Ohio places among the top 10 states for truck and bus accident fatalities. And with more than 70 percent of the nation’s freight shipped via commercial truck carriers, it’s no surprise that the incident of truck collisions is on the rise. As a driver, you can take steps to drive more safely in the presence of truck rigs. But in the event that you are in an accident with a truck and trailer, you should familiarize yourself with the most important steps to take to secure your health and livelihood after the accident.
Your Health and Safety Comes First
If you’ve been the victim of a truck accident, your first objective is to remove yourself from any immediate danger. Such dangers could include fire or risk of explosion from leaking fuel. If your vehicle is safe to operate, move it to a safe location nearby to avoid further collision hazards.
Deep lacerations and spinal injuries can worsen if you try to move without the assistance of a medical professional. If you are injured and there is no immediate danger, it’s best to stay put to avoid worsening your injuries. You can ask a good Samaritan or non-injured person involved in the crash to call 911 for police and medical assistance.
If you are lucky enough to have no serious injuries, you should check to see if anyone else is hurt and ensure that emergency responders are on their way.
After tending to your immediate health and safety needs, it’s time to think about gathering evidence to support your potential claim. If you feel too overwhelmed or your hospitalization limits your ability to do so, you may want to consult an experienced attorney to help you navigate this process. Most reputable personal injury law firms will not charge you anything until and unless you recover damages from the party at fault. You will need to gather evidence about three critical things:
1. Who caused the accident?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 52.8 percent of 2017 truck accident fatalities were due to a driver-related factor, such as speeding, texting, impairment from drugs or alcohol, or simple carelessness. That means that if you were involved in an accident with a truck rig, the odds are likely that it was the truck driver’s fault. You’ll want to make sure that you gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident to make sure that your attorney has all of the facts that they need to get you a fair settlement or award.
Once first responders have attended to immediate health and safety concerns, you will likely be questioned by a police officer. In the immediate aftermath of a crash, you may be overwhelmed or confused. Do your best to communicate with police, but don’t feel pressured to guess about things that you don’t know or remember.
It’s important not to provide information to anyone else besides the police, medical professionals, and your attorney. This includes talking to the other driver or good Samaritans about the accident. Texts and posts can be recovered pursuant to a court order, even after they’ve been deleted, so it’s best to avoid texting or posting on social media about your accident, damages, or injuries.
While you want to be careful about texting and posting about your accident, your smartphone can be a great tool for taking pictures of the accident scene. You should do your best to document damages to all involved vehicles, the location of the vehicles before they are moved, and photos of witnesses and their vehicle plates in the event that they depart from the scene before first responders arrive. Also, don’t forget to save the most recent photos of your vehicle prior to your accident so that insurance adjusters can make an accurate assessment of how much damage was caused by the accident.
2. How much can you recover for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages?
Accident victims are often surprised by how overwhelming it is to schedule and attend medical appointments and physical therapy and obtain medications. Even if you have good health insurance, the cost of medical treatment copays can be expensive. You will likely have to take time off of work to recover and attend ongoing medical appointments.
It can be helpful to keep a journal of any treatment or medications that you receive, in addition to copies of all medical reports and bills. You can make a simple three-column notebook with the dates of treatment, doctors seen, and the reason for your visit. These documents will help your attorney prove your medical expenses when you try to recover damages from the faulty party.
You may also later suffer from injuries that are not detected in the first few weeks and months of treatment, such as head trauma and spinal misalignments. That’s why it’s important not to settle your case too quickly, even if the other driver’s insurance offers what seems to be a fair settlement at first. A personal injury attorney experienced in vehicle accident litigation can help you determine the best steps to ensure your recovery for treatment of latent injuries. If the other party’s insurance company is hounding you to settle, you probably want to get your attorney involved right away.
In addition to recovering for your medical treatment and time off work, you may be entitled to compensation for your emotional loss, in addition to physical pain and suffering. It can be helpful to keep a journal of your daily experiences, rating your pain on a scale of 1 to 10 and documenting any lost opportunities for companionship and recreation due to your new physical and emotional limitations.
3. How much will it cost to repair or replace your vehicle?
Lastly, you will want to make sure that you document the complete extent of your property damage. The insurance company for the other party will likely ask you to have your car inspected by their own shop. But if the value of your repairs doesn’t seem right, you can and should obtain repair estimates from another trusted source. An experienced personal injury attorney can help steer you in the right direction.
You can also obtain compensation for other property damage besides your vehicle. This could include personal items like a designer watch, sunglasses, clothing, and your smartphone. These items may seem insignificant, but replacement costs add up, and you should be fairly compensated for all of your losses.
An Experienced Attorney Can Advocate for You
If you’ve been in a crash caused by a truck and trailer rig, you may be able to recover financial compensation. But this depends on many factors, including the extent of your injuries, damage to your property, financial damage from present and future lost wages and benefits, and the extent of the other party’s negligence. Moreover, in a trucking accident, there are many other parties that could be at fault besides the driver, including the trucking company and vehicle manufacturer. That’s why it’s important to work with a law firm that understands these types of cases and has a thorough understanding of the laws and regulations that may apply to your case.
Since its inception in 2005, Kisling, Nestico & Redick has recovered over $450 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of its clients. And with one of our founding partners having been the victim of big insurance companies taking advantage of his ill-informed immigrant family after a vehicle accident which caused him head injuries, two broken kneecaps, and two broken arms, you can’t ask for a more understanding and resolute advocate.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle or any other incident involving an 18-wheeler, big rig, or another large commercial truck, the lawyers at Kisling, Nestico & Redick can pursue the compensation that you need and deserve. Our big rig accident attorneys have decades of combined legal experience to put to work on your behalf. Put your mind to rest and let us handle the details of investigating your accident and preparing your case so that you can focus on recovering.
Call us at 1-800-HURT-NOW or fill out our online contact form to arrange a free initial consultation with our Ohio truck accident attorneys. There is no obligation to work with us after an initial consultation. And at Kisling, Nestico & Redick, you don’t pay any legal fees unless we obtain compensation for your case.