Being involved in a truck accident can be devastating, both physically and mentally. You may have to deal with physical injuries and a totaled car Ė but youíll also have to deal with the trauma of being involved in such a wreck.
Itís hard to think clearly in this situation, but itís important that you take the right steps after this type of accident, both to immediately protect yourself and to ensure you get the compensation you deserve in the weeks and months that follow.
Why Truck Accidents Are More Complex
Truck accidents tend to be more complex than other types of auto accidents for a few reasons:
∑ Damage. First, trucks are bigger. Since force is a product of mass and acceleration, more massive objects tend to deal more damage when colliding at high speeds. In other words, trucks often result in more physical damage (and more human injuries).
∑ Legal complexity. Truck accident lawyers are legally complex because trucking laws vary from state to state Ė and multiple parties are involved. This is why many people involved in truck accidents need to speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to navigate this complex issue.
∑ Ownership and liability issues. The truck driver may be at fault for the accident, but other parties may be held liable, such as the trucking company that owns the truck.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
So what steps should you take in the immediate aftermath of a truck accident?
1. Remain calm. First and foremost, you need to remain calm. Youíll likely be surging with adrenaline and anxiety after the impact, and you may be feeling angry, scared, or panicked. Unfortunately, these emotions will likely succeed only in making you make irrational decisions. Itís much better to take a deep breath and try to think clearly about the situation.
2. Get to safety. Get to safety as quickly as possible. If youíre in a vehicle and itís drivable, pull to the side of the road. If youíre unable to drive, get to the side of the road as quickly as possible. Itís important to avoid causing any more accidents.
3. Contact emergency services (if necessary). Make a quick evaluation of the scene. Is there anyone, including you, your passengers, and the passengers and drivers of other cars, who needs immediate medical attention? If so, that medical attention is your top priority. Contact emergency services and get an ambulance on the scene. Help people get to safety, but otherwise, donít intervene unless youíre a medical professional or youíre instructed to do so by one.
4. Begin documenting the accident. At this point, you should begin documenting the accident however you can. Take photos. Take videos. Showcase the scene and the damage to you and your vehicle. Take a voice memo where you describe the accident or write down the details. Youíll also want to get all the personal information associated with the other driver.
5. File a police report. Itís always a good idea to file a police report. This will serve as an official record of events, so make sure everything is correct before you sign off on it.
6. Talk to witnesses. Eyewitness testimony isnít completely foolproof, but it can be a powerful asset as youíre preparing a case. After youíve documented the accident on your own, see if there are any drivers who have stopped or any other people who saw the accident unfold; get their names and a record of their version of events.
7. Contact insurance companies. After that, itís time to contact your insurance company and provide them will all the information you have. Theyíll help you figure out what to do next, such as getting a settlement offer from the other driverís company.
8. Get medical attention. Even if you feel completely fine after the accident, itís a good idea to get some follow-up medical attention. Visit your doctor for a physical and get any treatment thatís necessary to recover. Document this as well.
9. Talk to a lawyer. Soon after the truck accident, talk to a lawyer. An initial consultation is often free and doesnít take much time. Thereís a chance your insurance settlement wonít be enough to cover the full extent of the damages; your lawyer can help you fight for more.
10. Prepare a strategy. If you decide to file a lawsuit or negotiate for a bigger settlement, youíll need to prepare a strategy. Together with your lawyer, you can decide how you want to proceed.
If you follow these steps, youíll be much safer and more financially secure after a truck accident. Commit them to memory in case youíre ever in such an unfortunate situation.