When a 40-ton tractor truck is involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle, physics has already determined who will lose. The steps an individual should take right after a tractor trailer accident are based on safety and common sense:
Remove yourself and others from danger
This takes precedence over anything else. Busy highways are dangerous places. You do not want to be the victim of a subsequent accident. If possible, get off the road and away from any vehicles that may catch on fire or any cargo that has been spilled from an overturned 18 wheeler. You should never leave the scene of a commercial truck accident.
You might need emergency medical attention for you or a passenger. Even if you do not think you have sustained a commercial truck accident injury, you must still call to report the accident. If you cannot find your cell phone, ask to use someone else’s phone. You should never assume that others have called the police to report the accident. You may have information that will help the dispatcher send the appropriate equipment to the scene
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Take pictures of the commercial truck accident scene, if possible.
Cell phones with cameras have changed the way accidents are documented. Even the police now regularly take pictures of an accident scene. Photographic documentation preserves information that otherwise will be lost after vehicles are moved by police personnel or tow truck operators. The old saying about pictures never lying has a new twist: the implementation of cell phone cameras means more tractor trailer accident victims are able to document the scene of an accident injury for use in court later. One short video clip or a set of pictures taken immediately after a trucking accident can mean thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars in damages.
The scene of a tractor trailer accident is often confused and quickly altered by emergency services. Roads need to be quickly cleared and one tow truck can completely change the layout, destroying any possibility of clearly understanding what happened. In the confusion of a truck accident, witnesses often form false impressions. These can be corrected by having photographic documentation. Along with cell phones, it is more and more likely that there will be other cameras in the area that may have relevance. Gas stations, banks and retail stores now commonly have cameras installed on the premises. Some of these catch street views. Many cities sometime install cameras on overpasses as well. Any evidence that helps to establish the truth is beneficial. It makes a powerful statement in court and can mean the difference between a he-said/she-said battle and a clear illustration of the facts
Obey any directions from police and medical personnel
You will be interviewed by both the police and medical personnel. Be clear and report anything that happened, even if it seems minor, to the first responders. It may be important later and you should mention any loss of consciousness, abrasions from air bags, any vision problems, bruising or cuts… in short, any physical damage you suffered, even if you decline emergency treatment
Contact your personal injury attorney
After your medical needs have been met, the next priority is to protect your legal rights. Making the wrong statements to the police, the truck driver, or others at the scene can affect your chances to obtain a full and fair recovery for damages from your accident injury. The trucking company or their insurance carrier may send a representative to the scene of the tractor trailer accident. If the big rig has flipped or jackknifed, it can take an hour or more to clean up, and this is valuable time that might be lost if you delay
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Notify your insurance company about the commercial truck accident
In most states, you will be required to share insurance information with any other drivers. Do not attempt to get documents from your vehicle until it is safe to do so! This is usually after the police have arrived to control other traffic. When talking to your insurance company keep your statements brief and to the point. You are reporting an accident – you do not have to give all the details at this time.
Obtain information from all potential witnesses
You should note all the information you can about the truck, the trucking company (many are leased and owned by someone other than the driver), the markings and plate on both the trailer and the tractor, and whatever information you can get from the driver, such as insurance and contact information for his or her company.
You should also try to get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. Far too often, witnesses leave after talking to the police, who may or may not get the information you need to contact them later. Your personal injury attorney will walk you through other things you should do after a trucking accident, and these will probably include seeing a doctor as soon as possible for an examination. It might include getting pictures of injuries you or others received. Also, your personal injury lawyer will get a police report and contact witnesses. Your attorney will ask you to write out what happened as you remember it shortly after the accident. Attorneys know that memories fade and having a written record may be critical later on.
Contact Us About Your Tractor Trailer Accident Injury
If you have been involved in a tractor trailer accident injury, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Morris Bart, LLC Attorneys at Law today. We offer a free case evaluation with our personal injury attorneys, who will review the details of your case and advise you on the best approach to getting the compensation you deserve for your commercial truck accident injury.