Being involved in any type of motor vehicle collision is no easy experience, but when they involve a commercial truck or tractor-trailer, the resulting aftermath can intensify. Because the steps you take after being involved in a commercial trucking accident are so crucial to protecting your safety, the health and safety of others involved, and your legal rights should you choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit – you need to be sure you’re taking the right ones.
As a personal injury firm focused on helping Ohioans navigate the aftermath of preventable accidents and serious injuries, The Becker Law Firm knows the importance of responding properly and promptly to collisions – especially when they’re caused by the negligence of others. Unfortunately, we also know mistakes and missteps made by victims can create significant difficulties which threaten their rights and their ability to seek full and fair compensation for the damages they suffered.
7 Steps to Take After a Trucking Accident
As the stakes are high after auto accidents, our attorneys are readily available to provide victims of truck accidents take the immediate, insight-driven approach needed to protect their rights and ultimate recoveries. Though we encourage victims and their loved ones to reach out to our proven lawyers as immediately as possible, there are some important things to keep in mind after a trucking accident.
- Stop, seek help, and report the crash – By law, all motorists are required to stop and remain at the scene of the accident, and render aid if necessary. However the wreck may occur, be sure to stop, ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers, and, if you’re able to do so, see if emergency medical attention is required for anyone who may have been injured in the crash. That’s a step you can do by calling 911 and reporting the incident. In addition to sending any needed emergency help, dispatchers can also send a police officer or state trooper to the scene of the crash to compile an accident report. That report can help ensure details and evidence about the case are recorded, and may be of crucial importance should you file any civil claim.
- Seek medical treatment – The most important thing to address, as mentioned above, is health and safety; for yourself and for anyone involved. Even if you believe you’re “fine” and don’t need emergency attention, it’s always a wise decision to seek a medical evaluation as soon as you can. With adrenaline running and the chaos which commonly surrounds crashes, it can be easy to overlook injuries you may have suffered, including those which may become bigger problems down the line, or which may be potentially life-threatening when left unaddressed, such as a concussion or brain injury. By foregoing medical evaluations or trying to tough it out, you may also risk difficulties in any personal injury case you pursue later on, as defendants are quick to argue that because you waited to seek treatment, you weren’t really injured in the crash – even if you’ve been in pain all along.
- Collect as much information as possible – You may be unable to obtain information at the scene of the accident if you’re seriously injured, but if and when possible, even if that means after you’ve been treated and released, you should collect as much information as you possibly can. This includes taking photos of the scene, all vehicles involved, license plates, roadways and nearby surroundings, and any visible injuries from multiple angles. While law enforcement may do this as part of their accident reports or investigations, it’s still a wise decision to do it on your own, especially because accident scenes, and any potential evidence, are soon cleared and made to look as if nothing happened. Aside from gathering what you can at the scene in the immediate aftermath of the crash, it’s also a good idea to write down as much as you can remember about the wreck and the surrounding events while the details are still fresh. Time, as they say, can alter how we view the past, and cause us to forget the little details that may become major factors in a personal injury case. There are many potential causes of trucking wrecks, numerous truck regulation violations which may have occurred, and many parties that may be potentially liable, so gathering all the information you can could prove highly useful.
- Identify involved parties and get their info – As part of your information gathering, be sure to identify all involved parties, from the commercial truck driver and other motorists involved in the collision to any witnesses who may have stopped or seen what happened. Be sure to get their names, contact information and addresses, and driver’s license and insurance information. You can also try to find the commercial truck’s DOT license number and record that as well.
- Focus on the facts / speak wisely – In the wake of a collision, especially serious ones involving larger commercial trucks, it’s easy to feel rattled or out-of-sorts. However, it is very important to be mindful of what you say, as words can be taken out of context, misconstrued, and manipulated in ways that don’t reflect what you actually meant when you said them. For example, many people are naturally inclined to apologize or say “sorry,” after a wreck, which can be potentially harmful to personal injury cases, as it can be argued that an apology equates to an acceptance of fault. Instead, focus on the facts and things like getting needed medical attention, getting a police report with your side of the story, and gathering all the information and documentation you can. You, with the help of your attorney, can work out the issues of who’s at fault and liable for damages at a later time.
- Be wary of dealing with insurance carriers – If any representative from the commercial trucking company involved in your wreck or the insurance company which covers them attempts to contact you, be wary of what you say, and be warned their intentions are not always good, especially if you don’t have legal representation watching your back. Because these are corporations which tend to care more about profits than people, it’s not unusual to see these companies engage in tactics that help them protect their own interests, and diminish yours. That may be aggressiveness, waiting for you to say something that can potentially be used against you, or offering you a low-ball settlement to quickly end their liability for as little as possible before you fully understand the scope of your injuries and damages. If you want to avoid speaking with insurance carriers, a lawyer can handle that on your behalf.
- Follow up with the doctor – If you did obtain medical treatment, or are experiencing new or continued problems, be sure to follow up with your doctors. Not only can this ensure your condition is properly diagnosed, it can also help you receive the treatment you need to make a physical recovery, or recover as well as you can. Should you fail to follow up, continue treatment, or ignore doctor recommendations, you’re putting yourself at risk for potential injury-related problems later on, and opening the door to arguments from defendants who’ll use that as ammo against you.
Getting Legal Help: The Most Important Way to Protect Your Rights
One of the most effective ways to ensure you’re taking the right steps, doing all you can to protect your health and legal rights, and positioning yourself to prevail in any personal injury claim you may pursue is to seek the support and guidance of proven injury attorneys. At The Becker Law Firm, our award-winning team, which includes proven lawyers who are nationally recognized atop their field and attorneys who are also licensed medical professionals, can review your case immediately, help you find the treatment and resources you need, and begin building a strong case for compensation.
Discuss a recent truck accident in Cleveland or anywhere in Ohio by calling (440) 252-4399 or contacting us online. Our firm offers free consultations, and charges no attorney fees until you receive compensation.