An accident involving a large commercial truck can quickly become a terrifying and traumatic experience. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), truck accidents often result in fatalities and horrific injuries for the drivers and occupants of passenger cars. However, knowing precisely what you should do at the scene of a truck accident and how to act can help you at the moment as well as later if you hope to hold the at-fault parties to account for your damages.
Call for Medical Help
Your top priority at an accident scene should be the health of everyone involved in the crash. If you or anyone else suffered injuries in the truck accident, you should call for medical help as soon as possible.
Call the Police
If you have dialed 9-1-1 for medical help, you will most likely have informed law enforcement via a dispatcher on the same call. However, even if nobody suffered any injuries, you should still call the police. Truck accidents, even if they do not cause injuries, usually result in a great deal of property damage to other vehicles.
It could also turn out that you did suffer injuries like whiplash or muscle strains—which could take a couple of days to present—in the accident. If so, you will find it helpful to have an official document such as a police report as evidence if you intend to take legal action.
You should try to collect as much evidence as you can at the scene of your truck accident if you can safely do so. You could take pictures of the accident scene from various angles, including photos of your vehicle and any damage, and pictures of all the other vehicles involved. You should also try to get contact information from the other drivers involved in the accident and any eyewitnesses.
Consider Talking to a Truck Accident Lawyer
You might also want to contact a truck accident lawyer for help as soon as you can after an accident with a truck. A truck accident lawyer can advise you on your best next steps in the days after the accident and fight for your rights to justice and compensation.
If you or a loved one suffered extensive injuries and property damage in a truck accident, you might have legal recourse. However, it is important to understand that a truck accident case can become complicated to litigate. You might go up against a truck driver, a trucking company, or a third party—all with their team of attorneys ready to defend their interests. What you do (or not do) at the scene of a truck accident can impact your rights and the ability to recover compensation.
What Not to Do at an Accident Scene
As much as it is important to know what you should do at the scene of a truck accident, knowing what not to do may prove even more crucial to preserving your rights.
It is completely understandable to feel angry at other drivers at the scene of an accident, particularly if you are in pain, your car is a write-off, and it is all due to someone else’s carelessness or recklessness. However, it is vitally important that you not let your feelings get the better of you, which can severely impact your chances of getting compensation later. At the scene of an accident, you should not:
- Lose your temper.
- Admit any fault or liability.
- Drive away before the police arrive.
- Communicate with the at-fault party’s insurance without a lawyer.
The best way to protect yourself is to stay calm, cool, and collected, if possible.
The Days Following a Truck Accident
Your actions in the days following a truck accident could prove just as important as what you do while at the crash scene. If you have not already done so, you should seek medical attention, particularly if you have developed any symptoms such as headaches, a stiff neck, or pain in other parts of your body.
The journal Progress in Neurobiology describes a condition called “stress-induced analgesia,” which could mask the pain from injuries after a car accident. This condition means you could go home after an accident feeling fine, even if you suffered severe injuries. Within a few days, symptoms might show up, revealing undiscovered injuries from your truck accident.
The longer you wait to see a doctor, the more likely you will face an uphill battle when pursuing compensation later. The at-fault driver will use any delay in seeking medical care to their advantage in settlement negotiations or a court case. They might claim that you did not suffer serious injuries— or that your injuries did not even arise from the accident.
Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for Help
You might find that contacting a truck accident lawyer for advice is the best step you take at the scene of a truck accident or soon afterward. An attorney can explain your legal options and help you file an insurance claim or personal injury suit. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 223-5115 now for a free review of your case with one of our team members.