Trucking accidents are among the most traumatic and life-altering events that someone can be involved in. When your car collides with a semi-truck that is carrying as much as 80,000 pounds or more when fully loaded, it can result in devastating consequences. At this point, you are probably pretty shaken up, perhaps in a bit of shock, and wondering what to do next.
The first thing to do is calm down, take a deep breath, and gather your thoughts. The things you do immediately after an accident with a commercial truck will have a dramatic impact on your health, and your right to file a legal claim to compensate you for your losses.
Whether you are reading this on your smartphone right after being in a collision with a big rig truck, or you are doing research in order to be prepared for an event like this in the future, we are going to tell you five important things you should do if you get into an accident with an 18-wheeler:
The number one priority after any type of motor vehicle accident is to make sure everyone who may have been injured gets medical attention. Many auto accident injuries have delayed symptoms, often because of the adrenaline rush you experience at the scene that masks the pain. And some of these delayed-symptom injuries can even be life-threatening, one such example being internal bleeding. For this reason, it is always best to call for an ambulance, even if you don’t feel hurt immediately after the crash.
Call the Police
During a call to 911, the operator might also contact the police for you and call them to the scene. If not, be sure to call the police yourself. It is important to bring the police for a couple of reasons; to help secure the accident scene and regulate traffic, and to file an official report. The police will examine the scene, interview those involved as well as any eyewitnesses, and prepare their report. This report will be an important piece of evidence if you end up filing a legal claim.
Gather Information About the Accident
Although the police will file an official report, you should compile your own documentation of the accident for your records. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible to show how the accident happened and the damages you sustained. You should also write down in as much detail as you can what happened, so you can compare your report with the police report later on and correct any inaccuracies. If you are unable to write down what happened, you can always use the voice recorder on your smartphone to create an audio report that you can transcribe later.
Secure Statements and Contact Information from Witnesses
Eyewitness testimony will be another important piece of the puzzle if you need to file a claim against the truck driver and any other parties that share responsibility for the accident. Take down the contact information from all individuals nearby who witnessed the accident. Also, ask them if they are willing to provide a statement. In many cases, a witness will be willing to have you record a statement with the video camera on your cell phone. If this is possible, make sure to get this statement while you are still at the scene and the events are fresh in everyone’s minds.
When you are speaking with the driver of the commercial truck, the police, witnesses, and later your insurance company when you report the claim, be very careful what you say. Be courteous and polite, but never apologize or admit fault for the accident. Anything you say can be used against you later to undermine your claim, so just state the facts and leave it to the experts to sort out who was to blame.
Along these same lines, you should also limit your social media activity after an accident. Never post photos of the accident scene and avoid discussions and comments about the accident. In addition, avoid status updates that might be used against you by the other side. Insurance companies expend a lot of resources to investigate social media profiles, and even if you have strong privacy settings, always assume that they can find out what you are posting, and act accordingly.
Get in Touch with a Seasoned Truck Accident Lawyer
Commercial truck accident cases are far more complicated than a typical auto accident. There are multiple potential parties who could be at fault, and numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry.
For this reason, it is very important to work with an attorney who has in-depth experience and a successful track record with these types of cases. In addition, it is best to get in touch with a skilled truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident, so they can get to work immediately to preserve and protect your right to recover full and fair compensation.
At Reeves and Mestayer, we have successfully represented numerous individuals who have been injured in commercial truck accidents in Biloxi and communities throughout Southern Mississippi. We work closely with our clients, putting our extensive experience to work to fight hard for every dollar of compensation they deserve.
Call us today at 228-374-5151 or toll free 1-855-558-2977. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our office in person at your convenience.