If you are in a collision with a big rig truck, it can be an unsettling and frightening experience. Large commercial trucks are typically 20 to 30 times heavier than other types of vehicles, and they can do widespread damage when they are involved in an accident. At first, you may be in a bit of a shock and you may not be totally sure if you are hurt or not. Next, your heart starts to race, and a million thoughts go through your mind as you think about what all this means and what needs to be done to properly handle the situation.
The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. The steps you take immediately after an accident with a semi-truck could greatly impact any claim you bring later on for property damage and injuries, so it is important to clear your mind and remain calm to help ensure that everything can be handled appropriately.
Here are five things you should do after you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle:
Call for Medical Help
The first priority after any type of motor vehicle accident is to make sure everyone who is hurt gets proper medical attention, and this includes yourself. You may not feel hurt while you are at the accident scene, but this could just be because of adrenaline, or the fact that some injury symptoms do not start to show up until later on. Call 911 immediately to bring an ambulance to the scene. Along these same lines, if there are injuries, the police should be called as well. In many cases, the 911 operator will call the police for you. Otherwise, call the police to the scene, so they can assist those involved in the accident, document the incident, and get an official report on file.
Secure the Accident Scene
After you call for help, move your vehicle (if possible) to a safe location that is off to side of the road or otherwise out of the line of traffic. Keep your hazard lights on, and put cones, flares, or flashers around the vehicles involved in the crash so other motorists can avoid them.
Collect Information about the Accident
Exchange information with the truck driver, and obtain their name and contact information, driver’s license number, U.S. DOT serial number (if available), the name and contact information of their employer (if applicable), and their insurance information. You should also document as much as possible for your own records. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene and write down or voice record on your cell phone as much detail as you can about what happened while everything is fresh in your mind. The police will file an official report, but you should have your own report as well, so you can compare it to what the police reported and correct any errors.
Obtain Witness Statements
If there were any individuals nearby who witnessed the event, be sure to obtain statements and contact information from them. Many times, witnesses will allow you to record a video statement from them describing what happened. If you are able to do this, the testimony of these witnesses can be extremely valuable in proving your case if you decide to bring an accident injury claim later on.
Report the Accident to your Insurance Company
Most insurance companies require you to report an accident within 24 to 72 hours after it occurs. Individual policies may vary, so it is best to get in touch with your insurer as soon as possible. Report the accident, but only give them the facts. Do not admit fault or speculate on who was at fault, leave that for the experts to sort out. Also, do not give an insurance company any recorded statements or sign any medical release forms without first speaking to an attorney.
Injured in a Commercial Vehicle Accident in South Carolina? Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident in South Carolina, it is important to get an attorney involved as soon as possible after the accident, so important pieces of evidence can be preserved and your legal right to compensation can be protected. At Peake & Fowler, we have extensive experience successfully representing clients who have been injured in commercial truck accidents. We work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward obtaining the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.
For a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at 803-998-2412 or send us a message through our online contact form.