Semi-trucks are the largest vehicles on the road. When they collide with other road users, the results are catastrophic. The worst injuries involve collisions with pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Occupants of passenger vehicles suffer serious injuries too. How you respond to truck accidents at the scene can save lives and preserve your health. Your response can also affect how your case proceeds.
Move Your Vehicle
Most states require you to move your vehicle out of the roadway after an accident. This reduces the risk of other vehicles colliding with yours and causing a pileup on the road. Pileups are especially likely on highways or other roadways with high speed limits or blind turns.
Unfortunately, after a collision with a truck, your vehicle might not be drivable. You might need to evacuate as quickly as possible and find a safe space to wait for assistance. If possible, turn the hazard lights on to help warn other vehicles.
You might also have the chance to put out cones or lights to indicate a hazard. Truckers and RVers often carry these items to improve visibility when they have to pull off the road, so use them even if you manage to find a safe space to pull over.
Check for Injuries
After an accident, adrenalin can dampen the effects of injuries. You might not feel pain until days later. Move slowly and use your mirrors to determine whether you have any bleeding. Moving can exacerbate injuries, so only exit the vehicle if you feel confident you are well.
Next, check on other passengers in your vehicle. Is anyone bleeding? Has anyone suffered broken bones or sprains? Is anyone unconscious? Also, be careful of how you move injured persons. Spinal injuries can spiral into paralysis without proper care.
If possible, check on the occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash. It might seem like trucks and their drivers are invincible, but they might have also suffered severe injuries or find they cannot exit their vehicles.
Check for Vehicle Hazards
Trucks often carry hazardous materials that could lead to big explosions during or after an accident. Find out whether the trucker is hauling hazardous material and try to get as far away from the truck, if yes. Here are some potential explosives:
- Electronics and appliances
- Other vehicles
- Military ammunition
You should also check your vehicle for hazards. Collisions can lead to ruptured gas tanks. All it takes is one spark for that to turn into a fire. That could come from another car failing to stop and adding to the pileup. Even someone dropping a cell phone could ignite that fuel.
Contact Law Enforcement and Emergency Services
Some states set a threshold for when to contact law enforcement. This usually involves damage over a certain amount, such as $500. Trucking accidents likely exceed these thresholds. Even if the damage is minor, contact the police anyway. This will provide formal records you might need when going up against corporations during negotiations or in court.
Law enforcement and emergency services will also redirect traffic and clear the roadways. Fire trucks also report to scenes involving truck accidents because fires are likely. Finally, ambulances might respond to the scene to treat injured persons.
Accept Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine, visit the hospital for a checkup. You might have internal injuries that do not show up immediately. These can cause severe pain and even death. Once you leave the scene of an accident, it becomes more difficult to prove that your injuries resulted from the crash.
If you do not have health insurance, you might worry about how to pay the bill. An experienced attorney will review your case and help you secure compensation for your injuries and other expenses caused by the accident.
Watch What You Say
Trucking accidents often involve federal regulations. The last thing you want to do is make a statement that incriminates yourself or damages your case later on. When in doubt, keep quiet or politely decline to answer questions until you can speak with an attorney.
Silence is the best policy, even if you think you may have caused the accident. Often, after reviewing the footage, the error one person thinks they made is not the error that caused the accident. Let the professionals investigate and determine who is at fault.
Use your phone to take pictures of the damage and the road conditions at the time. If it was raining or snowing, that could have contributed to the accident. It would help if you tried to get a picture of any skid marks or debris in the roadway as well.
Next, take down information about everyone involved in the accident. This includes the following:
- Truck driver name and contact information
- Trucking company name and contact information
- Vehicle make, model and color
- License plate number
- Insurance company name and policy number
- Driver’s license number
If there were any witnesses, get their names and contact information. These can prove invaluable when you file your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. If you have a dash cam and can retrieve the information quickly, do so. Otherwise, secure it. Too often, dash cams go missing. If your vehicle gets towed, remember to get the information from the driver so you can pick up your car or belongings later.
Notify Interested Parties
Call your loved ones and let them know what happened. You might also need to reach out to the loved ones of the persons involved in the accident. For example, if you picked up the neighbors’ kids from soccer practice, you will need to let them know so they can meet their children at the hospital.
You might also choose to notify your employer at this time if you were on your way to work. Otherwise, you can wait until after receiving medical care. Your doctor can advise you on whether it will affect your ability to work and in what ways.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
You might feel like you can handle this alone, but the case can quickly overwhelm you. Here are some of the many tasks that follow a truck accident:
- Navigating medical care
- Signing medical forms
- Preserving records
- Looking for your vehicle and personal belongings
- Checking on loved ones who may have traveled with you
- Negotiating with the insurance company
Working with an experienced attorney can help you focus on recovery and family while a professional handles the legal aspects. Your attorney will investigate the accident, determine who is at fault and work to get you the compensation you deserve. He or she can also deal with insurance companies and their lawyers.
Contact Cellino Law
Insurance companies know what is at stake when you experience injuries in a trucking accident. The more serious the injuries, the more likely they are to send you a big payment. However, that initial offer might still not reflect the true worth of your case. Even large sums can quickly run out if you need expensive surgeries.
We begin by taking a good look at all the details. Only then can we estimate the value of a case. With this information at hand, we can help our clients set realistic expectations while we strategize for successful negotiations or a lawsuit.
Are you ready to see whether we can get millions for your trucking accident case? Request your free consultation. We charge nothing until we recover compensation for you.