As liberating as it may be to take to the open road and explore great new places, there is an element of danger involved. Any time you get behind the wheel, there is a percentage chance you’ll get into an accident, that’s just simple probability. One hazard people often contend with on open stretches of highway are semi-trucks. These trucks help keep our modern lives flowing by transporting goods around the country on a 24-hour basis. Big rigs are still like any other vehicle though in that they get involved in accidents on a frequent basis. Usually weighing in at over 10-20 tonnes, these behemoths are notorious for making quick work of sedans and pickup trucks alike.
Ever wondered what to do after getting in an accident with a semi-truck? Well, if you have, I’ve got just the thing for you:
Do: stay at the crash scene
Unless you are in critical condition and are on your way to the hospital, it is imperative that you stay at the scene of the accident. If at all possible, don’t move the vehicles so the authorities may perform some crash forensics on the scene, although if your vehicle is blocking traffic then it is okay to move it off to the side of the road.
Do: call the police
This isn’t the same as an accident between two private citizens. Unless the driver is at obvious fault, there will be some push-back from the trucking company that likely has an insurance policy on the truck. This makes it doubly important to have police on the scene to create an impartial 3rd party report of the situation. In Kentucky, some people have foregone the police and then later learned the trucking company is going after them instead of the other way around. That’s why just about any Kentucky truck accident lawyer will tell you, call the cops! After you’ve informed the police, inform anyone else involved in the accident to remain on the scene as the police are on their way.
Don’t: waste your opportunity to document the scene meticulously
The rise of smartphones has proved extremely advantageous when it comes to automotive accidents. Whip out your smartphone and take as many pictures of the scene as you can. Start with shots that frame the entirety of the accident with both vehicles in frame in such a way that someone looking at the picture could deduce which vehicle was going which way. From there, move inwards and begin to take more specialized photographs of any and all damage to every single vehicle involved. How a car is banged up tells a story in and of itself, with the right pictures of your vehicle and the corresponding damage to the truck, investigators & insurance adjusters will be able to get a good idea of what exactly happened and begin to unravel who may be at fault. Don’t forget to take pictures of things like skid marks, any signage in the area, etc. If you really want to go above and beyond, you can also record a statement from yourself that documents the scene that you can later call on when being asked. It is not recommended that you provide this recorded statement to the authorities as it may be used to confuse you and make you trip up your story, but if there are oral details you’d like preserved then by all means record yourself.
Don’t: forget to exchange information
Now comes the part where bureaucracy begins to seep in. Get all of your information such as name, license plate number, phone number, driver’s license number, and all of your insurance policy information together so you can provide it to the other driver. Make sure that you receive the same information from the driver of the truck and possibly even anyone else involved in the accident. This information is necessary to have, but it will factor in later.
Don’t: make statements to authorities
Chances are, you may be in shock or at bare minimum still hyped up on adrenaline, this is a very poor time to be advocating for your side of the story as you will be very emotionally charged and might not remember the scene flawlessly. Regardless of any perceived wrongdoing by the opposing driver, it is important that you are calm and collected when providing information to the police instead of getting stuck in a fight-or-flight mode. Whatever you say now will set the entire tone of the proceedings. If you are calm and collected, making only the proper statements, there’s very little for anyone to assume and try to pin on you. This way, nothing you say can be twisted and used against you at a later date.
Don’t: go it alone
With all of your documents in hand, find a local lawyer who specializes in these sort of cases, you’ll be going up against some pretty major insurance companies this time around, having a specialist on your side is a prudent idea. From there, they’ll be able to tell you about the strength of your case and more than likely give you a quote for further services. Many lawyers offer free consultations with no obligation, so there’s not much to lose and just about everything to gain.
That’s all there is to it when it comes to immediately after the accident. In the coming weeks you’ll of course have to keep up with your medical appointments if necessary and continue your due diligence with the case, but these tips will keep you in as good a position as possible from the get-go. People often lose their cool immediately after an accident, your composure post-collision can have a huge impact on the outcome of your case. You can very easily sabotage your own hopes at compensation or even land yourself in hot water by having a temper. The police, the insurance company, and especially the other driver won’t have much if any sympathy for you if you go to response is to scream obscenities and make dubious claims. So, I hope you never have to use the tips in this article, but it is always smart to be prepared.