Semi trucks are large, imposing vehicles that have the potential to do a lot of damage when they cause accidents on the road. Unfortunately, some truck drivers end up battling fatigue and overlooking professional protocols in order to meet their deadlines. If you have been involved in an accident with a semi truck, a truck accident attorney in Dallas, Houston, Austin, or San Antonio can help you take the actions necessary to secure your legal rights.
What Should You Do After a Crash With a Semi Truck?
The choices you make in the immediate aftermath of a collision can go a long way towards helping or hurting your case. Truck drivers are required to carry higher insurance policies than drivers of smaller vehicles, making high settlements more attainable. However, you will need to take steps to protect the validity of your claim and demonstrate your right to compensation for your damages.
1. Attend to the Injuries
The first thing you should do after any accident is to check yourself, your passengers, and anyone else who was involved for injuries. If you are physically able, Texas law requires you to provide assistance to anyone who is injured on the scene of an accident, including persons in the other vehicle.
If there are severe injuries, refrain from moving the victims unless they are in the middle of the road. Moving an injured person unnecessarily can cause them to incur further physical harm. As soon as everyone is in a secure location, call 911 for help.
2. Call the Police
After calling 911, you should notify the police of the accident. Contacting the authorities by the quickest means possible is another requirement of Texas law. When you speak with the officers, refrain from saying anything that could be misconstrued as an admission of fault in the accident. Answer their questions in the simplest way possible, stick to the facts, and avoid apologizing or making statements such as, “I didn’t even see the truck coming…”
When they investigate your claim, the trucking company’s insurance company will ask for a copy of the police report. They may attempt to use your statements as evidence against you. However, the police may also note information that is beneficial to your case, especially if there is ample evidence that the truck driver was at fault. Your attorney will also have access to the report, so you should take down the names of the officers who responded to your call.
3. Avoid Speaking With an Insurance Adjuster
When serious accidents occur, insurance companies sometimes send an adjuster directly to the scene of the crash. It is important to realize that this individual is biased in favor of the trucking company, and any interactions with him or her could be detrimental to your case. Politely decline any attempts he or she makes to interview you, and refrain from signing any documents you are presented with.
You are under no legal obligation to speak with a representative of the other side’s insurance company directly, especially at the scene of the accident. Once you have had a chance to contact a truck accident lawyer, he or she can communicate with them on your behalf.
4. Gather Evidence With Your Smartphone
Your smartphone is an incredible asset when it comes to gathering evidence. Before you leave the scene of the crash, you should use it to take numerous photos and videos. Focus on capturing both vehicles from multiple angles, being sure to record:
- The truck’s license plate
- The logo of the trucking company
- Any areas of the vehicles that show damage
- VIN numbers
You should also ask the truck driver to show you his or her driver’s license. If he or she cooperates, take a picture of it. If you do not have your phone or if you lost it in the accident, you can ask someone else to take the photos and videos.
5. Get Information From Witnesses and Other Individuals Who Were Involved in the Crash
Witness statements can be extremely valuable if your case goes to trial. Be sure to ask any individuals who saw the accident for their contact information. You can even use your smartphone to record statements. If you see other individuals taking photographs and videos, you can ask them to send you the footage.
6. Go to the Hospital
In addition to ensuring that you receive proper medical attention, going to the hospital immediately after any motor vehicle accident is an important way to build evidence for your claim. Information generated by the tests and treatments you receive in the ER can demonstrate the seriousness of your injuries and support your efforts to win compensation.
Furthermore, going to the hospital prevents the defense from arguing that you neglected your injuries in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Even if you don’t feel hurt, getting seen by a medical professional is the only way to rule out any serious injuries that might develop later. In the event that your adrenaline is masking a medical condition, the attending physicians may be able to treat it before it gets worse.
7. Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
Your chances of recovering compensation go up significantly when you enlist the help of a qualified personal injury attorney who has experience with truck accidents. Your lawyer will be able to help you review the details of the crash, itemize your losses, and negotiate for a fair settlement. When confronting a trucking company, their attorneys, and representatives of their insurance company, having a qualified lawyer of your own can give you a significant advantage.
8. Have Your Lawyer Ask the Trucking Company to Preserve the Truck as Evidence
One of the reasons it is important to reach out to an attorney early is that he or she may be able to prevent the trucking company from destroying evidence. While the insurance company and the police are responsible for examining the vehicles immediately after the crash occurs, the trucking company may decide to repair or destroy their vehicle after the initial investigation.
Once repaired or destroyed, the truck can longer be used as physical evidence. By demanding that the truck be preserved in its post-crash condition, your lawyer may be able to keep it available for accident reconstruction experts and other witnesses who may want to examine it as the case progresses.
9. Request Your Medical Records
Your medical records will be an important source of evidence. In addition to showing the effects of the crash, they can help distinguish between any preexisting conditions you have and the new injuries you sustained in the accident. Your lawyer can provide instructions on how to officially request your medical records from the facilities where you were treated.
Speak With a Truck Accident Attorney in Dallas, Houston, Austin, or San Antonio
Truck accidents are catastrophic events that must be prevented at all costs. If you were injured because a trucking company or a truck driver acted negligently, you deserve compensation for your losses. Our attorneys in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio provide clients with legal support according to a contingency fee model. To schedule an initial consultation at no cost, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC.