By the very definition of the word, accidents are events that are unexpected. As truck drivers, we have all seen our share of vehicle accidents. Although we hope to never be involved in a semi truck accident, we need to be prepared in the event an accident occurs. In today’s litigious society, people involved in accidents with semi trucks are conditioned to think they are entitled to compensation, even if they are at fault. How do we protect ourselves from the undue burden of claims litigation in this environment? Noted below are some general measures to help protect yourself in the event you’re involved in a vehicle accident.
There are too many scenarios to begin to provide advice regarding specific things to do in the event of every accident, but the most important thing to consider with any accident is your safety. Once you are able, removing yourself from the threat of surrounding traffic is always prudent. Check to make sure everyone is physically okay. Call for medical services if need be. Once you are safe and determine you don’t need immediate medical aid, contemplate utilizing a checklist to manage important information.
Always call law enforcement. Although officers are often reluctant to respond to minor accidents, the mere presence of a police officer and his taking a report may become essential evidence in the future. Most law enforcement officers are regarded as objective third parties and competent witnesses. Even if only needed to document the time and day of the semi truck accident. Do your best to obtain the name of the first responders. Once composed, it is important to contact somebody, either a relative, friend, or company representative. Again, if only to document the date and time of the event.
Proof to Obtain at the Scene
If you have a cellphone with photo and video capability, when safe to do so, secure video and photos of the scene and all involved. Obtaining tag numbers of the vehicles, especially witnesses’ vehicles, is vital. If possible, obtaining witness’s names and contact numbers is valuable. Years later, witnesses may be difficult to locate. If specific circumstances may have contributed to the accident, do your best to document these issues. When feasible, returning to the scene the following day may yield better insight into what transpired. There also may be debris, skid marks, or other valuable evidence that was not visible in the prior day’s conditions.
With regard to providing statements, regardless of the extent of damage or injury, do not provide an insurance representative from yours or the adverse driver’s company a statement from the scene. You may not be calm and clearheaded. These statements can be provided later after consultation with your attorney or other competent advisor.
Provide a timely report to your insurance carrier and be guided by their direction. If available, as part of a legal plan or your insurance coverage, seek advice of an attorney. The ability to refer all questions to your insurance carrier and your attorney will alleviate a lot of stress.
In the unfortunate event of semi truck accident, put safety first. Then document, document, document!
Use our blog series, “What to Do After an Accident,” to develop your checklist. Then keep the checklist on hand.