What to Do if You Were Hit by an Eighteen-Wheeler Truck?

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Auto accidents are always stressful, especially if you are injured. However, accidents involving eighteen-wheelers are more complicated than the average car accident and often involve greater damage, more severe injuries, and complicated liability issues. What should you do if an eighteen-wheeler truck or another type of large truck collides with your vehicle?

What Should I Do Immediately After an 18 Wheeler Truck Accident?

#1. Call 911.

In the state of California, you must notify authorities if you or any other party is injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, or if the crash caused property damage of over $750. Report your location as accurately as possible, along with descriptions of your vehicle and the eighteen-wheeler. If someone is injured, request an ambulance or paramedic be sent to the scene.

#2. Exchange Information.

When it is safe and if you are physically able, exchange identifying and insurance information with the driver. Keep in mind, if the truck is owned by a trucking company, the insurance should be in the name of the company, not the driver. You should also get the drivers’ license number of the driver, and the vehicle DOT license number for the truck and trailer.

#3. Gather Information.

If there are witnesses to the accident or other drivers who were involved in addition to the truck, it is critical to obtain their information as well, including names, contact information, drivers’ license number and license plate number.  If you can do so safely, take pictures of the vehicles, including any damage and where they are physically located on the road.

If the trucking company’s response team arrives, members will document the scene and download information from the truck’s internal systems. Details recorded include speed, GPS location, brake application, braking distance, any steering maneuvers undertaken by the driver, and the resulting impact. You should request this information at the scene of the accident if possible because if you wait, the company may claim it no longer exists or is otherwise unavailable.  The company may not be able to provide it to you immediately, but you have put them on notice that it must be preserved.

 #4. Seek medical attention. 

Often injuries are not apparent immediately after a truck crash but can still be life-threatening (such as internal bleeding) or life-altering (such as back injuries). Because of this, it is important to be evaluated by a physician after a truck accident to determine if you have been injured.

#5. Contact a Lawyer.

If your injuries require medical attention or if you have serious property damage, contacting a lawyer is your next step in securing compensation for your damages.

Who is Liable?

Liability may not always be easy to determine in eighteen-wheeler accidents. Trucking companies who require drivers to operate outside of federal rest guidelines are often liable for damages caused by their employees. Sometimes trucking companies employ inexperienced drivers or drivers without adequate training. Your lawyer can argue that breaking the law or failing to properly train drivers indicates the truck company’s negligence and proves liability for your injuries.

In other cases, driver negligence may lead directly to the accident –e.g., failure to yield, operating while intoxicated, and speeding situations. However, since the trucking company pays the insurance premiums for the driver, it is in the company’s best interest to attempt to shift blame for the accident onto you or another driver. Your attorney must prove the driver was negligent in causing the accident, and that the accident led directly to your injuries.

If you experience an eighteen-wheeler accident, it is essential to gather all documentation as soon as possible. Seek a California truck accident attorney as soon as possible after the eighteen wheeler truck accident to ensure you have all the necessary documentation to pursue your claim.