What follows is a general guide to what you should do immediately after an accident involving a truck such as a tanker, tractor trailer, semi or 18-wheeler. Your first priority should be taking care of any injuries you sustained. The next thing you should do, as soon as possible after the accident, is contact an attorney. An experienced truck accident attorney at Beale, Micheaels, Slack & Shughart, P.C. in Phoenix, Arizona, can advise you about what to do and the steps that you need to take in order to preserve evidence and bring a claim.
When talking to the police or highway patrol about the accident, it is important to be truthful, but to also keep your comments minimal. Limit yourself to asking if anyone was hurt. You should especially not:
- Admit it was your fault
- Tell the other driver that your employer will take care of everything
- Say “I didn't see you” or anything of the kind
Comments like these could be taken as an admission of fault. At this stage, it is often too early to determine fault, and you do not want to risk damaging your case down the road.
Report the accident
Call 911 to report the accident. Many states' laws require that you report an accident right away. Leaving the scene of an accident without waiting for the police to come is a crime in most states. Reporting the accident is also important if someone has been injured and needs immediate medical attention.
See a doctor
It is best to seek medical attention quickly, even if you are not sure that you need it. You may be dazed or confused from the accident and not notice your own injuries. It is important to make sure that you have not sustained any serious injuries, or if you have, that you are seen by a doctor or other health care professional immediately.
Notify your insurance company
Instructions on how to report a claim, including the person or office to which it must be reported, will be found in your insurance policy. You should also review your policy to find out how much and what kind of coverage you have.
Contact a personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck accident, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. If you would like to file a lawsuit, it is critical to have an attorney begin investigating the accident and preserving evidence so that it is not lost. An attorney can assist you with gathering evidence such as:
- Information regarding the truck's condition and maintenance records
- The speed the truck was traveling at the time of the accident
- The truck driver's log book, GPS information and the truck's “black box”
- Witness statements from eyewitnesses and first responders
- The driver's driving history and whether he or she had any prior accidents
- The transportation company's policies and procedures regarding safety and maintenance and the company's accident history
Your attorney will also be able to work with expert witnesses who may be needed to testify about the possible negligence of a trucking company or driver. An expert can be any person who has experience in the trucking industry, such as a former trucking company executive, a safety director, a department of transportation investigator or an accident investigator with experience in the trucking field.
Speak to a trucking accident lawyer
After a serious accident involving an 18-wheeler, tanker, dump truck or other large commercial vehicle, you may have many questions. An attorney at Beale, Micheaels, Slack & Shughart, P.C. in Phoenix, Arizona, can provide advice about how to handle your truck accident case.