Steps After an Accident
The worst has happened and you were hit by an 18-wheeler. Below are some of the things that you should do after.
First, you should be thinking about your immediate safety. Get out of the car and out of the road.
Second, call the police immediately. Their report is very important trial evidence, so ask for a copy. The police will probably ask your questions to help make the report – stick to the facts and do not ramble or speculate. Remember, less is more in these situations – the less you say, the better.
Third, when practicable but preferably as soon aspossible, call your attorney. In these situations, the truck company will likely try to get you to make damaging statements about your case, or pressure you to sign away your rights or accept a quick, low settlement. Your attorney can help prevent these things from happening from the start by limiting the contact the truck company can have with you and by advising you every step of the way, including on how to handle any conversations you may have to have either with your own insurance company or the truckers’ insurance companies.
Fourth, while still at the scene, you should start preparing for a possible lawsuit. Get the name of the truck driver, as well as who owns and insures the truck, the cargo being carried, the license plates, and the contact information for any witnesses to the accident. You want to be very, very careful about how you do this, though, as anything you say may come back to haunt you in court. Under no circumstances should you say, “I’m sorry” to the truck driver. Be even more careful with any representatives from the trucking company that may turn up – they will try to get you to say something to admit guilt or otherwise mess up your case. Less is more when it comes to communicating with others at the scene of the wreck. As previously mentioned, it helps to have an attorney (and to refuse to speak to counsel for the trucking company or make a statement without your attorney present). It is a good idea to take pictures of the scene, the damages, the skid marks, damages to the guardrails, and the vehicles. Take a photo of the Department of Transportation numbers on both the cab and the truck itself (they are usually different).
Fifth, get medical help. Even if you think you are uninjured, some injuries such as whiplash will not show up immediately, and even serious injuries may not have immediate symptoms. Getting at least looked at by a doctor is a good idea. In addition, at trial medical proof will be needed of any injuries you are trying to recover for, and no proof will be more convincing than an immediate post-accident examination. While you are at it, get a picture of your injuries, bruises, etc. – these photos may later on become very convincing evidence for a jury. Follow all of the doctor’s orders and take any medications the doctor may prescribe; otherwise, an argument may later be made that you failed to mitigate damages or that your injuries were caused by something besides the wreck, which can lessen your settlement value. Save any receipts or paperwork you get regarding medical care (or anything else related to the accident).
Sixth, make a personal account as soon as possible of the accident, how it happened, and everything that you remember, but keep it to yourself. This may help you keep your story consistent and keep you from forgetting important details when going forward. For more information, Call Carabin Shaw at 800-862-1260.