A car accident can be an incredibly frightening event. Even more so, when the accident involves a semi-truck. All accidents carry the potential for a life-altering injury or death. However, the likelihood of these consequences increases greatly when the other vehicle involved in the collision is a fully loaded semi-truck weighing in at around 80,000 pounds.
When involved in an accident with a large truck, there are several steps that you need to take to protect yourself physically, financially, and legally. Some of those steps will take place at the scene of the accident, while others should be dealt with soon after.
At the Accident Scene
There are several things that you should do immediately following a semi-truck accident. These steps will help ensure your physical safety, protect you financially when dealing with insurance, and help you legally if there is a question about liability. Going through this mental checklist will help to ease your mind knowing that you have done everything in your power to make the best of a bad situation.
Stop Your Vehicle
The first thing that you need to do following an accident is to pull your car off to the side of the road, if you are able, and come to a complete stop. Leaving the scene of an accident is a surefire way to end up in a whole heap of legal trouble.
Check for Injuries and Offer Assistance
After you have turned off your vehicle, you need to check that you have not been injured. You might not immediately feel an injury due to all of the adrenaline pumping through your system. It is important to do a visual and physical body check. After you have assessed your own injury status, you should check on any passengers in your vehicle and, if possible, check on anyone else involved in the accident.
Of course, if you have suffered a serious injury, calling 911 and waiting for an ambulance will be the best course of action. If your injuries are mild or non-existent, proceed to check on others and offer assistance where needed as directed by a 911 operator.
File a Police Report
Whether you called 911 to report an injury or not, it is important to contact the police and file an accident report. An accurate account of your accident is critical. Failing to file a police report could leave you in very murky legal waters. It could also severely harm any claims you plan to make for injuries or damage to your vehicle.
Getting as much information as you can following your accident is essential, and your lawyer will greatly appreciate it. Exchange insurance information with the truck driver and any other drivers involved in the accident. Get as much information as you can about the truck and take plenty of pictures of the scene. Also, make note of any conditions that may have contributed to the accident, such as poor weather or missing signage.
Talk to Witnesses
Speak with any witnesses to the accident and get their contact information. Trying to track down witnesses after the fact is next to impossible, so it is important that you get this information at the scene.
Get Checked Out by Paramedics
Even if you do not think you are injured, it is important to get checked out by a professional. Many injuries do not present immediately. Waiting to get an examination can have grave consequences for your health, along with damaging your injury claim, should you need to make one.
After Leaving the Scene of the Accident
Your job is not done once you leave the scene of the accident. There are still things that you need to do to put yourself in the best possible position.
Get Checked Out by a Doctor
Whether you leave the scene of the accident in an ambulance, your vehicle, or a cab, your first stop should be at a hospital. Getting checked out by the paramedics is important, but it’s not enough. You need to get a more thorough examination from a doctor who will have a higher chance of discovering a less easily identifiable injury.
Waiting for a diagnosis can help an insurance company to sow doubt about the true cause of your injury.
Contact a Lawyer
Getting in touch with a truck accident lawyer in Atlanta as soon as possible will help put them in the best position to help you. An accident with a truck owned by a big trucking company is going to involve a team of high-priced lawyers with plenty of experience. It is critical to have your own lawyer with a proven track record of taking on the big guys and winning.
Contact Your Insurance
Even if you don’t plan on going through your insurance to file a claim, it is still important that you inform them of the accident.
Get Your Life Back
Following these steps can help you get your life back after an accident. The consequences of an accident with a semi-truck can last for years and may follow you for the rest of your life. Getting medical attention and the money you need to pay for it are big steps in returning your life to normal or as close to it as possible.