Immediate Action after a Trucking Accident
When a 40-ton semi truck is involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle, physics has already determined who will lose. The steps taken right after tractor trailer accidents are based on safety and common sense:
Remove yourself and others from danger. This takes precedence over anything else. Busy highways are dangerous places. You do not want to be the victim of a secondary accident. If possible, get off the road and away from any vehicles that may catch on fire or any cargo that has been spilled from an overturned 18 wheeler.
Do not leave the scene of the accident.
You might need emergency medical service for you or a passenger. Even if you do not think you are injured, you must still call to report the accident. If you cannot find your cell phone, ask to use someone else’s. Do not assume others have called. You may have information that will help the dispatcher send the appropriate equipment to the scene.
Take pictures if possible. The advent of cell phones that can also take pictures has changed the way accidents are documented. Even the police now regularly take pictures of an accident scene. Photographic documentation preserves information that will be lost after vehicles are moved by police personnel or tow truck operators.
Obey any directions from police and medical personnel You will be interviewed by both the police and medical personnel. Be clear and report anything that happened, even if it seems minor, to the first responders. It may be important later and you should mention any loss of consciousness, abrasions from air bags, any vision problems, bruising or cuts… in short, anything physical damage you suffered, even if you do not wish emergency treatment.
Contact your Attorney
After your medical needs have been met, the next priority is to protect your legal rights. Making the wrong statements to the police, the truck driver, or others at the scene can affect your chances to obtain a full and fair settlement. The trucking company or their insurance carrier may send a representative to the accident. If the big rig has flipped or jackknifed, it can take an hour or more to clean up and this is valuable time that might be lost if you delay.
Notify your Insurance Company
In most states, you will be required to share insurance information with any other drivers. Do not attempt to get documents from your vehicle until it is safe to do so! This is usually after the police have arrived to control other traffic. When talking to your insurance company keep your statements brief and to the point. You are reporting an accident – you do not have to give all the details at this time.
Obtain information from other parties
You should note all the information you can about the truck, the trucking company (many are leased and owned by someone other than the driver), the markings and plate on both the trailer and the tractor (the front ‘truck’ part of a semi truck), and whatever information you can get from the driver, such as insurance and contact information for his company.
You should also try to get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Too often, witnesses leave after talking to the police, who may or may not get the information you need to contact them later.
Your attorney will walk you through other things you should do after a trucking accident, and these will probably include seeing a doctor as soon as possible for an examination. It might include getting pictures of injuries you or others received.
Your lawyer will get a police report and contact witnesses. They will ask you to write out what happened as you remember it shortly after the accident. A good accident attorney knows that memories fade and having a written record may be critical later on.
Our Law Firm handles commercial truck accidents and can help you with your case. Although the initial steps above are very important, they only represent immediate action, there is much more to be done.
If you have been in a trucking accident, you may contact us for a free case evaluation.