Every year, thousands of truck accidents occur across America. In 2019, of these thousands of accidents, 4,119 resulted in fatalities. Most of those killed were occupants of passenger vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. When you consider that commercial trucks weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 times that of a regular passenger vehicle, the danger of a collision makes immediate sense.
If you become involved in a truck accident, consider yourself lucky to have survived this brush with death. However, you might still face serious injuries and disabilities. Even if you feel fine at the moment, remember that adrenaline can have that effect. Take a moment to catch your breath and determine whether you suffered any injuries.
What Should You Do After a Trucking Accident?
Every situation is different, so there is no best order to complete items. You might also not have the opportunity to do everything you plan. The important thing is to prioritize your health and do what you can. Remember that only your attorney can provide advice, so use these for informational purposes only.
Call Emergency Services
Accidents involving commercial vehicles are often far more complex than accidents involving other passenger vehicles. These accidents also involve significantly more damage, which would prompt law enforcement involvement anyway. Regardless of the situation, consider calling for emergency services. Based on the type of accident, law enforcement, paramedics and firefighters might rush to the scene.
If your vehicle has a built-in emergency service, now is the time to put it to use. Try to clear your mind and speak as clearly as possible on the call. Also, be mindful of what you say to the operator on the other end. These calls are often recorded and could end up in court at a future date. Report the facts only as you know them and focus on asking for help.
Call an Attorney
When law enforcement and other emergency services arrive, what you say might once again resurface in a courtroom. You likely have a million thoughts on your mind, so the last thing you feel prepared for is managing your own PR campaign under pressure and while nursing potential injuries.
If possible, call an attorney. These professionals can walk you through the process and provide some immediate advice on how to proceed. In some cases, the office might be able to send attorneys out to the scene. In this best-case scenario, the attorneys have access to evidence while it’s still fresh, so they can better represent you in court.
Accept Medical Services
No matter how well you feel at the time, most attorneys agree that accepting medical services at the time is a good idea. If you deny medical services, you might not have proof that the accident caused pain and other symptoms that might arise at a later date when the adrenaline wears off.
Not receiving treatment might also cause worsening of injuries. Even if the court holds the trucker responsible for the original incident, it might hold you responsible for the worsening of the injuries due to failure to seek medical care. The same could occur if you ignore medical advice provided by paramedics at the scene or the doctors who later tend to you.
If you have health insurance, see if you can pull up that information on your phone. Doctors sometimes choose treatment options based on what your insurance company will pay for, which can save you money in bills while you pursue compensation.
Offer Medical Assistance
In some cases, yours might not be the only vehicle affected by the car crash. The truck might have crashed into other vehicles or your vehicle might have slammed into several others. If you feel able to assist others, do so. Keep in mind that several states have laws or guidelines requiring people involved in a car crash to stop and render aid to others if possible.
When rendering aid to others, start with the people inside your vehicle. Then, weigh the pros and cons of helping others, including the trucker. If a car catches on fire, for example, pulling an unconscious person from the vehicle before they become engulfed in flames makes perfect sense. However, if there is no immediate threat to life or limb, reconsider over-exerting yourself.
Doing so could negatively impact your case in a number of ways. First, the trucker could claim you had no serious injuries because you had the strength and physical capabilities to pull off heroic acts at the scene. Finally, those heroic acts could turn moderate injuries into lifelong disabilities.
Document as much evidence as you possibly can. The best-case scenario involves using your phone to take pictures. Take pictures of everything you can, no matter how trivial it might seem. Sometimes, winning a case comes down to more than just damage. It also comes down to weather conditions, road design, the position of a branch in front of a stop sign and so many other small details that might not seem to matter at the time.
You could also end up recording people and license plates in the footage. This makes it easier for your attorney or law enforcement officers to follow up at a later date and get testimonies or even more footage. If you have no dashcam in your vehicle or need additional footage, you could end up getting it from one of these people.
If you do not have access to your phone or cannot leave your vehicle, consider writing on a piece of paper. Some quick things to jot down might include:
- The company decal on the truck
- The weather conditions
- Traffic conditions
- License plates of vehicles around you
- Names of persons present at the scene
- The badge number of officers that arrive at the scene
- Time of day
Get the Trucker Information
Whenever possible, aim to get as much information about the trucker as possible. You should also try to get all the information you can about the company. This could help you in the event that the trucker later abandons the truck and leaves the scene.
Lecturers often say that the weakest ink is better than the strongest memory. That proves true in these cases. Don’t rely on memory; write it down. Taking a photo of the driver’s license, license plates and insurance documents is an even better idea.
When law enforcement officers arrive at the scene, ensure you receive a receipt with the identification number for the police report. In some states, you can request a copy of the report online. Experienced attorneys will also know how to get their hands on the full report for use in negotiations or in the courtroom.
How Can Injured Persons Pay for Legal Services?
Truck accidents often cause severe injuries and damage. The mounting costs of tending to these bills might make pursuing compensation seem out of the budget and out of reach. However, personal injury attorneys often work on a contingency basis.
In fact, at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we provide our clients with the Stone Cold Guarantee. We understand that the financial burden ahead is a heavy one, so we alleviate that burden by charging no upfront fees. In fact, we only charge fees if we successfully resolve your case.
This allows our clients to rest easy and focus on their recovery, while we chase down witnesses, reconstruct accidents and negotiate with the insurance company. Does this sound like the level of service and dedication you want for your truck accident case? Contact our team to get started.