Every traffic accident is dangerous, but given the size and weight of a semi-truck, it’s not surprising that accidents involving these commercial vehicles can be the most dangerous of all.
The federal government regulates the trucking industry to minimize the risk of having semi-trucks on the road. Because of these regulations, drivers cannot obtain a license without going through training. There are also limits around how many hours a driver can go without taking a break to reduce the number of drowsy drivers on the road. Semi-trucks must also be inspected on a regular basis to ensure they are safe for the road. Despite these regulations, semi-truck accidents still occur.
The party that is held liable will depend on what caused the accident. A number of parties can be held liable after a semi-truck accident, including the driver, the trucking company, or the manufacturer of parts on the truck. For example, a parts manufacturer could be held liable if a defective part caused the accident, but a trucking company would be held liable if the semi-truck was not inspected properly.
What should you do if you’ve been hit by a semi-truck? Follow these steps:
Call for help
If you are ever involved in any type of accident, your safety should always be your first priority. It’s very likely that you will be injured after colliding with a semi-truck, but even if you don’t think you are, you should call 9-1-1 to alert the authorities of the accident. If you can, try to check on everyone else who was involved in the accident to see if anyone needs medical assistance. Report this information to the authorities when you call 9-1-1 so they know what to expect when they arrive on the scene. Do not let any parties leave until a police officer has arrived to take an official report.
Document evidence from the scene
The police officer that arrives at the scene of the accident will begin compiling evidence to determine who was at fault and put together the official police report. But, that shouldn’t stop you from gathering evidence on your own that will help fill in any holes in the police report and prove the other party was liable.
How can you document evidence? Take as many pictures as possible. Photograph property damage, the positioning of the vehicles and semi-truck, any skid marks that may be on the road, traffic signs, and of course, your injuries. This evidence will strengthen your personal injury claim, so it’s essential that you take the time to gather it if you do not need to leave the scene of the accident for medical treatment.
If there were any witnesses, approach them and ask for their contact information so you can get in touch with them later. You should try to avoid getting into a conversation about the accident, though. The only person you need to talk to about the accident is the police officer who is writing the report. When you talk to him, make sure you do not admit fault or say anything that could be taken as you accepting responsibility for the accident.
Document your medical treatment
You should also document the medical treatment you receive after an accident. If you do not need emergency medical assistance, you should visit the emergency room or a doctor immediately after you have left the scene of the accident. Some victims make the mistake of not seeing a doctor because they don’t think their symptoms are serious. But remember, symptoms can sometimes set in hours or days after an injury has occurred, especially if you have whiplash or a concussion. But by this time, it might be too late. If you wait days before you see a doctor, you may not be able to prove the injuries you sustained were caused by the accident.
Once you’re at the doctor, ask for a copy of your medical records so you have proof of the expenses you incurred for your injuries. It’s also important to follow the doctor’s instructions closely. If the doctor recommends that you see a specialist, immediately begin treatment, schedule a follow-up visit, or take certain medications, do as you are told. If you choose to ignore your doctor’s orders, the at fault party’s insurance company could use this against you. The insurance company could say your injuries can’t be as serious as you claim, otherwise you would have listened to what the doctor recommended.
Contact an attorney
It’s strongly recommended that you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident with a semi-truck. You should never speak to an insurance adjuster until you have consulted with an attorney. Why? If the accident was the semi-truck driver’s fault, the trucking company’s insurance provider will immediately be notified. An insurance adjuster assigned to the case will probably try to get in touch with you very quickly to discuss a settlement. As appealing as it may sound to settle the case right away, don’t do it. Insurance adjusters do not have your best interests in mind, so the settlement they offer will not be a fair deal. Besides, in the days following an accident, it’s difficult to even know how much your case is worth. You may still need to undergo treatment, and you may continue to experience pain or miss work for weeks or months following the accident.
Contact an attorney who has experience handling accidents involving semi-trucks. An attorney can immediately review the details of your case, identify the liable parties, and handle the negotiations with the insurance company. Letting an attorney take over after an accident allows you to focus solely on your recovery while your attorney takes care of the rest.
If you have been involved in an accident with a semi-truck, contact us today. Semi-truck accidents often lead to long-term, traumatic injuries, so you will need our attorneys’ help to ensure you recover the compensation you deserve.