There are a lot of negligent truck drivers on the roads in Texas, which makes serious accidents an unfortunate reality. The scene that follows those crashes is often chaotic, victims may be disoriented or seriously injured, and they might not be sure what to do first—or at all. What steps should someone take after an accident with an 18-wheeler?
Answer: A truck accident victim should remain calm, collect evidence, get medical attention, and contact an attorney to discuss their situation.
Much of that may sound more or less like common sense, but in the time right after a crash it's not always easy to remember what needs to be taken care of. Let's look more closely at each step.
Typically speaking, the average person only experiences one or two road accidents their entire lives, so being in a crash is already unusual for most. That along with possible injuries, adrenaline surges, and the chaotic nature of accident scenes could make keeping your wits about you difficult, but it's in your best interests to try and stay calm. Doing so can help you organize your thoughts, remember the specifics of the crash, and take other important steps.
Collect Evidence and Information
Besides your immediate well-being, any information that you can obtain about the circumstances of your 18-wheeler accident should a high priority. Every detail, no matter how seemingly inconsequential at the time, could be instrumental in shaping how the accident is perceived and treated moving forward. Truck drivers know that very well, which is why many of them carry accident investigation kits of their own to document wrecks.
Victims likely won't have similar kits with them, but they can still get facts supporting their side of the story (and not just assume police will handle it). Among the important steps to take if possible are:
- Taking pictures of vehicle damage, especially before they're moved;
- Photographing any obvious injuries sustained by yourself or others in your vehicle;
- Getting contact information and statements from any witnesses; and
- Documenting weather, road, and traffic conditions.
Victims should also gather as much information as they can about the truck and its driver, including:
- The truck driver's license, DOT, and plate numbers;
- Who they work for or if they're independent owner/operators;
- The trucker's insurance information;
- What they were hauling, where it came from, and where it was going; and
- How long they were on the road before the crash.
Of course, much of that requires a victim to be in reasonably good shape right after their accident. Many people aren't that fortunate and are instead quickly rushed from the scene for urgent medical care. Whether or not they feel seriously injured, though, they should still consult a physician as soon as possible.
Seek Medical Attention
Most commercial vehicles and large trucks generate a tremendous amount of force in a collision, which can cause immediate and serious trauma—as well as subtler injuries that don't reveal their true nature for days, weeks, or even months after the accident. You should seek immediate medical attention for any obvious harm; if there is no readily-apparent injury, though, still get evaluated for things you may not yet be aware of like internal organ damage.
The hospital or doctor visit can also serve an important legal purpose: Getting diagnosis and treatment records can show exactly when a victim's injuries occurred, their extent, and how they were treated, which helps if a trucking company tries to call any of that into question. They may still try that or a hundred other tactics to avoid liability, however, which is why it's also important to get in touch with an attorney.
Call an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
As mentioned earlier, most people will only deal with at most one or two crashes in their entire lives. However, some trucking companies may have experience with as many as one or two serious accidents per week. As such, they have become highly efficient at defending themselves from liability, even when their drivers seem clearly at fault for a crash.
That's where a skilled and experienced attorney can help. The Texas truck accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices have decades of combined experience helping truck accident victims build cases against negligent commercial drivers and the companies who put them on the road. If you were hurt or lost a loved one in a collision with an 18-wheeler, Grossman Law may be able to help. Call any time for a free and confidential consultation.