The moments after an impact with a truck or semi can be a terrifying experience. The scene will quickly unfold into chaos as those involved try to determine who is hurt, what happened, and who may be at fault. If you are involved in a truck accident, you may wonder what you can and should do in those moments that follow a crash to protect yourself and your rights.
Safety Should be Your Priority
A truck accident will likely have great force and momentum. You and your vehicle could end up far off from the location of the initial impact. If you are conscious and not critically injured, you must make sure you are safe from any other potential dangers that can arise or approach. Take a moment to assess your injuries and if you feel you are in danger, move to safety as quickly as you possibly can.
If you believe you have injured your neck or spine or have another serious injury that restricts your movement, you must await help from emergency medical services if you are not in any immediate danger. Sudden movement can aggravate your injury and worsen your condition. If you are safe, it is always best to await medical attention for assistance out of your vehicle and to safety.
Always Call the Police After a Truck Accident
A truck accident is not minor and will require the presence of law enforcement. Beyond the property damage involved in a truck accident, it is likely there will be injuries to one or more parties. Call 9-1-1 and request assistance from the police as well as medical services for those injured.
The police will arrive on the scene and collect vital information of all parties involved, as well as that of the employers of the truck driver, any applicable insurance coverage, and any witnesses that may have come forward as to the events of the accident.
In many cases, a police officer will issue a citation to one or more parties that they believe may have violated a traffic law and in turn caused the collision. A citation can be used as evidence to prove liability or fault in your case. While the determination of a police officer is not binding on an insurance company it is likely to be considered in the final determination of fault made.
Get Medical Attention
Injuries in a truck accident can be apparent and severe or may be more difficult to discern in the moments after impact. Any time any individual is involved with a vehicle of this size and power, it is suggested that you be evaluated by a medical professional. Many serious injuries such as internal bleeding, concussions, and other damage may not be visible immediately after a truck accident.
Once emergency medical services arrive, have them evaluate you for injuries. Those accident victims with obvious signs of injury such as pain and bleeding will be transported to an emergency room but others that are unsure if they are injured may be left to decide on their own whether a visit to a provider is warranted. If you feel unwell at any point after an accident, you must seek medical care to determine if you have been injured and what treatment might be necessary.
Gather the Evidence Available at the Scene, if Possible
If you are physically able to, you can take the initiative to collect evidence at the scene of the accident. Photographs and video of the damage, the vehicles involved and the environment surrounding the scene can be beneficial to your claim and case.
If you are injured and unable to collect this evidence yourself, you can ask a friend, family member, or another bystander at the scene to do so on your behalf, if possible. Visual evidence from the scene of the accident can provide critical clues and information as to how an accident occurred or what circumstances may have contributed to your injuries and the events that transpired.
Keep a Record of Your Experience
The timeline of a truck accident injury claim or a lawsuit, if necessary, can vary. Settlements can occur in as little as a few months, whereas the resolution of a case that must go to trial can be upwards of a year or more in time. During this period you may be asked for more information, statements, or might be questioned as to your injuries and the events of the accident.
The passage of time can affect your perception and memory. In order to ensure you are able to recollect pertinent information in your case. It is suggested that you keep a personal record of your experience and make notes on important facts, conversations, and other information that will be relevant to your claim or lawsuit.
Focus on Your Recovery and Follow Up with the Treatment
The recovery after a truck accident can be difficult and long. Many victims of these truck accidents suffer painful injuries and frustrating timelines for recovery. After a truck accident, your priority must turn to your recovery and helping your body and mind heal as best as possible from the injuries and damage you have suffered. Follow through with all prescribed medical treatments from your providers to ensure the best possible recovery for your wellbeing.
Contact an Attorney to Protect Your Rights
In the days after a truck accident, you or a loved one on your behalf, if you are unable to, must contact a lawyer to assist you in the protection of your rights. Insurance companies and at-fault parties will want to make every effort to close out your case quickly. This can lead to denials of your claim or unreasonably low settlement offers. Do not communicate with the insurance company of the at-fault party or entertain any settlement offers until you have spoken with an attorney and discuss the options in your case.
If you or a loved one is injured in a truck accident, contact a personal injury lawyer for a free evaluation of your case and the facts surrounding the accident and your injuries.