Having an auto accident that involves a truck can be a devastating experience. Quite literally, your life can change in an instant, especially if one or more of the members of your vehicle were killed or seriously injured in the accident.
When a 15-ton tractor trailer or delivery truck crashes into your automobile, the odds are stacked heavily against those riding in the automobile: they will likely incur some sort of physical or mental trauma as a result. At minimum, having an accident with a truck will often leave the passengers of the automobile severely affected and in need of medical, legal and financial assistance.
If you have been involved in a truck accident, it is important that you take all of the necessary steps to ensure the best physical, emotional, and financial outcome for yourself and your fellow passengers.
Here are 7 tips for what to do if you have been involved in an accident with a truck
Tip 1: Contact the authorities
Immediately following the accident – provided that you are able to move and that it seems safe to do so – contact the police or state patrol. It is essential that you summon one of these city or state-level authorities to be present in order to attend to any injured or potentially injured people, as well as to take witness statements and gather evidence concerning the causes and nature of the accident.
Tip 2: Obtain the insurance information of the truck driver
Whether or not you are able to contact an authority right away, be sure to request the driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle plate information from the driver of the truck. These will be important items to have on record. Remember, even if you, your passengers and your vehicle seem to have made it through the accident relatively unharmed, it is always important to document the event. Some of the effects of the accident may show up later.
Tip 3: Do not admit fault
Some people who have just suffered the shock and emotional trauma of a truck accident feel the need to immediately talk about their experience with others. It is very important that while you remain at the scene of the accident you avoid admitting any degree of fault concerning what happened. Unless you are a lawyer, it is likely that you are unaware of all of the potential ramifications related to determining fault in an accident. Even if you feel you were partially at fault, it is generally your right to refrain from making any statement to police or to other drivers that might be self-incriminating. Just give your contact and driver information, and ask the authorities if you are free to leave the scene. If the answer is no, then request that you be given the opportunity to have an attorney of your choosing be present during any questioning, and do not answer questions after that point.
Tip 4: Check your car and the surrounding area for damage
If you happen to have a camera at the scene of the accident, be sure to take as many pictures as you can. Get photos of your car, the truck with which you collided, and any relevant surrounding items such as telephone poles, other cars, etc. Specifically, take photographs of the accident scene, any tire tracks or skid marks, and any damage to either vehicle. Cell phones with cameras have made this easy to accomplish. It is best to share those photos only with your lawyer, until the attorney informs you that you are required to furnish them to anyone else.
Tip 5: See a doctor
Once you leave the scene of the accident, your first stop should be at the office of your doctor or a nearby hospital, depending upon the severity of your injuries. If you feel you are unable to drive, request an ambulance or have a friend or relative take you somewhere that you can receive medical attention right away. If you do not immediately feel that you have been injured, you may find that in the days or weeks following your accident you begin experiencing pains in your body. If this is the case, be sure to visit a doctor and to report your problems at that time. The longer you wait to seek medical attention after the accident, the more difficult it will be to substantiate a claim for personal injuries, should you or any passengers suffer injuries from the collision. It is safest to seek medical attention immediately, because you may be injured and not be capable of knowing it due to increased adrenaline or even shock.
Tip 6: Notify your insurance company
In Texas, you should notify your insurance company as soon as reasonably possible after having had an accident. Different insurance policies have different “Duties after Loss” provisions and requirements. It is best to send a letter giving written notice of a claim as soon as possible, even after you have called to report the collision. Once your immediate medical needs have been attended to and you have adequately documented the accident, notifying your insurance company should be your first priority. You may share details of your accident with your insurance company as reasonably requested. It is almost never a good idea to give any statement, recorded or otherwise, to the trucker’s insurance company.
Tip 7: Contact an injury lawyer
It is always wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident. There are many possible ramifications of being involved in an automobile accident with a truck, including those that can affect your long-term health, your finances, and your mental well-being. In most cases, your lawyer will conduct his or her own thorough investigation in order to determine where you stand legally as a result of the accident. Your lawyer will want immediate access to any and all documentation you may have made of the accident. Your lawyer acts as your ally in making sure that you are fairly compensated and that your legal rights and financial standing remain in the best possible condition as a result of the accident.
Being involved in an accident with a truck is something that can change your life in the blink of an eye. Taking the right steps at the scene of the accident and during the days and weeks afterward can make a world of difference in your quality of life for years to come.