Truck accidents happen quickly, and the time immediately following the crash can be scary and confusing. However, knowing the steps you should take after a truck accident may help improve your chances for recovering compensation for your injuries.
Below, the licensed Knoxville truck accident lawyers of Greg Coleman Law discuss how a truck accident victim should proceed after he or she has been injured by a negligent truck driver.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a collision with a commercial semi-truck, contact us to schedule a free consultation discuss your claim and determine if you are entitled to compensation.
1. Stop and Call the Police
The driver of any vehicle involved in a traffic collision must stop at the scene of the accident, or as close as reasonably possible, immediately following the crash.
If the accident resulted in an injury or death, report the collision to law enforcement by calling 9-1-1. Failing to do so could lead to your license being suspended or revoked, according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-101.
However, you should only stop your vehicle in a safe location. Be sure to remove yourself and your vehicle out of the way of traffic to the roadway’s shoulder, a sidewalk or other safe location.
You should also try to leave your vehicle in the location of the accident. To make your vehicle visible to other motorists, turn on your hazard lights and light road flares or place traffic cones, if available.
Typically, the responding law enforcement officer will investigate the accident scene and create an accident report. This report often states who the officer believes is at fault and can serve as a critical piece of evidence in your claim.
2. Seek Immediate Medical Care
You should always seek medical care after any accident. A traffic collision causes adrenaline to surge in the body and can mask the pain or sign of an injury.
The responding emergency medical technicians will evaluate your condition and transport you to the emergency room if necessary.
Likewise, it is important that you see a medical professional immediately following a truck accident. A medical professional will assess your condition and connect your injuries to the truck accident. Failing to seek treatment in a timely manner could affect your ability to recover compensation for your injuries.
In addition to a medical examination, you must follow the doctor’s orders for your treatment and attend follow-up appointments. If you do not, insurance adjusters may conclude that you were not injured in the accident or that your injury is not as severe as you claim it to be.
3. Look for Identifying Information About the Truck
Often, there are multiple parties involved in a commercial trucking operation. Each one has its own set of responsibilities that determine liability when an accident occurs.
For instance, the truck driver involved in your accident may not own the vehicle and may be employed by a trucking company. In this case, the trucking company or the semi-truck’s owner may be liable for the truck driver’s negligence.
Look for identifying factors on the truck that will provide clues as to which parties were involved in the crash. This can include the name of the trucking company on the truck’s cab or trailer.
Likewise, if the truck transports cargo over state lines, the trucking company must register the vehicle with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which means the vehicle will have a United States Department of Transportation number. This number can be used to identify the trucking company that owns the vehicle.
4. Exchange Information with the Other Driver
In Tennessee, drivers involved in a traffic accident must provide each other with their name, address and vehicle registration number, according to Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-103.
You should request the truck driver involved in your accident provide you with this and additional information regarding the:
- Tractor (cab)
A truck accident attorney can use this information to determine which party may have contributed to the cause of the accident.
5. Gather Witness Contact Information
Witness accounts can provide details regarding the order of events and fault in accident cases. If other motorists or bystanders witnessed your accident, collect their names and contact information. Your lawyer may be able to contact them for testimony to support your claim.
If you are unable to gather witness information at the accident scene, check the accident report. The responding officer may have noted witness names and contact information within the report.
6. Document the Accident Scene and Your Injuries
You can also document the scene of the accident by taking photos of:
- Damage to the vehicles
- Damage to the roadway, guardrails and surroundings
- Sight lines
- Skid marks
- Condition of the truck’s tires
- Your physical injuries
Your photos help your lawyer piece together details of the accident and help in determining the severity of its impact. Photos can serve as useful evidence for your injury claim.
Also, keep a journal of your condition and document each day as you recover from your injuries. Record how you feel and how the injuries impact your daily life. This record may serve as evidence to prove degree of pain and suffering so that you may recover compensation.
7. Be Careful What You Say
Filing an insurance claim is the first step in recovering compensation for truck accident injuries. However, be careful what you say to the insurance adjuster. Any information you provide an adjuster can be used against you to deny your claim or lower your settlement.
Before you speak with an adjuster, consult an attorney. If you are asked to give a statement, provide only clear and accurate details. Your attorney will help you craft a truthful statement that also protects your interests.
Additionally, do not agree to an insurer’s settlement offer until your lawyer reviews it. Your lawyer will assist you in determining the value of your claim, ensuring a settlement is fair before you accept it.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
At Greg Coleman Law, we are dedicated to helping truck accident victims recover from the injuries and financial losses they suffered.
A personal injury lawyer from our firm can help you determine which parties may be held liable for your truck accident case. We work to recover the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
We offer free, no obligation consultations to determine the options available for recovering compensation for your injuries. Our experienced lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only owe us legal gees if we help you recover damages for your case.