If you’ve been involved in an 18-wheeler crash, your accident is not an isolated statistic.
An estimated 433,000 large trucks were involved in police-reported crashes in the United States in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Those crashes killed 4,067 people and injured 116,000 others.
Texas ranked the highest in fatal crashes (531) involving large trucks, more than any other state in 2015, according to the NHTSA. If you’ve been involved in an 18-wheeler crash, don’t try to work out compensation on your own. You need an experienced truck accident attorney.
Legal claims for 18-wheeler crashes are complicated. That’s because they can involve complex factors such as driver negligence, personal injuries, road conditions, product liability and multiple insurance companies. Claims might also include damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering or lost wages.
If you’re involved in a crash with an 18-wheeler, it’s crucial to take appropriate steps to protect yourself in the event you choose to file a lawsuit later.
1. Seek medical attention for urgent injuries. If you or your passengers sustained injuries that require immediate medical attention, obtain assistance immediately.
2. Call police. Notify police so an officer can survey the scene, assess injuries and complete a police report on the accident.
3. Obtain information from the truck driver. Get the following information from the driver of the truck involved:
- Driver’s name and contact information
- Truck company/owner information
- Insurance information for the truck
- License plate numbers of the cab and trailer
4. Report the accident to your insurance company. If possible, contact your auto insurance provider while still at the crash scene. Don’t contribute any information to insurance representatives that isn’t already in the accident report. Do not discuss with agents how you or passengers feel physically or emotionally. That information could be used against you later.
5. Preserve evidence. Use a smart phone or camera to take close-up and wide-angle photos of damage to your vehicle, the truck, property damage, debris and road conditions. Also take photos of your injuries and those of passengers. If you’re unable to take photos of your vehicle because you are injured, arrange to have photographs of your car and the truck involved taken before repairs are made or the vehicles head to demolition.
6. Write down witness information. Obtain names and contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
7. Do not speak to truck company representatives. If the trucking company, its insurance representatives or any agents representing others involved in the crash contact you, do not speak with them or sign any documents they send. Inform trucking company agents that you already have counsel or are in the process of retaining an attorney who will contact them.
8. See a doctor as soon as possible. Your truck accident attorney can refer you to health care professionals to document and monitor your injuries and their impact on your life.
9. Make sure a police report is filed. The Texas Department of Transportation requires law enforcement officers investigating a crash that results in injury, death or property damage to one person of $1,000 or more to submit a written report within ten days of the accident. If no officer investigated, the operator of the vehicle involved in a crash is legally required to submit a Driver’s Crash Report within ten days. Contact the law enforcement agency that responded to the accident, your state’s department of transportation or your truck accident attorney to file or get a copy of the accident report.
10. Retain an experienced truck accident attorney right away. When going up against mammoth truck and insurance companies, you need an attorney experienced in handling 18-wheeler and big rig truck cases. A truck accident attorney can download the truck’s “black box” recording of speed, braking and other crash information before crucial evidence disappears. A qualified 18-wheeler accident lawyer can put together a winning case or potentially negotiate a substantial settlement.