Many drivers worry they will be involved in some type of vehicle crash, despite following all traffic rules themselves. But it can be especially intimidating to suddenly have a massive tractor-trailer drive along beside you on the road. Although most truck drivers are responsible operators, there is always the risk of driver error or some type of mechanical issues with the truck that can cause a trucking accident.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are approximately 475,000 commercial truck accidents every year. Rural areas appear to be the most dangerous for commuters, with more than 60 percent of fatal trucking accidents happening in those areas. Highways are the second most common location for fatal truck crashes.
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Because of how frequent truck accidents occur, it is important for victims to know the steps to take following a crash with a commercial truck. Although the hope is you will never have to implement these steps, knowing what to do after a crash can help you collect whatever financial compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries. Otherwise, the trucking company and their insurance carrier can make it very difficult and may even try to deny your claim.
The first thing you should do after a crash is call 911. This call will bring both the police and emergency responders to the scene of the crash immediately. Do not delay that call by calling family members or anyone else before you contact the authorities. If you are injured and unable to call, have a witness or bystander who may have stopped call. Not only is it critical to have immediate medical care for anyone who is injured, but the police report will be a crucial piece of evidence in any truck accident claim. The report will provide details of what happened and the names of any witnesses. The police report will also include results of any investigation by the police that determine the responsible party for the crash, as well as any citation or charges filed.
The other information you should obtain – again, if you are physically able – is the truck driver’s information, including the company he or she works for and insurance information. Make sure to obtain the driver’s license number and the registration and federal carrier number of the truck. Your Virginia truck accident attorney will determine, based on the evidence in the crash, who the responsible parties are for the crash. It is not uncommon for there to be multiple parties named in a truck accident claim.
It is also important to document the scene. This is especially important because it is not uncommon for trucking companies to send someone out to clean up the scene of a truck crash in order to minimize liability. Photographs of the accident scene can provide key pieces of evidence in your claim. Make sure to photograph all of the damage done to vehicles and other property, as well as skid marks or other indicators of the crash. You will also want to photograph any of the injuries you have sustained.
Even if you do not think you have been injured, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for injury symptoms to be delayed and by the time they do present, it can be medically dangerous, such as internal injuries or an injury to the brain.
Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
Once you have seen a doctor, your next step should be to call a Virginia truck accident attorney to find out what your legal options are. The legal team at Shapiro & Appleton have extensive experience fighting for truck accident victims and their families, obtaining the best possible outcome based on the circumstances of your case.
Our Va. personal injury firm also offers a free truck accident injury guide for accident victims. The guide covers topics such as the tactics used by truck companies to deny or reduce injury claims, common violations of trucking companies, and the difference between commercial truck insurance and other types of vehicle insurance.