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Steps After a Truck Accident

What Steps Should I Take After a Truck Accident?

July 7, 2020

Chaotic is the best way to describe the aftermath of any truck accident. The sheer size of semi trucks means that the vehicles involved may sustain massive damage, often resulting in serious injuries.

Your truck accident claim starts in the moments immediately following the collision. Although this puts significant pressure on accident victims when they are most vulnerable, taking the steps below can make a big difference in your ability to recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

If you have been hurt in a truck accident, please contact the Karl Truman Law Office for a free consultation. Our lawyers serve clients in Louisville and all of Kentucky (call (502) 222-2222) and in Jeffersonville and throughout southeastern Indiana (call (812) 282-8500).

1. Check Yourself and Any Passengers for Injuries

Before you do anything, it is important to assess your own condition and ensure that anyone else in your vehicle isn’t in immediate danger. Signs to watch out for include:

  • Bleeding
  • Visibly broken bones
  • Pain
  • Difficulty moving
  • Tingling or numbness in your extremities

You experience a rush of adrenaline and endorphins in the moments immediately following an accident. This might disguise some of the symptoms of a serious injury. So, if you or any of your passengers are unsure how you feel or aren’t confident in your ability to move, the best thing you can do is stay put until rescue arrives. (The exception, of course, is if you or your vehicle is in some kind of imminent danger.)

2. Call 911

Fire, police, and emergency medical personnel will need to respond to the truck accident in order to render aid and start controlling the scene. Don’t wait for someone else to call for help; you or one of your passengers should dial 911 as soon as possible.

When rescue workers are on the scene, be sure to comply with their directions. Paramedics will administer field tests and provide preliminary treatment for your injuries. If they recommend that you should be transported to the emergency room, it is important for you to go.

Serious injuries are the rule rather than the exception in truck accident cases. It may not be possible to treat your injuries at the scene, and getting to the hospital may be in your best interest. However, if you are released, keep reading for additional steps you can take to start building your trucking accident claim.

3. Talk to the Police

Police officers who respond to the scene of a truck accident may perform a variety of different jobs. They may be cordoning off the crash site or redirecting traffic, or they may be documenting the accident.

If you are treated and released at the scene, the police will want to speak to you. Give the officer a truthful statement about what happened, then ask how you can obtain a copy of the police report.

Other important information to gather as part of this step:

  • The name of the officer who took your statement
  • His or her badge number
  • Where the officer is based, including the precinct and specific police station

Depending on the circumstances, multiple agencies may be involved in the investigation of the truck accident. If investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the National Highway Traffic, and other bodies request information from you, comply in the same way that you did in giving your police statement.

4. Exchange Information

Just like in a car accident, getting information from the truck driver and the drivers of any other vehicles involved in the crash is very important. You will be looking for some of the same information that you would from the driver of a passenger vehicle, with a few key additions or differences:

  • The name of the truck driver
  • His or her address
  • Contact information, including phone and/or email
  • The license plate on the rig
  • Driver’s license number (the driver of the semi should present you with a commercial driver’s license)
  • The name of the truck driver’s employer and the owner of the truck
  • The trucker’s insurance carrier and his/her policy number

Focus on obtaining this information and then moving to the next step. It is important not to get into an argument with the truck driver and any other drivers involved in the crash.

5. Document the Crash Site

Government agencies and insurance companies will begin investigating the truck accident almost immediately. If you have been evaluated for injuries and released at the scene, you can take your own steps to preserve evidence, too.

Amid the chaos that often accompanies a truck accident, there are several important details you will want to document in written notes, pictures, and video:

  • The damage to your car
  • The damage to the semi truck and other vehicles
  • Injuries you have sustained
  • The surface of the road – look for signs of damage, such as skidmarks, cracks in the pavement, and heat or fire damage, as well as objects that may have fallen off the truck and into the road
  • Conditions at the scene, including traffic, weather, and more

When you consult with an attorney, any documentation you have of the truck accident will be helpful in establishing the details of your case. After reviewing the information you bring to your free consultation, our lawyers can take the next steps in investigating your claim.

6. Talk to Bystanders

Unsurprisingly, truck accidents draw a lot of attention. If a crowd gathers at the scene, some of the people there may have seen what happened leading up to and during the crash.

Eyewitness testimony can be a valuable tool in any legal case. Therefore, it is in your best interest to speak to the people at the scene and ask them if they are willing to share their account of the accident.

Take notes or record what they tell you, and then ask for their name and how you can get in touch with them. Your lawyer may follow up with any witnesses you have spoken to as part of building your case.

7. Seek Medical Attention

The on-scene assessment of your injuries by paramedics is intended to rule out life-threatening trauma; it is not a medical diagnosis. Once you’ve done all you can to gather critical information at the scene of the truck accident, you should make an appointment with your doctor or visit the emergency room or an urgent care clinic as soon as you can.

Seeing a doctor in a timely fashion makes an enormous difference in preventing the serious complications of a variety of severe injuries. Brain injuries, damage to internal organs, soft tissue damage, and more can all get worse with delayed intervention. Sometimes the results can be life-threatening, if not fatal.

One of the major reasons that accident victims don’t seek medical care is because they are concerned about the cost. After a truck accident, your health should be your number-one priority. And, should you pursue a lawsuit against the negligent party or parties, any medical expenses you incur will be part of your demand for compensation.

8. Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Many insurance policies require you to report an accident as soon as possible. This requirement applies whether you were 100% not at fault for the crash and whether you plan to file a lawsuit against the truck driver, his or her employer, and other parties.

So, you should notify your insurance company of the truck accident as soon as you can. Your lawyer can advise you on the best way to proceed with reporting the accident and what to do if a representative from your insurer contacts you.

9. Do Not Make a Statement to Outside Insurance Adjusters

If you make a claim against the truck driver’s insurance or the insurer for other parties that may be liable for the accident, you may be contacted by an adjuster for the insurance company. They will likely present themselves as helpful and friendly, and they might ask you to make a statement about the crash.

It is in your best interest to decline to speak with the agent and refer him or her to your attorney. The adjuster and any other agents of third-party insurance companies are not your friend, and they will use any part of your recorded statement to try to devalue your claim.

10. Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer

Semi truck accidents are complicated. Like most people, you have probably never been in a situation like this before, and the ramifications of a misstep can have an enormous impact on the compensation you are able to recover for your injuries.

Therefore, although all of the steps above are important in order to build your case and protect your rights, perhaps the most important is finding a lawyer you can count on to discuss your legal options.

Read Karl Truman’s book 7 Big Mistakes to Avoid After a Big Rig Trucking Accident.

The Karl Truman Law Office has extensive experience in accident claims involving 18-wheelers. If you are wondering what to do next after being hurt in a collision with a big rig, our attorneys can review your case for free and advise you on how to proceed.

Our lawyers serve clients injured in truck accidents throughout Kentucky and southeastern Indiana. For service at our office in Louisville, please call (502) 222-2222. Or you can contact us in Jeffersonville at (812) 282-8500.