(Updated for 2022) Following a truck accident, you may not know what to do. The most important thing is to seek immediate medical attention if you are injured. If you do not need an ambulance, you’ll want to make sure that you take care of certain things at the crash scene. If the truck and vehicle involved in the accident can be safely moved, you will want to get them to the side of the road and turn on hazard lights or put road flares down. Once this has been done, there are important steps you can take to protect your legal rights and avoid problems with insurance companies.
- Call the police and other emergency responders: When the police arrive, they will help secure the scene of the accident while the fire department or paramedics can put out any vehicle fires, and extract or treat any injured persons. The police will soon begin working on an accident report by interviewing the truck driver and the driver and any passengers of other vehicles involved in the accident. They will also take witness statements from anybody who saw the accident.
- Document the scene of the accident: Police officers at the scene will undoubtedly be working to document the scene of the accident, but if you are not seriously injured, you will want to get exchange information with the truck driver, including insurance information, the contact information or phone number of the trucking company, and the license plate of the truck. If you have a camera phone readily available, taking photos of the truck crash, including images of the roads, any vehicles involved, and other relevant information can help when working with your insurance adjuster to determine who is at fault.
- Consider a medical evaluation even if you do not have visible serious injuries: Sometimes, serious injuries may not be entirely evident in a motor vehicle accident. Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a very common injury that doesn’t always present immediately. Because a large truck can transmit significant force in an accident to passenger vehicles, whiplash, soft tissue damage, and other injuries that not present themselves immediately can arise. An early medical evaluation can lead to detecting injuries and getting proper medical treatment before your injuries get worse. If you do end up with an injury claim, seeing a doctor shortly after an accident will help to strengthen your case.
- Do not admit liability: It is not always clear who is liable in an accident. To preserve your legal rights you should not admit to being at fault in the accident until you have had the opportunity to speak with a personal injury attorney to get proper legal advice and evaluate your case.
- Do not accept a settlement offer from an insurance company: In some cases, insurers may offer you a token settlement amount “for your trouble”. Accepting this offer may preclude you from any future claims. It is critical you speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer before agreeing to anything!
What are the major causes of truck accidents?
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were approximately 120,000 fatal and injury crashes nationwide during the 33-month study period that involved at least one large truck; 141,000 large trucks were involved in those crashes. Some causes of accidents may be the responsibility of the truck driver or the truck company, while others may be out of their control. This study did find that 87% of accidents were related to driver error, 10% were related to vehicle problems, and 3% were related to environmental variables.
- Driver Errors: Truck drivers are often operating under tight deadlines. Given the safety issues surrounding operating trucks, there are stringent regulations concerning how long truck drivers can operate in a 24-hour period to ensure they get sufficient sleep. These regulations are sometimes ignored so that drivers can reach mileage goals. In some cases, drivers may even use stimulants which can impair their ability to drive to keep longer hours. This type of drowsy or impaired driving is a far-too-common cause of truck accidents.
- Cargo Problems: We occasionally hear in the news about the cargo on the back of a truck causing traffic back-ups. Unfortunately, cargo that is not correctly loaded onto a truck can be dislodged by a slight bump in the road or may fall off a truck during a strong breeze or quick lane shift. Cargo falling from a truck onto your vehicle can be catastrophic – especially at high speeds on a freeway or highway. There are regulations concerning how cargo must be loaded onto trucks and when not followed, accidents and injuries may occur.
- Truck or Equipment Failure: Trucks are heavily used pieces of machinery. They may be driven hundreds of miles every day and are hauling heavy loads across various terrain types. The wear and tear on trucks can cause brake pads to be ineffective, the tread on tires may be worn down causing safety problems when driving, electrical systems can fail which impact the ability to effectively control and navigate the truck or even signal correctly, and trailer couplings can cause trailers to detach while on the road. Truck drivers and trucking companies are responsible for ensuring trucks are properly serviced and maintained.
- Environmental Factors: While environmental factors cannot be controlled by a truck driver or a trucking company, professionals that are operating trucks should be able to take environmental conditions and roadway factors into account when operating their truck to minimize the chance of an accident occurring. This includes providing space between other vehicles on the road, reducing speed, using proper lighting, and even pulling off of the road to stop driving.
Talk to a Truck Accident Lawer Today for a Free Consultation
If you were involved in a car accident involving a truck, it is important that you speak with an experienced truck accident attorney who can review information gathered by law enforcement in a police report, evaluate bodily and property damage, and can put together an accident claim. Contact us today at (240) 403-7200 to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.