If you were involved in a commercial vehicle accident, the first and most important step is to check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If you suspect that you or others in your vehicle may need emergency medical treatment, call 911 right away. Even if you do not think anyone suffered serious injuries, you should have a doctor rule out any potential delayed symptoms or internal injuries.
Whether you need medical care or not, you should report the accident to the police so they can begin an investigation and officially record the collision. Police reports contain basic information such as the names, contact, and insurance information of those involved, property damage that occurred, and statements from involved parties. These unbiased observations can play an important role in whether or not you can file a claim for damages you suffered in the accident.
Finally, hire a lawyer to help you with your commercial vehicle accident case. While you can manage your claim on your own if you choose to, insurance companies often make it difficult for victims to pursue the financial recovery they need to make up for their losses. A lawyer can report your accident to the insurance company and fight for fair awards on your behalf.
What Should I Do If I Was Involved in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
If you were involved in a commercial vehicle accident, there are a few important steps you should take right away, including seeking emergency medical treatment, gathering evidence, and hiring a lawyer who can help you file a claim for your injuries.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 107,000 injury accidents involved large trucks in 2018. The increased size and weight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) make them significantly more dangerous in collisions, especially those that involve passenger vehicles. Victims of these accidents often suffer serious injuries that can lead to physical, emotional, and financial distress, but there are things you can do that may help improve the outcome of your circumstances.
Get Medical Care for Your Injuries
When possible, you should check yourself and your passengers for injuries before you do anything else. If you or another occupant has suffered an injury, call 911 right away or ask someone to call for you. Your health and safety come first, and you can take the next step after you have received medical care.
Even if you do not notice any immediate injuries, you may find it beneficial to have a doctor examine you. Some injuries, such as whiplash, might appear later. Mayo Clinic notes that while certain accident victims have symptoms of whiplash shortly after the collision occurs, others do not experience signs of it until days later. Other conditions, such as an intracranial hematoma, or brain bleed, can occur over days or even months and can result in mortality if not treated.
File a Police Report
If you can speak with law enforcement at the scene of the accident, you should cooperate with officers and provide information for a police report. This may include your personal information and your account of what happened, which can help you later if you choose to file a claim for your injuries. Some victims feel nervous about providing the police with information, but what they find after observing the scene can prove beneficial to your case. After you speak with the officers, ask for their names and badge numbers so that you can get a copy of the police report later.
Exchange Information with the Commercial Vehicle Driver
Make sure to get information from the CMV driver if you can. The police report may contain all the information you need, but it can be more convenient to have it on hand when you need to report the accident to your insurance company. Some of the information you may want to ask for includes:
- Full name
- Contact information
- Insurance information, including carrier and policy number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Description of the vehicle
Be sure to provide the CMV driver with the information they request from you, as well.
Gather as Much Evidence as You Can from the Scene of the Accident
Once you have spoken with the police and exchanged insurance, contact, and vehicle information with the other driver, you should begin to collect the evidence you need in your case. You might have some of this evidence available to you in the days and weeks that follow the accident, even if you did not realize at the time that it may help your case. For example, if you took photos, audio recordings, or videos of property damage, injuries, or conversations with witnesses at the scene, you or a lawyer may be able to use these files to build your case.
Hire a Lawyer to Speak with Your Insurance Company
At some point, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company. However, what sounds like a simple task often turns into a complex and frustrating process during which adjusters may attempt to take advantage of victims during an already trying time.
Depending on where you live, you may have to pursue financial recovery from your own insurance company for your injuries after a commercial vehicle accident. In other states, you must file with the other driver’s carrier. States also have their own laws regarding shared liability. While you may still have the option to seek awards in certain states even if you are partially at fault for the accident, others bar you from doing so.
State laws and insurance adjusters can make finding your way through the system and recovering damages difficult on your own, but a lawyer can help. Attorneys know how to handle adjusters when they try to prevent victims from receiving their fair share, and they can manage all correspondence with the insurance carrier, handle negotiations, and fight for a just outcome in your case.
D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ Can Help if You Were Involved in a Commercial Vehicle Accident
After a commercial vehicle accident, victims often do not feel certain about what to do next. Once you have received treatment and gathered evidence, if possible, a lawyer can help you report your accident to your insurance company and seek the financial recovery you need for the losses you suffered because of your injuries. Call the legal team at D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ today at 1 (855) PRO-LAWYERS for assistance with your commercial vehicle accident case.