If you’re a passenger in a car that was involved in an accident with a commercial truck, such as an 18-wheeler or a delivery truck, the steps you need to take immediately after the accident are somewhat different than the steps you should take after an accident with another automobile.
The reason has partly to do with the fact that commercial trucks operate under different laws and guidelines than those of passenger cars. And, quite often because commercial trucks are bigger and heavier than automobiles, the damage and potential injury and liability claims can be much larger and more complicated to unravel.
This post will offer five important things you should do immediately after an auto accident with a commercial truck. These five tips should help reduce the stress and anxiety you might otherwise experience after an accident.
Tip # 1: Contact the Police
The first tip is to contact the police while on the scene. If you call 911, the operator will route the local police to the scene. The first they’re going to do (after checking for injuries) is make sure that the proper entities involved in the accident are established. The police will file a report on the accident. For this report, they will get the names of the trucking company and the driver. You’ll want to get this information for your records as well.
Having this information is particularly important for any injury you may have suffered. Sometimes after an accident you might think, “I don’t feel hurt right now. We’ll just exchange information.”
But because commercial truck accidents can involve multiple parties, exchanging information without contacting the police could lead to bigger problems down the road. For example, the driver could just give you his personal information and then disappear. Or they give you the company’s information, but not personal information. Then you don’t know who you need to contact to file your claim.
So be sure to get the police at the scene — they will get the proper needed information.
Tip #2: Take Photos At the Scene
If you’re medically able and you’re not hurt, take photos of the scene while everything is still fresh, and while both vehicles are still where they were after the crash. If there are skid marks, take pictures of the skid marks and take good pictures of any parts of both vehicles that are damaged.
The one caveat for this tip is to only take pictures at the scene if it’s not putting you at risk while doing so. You don’t want to do it if you’re on a major highway or if you’re injured. But, if circumstances allow, try to get good photos at the accident site. This could be the only time that you are able to get the photos without anything being altered.
Tip #3: Get Trucking Company Insurance Information
The third tip is to make sure you get the trucking company’s name and the driver’s information, including name, address, phone number, and email address. You will also want to get the driver’s insurance company’s name and the policy number.
Getting the driver’s personal information is important because you will be filing a claim later on.
Additionally, you want to get the name and contact information of the truck driver’s employer and the trucking company. This includes the trucking company’s insurance information, the truck license plate number, as well as any other identification details such as a trailer number and the company name on the side of the truck.
Note that there is a difference between a personal insurance policy the driver may have and a trucking insurance policy.
For example, the driver may be an independent contractor. So he may have his own policy. And, the company that’s hiring him may have their own policy. Additionally, the truck trailer may have its own policy, and that may be established through a brokerage. And the brokerage may be involved as well.
So, insurance details in a commercial truck accident can get very complicated. For this reason, it’s important to get as much insurance information at the scene as possible.
Tip #4: Take Names and Contact Details of Any Eyewitnesses
The fourth tip is to collect names and contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident.
This is critical to do right after the accident because if you don’t get this information right away, in a day or two they are going to be difficult to reach and there’s a good possibility you won’t remember their name with all of the other details you’ll have to keep track of.
If the eyewitness is not comfortable giving this information to you personally, let the police know and they will ask for it. This way, that person’s name is on the police report and it will be easier to contact them later if necessary.
Remember, this eyewitness is someone that can possibly be on your side in the instance a case proceeds to trial.
Tip #5: Get a Medical Evaluation After the Accident
Even if you don’t think you’re hurt right after the accident, it’s recommended that you get a medical evaluation. To be clear, this doesn’t mean get an ambulance and go into the ER if you don’t need it. But it does mean to go to your family doctor or urgent care as soon as possible to get looked at.
Often after an accident, you may feel like you’re okay, but remember that sometimes injuries take a while to manifest themselves and progress.
And if it takes two or three weeks before you start feeling pain and you go to the doctor at that time, the insurance company is likely going to question why there were two or three weeks after the accident with no treatment. The insurance company might ask, “How do we know that you didn’t hurt yourself three weeks down the road and now you’re trying to blame that injury on the crash?”
For this reason, if you have documentation that you went and saw a medical doctor the day of, or the day after the accident, this step will protect you in case the other party’s insurance company tries to question the claim.
Tip# 6: Don’t Post About the Accident on Social Media
This one is really important. It can’t be reiterated enough: Don’t post anything on social media.
This includes not posting photos of the crash. And especially it means not posting any updates such as, “I was just in a crash, but I’m okay now.” Why is this important?
The other party’s insurance company is going to search through your social media during the investigation. They might say, “Look, two hours after the crash, you were on social media saying you’re fine, that you weren’t hurt.” This type of post could come back and hurt your ability to make a personal injury claim.
Remember, some of these injuries can take weeks to progress and to start showing symptoms. So posting something on social media on the spot just gives the insurance company more details to use against you later on.
Additionally, don’t put anything vulgar or unprofessional about the other party on social media. Also, be wary of adding any friends to your social media accounts that you don’t know well within the next month or two after the crash.
In conclusion, an auto accident with a commercial truck creates a very different set of post-accident circumstances than a regular auto accident. The potential for greater damage and injury, along with the real possibility of having to deal with multiple companies and insurance companies makes this type of accident one that you need to be prepared for.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer will eliminate the headaches and guesswork you’ll face when the timeline starts ticking after a commercial truck accident. By being prepared with the right personal injury lawyer, you stand a better chance of getting your life back on track sooner than later, without the worries and hassles that accompany the aftermath of an accident.