Steps to Take if You’re in a Semi-Truck Accident
Getting into a motor vehicle accident is always an unsettling experience, and this is especially true when someone is involved in an accident with a big rig truck. Semi-trucks typically weigh 80,000 pounds or more when they are fully loaded, and when a vehicle of this size collides with a regular passenger vehicle, there is a much greater chance of serious injuries, even when the crash occurs at a lower speed.
After the crash, you may feel pretty shook up. This is a natural reaction to a traumatic event like this. The first thing you need to do is calm down, take a deep breath, and collect your thoughts. The steps you take right after a commercial truck accident are very important in helping ensure that everyone receives the medical attention they need, and that you are able to protect your right to recover compensation if you sustained any injuries.
Here are five things you should do immediately after a semi-truck accident:
Call for Medical Help
The first thing that should be done after any type of vehicle accident is to call 911 if anyone is injured. As mentioned earlier, commercial truck accidents can result in serious injuries, and sometimes, these injuries are not felt immediately at the accident scene. The adrenaline of what just happened might mask the injury, and you may not feel anything until several hours or even a few days later. Just to be on the safe side, make sure everyone gets checked out, so that any injuries that were sustained can be treated right away.
Call the Police
If the collision causes serious damage and/or there are any injuries, the police should be summoned to the accident scene. The police can help ensure that the vehicles involved can be moved safely out of oncoming traffic. The police will also create an official accident report, which will be a major piece of evidence in determining the cause of the accident and whose fault it was.
Gather Information about the Accident
Even though the police will have an official report, it is also important for you to have your own report of the accident. This starts with information on the semi-truck driver. The police will most likely ask you and the driver to exchange information; such as:
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers;
- Insurance information;
- Driver’s license numbers;
- Information about the truck driver’s employer (if employed);
- The truck’s license number and vehicle registration number;
- The US Department of Transportation (DOT) serial number (if available).
Along with exchanging information with the other party, take multiple photographs of the accident scene, showing as many different angles as possible. And if you happen to have a dashboard camera, be sure to capture any available video footage of the accident.
Finally, create a detailed report of the accident while everything is fresh in your mind. You can either write out the report if you are able, or you can make a voice recording with your smart phone that can be transcribed later. Within a few days, the police report should be available for review. Be sure to look it over and compare it to your own report, so any inaccuracies that are on it can be corrected.
Obtain Witness Statements
If there are any individuals nearby who witnessed the event, be sure to get statements and contact information from them. In many cases, a witness will be willing to provide a video or audio statement which you can record at the scene. These statements and any subsequent eyewitness testimony will be very helpful in substantiating what is in the official report regarding the accident.
Be Careful What You Say After the Accident
When you speak with the semi-truck driver, police, witnesses, and anyone else, be polite and courteous, but also be cautious about discussing the accident too much. Alabama is a “contributory negligence” state, which means that if an injured party is found to be even 1% at fault for the accident that caused the injury, they can be barred from recovering damages. Never apologize or admit any fault for the crash, and do not say too much about it on social media or anywhere else that could be discovered by the other side.
Injured in an 18-Wheeler Accident? Contact an Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney in Dothan, AL
If you sustained any injuries in the commercial truck accident you were involved in, you may be entitled to damages. These types of cases are very complex, however, because there are numerous laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry, and there are several parties that could potentially be at fault for the accident. This is why we recommend getting in touch with a skilled and knowledgeable truck accident lawyer as early as possible, so your right to recover full and fair compensation can be protected.
If the accident occurred in Alabama, call Smith & McGhee, Attorneys at Law at 334-702-1744 or message us online for a consultation. We will meet with you without obligation to discuss your case and inform you of your legal rights and options.