Trucking accidents are traumatic. They take you by surprise, and the initial shock can muddle your senses to such a degree that you freeze. You don’t know what to do. The chaos is only worsened by any physical injuries you’ve experienced—and in a collision with a large commercial truck, these injuries can be significant. It’s important to know what to do in the minutes, days, and weeks following a trucking accident so you can protect your health and your rights.
Before we begin, we must stress that every accident is different and may require a unique approach depending on the severity of injuries, the location of the crash, and countless other factors. Please consider the following a guide and use your best judgment in the moment to make the right decisions based on your individual situation.
Step 1: Stay at the Scene
You should remain at the scene of a trucking accident you witnessed or were involved in unless you are severely injured and must be taken to the hospital by emergency personnel. By law, you must exchange insurance, driver’s license, and contact information with the other party or parties. You should also render aid to anyone in need—if it is safe to do so.
Step 2: Call 911
You should call 911 after a truck accident that has caused injury, is blocking traffic, or is in a potentially dangerous location. Firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement officers who arrive at the scene can redirect traffic, provide medical treatment, transport the injured to the hospital if needed, and take statements from all involved parties. When this is happening, try to note down the names and badge numbers of anyone you interact with. You should also avoid saying the accident was your fault in any statement to the police, but we will go over that in more detail.
Step 3: Seek Medical Attention
Every person involved in a trucking accident should seek medical attention, even if they feel “fine.” Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries can remain unknown for hours, days, and sometimes weeks after a collision, only to cause significant pain and mobility issues later. Even if you were treated at the scene and cleared by emergency personnel, see a doctor. Tell them you were involved in a truck accident, and they will know what type of injuries to look for. Put your health first by seeking medical care as soon as you can, and follow your doctor’s orders.
Step 4: Gather Information & Document Evidence
If you can, try to gather information and document evidence while you are still at the scene. You can even return to the scene later to take pictures or make notes of what you remember. The contact information of witnesses, badge numbers of emergency personnel, license plate numbers of all involved vehicles, and even photos taken with your cell phone can all be used to support your future claim.
Step 5: Do Not Admit Fault
Your insurance company, the trucking company and their representatives, law enforcement, and a host of others are going to start asking you questions. If you’re a kind and empathetic person, you might be tempted to apologize even if you were not at fault. Do not admit fault. Only an investigation will reveal what caused the crash. Even if you think you’re to blame or are not sure exactly what happened, something else or someone else may have been the accident’s true cause.
Step 6: Avoid Sharing on Social Media
Social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook can offer a somewhat cathartic means of sharing life’s experiences with friends and family. It might be tempting to post about your accident. Don’t. You might even see articles online or see the crash covered by your local news station, which is not unheard of with trucking accidents because they can cause serious devastation. Don’t comment on these posts and keep your own social media profiles free from any statements or opinions about the crash and your injuries. Anything you post online could appear later in court. A simple post like, “Wow, that was a crazy crash with a huge truck. My car is totaled but I’m okay!” could hurt your case, especially if you have latent injuries. The other side could claim that you were not seriously injured, and yet you’re now dealing with debilitating pain. Keep a low profile to avoid potential problems.
Step 7: Do Not Make a Statement or Sign Anything
If you’re given paperwork to sign or are asked to give a statement by the trucking company or insurance company, look it over carefully. Do not make an official statement or sign anything that says you are to blame, that limits your recovery, or that absolves the other party or parties of fault. You may even be offered a settlement check early on. Insurance paperwork is complicated and initial settlement offers are usually too low to cover all a truck accident victim’s expenses and losses. Do not sign anything or deposit a settlement check without having your attorney look at it first. No one in this process is on your side—except for your loved ones and your attorney. The trucking company isn’t, and neither is your insurance company. They are in the business of making money, not helping people. Your loved ones won’t know exactly how to help. You need a professional on your side to protect your interests.
Step 8: Call a Trucking Accident Attorney
This is something you can do at any point after a truck accident, and we recommend doing it as soon as you can. An attorney who is familiar with trucking accidents and all insurance and legal proceedings related to these will be able to advise you early on about what to do (and what not to do) so your interests are protected. An attorney can handle all communication with the insurance company and trucking company for you, all while investigating the cause of your accident to determine who is to blame. While you focus on healing, your attorney can take care of everything else.
Truck Drivers, You Have Rights Too
If you are a truck driver who has been involved in an accident while on the job, the process is similar for you. Remember, you have rights too! Improperly loaded cargo, poorly maintained vehicles, defective truck parts, dangerous roads, and other things outside of a trucker’s control can cause catastrophic trucking accidents that seriously injure the most experienced and cautious drivers. If your well-being was jeopardized by your employer or any other person or company, you have the right to seek compensation for your medical treatment and all losses and expenses you’ve experienced.
Call Arnold & Itkin Today for Your Free Trucking Accident Consultation
Arnold & Itkin is a recognized leader in trucking accident litigation. We represent individuals and families who have experienced the worst injuries and losses, fighting for the answers and justice they deserve so they can face brighter futures. If you have been injured or have lost someone you love, don’t hesitate to contact our truck accident attorneys. There is no cost and no obligation when you call (888) 493-1629 for your free consultation. If we take your case, you pay no upfront costs and nothing at all unless we win.