Commercial trucking is a major industry in Alabama, employing over 100,000 individuals and accounting for one out of every 15 jobs in the state. From Tuscaloosa to Auburn and Mobile to Huntsville, big rig trucks log thousands of miles every week shipping goods to and from destinations throughout the Yellowhammer State.
When a commercial vehicle causes an accident, it can be an unsettling experience for those involved. Tractor-trailers weigh upwards of 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded, which is up to 30 times heavier than a regular passenger vehicle.
If you are involved in a collision with a semi-truck, it is important to stay calm and gather your thoughts. Taking the right steps after an accident will help ensure that those who are injured are properly treated, and that your legal right to recover compensation is preserved.
Whether you are reading this article at the scene of an accident that just occurred or you are researching this topic to prepare in case something like this happens in the future, please take note of the five most important things you should do if you are in an accident with a commercial vehicle:
After any type of motor vehicle accident, health and safety are the top priorities. If anyone has been injured, call 911 right away to bring an ambulance to the scene. In general, it is always best to call for medical help, even if there appear to be no immediate injuries. When you are involved in a collision, some injury symptoms do not show up right away. Even if you do not feel hurt, call an ambulance just in case. This will not only help ensure that everyone who is hurt gets treated right away, but it will also help establish a legal connection between the accident and any resulting injuries. Usually, the 911 operator will also call the police to the scene to help regulate traffic and produce an official accident report. If the operator does not do it for you, be sure to call the police on your own.
Secure the Scene of the Accident
After you have called for medical assistance, you will need to get your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in the accident as far away from traffic as possible. If you are able, pull your car off to the side of the road where it is not in the line of sight of oncoming cars. Have your hazard lights on, and put up flares, cones, or flashers to alert other motorists that there is an accident scene ahead.
Gather Important Information
Stay calm and be polite as you exchange information with the truck driver and anyone else who was involved in the accident. Do not admit fault, apologize, or speculate in any way as to what may have caused the accident. Obtain the truck driver’s name and contact info, driver’s license number, U.S. DOT serial number (if it is available), insurance information, and the name and contact info of their employer. It is also important to document the incident for your own records, so you have this information in case legal action is required. Take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible. Also, write down in detail what happened while it is fresh in your mind. If you are not able to write at the moment, use the voice recorder on your smartphone to record your report and transcribe it later.
Get Statements from Witnesses
If there were any witnesses that are willing to provide statements, be sure to obtain statements from them. Many witnesses will allow you to record a video statement with your smartphone, which can be very useful if you need to prove what happened in an accident injury case. Also, be sure to get their contact information ,so you or your attorney can get in touch with them later in case you need them to testify.
Report the Accident to your Insurer
Most insurers require that an accident be reported within about 1 to 3 days after it occurs. At your earliest convenience, call your insurance company to report what happened. As mentioned earlier, do not admit fault for anything, and do not provide any recorded statements without first talking to your lawyer. Just give them the facts as you know them and let the experts to sort out who was to blame for the accident.
Injured in a Trucking Accident in Alabama? Call the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Burge & Burge
If you or a loved one suffered injury in a truck accident that was the fault of another party, you have a right to be compensated. Alabama is a “contributory negligence” state, however. This means that if you are found to be even 1% at fault for the accident, you may be barred from recovering damages. For this reason, it is absolutely essential to obtain skilled legal counsel as early as possible in the process, so your right to compensation can be protected and preserved.
For a free consultation and case assessment with one of the seasoned truck accident attorneys at Burge & Burge, us today at 205-251-9000. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.