What You Should Do at the Scene of the Accident to Protect Your Rights in Case of a Truck Accident
Having an automobile accident that involves a truck is often a devastating experience. Quite literally, your life will change in a second, particularly if one or additional of the members of your vehicle were killed or seriously harmed in the accident. When a 15-ton semi or delivery truck crashes into your automobile, the chances are stacked heavily against those riding in the automobile: They’re going to, without doubt, incur some variety of physical or mental trauma as a result. At a minimum, having an accident with a truck will typically leave the passengers of the automobile severely afflicted and in need of medical, legal and monetary help.
Large transportation companies currently employ rapid-response groups of attorneys, investigators, and accident reconstructionists. These speedy response groups start planning for the defense of a case right away once a major truck accident that has caused a heavy injury or fatality. These groups of attorneys and consultants would typically arrive at the scene of a terrible truck crash before the police do. The stakes during a catastrophic truck injury or death case are very high, and seasoned truck accident attorneys will tell you that these speedy response groups are going to be really aggressive in pushing the bounds of the law to avoid liability for crashes they have caused.
Serious truck accident cases are completely different, and it’s important to debate the case with a seasoned truck accident attorney. Crucial evidence that might have evidenced a violation of important safety rules may be destroyed. As an example, log books that may prove speeding or driving over hours in a very hazardously fatigued state can lawfully be destroyed by the shipping company shortly after a crash if they do not receive the notice to preserve the proof. Black boxes, or electronic information recorders, which will additionally prove crucial facts can even be swiped and erased if the shipping company isn’t placed on notice to preserve it.
Large Truck Accident Statistics
In 2016, 4,317 people were killed in truck crashes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5. 4 percent more fatalities than in 2015, the highest since 2007; 722 were occupants of large trucks, 466 were nonoccupants, and 3129 were occupants of other vehicles. Additionally, almost 16 percent of all large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior speeding conviction, compared to almost 19 percent of passenger automobile drivers involved in fatal crashes.
Common Causes of a Truck Accident
Truck drivers are at the helm of some huge and really powerful vehicles, which implies they ought to practice additional caution whereas on the road, however, this is often not always the case. When an enormous rig driver or shipping company is negligent, it is far more possible that an ensuing accident would have devastating results. Examples of such negligence might include:
There are both state and federal laws specifying how much a transport truck should weigh. This is often not only one weight, one number, however. There also are laws indicating how the load is distributed over every axle. These rules are in place to make sure the truck may still be driven safely while protecting the physical integrity of the road. Sadly, drivers and/or transportation companies might attempt to increase profits by squeezing additional merchandise into the trailer. This will cause problems in overall maneuverability and also as braking, increasing the possibilities of a significant crash.
Large truck drivers are required to follow the Hours of Service (HOS) rules, as set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), to make certain they do not drive longer than is safe. When any driver becomes drowsy, their response time slows, they get distracted a lot more easily and are more inattentive and should even nod off at the wheel. This, sadly, doesn’t stop some drivers, or transportation companies from pressuring their drivers, to break the rules so as to make deliveries more quickly. Quicker deliveries mean more cash and a few might imagine that that is worth endangering the lives of everybody on the road, when, in reality, they are not simply risking the security of other drivers and passengers on the road, but their own safety too.
Trucks are larger, heavier, and taller than other vehicles. As such, the chance of crashing beneath a truck exists. As a result of this, trucks are equipped with underride guards in the back and on the edges. Sadly, these underride guards aren’t always put in properly, could also be built of shoddy materials, could also be broken, or might not be there in the least. In spite of the reason behind an underride collision, if the guards aren’t up to par, the trucker or shipping company could also be held, at the very least partially, accountable for a victim’s losses.
If you, or a loved one, has been injured, or if a loved one has been killed, in a very large rig crash because the results of the negligent or reckless actions of the trucker and/or shipping company, you could be entitled to compensation for your losses. It is vital that you take all of the required steps to make sure the best physical, emotional, and monetary outcome for yourself and your fellow passengers.
