Big rig drivers, bus drivers, garbage truck drivers and drivers of every kind of large commercial vehicle know what they are signing up for. They are required to go through rigorous training and certification, pass exams and obtain a special commercial drivers license. Once hired, these drivers are absolutely held to a higher standard, with rules and duties that go beyond the expectation of standard automobile drivers. It's not easy work, but once accepted, they must obey the rules of the road for the safety of everyone.
When these rules are ignored, disregarded or executed carelessly, we run into the most common reason for a semi-truck accident: truck driver negligence. A collision may have happened because a driver got distracted from texting, not getting enough sleep, speeding, and beyond. In many cases, it's the trucking company that may be at fault for an improperly loaded cargo that caused a spill leading to a dangerous collision.
Whatever the case, these next steps after a truck accident with an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle are vital to your physical safety and legal protection:Get Help - Call 9-1-1
Bus and truck collisions are very dangerous and often involve injury and fatalities are. Safety is the top priority here. If you can, dial 9-1-1 right away. This will usually trigger a dispatch of police officers who can create a crash report and interview eyewitnesses.Stay At The Scene of the Accident
In some states, it's considered a hit and run to leave the scene of the collision. Stay put until the police arrive. Move the vehicle to a safe place if in the path of danger. But when possible, leave the automobile in the spot where it came to rest after the collision. It's all about preserving the evidence to be able to prove how the crash was caused and the damages and injuries that result from it.
Check Other Vehicles For Injuries
This is a "put on your own oxygen mask first" situation. Make sure you are safe by getting the medical attention you need. Keep in mind that other vehicles may require medical help as well. If you notice this to be the case, report this in your 9-1-1 call.
Gather Video, Audio, and Photographic Evidence
Evidence begins to disappear immediately. You'll need to create your own record of what happened as soon as possible. Take photos and video everything including your vehicle, other vehicles involved, skid marks on the road, and damage to property. Show the scene by snapping a shot of the intersection with street signs when possible.
Then as soon as possible, use your smartphone to make a video or audio recording, detailing what happened in your own words. Essential details tend to be forgotten with the passage of time. If a collision with injuries turns into a lawsuit, it could be months before you go to court. Having your version of the collision on record could be a very important reference moving forward with legal action.Exchange Information With Other Drivers Involved
These are the essentials to gather from other drivers when possible:
- Phone #
- License Plate #
- Driver's License #
- Insurance Carrier & Agent's Name
- Insurance Policy #
Delay Making Statements About the Crash To Others
You will have an opportunity to tell your story, but because these collisions often trigger lawsuits, wait until you have all of the information, and do not admit fault before you know the facts involved. It's possible an eyewitness saw the bus or truck driver texting, or maybe they ran a red light and a camera caught the footage. Maybe you feel like you have some responsibility for what happened. Even still, take some time to do some investigating, asking the important questions, and putting yourself in a calm state of mind. Missteps can easily take place when we are in the vulnerable place of survival mode.Get Your Case Reviewed By A Truck Accident Lawyer
So you have your claim about what happened. Now have it evaluated by someone who knows how to take on the big trucking and insurance companies. These trucking giants pour big money into protecting themselves. It's best not to go it alone where complex truck accident legal codes are in play.Follow Your Doctor's Orders
Take care of your health and follow the medical regimen that has been put in place for you. This matters not just for you and your loved ones. You can bet the defense attorneys on the other side are checking in on you, making sure you are attending your medical and physical therapy appointments. If you fail to attend, it could imply you weren't seriously injured. Keep a strong record of all doctor visits and payments. These might be needed in the case.Report The Collision To DMV, The Police, Or Other Authority
Each state handles accident reporting differently. In the state of Kentucky, for example, you are required to report a collision to the State Police whenever injuries or death is involved, or when property damage reaches $500 or more.File a Lawsuit - Do Not Delay
The Statute of Limitations is your deadline for filing a truck accident lawsuit. Don't miss this deadline or you may be out of luck. In some cases involving government entities, you must file for lawsuit within six months. And don't forget, evidence must be collected. The longer you wait, the more evidence disappears, and the greater chance that stories may change, as they often do over time.Provide a Car Accident Checklist To Your Loved Ones
Remember the Important Goals - Physical & Legal Safety
Take care of your safety first, and once that is on firm enough ground, you'll need to develop a focused strategy to help restore justice and obtain the very best settlement or award of money damages you deserve from a lawsuit. A full recovery means giving both the physical and legal aspects your full attention.
For more information about the necessary next steps to take after an accident involving a truck, please visit our website for a comprehensive article about this topic at www.isaacsandisaacs.com/truck-accident-lawyer/what-to-do-after-crash.