What You Need to Do After You’re Hit by an 18-Wheeler
There’s a valid reason for the saying of feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck.
For anyone that has actually been involved in an accident with a big rig, you know first-hand the impact that several tons of truck can make on your physical and mental well-being.
From the actual pain related to the impact of the vehicle to the fear from remembering the traumatic event, an accident involving a commercial truck can change your life in an instant.
You don’t have to deal with this traumatic ordeal alone, though. In fact, you should know that the law is on your side – especially in a situation where the truck in question belongs to a company.
There are over 500,000 accidents involving commercial trucks each year. If you are a victim in one of these travesties, there are a few steps you need to take to seek justice.
Seeking Justice After Being Hit By A Truck
Do A Self Check
The most important focus needs to remain on your safety and well-being. If you have just been involved in a truck accident, make sure you take care of yourself and schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. The same say is best.
Depending on the severity of the accident, there are a number of different kinds of injuries that you can incur from a truck collision. Here are some of the most prevalent injuries that you may have faced:
- Broken Bones
- Spine Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
After being hit by a truck, your body suffers both physical and mental trauma. Ensure that you treat your injuries immediately so that you have a stronger chance for a full recovery.
If you are able, try to walk away from your vehicle after an accident just in case there are any fuel or oil leaks. The size and force of a commercial truck can be incredibly damaging with a front, rear, or side impact accident.
Take all safety precautions immediately following a truck accident.
Call Police And File Report
So long as you are not needing immediate medical attention, find a safe place to call the police and file a report.
Chances are, you may not have access to a piece of paper and a pen/pencil after an accident. However, most of us have a Smartphone that we can utilize in a situation such as being hit by a truck.
Using some kind of note-taking app, the more you can jot down from what you just incurred, the better it will be when you get a chance to talk to the police. Make sure to document these pieces of information in your notes:
- Your location
- Which direction you were heading
- Which direction the truck was heading
- Nature of the impact (side, rear, front)
- Types of vehicles involved
- Any potential injuries
- List of any witnesses present
After an accident, it may take anywhere from 2-5 minutes for emergency vehicles to arrive at the scene if it’s a local accident within city limits. If the accident has taken place on a bridge, interstate, or remote area – you may have upwards of 30 minutes to wait for an emergency response.
Having this pertinent information available for the police when they arrive will be incredibly useful to help file a report. Also, writing down as many details as you can help you remember things that may slip your mind in the minutes and hours following the accident.
Don’t have access to any note-taking apps? Another option is to send a text message or an email to yourself from your phone. This way, you have the information readily available and saved.
Photograph The Scene
Just as important as writing down the details of the accident, you should try to take as many pictures of the scene as possible after being hit by a truck. These photos can help provide potential evidence that can help prove fault.
Make sure to get pictures from all angles of the outside of your car, as well as the inside of your car. Start with the part of the vehicle that endured the largest part of the impact.
If you were hit from the rear, make sure to take pictures from directly behind your vehicle as well as both sides. Then, take pictures to document how far the damage extends to your car.
Also, you’ll want to take pictures of the road surrounding your car. If there are skid marks from the braking of the truck, you’ll want to take pictures of those. If there are no skid marks, you’ll definitely want to document that, as well! Lack of skid marks could indicate a distracted driver that didn’t brake before hitting your car.
Here are a few other pictures of the surrounding accident scene that you may want to take:
- Driver’s vehicle
- License tag
- Lane markings (i.e. solid yellow lane lines, dotted yellow lane lines, white lane lines)
- Road surface
Call Your Insurance And File A Claim
Your next step to take if you have been hit by a truck is to call your insurance company and file a claim.
You’ll want to do this pretty soon after speaking to the police, as time is of the essence when it comes to making insurance claims.
There are a handful of details you will want to disclose with your insurance carrier, especially in the event that the fault of the accident lies with the driver of the commercial truck.
When talking to your insurance agent, the notes that you made on your phone app or on a text/email to yourself will come in handy. They will want to know everything that happened – or at least all that you can remember – before, during, and after the accident.
Having notes that were recorded fresh after the incident will be information that your insurance company’s claims adjuster can use to write and file your claim. Further, this claim can be used against the commercial truck driver and the company, should they be found at fault for the collision.
Don’t Sign Anything
Of course, a basic rule of thumb for any legal matter is to never sign anything without reading and knowing the scope of the material.
