you were harmed due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. Photos or video of the damage to vehicles, the intersection or roadway where the accident took place, any significant landmarks, skid marks, and any other details that can paint a clear picture of what happened will be key pieces of evidence to preserve.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Obtain the name, phone number, license plate number, insurance information, driver’s license number, and name of the trucking company and their contact information. Don’t engage in unnecessary conversation with the commercial trucking driver – let the police handle this aspect of interviewing the parties involved in the crash.
- Give an accurate account of the facts to the police. It is the responsibility of the police to determine who is at fault for the accident, so state the facts as calmly as possible to the best of your ability. Obtain the names of the officers on the scene and the police report number, if possible. This official report of the accident is crucial to your personal injury lawsuit proving any damages, injuries, or losses you suffer as a result of the accident.
- Go to a hospital or urgent care clinic – by ambulance if necessary. As soon as you are released by the authorities on the scene, seek medical attention for your injuries. Many times, accident victims fail to seek immediate medical attention for their injuries, some of which may not manifest for a few days. Often, victims turn down an ambulance because they are unaware of their injuries at the time of the accident, possibly because of adrenaline and/or the shock and confusion that often takes place in the aftermath. Having your injuries documented the same day as the accident and following all medical advice and physician’s orders will play a crucial role in protecting your rights.
- Follow up with your primary care doctor. Alternatively, if you don’t have a PCP then follow up with a recommended chiropractor or physical therapy group to help you with rehabilitation needs to assist in your recovery.
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Stay tuned for part 2 of this series on why you need to hire an attorney immediately following a semi-truck accident and reach out to the team at Whalen Hersh for a FREE consultation.