Getting into an accident with an 18-wheeler can be a devastating experience. Accidents between a commercial vehicle and a regular passenger vehicle typically do not go well for occupants of the passenger vehicle. Big rig trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more when they are fully loaded, and the sheer force of colliding with this type of vehicle at even medium speeds can result in serious injuries.
Immediately after the collision, you are most likely in a state of shock. Whenever we encounter a situation like this, our heart rate accelerates, and our mind starts to race in a million different directions trying to figure out what all this means. As you look out at the damage caused to your vehicle, you may be sitting there wondering whether or not you can even get out of your car.
The first thing you need to do is breathe deeply and collect your thoughts. Yes, this is a crisis situation, but you can get through it. And the actions you take right after the accident will be critical in securing everyone’s safety and protecting your right to take legal action against the party (or parties) responsible.
Whether you are reading this on your mobile phone immediately after a collision with a semi-truck or you are doing research to prepare for an event like this in the future, we are going to give you five important steps that you should take if you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle:
The top priority before anything else is to make sure that anyone who may have been injured in the accident receives prompt medical attention, and this includes yourself. Symptoms for some injuries may not show up right after the accident, and this can be true of even more serious injuries such as internal bleeding. Call 911 immediately and get an ambulance to the accident scene before too much time passes.
Bring the Police
In addition to medical personnel, the police should also be summoned to the scene of the accident, especially if there are any injuries, which is more likely when a large commercial vehicle is involved. Having the police there is not only important to help secure the accident scene and get the vehicles and their occupants away from oncoming traffic, but also to create an official accident report. This report will most likely be a critical piece of evidence to help determine how the accident happened and who was at fault.
While the police will create an official report, you should create your own accident report as well. Start by exchanging information with the truck driver. Make sure you obtain their name, contact information, driver’s license number, insurance information, the name and contact number of their employer (if they are employed), and U.S. DOT serial number (if it is available).
If you are physically able, you will also want to take several photographs of the accident scene showing as many angles as possible. In addition, write your own report of what happened, so you can compare it to the police report later and ensure that their report has no inaccuracies. If you are unable to write at the moment, use the voice recorder in your smart phone to create an audio report that you can transcribe later.
Obtain Statements from Witnesses
The testimony of eyewitnesses is another important piece of evidence that you will want to obtain. If there are any individuals who saw the accident, try to obtain statements and contact information from them right away. In many instances, a witness will allow you to record an audio or video statement on the spot, which helps ensure that their immediate recollection of events is preserved.
Be Careful What You Say
While interacting with the truck driver, police, witnesses, and anyone else, it is important to be very careful how you discuss the accident. Do NOT, under any circumstances, admit fault or apologize for it. Alabama is a “contributory negligence” state, meaning you can be barred from receiving compensation if you are found to have “contributed” in any way to the accident, even 1%. Be polite, courteous, and empathetic, but never admit any wrongdoing – leave the determination of fault for the experts to sort out.
Contact a Seasoned Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer
Commercial vehicle accident cases are complex and challenging to pursue. There are numerous governing laws and regulations that may apply, and there are several parties that could be responsible (for the accident). If you have been injured in a trucking accident, you need a lawyer who not only has personal injury experience, but who also has extensive experience with these types of cases and the proven ability to successfully recover full and fair compensation.
Call M. Adam Jones and Associates at 334-581-9238 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Dothan, AL office in person at your convenience.