Commercial truck accidents can mean catastrophe for many victims injured in those accidents. A commercial truck accident often means substantial property damage and severe injury due to the large size of a commercial truck compared to most passenger vehicles. If you get into an accident with a commercial truck, therefore, protecting your right to compensation is critical. Make sure you follow these steps after your commercial truck accident to help ensure the best possible outcome.
1. Make medical care top priority.After a truck accident, you may have severe injuries that clearly require immediate medical attention, which means you may have to leave the screen of the accident in an ambulance. Do not put off the ambulance or insist that you do not need medical care, which could ultimately result in you failing to get the treatment you need for severe injuries. Even if you were lucky enough to walk away from the truck accident with seemingly minor or even no injuries, go ahead and see a doctor to make sure that you did not suffer more serious injuries than you think. Often, people do not realize the severity of their truck accident injuries until well after the initial accident. Continue to make your medical care top priority throughout your recovery. That may mean:
- Following your care provider’s instructions carefully
- Keeping up with your appointments, including making any follow-up appointments necessary
- Taking care of your physical health during your recovery
2. Report the accident.Never leave the scene of a commercial truck accident without reporting the accident. A police report helps establish several key details about your accident: when it occurred, where it occurred, and, in many cases, who caused the accident. All of that information can be critical to a truck accident claim. When the police respond to the scene of the accident, they will ask you to give a report about what happened. What did you see? What caused the accident? Did you note any additional challenges that may have contributed to the accident? Offer the police an honest assessment of what you observed. However, do not make statements that could be perceived as accepting fault, even partial fault, for the accident.
3. Get some photos of the accident scene, if you can.Remember, medical care and safety need to remain your top priority. If you cannot get out of your vehicle safely, or cannot move around the scene of the accident without placing yourself in danger, let the photos wait. On the other hand, if you can safely move around, and moving around does not cause you to worsen your injuries in any way, take some photos of the accident scene. You may want pictures of:
- The truck
- The truck’s license plate
- The truck driver’s license and registration
- The damage to both vehicles
- The scene of the accident itself
4. Let your employer know about the accident.Many truck accident injuries may require you to be off work for some time while you recover. Talk to your employer as soon as you can after your accident. Notify your employer about your accident, your injuries, and your doctor’s recommendations. If you will need modifications or assistance from your employer so that you can return to work, make sure you discuss them as soon as possible so that your employer has the time needed to respond to your needs. Make sure you keep record of the time you miss at work, including whether you needed to use vacation time or sick time while recovering from your injuries.
5. Talk to a lawyer to learn more about your rights.In many cases, you will want to talk to a truck accident lawyer before you talk to your insurance company or the truck driver’s insurance company about the accident. Insurance companies may not offer you all the insights you need about your case, including the compensation you might really deserve for truck accident injuries. Sometimes, the truck driver’s insurance company may not give you a fair idea of the compensation you really deserve–and might even press you to accept a low settlement offer that does not really fit your future needs. By talking to a lawyer first, on the other hand, you can get a much better idea of your next steps and how to proceed with your truck accident claim. A truck accident claim can prove much more complex than the average car accident. Having an attorney on your side can make it easier to go through all evidence related to the claim and identify the parties that may share liability. For example, your lawyer may want to look at:
- The truck’s “black box,” which may offer some record of what led to the accident
- The truck driver’s logbooks and records
- The truck’s maintenance records
- The trucking company’s policies
- The load in the truck, who loaded it, and any problems with the load that could have contributed to the accident