Here Are Seven Steps You Should Follow If You Have Been Involved in an Accident with a Truck:
First: Contact the Authorities
Immediately following the accident, provided that you can move and that it seems safe to do so, contact the police or state patrol. It is essential that you summon one of these city or state-level authorities to be present in order to attend to any injured or potentially injured people, as well as to take witness statements and gather evidence concerning the causes and nature of the accident.
Second: Obtain the Insurance Information of the Truck Driver
Whether or not you are able to contact an authority right away, be sure to request the driver’s license, insurance, and vehicle plate information from the driver of the truck. These will be important items to have on record. Remember, even if you, your passengers and your vehicle seem to have made it through the accident relatively unharmed, it is always important to document the event. Some of the effects of the accident may show up later.
Third: Do Not Admit Fault!
Some people who have just suffered the shock and emotional trauma of a truck accident feel the need to immediately talk about their experience with others. It is very important that while you remain at the scene of the accident, you avoid admitting any degree of fault concerning what happened. Unless you are an attorney, it is likely that you are unaware of all of the potential ramifications related to determining fault in an accident.
Even if you feel you were partially at fault, it is generally your right to refrain from making any statement to police or to other drivers that might be self-incriminating. Just give your contact and driver information and ask the authorities if you are free to leave the scene. If the answer is no, then request that you be given the opportunity to have an attorney of your choosing be present during any questioning, and do not answer questions after that point.
Fourth: Check Your Automobile and the Surrounding Area for Damage
If you happen to have a camera at the scene of the accident, be sure to take as many pictures as you can. Get photos of the truck you collided with, your car, and any relevant surrounding items such as telephone poles, other cars, etc. Specifically, take photographs of the accident scene, any tire tracks or skid marks, and any damage to either vehicle. Cell phones with cameras have made this easy to accomplish. It is best to share those photos only with your attorney until the attorney informs you that you are required to furnish them to anyone else.
Fifth: See a Doctor
Once you leave the scene of the accident, your first stop should be at the office of your doctor or a nearby hospital, depending upon the severity of your injuries. If you feel you are unable to drive, request an ambulance or have a friend or relative take you somewhere that you can receive medical attention right away. If you do not immediately feel that you have been injured, you may find that in the days or weeks following your accident you begin experiencing pains in your body. If this is the case, be sure to visit a doctor and to report your problems at that time.
The longer you wait to seek medical attention after the accident, the more difficult it will be to substantiate a claim for personal injuries, should you or any passengers suffer injuries from the collision. It is safest to seek medical attention immediately, because you may be injured and not be capable of knowing it due to increased adrenaline or even shock.
Sixth: Notify Your Insurance Company
In California, or any state for that matter, you should notify your insurance company as soon as reasonably possible after having had an accident. Different insurance policies have different “Duties after Loss” provisions and requirements. It is best to send a letter giving written notice of a claim as soon as possible, even after you have called to report the collision.
Once your immediate medical needs have been attended to, and you have adequately documented the accident, notifying your insurance company should be your priority. You may share details of your accident with your insurance company as reasonably requested. It is almost never a good idea to give any statement, recorded or otherwise, to the trucker’s insurance company.
Seventh: Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
It is always wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident. There are many possible ramifications of being involved in an automobile accident with a truck, including those that can affect your long-term health, your finances, and your mental well-being. In most cases, your attorney will conduct his or her own thorough investigation in order to determine where you stand legally as a result of the accident.
Your attorney will want immediate access to any and all documentation you may have made of the accident. Your attorney acts as your ally in making sure that you are fairly compensated and that your legal rights and financial standing remain in the best possible condition as a result of the accident.
Holding Those At-Fault Responsible
Being involved in an accident with a truck is something that may change your life in the blink of an eye. Transport companies and their insurance firms are tough. The second a crash happens, you can bet that they will work to avoid paying anything to anyone, that is why it is imperative that you just act quick. Taking the proper steps at the scene of the accident and through the days and weeks afterward will make a world of distinction in your quality of life for years to come.
If you or a loved one has been injured in California during a truck crash, contact one of our attorneys today!