You can follow this list of things to do immediately after a semi truck accident to keep yourself safe and protect your legal rights.
It sometimes feels like semi-truck drivers don’t think they have to share the road with you, doesn’t it?
Accidents happen. Some drivers are careful and put safety first. Others make mistakes because of all the pressure they feel to deliver as much as they can as fast as they can. And some are just plain reckless.
Unfortunately, because they have so much weight and momentum, semi-trucks cause more severe injuries and vehicle damage than the typical accident.
What should you do to make sure you gather a fair settlement if you find yourself involved in an 18 wheeler accident? Here’s a quick check-list:
Get Everyone to Safety
Check yourself first. If you are seriously injured, make caring for your own injuries your priority. Once you’re good, check on everyone in your car. Then, make sure you check on any other person(s) – including the semi-driver – involved in the crash.
Only move other injured people if there is an imminent risk to their safety. You don’t want to move them because – if they have serious injuries – you could make them worse.
Call the Police, But Be Mindful of What You Say
Someone may do this for you. As you’re helping other accident victims, you can ask one to call the police also.
When you do talk to the police, avoid making any statements that may be misconstrued. The trucking company’s attorneys can twist your statements to make you look completely or partially responsible for the wreck and minimize, or eliminate, their own liability.
So, don’t say:
- “I’m sorry for…”
- “I didn’t see the truck.”
- “It all happened so fast.”
Give the police the facts only. Be very clear and concise with your statements. The best response is almost always quick and to the point.
Collect as Much Evidence as Possible
Take pictures with your smartphone, or ask another witness at the scene to do so if you don’t have yours with you. It’s easy to take pictures, and the more you have the better, so take as many as possible.
Shoot a video and record your own narrative of how the accident happened. Consider recording a statement from a witness.
Make sure you have clear evidence of:
- License plate numbers
- VIN numbers
- Company markings on the vehicle
- A picture of the driver’s license if possible
Gather Witness Contact Information
Your smartphone is an amazing tool in this situation. You could have witnesses text you their information. You can use your voice recording to get a statement also. However you do it, make sure you have a full name, physical address, and phone number for as many witnesses as possible.
Demand the Truck Be Preserved
Ask both the towing and trucking company to preserve the semi-truck until your attorney and any other experts have had the chance to inspect it. Insurers, police officers, and Texas DOT will investigate the truck. But once they’re done, the company can repair or replace the truck.
If your case does go to court, or even if it simply goes through a settlement, this gives the trucking company an advantage. They might also try to hide evidence of their guilt.
It is very important that you retain an experienced lawyer for personal injury as quickly as possible following a trucking accident so that a demand to preserve evidence can quickly be sent to prevent the trucking company from destroying or tampering with evidence.
What to Do If an Insurance Adjusters Shows Up
Insurance adjusters will sometimes come to accident scenes. If the offending party’s insurance adjuster arrives, don’t talk to them. Don’t sign anything – no matter what they say. You have no legal obligation to do so.
Take down their contact information and let them know you’ll talk to them after speaking with your lawyer.
See Your Doctor
Even if you think you’re fine and don’t need emergency medical attention, you should at least see a doctor after a trucking accident. Do so again after about a week. During a motor vehicle collision, your adrenaline runs high, which means you may not initially feel pain. By law, you can see any doctor you’d like.
Finally, contact a personal injury attorney ASAP. Judges and juries, if your case has to go to court, believe honest victims act quickly.
Related Reading Suggestions
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.