Truck driving comes with a unique set of safety considerations, both for the one behind the wheel and for passengers in surrounding vehicles. The mere size of something like an eighteen-wheeler makes it much more complex to drive — or even pass on the highway — and therefore makes any kind of collision with it equally sizable.
And while they’re not always fatal, truck accidents need to be treated with the utmost seriousness. This is not only so you avoid any physical complications that could arise later, but also so you get the help you need when making a claim. Like driving a truck, managing the fallout from an accident is tricky, in no small part because truckers’ insurance companies often act fast and try to limit the amount of damage for which they’re liable.
It’s crucial to immediately obtain the right records in the aftermath of the accident. While you may be understandably shaken after a truck incident, make every effort to obtain the following before you seek legal representation:
A Complete Police Report
Stay at the scene of the accident. Police or other authorities will make a report that details when and where the crash happened. Request a copy of this to keep for your records, and also in case you need it as future evidence in your claim. Also get the police officer’s name and badge number at the scene of the accident.
The Other Driver’s Information
Get the other driver’s information, including their full name, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance carrier and name of agent, and insurance policy number.
Get the names, phone numbers, and other contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident. Write down the statements they make regarding what happened, as these are sometimes crucial pieces of evidence when it comes to telling your side of the story.
Photographs of the Accident
Photographs preserve physical evidence of the crash, which can often indicate how the accident happened and who was at fault. Use your phone to take photos and videos of the crash scene, damage to your property, and any physical injuries to your person. Visual evidence like this is hard to argue with — which the truck driver’s insurance company will probably try to do — so be thorough when documenting these details.
Medical Records of Any Treatment
Even when there are no visible physical injuries, you should see a doctor after any truck accident and keep any and all records from that visit, including documents of x-rays and other scans, your diagnosis, bills and instructions for follow-up treatment. Internal injuries can sometimes take a few days to surface; not documenting them in the form of medical records can interfere with your ability to make a claim.
While this may seem like a lot, truck accidents are very different from your average auto crash and should be treated as such. You will discuss these records with your attorney, who will help you the entire way through the claims process. (As a side note, it’s important not to sign any settlement documents with the trucker’s insurance company before you’ve spoken to your own lawyer.)