As a truck driver, safety procedures have likely been drilled into you throughout your training. However, even if you follow all of the procedures to the letter every single time, sometimes there is no way to stop a truck accident from happening. At some point in your trucking industry career, you will likely find yourself involved in an accident that leaves you requiring the services of a truck accident lawyer. For that reason, it pays to have some type of preparation to know the best steps to take if you find yourself in this particular situation. Truck accidents can be complicated, and you will likely have a lot of questions surrounding liability, insurance claims, medical bills, or even when you might be able to return to work. A truck accident lawyer can help you to answer those questions and navigate the process smoothly.
Who is Liable for a Truck Accident?
When it comes down to it, a truck injury lawsuit is essentially a type of personal injury lawsuit. At the core of every personal injury lawsuit is determining who was at fault. However, in a truck accident, this can get pretty complex as there are so many different people who might share liability when a truck accident happens. A truck accident lawyer can help to decipher the evidence and show who is liable for damages.
The default is usually to look to the truck driver; after all, they are in control of an extremely large, heavy vehicle capable of a great deal of damage. However, this is not always the case. In most cases, if a trucking company employs the truck driver and the accident occurs while they are ‘on the job,’ the company is liable. There are some exceptions, such as when drivers are independent contractors, if the driver intentionally crashed, or if they were given a ticket.
Others can also be held responsible for truck accidents, and it is up to a truck accident lawyer to prove this liability if they are defending you in a truck accident injury lawsuit. Some of these people might include:
- Other Motorists
- Truck Manufacturers
- Fleet Mechanics
- Whoever Loaded Cargo onto the Truck
5 Steps You Should Take Following a Truck Accident
Remember these five simple steps if you find yourself involved in a truck accident. This will help you navigate the scene safely and gather the information your truck accident lawyer will need to help you through any related lawsuits.
1 - Calling 911
The first step in any traffic accident is to call 911. Truck accidents, in particular, can leave a great deal of devastation in their wake in terms of injuries and property damage, so it is especially important to contact the emergency services immediately. Even if it seems like a minor incident and nobody is injured, you should still report the accident. Injuries may not manifest until later, so it is important to report the accident anyway.
Pro Tip! Did you know, in Tennessee, it is a legal requirement to report an accident to the state by writing to the Commissioner of Safety within 20 days of the accident if anyone was injured or killed, if it causes personal property damage of more than $1500, or if it causes over $400 damage to state or local government property? Reporting requirements in other states may vary.
2 - Exchange Information
Once the authorities have been called and it is safe for you to do so, you will want to exchange contact information and insurance details with everyone involved. It is important that you do not make any statement that could be construed as admitting fault for the accident. Do not apologize, make a statement, or speculate about the accident. Just swap the relevant details. It will also be helpful to your truck accident lawyer if you can gather evidence, including photographs of the scene and any damage, eyewitness testimony or contact details, and dashcam or surveillance footage. It can also be helpful to request a copy of the police report and your black box data from your truck.
3 - Seek Medical Advice
As touched on previously, truck accident injuries are not always immediately apparent. It is important to visit a doctor even if you were not given medical treatment at the scene. You will want to ensure there are no hidden injuries that might manifest later and complete whatever treatment is recommended. If you do not seek medical treatment, it may impact your case if you want to claim personal injury damages or even your insurance claims.
4 - Do Not Give Recorded Statements
We’ve already mentioned not giving statements or making apologies at the scene, but it is incredibly important, so we will reiterate it here. You must report your truck accident to the insurance company that covers you or your employer. However, it is important to be wary when doing so. Insurance adjusters may act like your best friend, but often they are looking for ways to avoid spying out on claims. Do not agree to a recorded statement. Simply report the facts. Wait for a truck accident lawyer to advise you before doing anything else.
5 - Find a Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accident lawsuits can be complex, and you likely won’t want the stress of trying to navigate one on your own. It is important to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer soon after the accident. Although you do usually have a year under the statute of limitations to file your lawsuit, the sooner you choose a truck accident lawyer, the better. This will mean all evidence is fresh in your mind and the minds of your eyewitnesses.
Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice Law, Birth Injury Law, Trucking Accident Law, Personal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at www.bvblaw.com or call 865-637-3531.
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