Following a car accident with a truck, you will most likely experience physical and psychological injuries that may linger for the rest of your life. Despite these injuries, the moments immediately after the accident are very important for your health and those of others, but also to determine whether you will get compensated and to determine if it is you or the truck driver who will be found to be at fault. So, what should you do after the accident?
Get out of harm’s way
Get out of the vehicle and ensure your passengers, pedestrians, and even the other drivers are out of harm’s way (are on the roadside). Put necessary warning signs and use hazard lights or road flares to prevent more accidents.
Evaluate yourself and others for injuries and perform first aid
If you are not severely injured, evaluate everybody involved for injuries. Perform first aid on yourself and others and enlist the support of passers-by to assist in the same. If you are severely injured, do not do anything that could exacerbate the injury.
Call an ambulance and law enforcement
Call an ambulance and law enforcement. It is the work of the police to write an accident report which describes the cause of the crash and provides such information as its location, time of occurrence, and the extent of injuries and property damage. When the police arrive, give only the facts of the accident (do not divulge unnecessary information) and do not admit fault. Get a copy of the accident report.
Take pictures of the scene
As you wait for the police and the ambulance (and if you are in a condition to do so), take photos of the scene. Photos can tell a story of how the crash happened and they will refresh your mind later on. They are also important evidence should the at-fault driver or an insurance company dispute your claims. Take pictures showing vehicle positions, skid marks, property damage, injuries, and traffic signs and signals.
Record the USDOT number of the truck
All commercial vehicles that haul cargo and those that transport passengers have U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) numbers. Taking this number is important because your attorney will use it to get the data from the truck’s EDR (event data recorder), the equivalent of an air plane’s black box. The EDR might give valuable information on the driver’s behaviour before the accident such as high speed, hours on the road, and average speed – information that may greatly help your case.
Record insurance and contact information
Write down the truck’s insurance number and other insurance information as well as the insurance information of other vehicles that may have been involved in the accident. You should also take contact information of any eyewitness or passengers that might have witnessed the accident since you might need them in court.
Undergo medical evaluation
Insurance companies are notorious for disputing claims where there is no prompt medical evaluation. Once the ambulance arrives (or at the earliest possible opportunity), ensure you undergo medical evaluation and treatment. This is also true when you have a visible injury since there’s always a risk of internal bleeding.
Contact a personal injury lawyer
Contact a personal injury lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity since he/she will have the training and experience necessary to help you meet important deadlines and to avoid mistakes that could harm your claim (such as recording a statement with an insurance adjuster, splashing sensitive information about the accident on social media, and overlooking future damages).