Got into an accident with a tractor-trailer but not sure what to do next? Having issues with your insurance company? Truck accidents can be a stressful and difficult process to go through. But before you stress out, relax. Here are a few common truck accident FAQs:
Q: What can I do to protect myself after an accident with a tractor-trailer?
A: Truck accident cases are very complicated and require the immediate attention of a lawyer who has won these type of accident cases in the past and has deep knowledge of how the trucking companies will fight back. For instance, trucking companies usually have unlimited resources that include teams of lawyers and experts who are prepared to fight against any lawsuit you may file as a result of an accident, regardless of how injured you are. So make sure you pick the right law firm to get the job done!
Q: What should I do at the scene of a truck accident?
A: While you are at the scene of the truck accident, you should do the following:
- Remain calm and remain in your vehicle (unless it’s too dangerous to do so)
- Turn on your hazard lights
- Call 911 even if your accident seems minor
- Seek medical attention for any injured drivers or passengers
- Unless necessary, do not move the vehicles until the police arrive
- Never leave the scene of the accident
- Write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of all parties involved, including any witnesses
- Make sure you write down the names and badge numbers of any police officers that are investigating the accident
- Photograph the vehicles and any injuries sustained by you or your passengers
- Do not admit fault
- Immediately notify your own insurance company of the accident
Do not discuss the accident with anyone except the police or your own insurance agent or representative; you are not required to give a statement to anyone but the police and your insurance company
Q: What should I do if someone from the trucking company call me before I’ve picked a lawyer?
A: Do not agree to make a recorded statement to the trucking company’s insurance carrier. Do not sign any forms sent to you by the trucking company and their insurance carrier. Immediately contact an experienced personal injury law firm such as Munley Law.
Q: What should I do in the days following a truck accident?
A: Here are the steps you should take:
- Obtain a copy of the accident report prepared by the police
- Obtain a property damage valuation from your insurance company
- Write down all visits with doctors and other healthcare providers and keep a journal of any symptoms or pain you experience. Also, get copies of all test results, medications, treatments, and any other relevant medical information
- Keep a detailed list of any out-of-pocket expenses you incur
- Record days of missed work or other activities in which you were unable to participate
- Never accept a settlement offer from an insurance carrier unless you have consulted with a lawyer
Q: What are some of the dangers associated with large trucks on the roadways?
- No-Zones – Large trucks have no-zones, or blind spots, that are located around the front, back, and sides of the truck. When a car is in the No-Zone, the truck driver is usually unable to see it. At these times, a large truck could turn into a passing car and a serious accident could result.
- Squeeze Play – Tractor-trailer trucks need to swing wide to the left in order to negotiate a right turn. When truck drivers make wide right turns; they are often unable to see smaller vehicles directly behind or beside them. When a car cuts between the truck and a curb, the car can be caught in a squeeze, and a serious accident can occur.
- Stopping Distance – Big rig trucks need a greater stopping distance than other vehicles. If there is not enough stopping distance between a car and a large truck, the car risks being involved in a rear-end collision.
- “Off-track” – Occurs w hen a truck turns at high speed and swings into an adjacent lane unexpectedly. Unlike passenger vehicles, transport trucks require up to 40 percent more space to stop. Following too closely results in inadequate stopping distance between large trucks which then rear-end vehicles in front. It is not difficult to imagine the devastating results that occur when a car, van or SUV is hit from behind with over 10,000 lbs. of moving metal.
Q: What are some of the causes of tractor-trailer collisions on America’s highways and secondary roads?
There are many different reasons for accidents involving large trucks include negligence on the part of the truck driver or the other vehicles involved. Others include:
- Aggressive drivers
- Unrealistic schedules
- Failure to inspect tires, brakes and lights
- Long work-shifts
- Driver fatigue
- Cell phone use
- Failure to install blind spot mirrors
- Speeding and ignoring reduced truck speed limit
A 18-wheeler truck traveling at 70 miles per hour has twice as much energy as one at 50 mph. In addition, automobiles are designed under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to encounter like size vehicles, not 80,000 pound trucks. Added hazards include the absence of rear and side bumpers and high front bumpers that punch into automobile passenger compartments. Together these factors account for the high percentage of serious injuries and deaths in these crashes.
Q: Why is a traffic accident involving a commercial truck more likely to cause injury than one involving a passenger car?
Trucking accidents are different from auto accidents in many ways, one of the most serious being the extent of damages and injuries when a truck and an automobile collide. A typical fully loaded large commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, while an average passenger automobile weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Due to this size disparity, and the basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries.
Q: How do I handle trucking companies or their insurance carriers after a truck accident?
You should immediately consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer. Truck companies have their own investigators and attorneys working hard to dismiss liability. One of the worst decisions individuals can make is to negotiate directly with trucking companies, insurance adjusters, or the trucking company lawyers. Most trucking companies are highly skilled at truck accident investigation and claims. Anything you say or sign may be held against you further down the road.
We have been handling complex trucking injury litigation since 1980. We have obtained many settlements and verdicts worth millions of dollars. Our lawyers are Board Certified and our firm is listed in the Best Lawyers in America. We are an AV rated firm by Martindale Hubbell and have combined experience of over 100 years.
And the most important thing to remember: after getting into a tractor-trailer accident, contact Munley Law for a free consultation.