After a truck accident, you will ideally be able to take steps that protect your rights and improve the likelihood that you will be awarded the compensation you deserve. Realistically, however, trucking accident victims often suffer severe injuries that require immediate medical attention.
Being transported to the hospital directly from the scene makes it difficult if not impossible to start building your claim. In the event that you are able to stay on site, it is in your best interest to take the steps below. However, just because you needed urgent care does not mean you lose the right to compensation.
The key is to find an experienced truck accident attorney to assist with your case. If you need help with a trucking accident claim, Colombo Law is here. Call (614) 362-7000 for a free case evaluation in Columbus.
1. Dial 911
After being involved in a truck accident, it’s imperative that you or someone else calls 911 immediately. Most importantly, you will want emergency medical personnel on the way as soon as possible to get the medical treatment you need. Additionally, the police will respond to shut down the roadways and to begin documenting the scene. Preserving the evidence from the scene is very important for the success of your case.
Large trucking companies and trucking insurance companies hire 24/7 emergency response teams to respond to the scene of truck crashes. In other words, they immediately start building their defense – sometimes while the police are still at the scene.
However, also keep in mind that this police report will be investigated by the defense in your claim, so it’s important to watch what you say. Emotions can run high after an accident, but do your best to answer the officer’s questions in a straightforward, clear manner while providing your perspective on what took place. Most importantly, just tell the truth.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Although preserving the evidence and building your case as quickly as the trucking company is their defense is key, your health is the most important thing and should be your focus. That is why you hire experienced truck accident attorneys to build your case, to interview witnesses, to hire the appropriate experts to inspect the vehicles and the scene, and to make sure you can recover from what was taken from you in the form of your health.
It might seem obvious that someone should go to the doctor or emergency room after an accident. Nevertheless, there are a couple of big reasons that people sometimes avoid getting the medical treatment they need:
- They’re worried about the bills: Medical care is expensive, so an accident victim who doesn’t have insurance or has a high deductible might be afraid to obtain the care they need. After all, what happens if they don’t win the compensation they need to pay the bills? It can be a scary, uncertain time, though not going to the doctor usually just makes matter worse in the long run.
- They don’t realize the extent of their injuries: After an accident, you might be in a state of shock, which can numb your body. It might take hours – if not days or weeks – for the seriousness of an injury to become clear. This can make it easier for someone to try to “shrug off” going to the doctor, only seeking medical attention days or weeks later when their injuries have surfaced. However, if you go to the doctor in the first place, you have shown your concern for your injuries from the very beginning.
Sometimes it’s a combination of both of these concerns, or even just the desire to get on with life as usual. But not getting the medical attention you need after an accident poses a serious challenge to your claim, and we strongly advise that you seek treatment as soon as possible.
3. Document the Scene of the Crash
As we already mentioned, one of the key activities that takes place during most truck accident investigations is accident reconstruction. Our attorneys work with experts to create images and videos that reconstruct how the accident took place. The “black boxes” and airbag modules from the involved truck and vehicles are downloaded using specialized software.
If you’ve suffered serious injuries, reconstructing the accident is especially important. Having accurate visuals to serve as evidence can be invaluable in these situations. Hence, the scene of the crash must be documented thoroughly and accurately so these models can be developed.
4. Get the Truck Driver’s Information
While the truck driver might be solely liable or one of several defendants in your case, it is imperative to get the operator’s information. Usually, an individual injured by a truck will be unable to get the information at the scene. Our lawyers are experienced in truck crashes and know where to look to track down all of the responsible parties and their insurance companies.
Given the obvious danger involved with 80,000 pound trucks traveling next to families in their vehicles, the trucking industry is heavily regulated. Colombo Law’s truck accident attorneys can gain access to the regulator’s information regarding the at-fault motor carrier and their insurance provider, as well as their safety status.
In doing so, we’ll look to answer a few important questions:
- Did the driver have the appropriate training and licensure to be driving the truck?
- Did he or she have any history of drug or alcohol abuse?
- Did he or she regularly work longer hours than he or she was allowed by law?
Sometimes we can uncover a pattern of behavior that led to an accident. After all, it’s generally true that an accident doesn’t happen the first time someone breaks the rules. Instead, it happens as the culmination of a pattern of behavior.
If we can identify such a pattern, it will serve as a strong explanation for how the accident occurred and who should be held responsible for it.
For example, maybe it is true that the driver was regularly driving longer than allowed, but they were only doing so because the trucking company they work for forced them. It’s also possible that the driver did not have the proper training and license to operate a commercial truck, in which case the liability could fall on both the driver and the trucking company.
Trucking companies are responsible for making sure their drivers are qualified, so neglecting to perform a complete background check might mean they carry a significant portion of the liability for the accident.
5. Speak to Witnesses
While the hard evidence surrounding your case is typically the most important part of your claim, having the testimony of others who saw the accident take place and who support (or oppose) your perspective on what happened can greatly strengthen your case. If possible, try to get this information at the scene, since it can be difficult to track down witnesses after the fact:
- Full first and last name for each individual
- Contact information, especially phone numbers
- Any pertinent details, such as if they live or work locally, notes on what they saw, etc.
However, always keep in mind Rule #1: Your health is most important. If you are unable to get witnesses’ information, don’t worry about it. The police will gather some witness information. And, once you retain a truck accident attorney, they will work quickly to track down all potential witnesses necessary to support your claim.
6. Be Careful What You Say (Especially to Insurance Companies)
While we’ve already discussed the importance of being careful and intentional with what you say in the police report, it’s a good rule of thumb to be careful of what you say about the accident and your case in general.
The primary thing to watch out for is insurance companies calling you to get a recorded statement. Oftentimes, insurance company representatives will contact you and they will appear very friendly and to have your best interests at heart. To be clear: the insurance company does not have your best interest at heart. Their only objective is to avoid paying you for the full amount of your damages.
You are not required to give them a recorded statement, and it is often used as a way for claims adjuster, lawyers, and other agents of the insurance company to manufacture inconsistencies in your story and use those against you.
It’s important to always remember that insurance companies will do everything they can to pay you as little in compensation as possible. They might seem friendly, like they have your best interests in mind, but the truth is that they are ultimately watching out for their bottom lines.
7. Contact Our Truck Accident Attorneys in Columbus Today
Unless you have years of experience working on truck accident cases, a thorough understanding of the law, a familiarity with how insurance companies fight claims, and the time and resources to gather evidence and build a case, then you should hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
Truck accident cases are complicated, difficult legal matters that require all of these elements to be successful, and the stakes are simply too high to try to handle the claim yourself while hoping for the best.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, please don’t hesitate to reach out for a free case review by calling (614) 362-7000 today. The attorneys at Colombo Law have obtained many verdicts and settlements for victims of truck accidents, and we’re here to help if you or a member of your family is facing the same situation.