Essential Steps to Take After a Truck Accident
If you are someone who regularly drives along highways and national roads, it’s essential to know exactly what to do after a truck accident.
Of course, it would be great if your only concern is about getting the appropriate medical attention after surviving a truck accident. But the aftermath of a truck crash can be more complicated than you think.
Truck crashes usually result in severe or life-threatening injuries. So, taking the right important steps can aid you greatly afterward, particularly in relation to protecting you or your loved one’s legal rights and options.
What to do after a truck accident – 8 steps to follow
Immediately after a truck accident — and if you are able enough after the crash — make sure you follow these steps:
1. Check your condition and that of fellow passengers
Your priority after a truck crash is checking if you and your passengers are fine. If you are well enough to check how the others are doing, including people in other vehicles, you may do so. At this stage, you may or may not call an ambulance, although it is highly likely that someone else or a witness would have already done so.
2. Call the police
Your next step should be to call the police or dial 911 to get connected to law enforcement. If the accident happens on a highway, your call is likely to be routed to the local police station by the 911 dispatcher. As much as possible, inform the dispatcher about the approximate number of people involved in the accident. This way, they can deploy as many ambulances as required.
Also, even if the accident appears to be a minor one, call the police still. A police report is considered the best documentation of an accident, and the police are expected to keep a complete, accurate record of all vehicles and persons involved in an accident. Make sure to wait for the police and stay put.
3. See a doctor and get yourself examined
If you’re able to walk around or see no obvious signs of injury or bleeding on yourself after an accident, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not hurt. Remember, there are certain types of injury that don’t manifest symptoms immediately.
Don’t assume that you’re okay just because you’re feeling fine, so take a medical evaluation right away. Even if an emergency medical technician checks you at the scene of the crash, you still need to get yourself evaluated in a hospital or by your doctor.
The reason behind this is that if there is a delayed onset of symptoms arising from a crash-related injury, you’ll need to establish that it’s actually related to the crash. Also, getting a full medical evaluation will help determine serious injury like internal bleeding, which can be severe in most cases.
4. Document evidence at the crash site
Again, we need to emphasize here that you should only undertake these steps if you’re feeling well enough to do so. Also, check if it is safe to leave your vehicle and walk around the crash zone.
If your vehicle is in the middle of a busy highway but is not damaged or can still be driven to safety, take photos of it. Take pictures of your car from different angles and then park it on a safe section, keeping your hazard lights on. If your vehicle sustained damage, take clear photos of the damage, too.
You can then proceed to take photographs of the crash site. Take as many photos as possible while waiting for the police and EMTs. Don’t discuss the crash, but it would be helpful to collect the following evidence that could support your claim later on:
- Name, driver’s license, and contact information of other drivers (if you can, get information on vehicle owners as well) in the crash
- Name and contact details of the truck driver’s employer and trucking company
- Vehicle insurance and registration information
- Passenger names and contact details
- Names and contact details of witnesses at the scene of the accident
- Any notes on road and weather conditions, or any factors that could have contributed to the crash
If you’re injured in any way or sustained any scratches, abrasions, or cuts, ask someone to take photos of you, focusing on those areas.
Review the photographs as you take them to ensure you have clear images. You can also take videos using your camera or smartphone.
Do not attempt to take any witness statements as it’s the police’s job to do that. However, by getting their contact information, it’ll be easier to track them down later in case their testimony is needed for claims or any legal procedures related to the accident. This information will also be very useful for your lawyer and the police during an accident investigation.
5. Keep a cool, level head
In an accident, you could start feeling all sorts of emotions, including anger, devastation, or regret — especially if you have no apparent injury. However, don’t say anything related to the accident — not even the word “sorry.” Also, do not vent your frustration on the other driver or anyone whom you believe caused the accident.
Behaving unpleasantly will alienate you from other drivers, and you might not be able to get the details you need for data-gathering. Instead, keep a cool head and maintain your composure.
Think before you speak, and avoid emotional confrontations. Anything you say or do in the heat of the moment can be misinterpreted or twisted and taken against you when you make a claim or in the event of an accident investigation.
Keep silent even if you think you’re at fault or liable in a way. You’re not supposed to lie, but avoid getting into details. These are things you should share only with your lawyer. Even if you are partly liable or responsible, there could be other factors you’re not aware of that could help reduce your liability. Your lawyer is the one person who can help you sort that out.
