Being involved in a wreck with a large semi-truck can result in disastrous consequences. Colliding with a tractor-trailer that weighs several tons can leave you at least seriously shaken up and, in many cases, with moderate to severe, even catastrophic injuries.
Your first reaction after the wreck may be shock. You might be wondering if you have been hurt and if so, how bad your injuries are. Next, your mind starts racing in all different directions as you try to figure out what all this means and how to deal with the situation. At this point, it is important to take a deep breath, relax, and gather your thoughts.
The actions you take immediately after an accident with a commercial vehicle will have a major bearing on the safety and health of you and everyone else involved, and on your ability to successfully file a legal claim to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.
You may be reading this article from your phone just after an accident, or you may be doing research to be fully prepared for an event like this in the future. Either way, you are going to learn the most important things you should do if you are in a wreck with a commercial truck:
The top priority after a trucking wreck (or any other type of motor vehicle wreck) is to ensure that anyone who has been injured (including yourself) receives immediate medical attention. With that in mind, the first call you should make is to 911 to bring an ambulance to the scene. The elevated heart rate and adrenaline rush you experience during the aftermath of an wreck can sometimes mask an injury until later on, even one that is serious or in some cases life-threatening. For this reason, it is best to be on the safe side and get medical help – even if you do not feel hurt.
Call the Police
In many cases, the 911 operator will call the police for you and summon them to the scene. If not, make sure to call them on your own. It is important to bring the police so there will be an official report filed, and so they can help secure the crash site and regulate traffic. As a general rule, it is best not to move your vehicle until the police arrive, unless you need to in order to get it out of the way of oncoming traffic.
Document the Accident
While you are waiting for the police and ambulance to arrive, take multiple photographs of the wreck scene from as many angles as possible. If you are not physically able to take pictures, ask someone else to do so for you. Visual documentation is one of the best forms of evidence in the event that you end up filing an injury claim. And although the police will create an official report, you should have your own report as well. Write down, in as much detail as possible, what happened in the accident while everything is fresh in your mind. If you do not have paper and a writing utensil, use the voice recorder on your smartphone to record an audio report that you can transcribe later. Finally, obtain information from the truck driver, such as their name and phone number, commercial driver’s license number, license plate number, U.S. DOT serial number (if it is available), employer contact information (if applicable), and insurance information.
Obtain Witness Statements and Contact Information
If there are any individuals who witnessed the accident, speak with them and obtain their contact information. Also, ask these witnesses if they are willing to give a recorded statement. In many cases, a witness will allow you to record an oral statement using the video camera or audio recorder on your smartphone. This statement may end up being another critical piece of evidence to help substantiate a legal claim. Remember, this may be the only chance you have to get the names and addresses of witnesses and, if they disappear without you learning who they are and how to contact them, they will not be available to give testimony about what they saw. In a case where the insurance company disputes your side of the story, a witness’s testimony could be the difference I whether you are able to recover or not.
Do NOT Admit Fault
As you speak with individuals at the scene, such as the police, truck driver, witnesses, and medical personnel, never apologize or say anything that may imply an admission of wrongdoing on your part. This is especially important if the commercial truck accident occurs in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under contributory negligence, if you are found to be even 1% at fault for the accident you were involved in, you can be barred from recovering damages for your injuries. Be polite with everyone and provide the facts of the case as you saw them; but avoid any speculation as to who was at fault.
Consult with a Seasoned Truck Accident Lawyer
Commercial trucking wreck cases are far more complex than standard auto accidents. There are numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry, and there are multiple parties that could potentially be responsible for the crash. These wrecks can also result in serious injuries and substantial property damage, which means insurance companies will fight much harder to reduce what they have to pay if they don’t try to avoid responsibility altogether. For these reasons, it is absolutely essential to get an experienced personal injury attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover compensation can be protected and preserved. Chances are that the trucking company’s insurance company will have people on the scene working to protect them before you even leave the emergency room. It is also critical that someone put the trucking company on notice to preserve any and all evidence so that key evidence is not lost or destroyed.
At the Law Offices of Troy King, we have years of experience successfully representing clients injured in truck accidents and those who suffered all other types of personal injuries in Alabama. We routinely go up against well-funded adversaries such as large trucking companies and their insurers, and we are not intimidated by their resources or the common tactics they use to try to bully injury victims into settling a case for far less than they deserve. We will fight hard to secure a settlement that fully and fairly compensates you for your losses, and we will prepare from the outset to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your injuries if they are not willing to negotiate in good faith.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at (334) 215-4440 or message us through our online contact form. You may also visit our Montgomery location in person at your convenience, or we will come to you. At the Law Offices of Troy King, we do not believe that justice should only be for the rich and powerful. That is why our clients never pay for anything unless we recover for them.