In the middle of the night in an Alabama truck stop, Jake[i] was thrown from the bunk in his tractor. Jake grabbed his pants and looked out the window. Another driver had hit him. Jake was barefoot, but chased the bad driver and got his attention. Jake called the police, got the bad driver’s insurance card and filed a claim.
Other victims aren’t so lucky. Hit and run accidents happen all the time. Maybe the bad driver never felt the impact? Maybe he thought the damage wasn’t so bad? Or he’d get fired or dropped by his insurance company.
Many accidents happen on private property, places like truck stops, rest centers, and parking lots. Some happen while trucks sit empty or drivers are asleep. Some happen while drivers are in their cabs and see the accidents happen.
If you’re in an accident, this Trucking Lawyer advises you to be careful what you do. It can help or hurt your chances of getting paid for the damages from the bad driver.
- Document, document, document! Take photos of the scene and both parties’ equipment, especially the point of impact and all damaged areas.
- Take photos of the tag of both the tractor and trailer. Snap pictures of the sides of the tractor with the MC name and number and the sides of the trailer with the name of the owner and business.
- Take a photo of the other driver’s license, cab card, and insurance card. When you have photos of their personal information, it’s hard for them to deny they were there.
- Ask the police officer to write a report. Don’t be surprised if he or she won’t write the bad driver a ticket. Many times, police only help with an exchange of information between drivers if the accident happened on private property.
- You may need to do your own investigation. At the scene, ask around for witness names, contact information, and any dash cam videos. More and more truck stops and individual drivers are using continuously filming cameras. This can be to your benefit and help you prove fault.
While there are over 3,500,000 professional truck drivers in the United States[ii], only about 10% are owner operators[iii]. Most owner-operators are older, experienced drivers. The hit and run truck drivers may be inexperienced, irresponsible, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or tired having driven too many hours. Others may be undocumented or have too many tickets.
There were over 163,000 traffic accidents involving 18-wheeler trucks in 2017[iv]. When accidents happen on private property with no police reports, opposing trucking companies and their insurance companies may deny the claims.
Don’t be a statistic! If you’re in an accident, carefully collect all your evidence. Even though you were the victim, you have to prove fault. If you take the right steps, you will hopefully succeed!
The Trucking Lawyers of Eckert & Associates, P.A. are happy to help. Call us for a free consultation if you have questions about a traffic accident. 904-278-7688
[i]Name changed to protect our client’s privacy.