While the police are there, they also need to make their own inquiries to get the information they need to reconstruct what happened during the accident. Again, you can give a statement involving general details; there’s no need for you to admit to any fault or liability. But also, do not lie as any false statements you make can be damaging if proven to be untrue in the end.
6. Get a vehicle appraisal
Even if the damage to your vehicle seems minor, it’s better to ask an expert to ascertain the extent of the damage. Do this before going to a garage and getting your vehicle repaired. Note that a repair estimate is normally required in an insurance claim, although insurance companies could have other different requirements before they pay for any damages.
Check your policy as some insurance companies require drivers to use an app to photograph different sides or angles of their vehicle. Some even require car owners to use specific or approved body shops for quotes. If you need to use your vehicle immediately, make sure you call your lawyer first. They’ll be the one to tell you if contacting your insurer before getting your vehicle repaired is advisable.
Insurance companies make a profit by paying as little money as possible, so follow your lawyer’s instructions to the letter. If you must speak to your insurance adjuster, limit the content of your conversation to what your lawyer advised you to say.
If your insurer starts to probe, let them know that you’re in touch with your lawyer and that any questions you cannot answer must be coursed through them.
7. Never post anything about the accident on social media
Today, one bad habit common among people is posting anything and everything that’s going on in their lives on social media. Incidents as grave and huge as truck accidents should never be shared on social media — not even on your own account, even if you or a loved one has been hurt or injured.
Posting anything about your accident to gain sympathy or elicit reactions can be counterproductive and hurt your claim or case down the line. If you wish to inform your relatives or friends about what happened, do so privately and offline. Also, tell them not to share it with others.
Even if you see news coverage or reports on an accident where you were a part of, you need to refrain from reacting or making comments. Again, say nothing on the digital sphere about the accident, whether you are a victim or at fault.
Any information about your accident that makes it on the internet, no matter how trivial you think it is, can be accessed and captured. Thus, it can be used against you in claims and court proceedings. Of course, you can always delete what you post; however, there would be witnesses who can be sworn in court and attest to having seen it. Also, screenshots of your post could have already been taken. Even downloads of any images you shared could be saved somewhere already.
It pays to always be discreet and respectful of your own and other people’s privacy in these cases.
8. Talk to your truck accident lawyer
Whether you need to make a truck accident claim for yourself or on behalf of an injured loved one, it pays to have a truck accident lawyer to assist you in the process. This is especially true if the accident leads to an accident investigation and a full-fledged legal case.
With proper legal representation, you can increase your chances of making a successful insurance claim. Moreover, your truck accident lawyer will work with you and get the necessary documentation and proof needed to get you the settlement amount you deserve, especially if you or your loved one was severely injured.
As you know, injuries from truck accidents can be seriously debilitating. You may have a severe injury leading to a handicap that requires medical treatment and physical therapy. You may be unable to go to work and lose salaries and wages — all of these things should be included in the settlement amount.
If there are more than two parties involved in a major truck accident, the case could be more complicated, too. There could be certain federal regulations pertaining to trucks that need to be considered in the case. A truck accident lawyer can simplify everything for you so you know where your case stands.
Your truck accident lawyer can expertly guide you through various legal processes. They will build your case by consolidating the evidence needed for you to receive a fair and just compensation.
Tips to avoid truck accidents
According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data, nearly half a million crashes in the U.S. involve trucks.
To help you avoid truck accidents, always observe the following safe driving tips:
- Drive slowly and always adhere to speed limits.
- Avoid tailgating and always keep to a safe distance, especially around trucks and other heavy vehicles.
- Do not drive while sleepy, impaired, or under the influence of alcohol or prohibited substances.
- Avoid distractions, such as talking to your passenger or using your phone.
- Pay attention to traffic signs and signals.
- Use your vehicle lights and hand signals appropriately.
- Do not engage with aggressive or reckless drivers.
- Drive slowly and carefully when there are poor road or weather conditions.
The rules that you must follow as a driver to avoid truck accidents are the same ones that apply to anyone on the road. However, since truck accidents tend to be more severe, it pays to be extra careful when driving around heavy vehicles.
Contact The Truck Accident Lawyers At Quirk Reed For Legal Assistance!
If you become involved in a truck accident, do not panic.
Instead, try to implement the tips shared here, and make sure you get in touch with us at Quirk Reed ASAP.
We’ll be by your side through all the legal processes necessary for you to have a successful claim or obtain a fair settlement.