What to Do After a Truck Accident: 10 Steps
In the immediate aftermath of a serious truck accident, it can be difficult to know what to do. The steps that you take after being injured in a collision with a commercial truck are critical for protecting your ability to recover fair compensation. The experienced truck accident attorneys at Raynes & Lawn have written this 10-step guide of what to do after you have suffered injuries in an accident with a commercial truck.
1. Call 911.
The first step you should take after a collision caused by a large truck is to call 911 to request help. When you call 911, the police and first responders will be summoned to the accident scene. After the police arrive, tell them what you recall in the moments leading up to the collision. Make sure to get a copy of the police report. While police reports are generally inadmissible in evidence, they contain crucial information that can be used during the investigation of your collision. A police report will normally include the following types of important information:
- Witness statements
- Statements from each involved party
- Sketch of the accident scene
- Contact information for each involved driver
- Police officer’s opinion about who was at fault
An experienced commercial truck accident attorney can review the report and work with experts and investigators to help determine liability. The insurance company for the trucking company will likely try to engage in aggressive defense tactics to try to place the blame for your accident on you instead of the truck driver. If this occurs, an experienced attorney can start with the police report to build evidence that clearly shows the liability of the driver, another third party, and the trucking company to recover fair compensation for your losses.
2. Collect evidence at the accident scene.
Evidence collected from the accident scene is critical for proving what happened. When you collect evidence at the scene, you can preserve details about what happened and prevent the information from being falsified or altered. If you cannot collect evidence at the scene, ask someone else to do it for you. Take photos of the damage to both vehicles, tire skid marks, the driver’s license plate, and other relevant details at the accident scene. As soon as you can, write down everything that you remember in the moments leading up to your crash. Gathering evidence can have a major impact on your case’s outcome.
3. Exchange information with the other involved parties.
Under the law, you are required to exchange your insurance and contact information with the other driver in an accident. Ask the truck driver for his or her name, insurance information, address, the name of the trucking carrier, and the number of the truck. Getting this information can help to speed up the claims process.
4. Ask witnesses for their contact information.
If anyone else saw what happened in your truck collision, ask the witness or witnesses to stay and give a statement to the police. You should also ask each witness for his or her name and contact information so that your attorney can contact them later. Witness testimony can be important evidence in a truck accident claim since they are unbiased and can provide eyewitness reports of what occurred.
5. Get medical help.
Following a truck accident, getting immediate medical attention is vital. Because of the size and weight disparities between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, truck collisions frequently result in serious injuries, including injuries that might not be immediately obvious. For example, you could suffer internal injuries, a traumatic brain injury, or other injuries that might not immediately show symptoms but still be serious. By getting immediate medical attention, you can obtain accurate diagnoses and begin treatment to prevent your injuries from growing worse. When you go to the emergency department or your doctor’s office as soon as possible after your accident, you can receive a diagnosis of your injuries and a prognosis of their likely effects on your future. Having a medical report showing that your injuries are directly linked to your accident is also important for demonstrating that they happened in the collision rather than in a different incident.
6. Talk to a Philadelphia truck accident attorney.
After a truck accident, the driver must report the collision to his or her employer and submit to post-accident substance abuse testing. Truck drivers who do not report their accidents or undergo substance abuse testing can have their licenses revoked or suspended and be ordered to pay fines. Once the driver notifies his or her employer, the company’s insurance company will likely send investigators to the accident scene immediately to start to build a defense case. You might be contacted by an insurance company representative who might try to get a statement from you or ask you to sign a medical release. You should not agree to provide a statement or sign any documents from the trucking company’s insurance carrier without talking to an attorney. A lawyer can handle the communication for you and help to prevent you from making critical errors that might harm your case.
7. Get proof that the truck driver was employed by the trucking company.
Trucking companies are vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees, including the truck drivers they employ. If you can prove that the driver was employed by the trucking company, you might be able to recover compensation from the driver’s employer for your losses. A commercial truck accident attorney can help you to secure documentation that the driver was employed by the trucking carrier and was not an independent contractor.
8. Draft a demand letter.
After your attorney has investigated your claim and has identified each party that might be liable, he or she will draft a demand letter to send to each involved insurance company. This letter will include details of your injuries, the causes of action, and the monetary amount that you are demanding to settle your claim. Once the insurance companies receive the demand letter, they can accept it, deny it, or make counteroffers.
9. File an insurance claim.
It is a good idea for you to get help from an experienced Philadelphia truck accident attorney when you file a claim with the insurance company. Having an attorney’s help when you file a claim might make the difference in your claim’s outcome. If the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, you and your attorney can then decide whether it might be worthwhile to continue negotiating, accept the settlement offer, or pursue a lawsuit.
10. Decide whether to settle your claim.
The vast majority of truck accident cases are settled outside of court. However, it is sometimes necessary to take a case to trial. If the insurance company refuses to extend a fair settlement offer, your attorney can talk to you about whether you should file a lawsuit and go to trial. Choosing to go to trial can be expensive, and your attorney will only recommend going to trial if he or she is certain that you will prevail.
Get help from a commercial truck accident lawyer at Raynes & Lawn
Getting legal help after a truck accident might make the difference in whether or not you recover compensation for your losses. If you have suffered serious injuries in a truck collision that was caused by the negligence of someone else, you should call a Philadelphia truck accident attorney at Raynes & Lawn at 1-800-535-1797.
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