Accidents involving semi-trucks, also known as big rigs or tractor-trailers, can be extremely dangerous and potentially life-changing events. Due to their massive size and weight, collisions with semi-trucks often result in serious injuries or fatalities. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s crucial to know what steps to take immediately following the accident. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through what you should do if you’re hit by a semi-truck to ensure your safety, protect your legal rights, and facilitate a smoother recovery process.
- Ensure Safety First
The first and most critical step after a collision with a semi-truck is to ensure safety for yourself and others involved. Here’s what you should do:
- Check for Injuries:
Start by assessing your own injuries and the injuries of any passengers in your vehicle. If anyone is seriously injured, call 911 immediately and request medical assistance. Do not attempt to move seriously injured individuals unless they are in immediate danger.
- Move to a Safe Location:
If you and your passengers are able to move and the vehicles involved in the accident are obstructing traffic, try to move to a safe location, such as the shoulder of the road. This can help prevent further accidents and injuries.
- Turn on Hazard Lights:
Activate your vehicle’s hazard lights to alert other drivers that an accident has occurred and to reduce the risk of additional collisions.
- Call the Authorities
After ensuring immediate safety, it’s essential to notify the appropriate authorities and follow these steps:
- Call 911:
Regardless of the severity of the accident, you should always contact the police and request their presence at the scene. A police report can be crucial for insurance claims and legal proceedings.
- Provide Information:
When speaking with the police, provide accurate and detailed information about the accident. Be prepared to share your driver’s license, registration, and insurance information. If possible, collect the same information from the truck driver involved in the accident.
- Gather Evidence
Preserving evidence is essential when you’re involved in a semi-truck accident. Here’s what you should do:
- Document the Scene:
Use your smartphone or a camera to take photographs of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, skid marks, road conditions, and any relevant signage. These photos can serve as crucial evidence later.
- Obtain Witness Information:
If there are any witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information. Witness testimonies can be valuable in determining fault and liability.
- Make Notes:
Write down your own account of the accident while the details are fresh in your memory. Include information about the time, date, weather conditions, and any other factors that may have contributed to the accident.
- Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t initially feel seriously injured, it’s essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Some injuries, such as internal injuries or concussions, may not be immediately apparent but can have serious consequences. Here’s what you should do:
- Visit a Healthcare Provider:
Go to a hospital or urgent care facility for a thorough medical evaluation. Inform the healthcare provider that you were involved in a semi-truck accident so they can conduct the necessary tests and examinations.
- Keep Records:
Maintain detailed records of your medical treatment, including doctor’s notes, test results, and bills. These records will be crucial for insurance claims and potential legal actions.
- Contact Your Insurance Company
Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Be prepared to provide them with the details of the accident, the police report number, and any other information they request. It’s essential to cooperate fully with your insurance company while avoiding any admissions of fault.
- Consult an Attorney
In many semi-truck accidents, liability can be complex due to multiple parties involved, such as the trucking company, the truck driver, and others. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is advisable to protect your legal rights and seek compensation for your injuries and damages. An attorney can help you:
- Investigate the Accident:
An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, collect evidence, and determine liability.
- Deal with Insurance Companies:
Your attorney can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering.
- File a Lawsuit:
If necessary, your attorney can file a lawsuit against the responsible parties to seek compensation through legal action.
Being involved in a semi-truck accident can be a traumatic experience, but knowing what steps to take can make a significant difference in protecting your well-being and legal rights. Remember to prioritize safety, seek medical attention, gather evidence, and consult with an attorney to navigate the complex aftermath of a semi-truck collision successfully. By following these steps, you can work toward a smoother recovery and ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions.