The average semi-truck driver will travel up to 3,000 miles per week.
The law of averages has it that, with that many miles put in, even the best and most careful semi truck drivers may eventually be in an accident.
Whether you are a semi truck driver who’s been in an accident or the unfortunate victim of an accident with a semi, it’s important to handle the aftermath correctly and think clearly, despite likely being shaken up (and potentially injured).
Here is a list of the steps to take if you’re involved in a semi truck accident.
1. Assess the Situation and Call the Authorities
First things first: if anyone is injured (even minorly), call 911. Do not attempt to move any injured persons unless there is a risk of fire or other injuries to them if they aren’t moved. If anyone has suffered a serious wound, apply pressure to help slow the bleeding until the first responders arrive. Perform CPR if you are able to and it’s necessary.
Don’t move any of the vehicles involved in the accident. It’s possible that the authorities will need to reconstruct the accident, and it’s much harder to do if cars or trucks are moved from their original positions.
2. Check the Semi’s Cargo
If you are the driver of the semi truck, you’ll want to check the condition of your cargo. This is especially important if you’re hauling dangerous or flammable materials.
Set out hazard flares as soon as it is safe to do so. Follow the appropriate safety protocol depending on your load. If you think your cargo presents any additional danger to the accident victims, responders, or passersby, ensure that you immediately alert dispatch to this fact.
3. Exchange Information and Round Up As Much Evidence As You Can
Anyone involved in the accident will need to exchange their information. This should include names, phone numbers, addresses, insurance information, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, and vehicle information.
Almost everyone has a camera phone at their disposal, so if you can, take a few photos of the vehicles, the injuries, and the weather or road conditions that possibly contributed to the incident.
If anyone witnessed the accident, exchange information with them, too. Authorities, attorneys, and insurance adjusters might call on witnesses, so their testimony is important.
Be respectful and truthful to authorities on scene, but remember the cardinal rule: never admit fault. Avoid saying you’re uninjured — you probably have a lot of adrenaline pumping and, once it wears off, you may well find you did suffer an injury.
If you did have police at the scene, request a copy of the accident report from them. If you did not have police at the scene, you can probably still file a police report after the fact (and it’s smart to do so). This can come in handy later when your insurance company or personal injury lawyer needs all the documented information they can get about the accident.
4. Contact an Attorney
It’s important to contact personal injury or truck accident lawyers as soon as possible following the accident.
Remember that the insurance companies don’t actually have your best interest at heart. After all, they are out to make a profit, and they make that profit by paying out as little as possible per claim.
Unlike the insurance bureaucracy, a savvy attorney will be your advocate during the aftermath. They will know the legal system and the insurance system the best.
Lawyers know the ins and outs of the compensation you’re entitled to. Many truck accident victims underestimate what fair compensation might look like. Will you miss work and lose out on wages? Will you have medical complications well down the road that require treatment, surgery, medical aids, or physical therapy?
If you’re a truck driver who owns and operates your own semi, losing your truck could mean losing your livelihood, so being fairly compensated for this loss is extremely important.
Get in touch with a lawyer as soon as you possibly can — preferably, before giving any statements to insurance adjusters.
5. Follow Any and All Advice Your Lawyer Gives
You lawyer will suggest that you see a medical doctor immediately, even if you don’t think you sustained any injuries.
Be sure to follow through with your lawyer’s suggestions, and, if the doctor gives you any, follow through with those, too — whether it’s seeing a specialist or having further testing done.
If you disregard this advice, it can weaken any case you might otherwise have by making it appear as though you are falsifying the extent of any injuries.
Make sure to keep extensive and accurate records of all doctors visits and receipts for payments.
Whatever you do, do not accept any settlements from the insurance company without first talking to your lawyer. Insurance payouts can seem generous and tempting at face value, but chances are, you’re entitled to more than they are willing to settle for, and your lawyer will counsel you about it.
Were You Injured in a Semi Truck Accident?
We understand that an accident of any kind is terrifying and life-changing — perhaps even more so when it was a semi truck accident.
Hopefully, this article has provided some useful information that you can keep tucked away. With any luck, you’ll never need it. But if you do, being prepared is smart and will help you know what steps to take to ensure you receive fair treatment.
Keep reading our resource blog to find the best legal representation for your specific needs.