For example, if the commercial truck driver’s company sends an agent or a representative out to the scene of the accident, he or she may ask you to sign some kind of document(s).
Although this situation may be a rarity, it does happen.
After incurring the trauma of being hit by a truck, you are most likely not in the perfect state of mind. You may be stressed, feeling some kind of pain, or just overwhelmed with the gravity of what just happened. This is not the time to be signing, or even reading and reviewing, any type of documents.
Further, without paying an extremely close attention to detail and having a legal professional evaluate any related paperwork, could cost you money should you decide to pursue legal action.
If the commercial company representing the truck driver is trying to coax you into signing any type of documentation, tell them that you will be waiting until your legal representation has the opportunity to review as well.
Don’t Talk To Another Insurance Company
After an accident, it is very commonplace for the other driver’s insurance agency to try and contact you. Although this is a normal practice, it is best not to discuss anything with the company.
You can politely refuse and ask for the following information:
- Name of insurance company
- Name of claims adjuster
- Reason for calling
- Contact information (phone, fax, and email)
After collecting this information, you can let the insurance company know that you will review any material or questions that they may have and get back to them in a timely manner.
You do not want to disclose any information that could deter from a potential case, should you choose to seek legal action after being hit by a truck.
Don’t Talk to The Company’s Claims Adjuster
Most of the time, you will receive multiple calls from the insurance agency of the commercial truck company. This is normal, but again, you do not want to disclose information without reading and evaluating the documents without feeling rushed or pressured.
The claims adjuster may call to follow up on the report that was filed by the commercial truck driver or the company. Although this agent is simply doing their job, you can still refuse politely and ask for the following information:
- Name of claims adjuster
- Name of company (if different from insurance company)
- Reason for calling
- Contact information (phone, fax, email)
- Claim number
You can ask for the claim, as well as the relevant information, to be emailed or faxed to you for review. This will give you time to evaluate the documents and read the small print that can sometimes be easily overlooked.
You want to know exactly how the company is planning to move forward with this claim. Further, you will want to know exactly how you will be viewed and treated as a part of this claim.
Find A Truck Accident Attorney
In order to deal with the ramifications of being hit by a truck, you’ll want to ensure that you have gathered all of your information from the accident.
Make sure to have your notes, pictures, and any potential documents from your insurance company as well as those from the truck driver’s insurance company. These will be necessary for moving forward with a legal claim.
If you choose to seek legal representation in the event of an accident, you’ll want to find an attorney with specific knowledge, expertise, and experience with truck accidents.
Understanding the laws, rules, and guidelines of the trucking industry, truck accident attorneys are well versed in the specifics of how to pursue legal action in this situation. Also, truck accident attorneys know exactly what happens when a commercial trucker is at fault for an accident and what to expect if someone is interested in pursuing legal action.
These types of attorneys are well-versed in the laws, rules, and policies that govern commercial truck companies. Truck accident attorneys are also extremely knowledgeable with the regulations outlined by the Department of Transportation in their state, as well as nationwide.
Don’t Look Like A Liar
One of the last things to remember in the aftermath of being hit by a truck is to take it easy and rest. There are very few times that someone is hit by a commercial truck and doesn’t have some sort of physical or mental impairments as a result.
You need to let your body rest, heal, and recuperate from the trauma of a truck accident, especially one involving a passenger type vehicle.
If you choose to pursue legal action as a result of being hit by a truck, you’ll want to ensure that you are not taken as a phony or as someone that is suing without a valid reason.
If you are claiming physical damages, then you will not want to be seen jogging in your neighborhood or doing physical activity that requires a good amount of exertion.
A commercial truck company that is being sued will inevitably have agents monitoring the status of the person who is seeking damages. You don’t want to be found as a fraud, especially in a court of law.
Know Your Rights
Being hit by a truck can be one of the scariest situations that could happen in your life. If you have been affected by a commercial truck accident, don’t think you have to endure this nightmare alone.
Know the steps that you need to take in the aftermath of the collision, and remember that you have resources that are available should you want to pursue legal action.
If you have been the victim of a commercial truck accident, don’t let trucking companies intimidate you or pressure you. Know that you have rights and that there are legal representatives and well-trained attorneys that can help you seek justice.
Stephen Babcock of Babcock Partners is standing by to help you.
Your case — and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free, and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee.
Contact us today.
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