Commercial trucks, also known as 18-wheelers, tractor-trailers, and semi-trucks, are extremely heavy vehicles. When fully loaded, a commercial truck can weigh over ten times more than an average passenger vehicle. Because of this, they can cause a tremendous amount of damage in accidents – most of which affects the drivers and passengers of the other vehicles involved.
Truck drivers and trucking companies should be held responsible when their negligence causes accidents. However, recovering compensation for damages can be challenging.
Due to the severity of truck accidents, there is often a significant amount of money involved. Insurance companies are not quick to pay large amounts of compensation without a fight. Also, truck accidents can involve multiple parties – including the driver, the trucking company, parts manufacturers, loading companies, and more – which greatly increases the complexity.
Ultimately, these complexities point to why you need a West Virginia truck accident lawyer to help you protect your rights and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. Keep reading for information on how to build your claim after a truck accident, or contact Colombo Law for a free consultation.
If You Are Seriously Injured
What you should do immediately following an accident depends on whether or not you are able to stay at the scene of the accident. If you are seriously injured and unable to remain at the scene, you should take the following steps:
1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Truck accidents can be highly traumatic events, and the seriousness of your injuries may not be obvious at first due to the adrenaline. For your health and well-being, you should never avoid seeking medical attention after a serious accident.
Doing so is also important for your case. If your injuries are serious but you delay medical attention, the insurance company may argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
2. Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer ASAP
The trucking company and one or more insurance companies will begin gathering evidence and building a defense immediately following the accident. You need an attorney to start handling your claim, too.
Seeking legal counsel promptly gives your lawyer a greater chance of recovering crucial evidence from the scene of the accident. This in turn means more time for your attorney to build a strong case on your behalf.
Your attorney can also advise you of the steps you should take to protect your rights. This includes keeping all medical records and not talking to the insurance company.
If You Can Remain at the Scene
Emergency workers may evaluate your injuries and determine that you do not require immediate treatment. Although it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible, there are additional steps you can take at the scene to start building your truck accident case.
If you are able to remain at the scene of the accident, it is in your best interest to do the following:
1. Take Photographs
For the safety of other drivers, accident scenes need to be cleaned up quickly. So, documenting the scene immediately after the accident is the best way to ensure evidence is not lost.
Taking photos and video footage of the scene of the accident can establish key facts, including the damage done to the vehicles, the location of the accident, the condition of the road, the weather, and more. Your photos and videos may also show skid marks or other evidence that can support your claim against the commercial truck driver and other parties.
2. Exchange Information with the Truck Driver
One of the worst-case scenarios following any accident is when you are unable to identify the at-fault driver after the fact. For this reason, if you are not taken to the emergency room, it is important to exchange information with the truck driver following the accident.
In addition to the personal and insurance information you need after a car accident, it is important to get information about the truck driver’s employer. Ask for the company name and contact information, as well as its insurance provider.
3. Interview Witnesses
The evidence you gather at the scene will form the backbone of your case. Eyewitness testimony can help support your claim of negligence against the truck and any additional parties.
If you have the opportunity to speak to witnesses after the truck accident, you should ask them for their perspective of what happened. You should also get their contact information, including name, address, and phone number, so you or your attorney can reach them later if needed.
4. Make a Statement to the Police
It is important to call 911 after any truck accident. However, the police will not automatically respond to every crash. With this in mind, you should ask for the police to come after a collision with a big rig.
Once the police arrive at the scene, they will investigate the accident and obtain statements from those involved. When the officer interviews you, simply answer the questions honestly.
Under no circumstances should you apologize or admit fault for the accident. You may not fully understand how the accident took place. Saying the wrong thing in the police report could hurt your case down the road.
Protect Your Rights After a Commercial Truck Accident
While following these guidelines can help in your pursuit of compensation, there are still many aspects of building a truck accident case that call for experienced legal support. Commercial vehicle accident claims tend to be highly complex, and insurance companies are aggressive in their fight to pay out as little compensation as possible.
For more than 20 years, Colombo Law has been a leading advocate on behalf of the victims of truck accidents. We have achieved significant verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients who suffered injury or lost loved ones in crashes involving multiple types of commercial vehicles.
To even the playing field, get in touch with the compassionate, aggressive truck accident lawyers at Colombo Law for a free consultation. Please call (304) 599-4229 today if you have been injured by a commercial truck in Morgantown or elsewhere in West Virginia.