Truck accidents are traumatic and overwhelming for drivers and passengers alike. In the chaotic moments following a crash, motorists and their passengers should consider the following steps:
Your safety should be your first priority. CALL 911. Move to a secure location, but do not leave the scene of the accident. Do not stand near or between vehicles or near traffic. Put out flares and/or reflectors if you have them.
Call 911 to summon the police so they can make an objective report. Record your incident report number, police officer’s badge number, and the police department where that officer works.
Do not discuss who was at fault. The crash site is a place to gather information, not assign or accept blame.
Collect information about the truck driver, including his name, address, phone number, operator license number, state of license, insurance provider, insurance policy number, the truck’s DOT number, vehicle license plate number and vehicle registration.
Also collect name, contact information, and insurer information for the truck owner and the truck driver’s employer.
Collect the names and phone numbers of witnesses. Ask them what they saw and write down their description.
If possible, take photos of the accident scene and damage to vehicles, physical evidence, or surrounding structures, but only if you can do so safely. Photograph the truck and/or trailer, making sure to get any damage, and identifying markings such as DOT numbers, logos, license tags and warnings such as HAZMAT information. If you are unable to take photographs, then make detailed notes or draw a diagram to record this information.
Report the accident to your insurance company for towing/storing your vehicle, obtaining a rental replacement and arranging for repairs. Note where your vehicle will be taken to, if possible. Preserve your car, if you can; it can be important evidence.
You should honestly report whether you feel injured, but all serious injuries are not immediately apparent during the rush of adrenaline following an accident, so you may want to withhold comments about whether you are injured until you have had the opportunity to be evaluated by a physician, if needed. When in doubt, if you are having any symptoms, it is better to seek medical attention immediately.
As soon as possible following an accident, you or someone on your behalf needs to write the trucking company (DOT carrier) and request they not destroy any relevant documents, including the driver’s logs. Otherwise, key documents may be destroyed in the months following the accident.
If you’ve been injured in a truck wreck, you’re at a disadvantage when dealing with the trucking company and/or their insurance representatives, who have almost immediate access to lawyers. It’s critical to consult an experienced truck crash attorney before trying to fully evaluate your claim or accepting any proposed settlement. Insurance companies often try to offer settlements that don’t adequately cover your expenses and other damages allowed by law.
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