While any traffic accident or crash can be incredibly scary, the impact of a truck colliding with an automobile can be enormously destructive. It becomes even more damaging if the collision happens at highway speeds. In most cases, trucking accidents can be catastrophic with a high number of fatalities and severe injuries. These accidents often involve collisions with more than one driver and multiple passengers.
Various statistics report that the US has a trucking industry where people drive different types of trucks for a wide variety of business uses. In fact, a whopping total of 33.8 million trucks were reported to be registered for commercial use in 2015. This number represents 23.9% of the total number of trucks registered in the country. These commercial vehicles include tractor-trailers, 18 wheelers, buses and other large vehicles.
These huge trucks share the freeways and city roads with everyday car drivers. Since these trucks are harder to maneuver, there are special tests, training and certifications that prepare truckers to drive these big rigs. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for setting stringent rules and regulations to maintain the safety of truckers and other drivers. Still, driving under the influence, fatigue, negligence, and not following the rules can cause sizeable disasters.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), trucks accounted for almost 9 percent of total vehicles involved in fatal crashes. Looking at the stats of South Carolina alone, every year trucks cause 900 injuries and 60 fatal multi-vehicle collisions. Driver negligence is one of the most common reasons trucking accidents occur. The fact that these accidents involve more than one driver makes them that much more dangerous.
If you have been recently involved in a trucking accident, the steps you take immediately after the collision are vital. Your first priority should be to get medical attention for your injuries. After that you will need to pursue appropriate legal actions against the trucker, the company it belonged to and the insurers.
If the truck driver is at fault, you and any other victim may be eligible to receive compensation for any vehicular and physical damages. In order to do so, you need to take the appropriate steps soon after the accident, so you can file a lawsuit and obtain a potential settlement.
We have compiled the following guide to explain the steps you need to take immediately after recovering from the shock of a trucking crash.
The best thing you can do right after an accident is to not leave the accident scene. Remain close by, try to calm down and wait for the authorities and emergency medical help to arrive. If you leave the accident site, it may look like a hit and run, and the authorities may give you a hard time during questioning.
You can move the car to a safer location near the site if needed. But we recommend leaving your car in the same position as right after the collision, if possible. This might be helpful as evidence when authorities assess the scene for the cause of the accident, damages and injuries.
Notifying emergency authorities about the crash and seeking medical help should be priority number one in any kind of accident. Call 911 as soon as you are able to do so. Collisions with large vehicles like 18-wheelers, trucks or buses can do quite a bit of damage and even cause fatalities. Once again, right after the crash, if you are physically able, call emergency services so they can dispatch police and an ambulance.
Since trucks, semis and buses are significantly larger than regular passenger vehicles, they can often cause damage to more than one automobile. After giving immediate attention to yourself, take a look around to see if anyone else might need your help. There may be other vehicles or pedestrians who have suffered damage or injuries, requiring assistance.
Taking pictures or video of the all the vehicles involved, immediately after an accident, provides the opportunity to capture exactly what happened. These will act as evidence and save important details that might be missed in the chaos of the authorities securing the site.
If you have a smartphone and you are able to, take photos or record a video of the entire scene. Make sure to include your injuries, traffic signals, skid marks and any other details that might prove helpful later on.
If you can approach other drivers that were also hit by the truck, talk to them about what happened. This is the best time for you to exchange some important information that you might need later on. Try to get each driver’s name, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number, insurance carrier and policy number.
Accidents can leave you feeling a bit shaky and emotional, which can sometimes lead you to say something incorrect. Therefore, it is important that you take your time to calm your nerves and collect yourself before talking to anyone. If necessary, ask any important questions and move away from the scene to make an official statement.
Depending on which state you reside in, you might be required to file a report with the DMV, State Police or another authority. In South Carolina, if the accident causes an injury, death or property damages of $1,000 or more, you it may be a good idea to file a report with the DMV within 15 days after the accident. This way you can get a head-start on bringing a claim against the trucking company.
After you have gotten the proper medical treatment and filed the accident report, the next most important thing to do is get a truck accident lawyer on board. Focus on recovering from your injuries and let an experienced attorney handle the situation from here. You need someone who can deal with the insurance company, make medical claims, and begin assembling material to file a legal claim.
Dealing with a truck accident can be an overwhelming task, as trucking companies and their insurance companies have lots of money to fight these expensive cases. This is where The Law Offices of David L. Hood can help make your life easier. Being your personal injury lawyer, we put in all our efforts to maximize your recovery. We have the experience and skills to negotiate and deal with a powerful defendant. Over the years of our service in South Carolina, we have represented many victims of truck accidents and made successful damage recoveries.
We and our co-counsel have a team of diligent truck accident experts determined to give you the legal representation that you deserve. If you end up choosing us to represent you, we will work your case on a contingent-fee basis, where you pay our fee only AFTER we obtain a recovery. To get your no-risk free initial assessment for your case, schedule a consultation with us by calling at (843) 485-0011 or contact our offices here.