If you are involved in a collision with a commercial truck, this can be one of the most frightening experiences you may ever face. Semi-trucks are massive vehicles that weigh tens of thousands of pounds when they are fully loaded, and when they crash into a regular passenger vehicle, occupants of the passenger vehicle are statistically far more likely to suffer serious injuries than those who are driving and riding in the tractor-trailer.
After the collision, you will likely be in a state of shock as you try to assess the situation. Your heart beats faster, and your mind starts racing in all different directions as you attempt to determine what all this means. At this point, the best thing to do his calm down, take a deep breath, and collect your thoughts.
What you do immediately following an accident with a commercial vehicle will greatly impact your physical recovery and your legal right to recover damages if you suffered any injuries from the accident. Whether you are reading this article from your mobile phone right after a collision, or you are doing research in order to be well-prepared for this type of event in the future, we are going to give you some important guidance on what to do immediately after a collision with a commercial truck:
Call for Medical Assistance
After any type of motor vehicle accident, the number one priority is to always make sure everyone who may be injured receives medical attention. Some injuries have delayed symptoms, however, even some that are serious and life-threatening. So, even if you do not feel hurt, it is best to call for medical help just to be on the safe side.
Call the Police to the Scene
When you call 911, they may contact the police for you and summon them to the scene. If they do not, be sure to call the police yourself. It is important to bring the police for a couple reasons. First of all, they can help get the scene secured (e.g., moving vehicles to the side of the road, setting up cones, flares, and flashers, etc.) and regulate traffic. Secondly, they will interview everyone involved and those who saw the accident to produce an official report. The police report will be one of the essential pieces of evidence if you end up filing a legal claim.
Compile Information About the Accident
The police will have an official report, and you should also have your own report about the accident, so you can compare it later to what the police said and correct any inaccuracies. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible and try to do this before any of the vehicles have been moved. This type of visual evidence will also be very helpful during an injury claim. In addition, you should write down your own report of what happened, or if you are unable to write because of your injuries or you have nothing to write with, use the voice recorder in your cell phone to create an audio report that you can transcribe later.
Get Statements and Contact Information from Witnesses
If there are any individuals nearby who saw the accident, be sure to obtain statements and contact information from them. In many cases, a witness will be willing to provide a statement using the video camera or voice recorder on your cell phone. If at all possible, get this statement while you are at the scene and while the events are fresh in everyone’s minds.
Do Not Apologize or Admit Fault for the Accident
When you are talking with the truck driver, police, witnesses, and when you report the claim to insurance, be very careful what you say. You should never apologize or admit any type of fault for the accident that just took place. Virginia is a “contributory negligence” state, which means if you are found to have “contributed” in any way to the accident, even 1%, you may be barred from recovering damages. Be polite, be empathetic of other people’s injuries, but do not speculate on who was to blame.
Call an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer
Commercial vehicle accidents can produce widespread damage and severe and catastrophic injuries. And because there is more at stake in the way of damages than with a typical personal injury case, the trucking company and their insurance carrier will likely take a very aggressive posture in order to mitigate their losses. For this reason, it is important to get an experienced personal injury attorney involved as early as possible in the process, so your right to recover full and fair compensation can be protected.
If you or someone close to you was involved in a commercial trucking accident, contact the seasoned attorneys at Schilling & Esposito today for a free consultation and case evaluation. Call our office at 804-261-1001 or message us through our online contact form. You may also stop by our office in person at your convenience.