Truck accidents typically result in significant property damage and numerous injuries to the parties involved. Sadly, they happen more often than many people realize. Anyone who has been involved in an accident with a truck or commercial vehicle should take steps to protect themselves.
Contact Law Enforcement
Regardless of the severity of the accident, call the police. People often say they don’t need law enforcement to become involved as the injuries are minor and the property damage doesn’t appear to be that bad. However, even minor damage can be costly to repair and injuries might not show up for a few days. Having a law enforcement document the accident is helpful when this is the case. The police officer questions all involved in the accident and any witnesses that remained on the scene. This information is then included in an official police report that insurance companies can review to determine fault.
Furthermore, the official accident report becomes of help if a personal injury claim needs to be filed. Attorneys working on behalf of the injured party need this information because truck accidents differ greatly from car accidents. The attorney needs to see what the officer documented, as this can be of great help in determining who might be at fault. For instance, the driver may be charged, but the trucking company may be held responsible if the truck has not been properly maintained. The police report can be of help in learning if this is the case.
Document the Scene
When possible, document the scene. Don’t do so if you or a passenger in the vehicle were injured, but in other cases, this step should be taken. Remain safe while doing so to avoid additional injuries, but the record as much as you can of the scene.
Take photographs and videos of the vehicles, road conditions, and more, and be sure to make backup copies so the information isn’t lost. It might be that a road sign was missing or weather conditions played a role in the accident. The video or photos will be of great help in showing this was the case. Again, this helps when it comes time to determine who was at fault for the accident.
The personal injury attorney reviews the photos and videos to help build the client’s case. People remember things differently, even when they are looking at the same scene. Photos and videos recreate the scene accurately, so there is less confusion. This makes it easier to reconstruct what happened and who is at fault.
Seek Medical Care
If you are seriously injured, law enforcement will call for medical care on the scene. However, injuries may take a few hours, days, or weeks to show up. For this reason, any time you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, it’s best to be seen by a doctor. The doctor determines the severity of the injuries and makes recommendations on treatment. If no injuries are apparent at this visit, the doctor obtains a baseline which can be of help when injuries show up at a later time. Minor injuries may actually be severe and the patient doesn’t realize it. This is why medical attention should be sought following the accident.
Additionally, if a personal injury claim needs to be filed for medical bills, time missed from work, and more, proof of the injuries will be required. Medical reports will be requested to provide this proof, and the injured party must follow the treatment recommendations of the doctor. Otherwise, the case may be thrown out of court or the person might receive less compensation. Insurance companies and the court see a failure to seek medical attention as a sign that the injury wasn’t that bad. This may lead to a denial of the claim in worst-case scenarios.
Contact the Insurance Company
Call your insurance company to report the accident. It does not matter who was at fault, as both companies must be aware of the situation. Your insurer may ask that you talk with the other driver’s insurance company. Take care when speaking to either insurer. Report exactly what happened in general terms. Do not go into the details of the case. It’s easy to say the wrong thing at this time, and doing so may have a negative impact on any future litigation.
For example, the insurance company might ask how you are today. Most people in this situation respond with a one-word answer, such as “fine”, and you might do the same. The insurance company could then use this response in court to say the injuries weren’t as bad as reported. Sadly, this tactic is employed more than many people realize, as insurance companies work to make a profit. They will take any measures necessary to achieve this goal.
Seek Legal Advice
Talk with local truck accident attorneys to learn your rights and responsibilities at this time. Most people have a number of questions about what to expect as the accident investigation goes forward. The attorney is of great help in answering these questions and providing information on what comes next. The attorney conducts an investigation to prove his or her client’s case, negotiates on behalf of the injured party, and represents this individual in court.
Don’t assume the legal system works on the plaintiff’s behalf. Trucking companies have attorneys working on their behalf to reduce their liability with regard to the accident. Injured parties need the same. Speak with several attorneys to find the one you feel most comfortable with. Litigation may take years to resolve, and you want someone you feel comfortable working with until the matter is settled.
Any accident is scary. When a truck or oversized commercial vehicle is involved, the consequences of the accident can be devastating. The steps listed above help to protect your rights during this difficult time. With this information, you can focus on your recovery knowing other aspects of the case are being handled. This provides you with some much-needed peace of mind when you need it most.