Due to size disparities and the basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and a passenger car is likely to result in serious injuries and significant property damage.
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What to Do if You Are Injured in a Truck Accident
Any motor vehicle accident could potentially result in serious injuries and property damage. This is especially true when the crash involves a large commercial vehicle. If you or a family member was involved in a truck accident, you may be unsure about what you should do next.
What follows is a general guide to what you should do immediately after an accident involving a tanker, tractor trailer, semi or 18-wheeler. Your first priority should be taking care of any injuries you sustained; you need to seek medical attention immediately. As soon as possible after an accident, you also need to contact an attorney. An experienced truck accident attorney at Steelman, Gaunt & Horsefield, Attorneys at Law in Rolla, MO, can advise you about what to do and the steps that you need to take in order to preserve evidence and bring a claim.
When talking to the police or highway patrol about the accident, it is important to be truthful, but to also keep your comments minimal. Limit yourself to asking if anyone was hurt. You should definitely not:
- Express a belief that the accident was your fault
- Tell the other driver that your employer will "take care of everything"
- Say "I didn't see you" or something similar
Comments like these could be taken as an admission of fault. At this stage, it is often too early to determine legal liability, and you do not want to risk damaging your case or jeopardizing your rights down the road.
Report the accident
Call 911 to report the accident immediately, especially if there are any injuries. Many states' laws require that you report an accident right away; leaving the scene of an accident without waiting for the police to come is a crime in most jurisdictions. Reporting an accident and ensuring that a police report is generated is also important from an insurance perspective.
See a doctor
It is best to see a doctor soon after an accident, even if you are not sure that you need it. You may be dazed or in shock from the accident and not notice your own injuries. In addition, some injuries, particularly head or brain trauma, may not manifest right away. It can take time and sophisticated medical testing to determine the real impact. It is important to make sure that you have not sustained any serious injuries, or if you have, that you are seen by a doctor or other health care professional immediately so that proper treatment can begin.
Notify your insurance company
Instructions on how to report a claim, including the person or office to whom it must be reported, will be found in your insurance policy, so you should call your insurer as soon as you can. You should also review your policy to find out how much and what kind of coverage you have.
The role of a personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck accident, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. You will likely need to file a legal claim to ensure that you are properly compensated, and it is is critical to have an attorney begin investigating the accident and preserving evidence as early in the process as possible. An attorney can assist you with gathering evidence such as:
- Information regarding the truck's age, condition and maintenance records
- The speed the truck was traveling at the time of the accident
- The truck driver's log book, GPS information and the truck's "black box"
- Witness statements from eyewitnesses and first responders
- The driver's driving history and whether he or she had any prior accidents
- The company's accident history
- The relationship between the driver and the carrier (i.e. whether the driver was an employee or an independent contractor)
- The transportation company's policies and procedures regarding safety and maintenance
Your attorney will also be able to work with expert witnesses who may be needed to testify about the possible negligence of a trucking company or driver. An expert can be any person who has experience in the trucking industry, such as a former trucking company executive, a safety director, a department of transportation investigator or an accident investigator with experience in the trucking field.
Speak to a trucking accident lawyer today
After a serious accident involving an 18-wheeler, tanker, dump truck or other large commercial vehicle, you may have many questions. An experienced personal injury attorney at Steelman, Gaunt & Horsefield, Attorneys at Law in Rolla, MO, can provide advice about how to handle your truck accident case.
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