If you or your loved one were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, you know firsthand how devastating this type of accident can be. Semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, making them roughly 20 times the size of a small passenger car. Their large size means they can take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, with even greater distances on wet or slippery roads. The sheer size and weight of a truck mean any encounter with them has the possibility to cause catastrophic injuries.
In 2018, large trucks and buses were involved in over 5,000 fatal crashes, and the number of large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes has increased by 48-percent since 2009. If you were injured in an accident involving a large truck, there are several steps you can take to ensure you receive fair compensation that covers the cost of your medical bills and auto repairs. Keep reading for our top tips on how to protect your legal rights after a trucking accident.
Call for Help
Your first priority should be to assess your safety, as well as the safety of your passengers. Even if your injuries seem minor, you should immediately call 911 and request an ambulance. You should always be examined by a doctor, as internal injuries and head trauma can sometimes go undetected and cause greater damage later on. You will also want to get a police report, which will be pivotal in documenting and proving your case
Take Photos at the Accident Scene
Take shots from multiple angles, and be sure to include pictures of your vehicle, the truck, your injuries, and your passengers’ injuries. If you are unable to take photos yourself, have a trusted friend or family member take the pictures for you. Taking photos will be especially important if the weather may have been a factor in visibility, or in making the roads slick.
Collect Witness Information and Other Documentation
Other things you should try to collect at the scene are:
- The names, addresses, phone numbers, and emails of all drivers and witnesses
- Pictures of the truck driver’s insurance cards
- Pictures of the truck driver’s license
- The name and contact information of the trucking company the driver works for
- The trucks license plate number, make and model, color, and any other identifying information
Leave Your Vehicle As It Is
Make sure to communicate to your mechanic that they are not to perform any repairs until the vehicle has been appraised by the insurance company. Just like injuries to your body, your car may seem fine, but it’s best to get the opinion of a trusted mechanic to check for hidden damages that may not be evident at first glance.
What NOT To Do After a Trucking Accident
It is important that you don’t admit fault after a trucking accident. If you are partially responsible, a skilled lawyer can help you understand the extent to which you may be liable, and help you find ways to reduce your liability.
You’re also under no obligation to talk with the insurance companies that will call you. Politely, but firmly, let them know “I am working with a lawyer, and they will reach out to you”. Insurance adjusters are notorious for offering small settlements in the hopes that you will accept readily, not realizing that you can fight for better compensation.
Contact an Attorney
This is of the utmost importance because you can be sure that the trucking company already has specialized attorneys to minimize their own liability. A truck accident attorney working on your behalf will conduct an investigation, gather and protect key evidence, and handle communications with all other parties involved. This also lets the trucking company and their insurer know you mean serious business, and they are more likely to offer you a better settlement offer.
Trucking accidents can be much more complicated than accidents involving two personal vehicles, as multiple other parties may be involved. These may include the trucking company, the driver’s employer, or the manufacturer of the goods being transported. The skilled lawyers at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt can help you determine if you have a case, and who is ultimately liable for your accident, with a free consultation. Call us today at 1-866-333-7715 or reach out by filling out our form.