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  • By: Don Thomas
  • Published: October 20, 2020

If you operate a big rig, then you are aware of the liability and danger that is involved if your 18-wheeler gets into an accident. Getting into any kind of vehicle accident is scary, and even more so when you’re involved in one while driving such a large and powerful vehicle.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a big rig trucking accident as the driver, then there are some things you need to be aware of. For example, liability does not always fall on the driver, even if the vehicle contributed a lot of the damage.

Navigating the legalities after the accident can be a burden and cause trouble in your day-to-day life. But there are things that you can do to make sure that you don’t bear all the fault.

Most of the recommendations on this list should be completed at the time of the accident. If this is not the case, connecting with reliable accident lawyers, such as Ellis and Thomas, will give you better insight into the situation.

1. Call the Police

With every accident, it’s important to call the police so that any injuries, vehicle damage, and road obstructions can be reported and managed. Because a large majority of the accidents involving big rigs cause a significant amount of damage, it is likely that you will need to call the police no matter what. Get in the habit of doing this anyway so that you and the other person involved have plenty of support during this stressful time.

Additionally, getting the police involved will be helpful so that a third-party and objective outsider can provide a clear picture of what happened at the accident. They will be able to clearly document everything that happened, take statements from those involved, gather witness statements, and other details of the scene. They will also be able to connect you to those involved so that your personal injury lawyers can have a clear picture of the entire case.

2. Get a Medical Evaluation

While calling an EMT or ambulance might seem unnecessary, it is important that you consider getting a medical evaluation at the time of the accident. The evaluation will also be recorded by the police (as they will show up with the EMT). You will have a direct assessment from a medical professional at the scene and who can provide context for any potential injuries. For example, if you explain to them the way that your head moved when the accident occurred, they might suggest looking out for certain types of injuries later on.

If you wait to have a medical evaluation with medical professionals at a hospital, this will be well after the accident occurred and you might not provide all of the necessary details. You might also omit details that didn’t seem important to you but are actually quite significant.

If you can, try to get a medical evaluation on-site and gain access to that evaluation to save for a later date. If an EMT or ambulance cannot arrive on-site, then head to the nearest medical professional as soon as you can.

3. Document the Evidence at The Scene of The Accident

Regardless of whether or not the police are called to the scene of the accident, you’ll want to be sure that you document all the evidence of the scene. This will include pictures, written statements, the contact information of those available, contact information of witnesses, and details of the scene (i.e., what intersection was it, the time of day, environmental factors).

Next, you’ll want to write down what happened. This includes the things that were happening to you in your big rig. Were you paying attention while driving? Did anything distract you? Did you notice any erratic behavior from the other vehicle or persons involved? By writing down everything that you believe to be true, you are painting a clearer picture so your personal injury lawyers can begin to visualize what you were going through at the time of the accident.

In addition to writing down the story, be sure to take a lot of pictures of the scene. Try to have a camera on hand somehow so that you have this capability.

4. Write Down the Contact Information of Everyone Involved and Witnesses

If for some reason you cannot call the police or even if the police arrive and collect information at the scene, be sure to personally collect the contact information of those involved so you can stay connected. You or your personal injury lawyer will have to reach out to them at a later date and you want to make this part as easy as possible.

Get the full name, phone number, and email address of everyone else involved in the accident. Be sure to verify this information with them before you part ways as it is easy for people’s numbers or phone numbers to be accidentally misrecorded or be difficult to read. You should then store this information in a secure place. It might be smart to put this information on your phone. You can even email your trucking accident lawyer at that time so that the information is recorded and secure.

5. Once the Accident Has Been Immediately Resolved, Get the Vehicle Appraised

Getting all of this done, and the vehicles towed off the road, will take some time, but that’s okay. This is a stressful ordeal and you want to make sure that you get everything sorted. Try not to rush through anything that you’re uncomfortable with.

Once everything on the day of the accident has been resolved, you should get your vehicle appraised. In many cases, big truck drivers would be surprised to learn that the vehicle malfunctions due to some type of mechanism in the engine. If this was the case, any malfunctioning movements that occurred to the big rig would not place the driver at fault. And in many ways, proving that there was a defective or malfunctioning component releases a lot of the liability, if not all, from the driver.

Get the vehicle appraised as soon as possible so that there is no room for error when another lawyer or individual is assessing the appraisal.

6. Don’t Admit Fault or Liability

The time spent dealing with your trucking accident might be long and drawn out. You might be explaining to friends and family what happened, or describing the situation to the police, fellow bystanders, and so on. It is very crucial that you do not outright admit fault or liability, even if you believe that you are 100% at fault. The fact of the matter is that you really don’t know what happened until everything has been assessed.

It’s safe, then, to consider that you were neutral in the accident. It is okay to feel sorry and to ask that everyone involved in the accident is okay. It is even okay to feel concerned, especially if someone is hurt. But never admit fault or suggest that you caused the accident as this could come back on you. Consult with your personal injury lawyer if you are unsure about this.

If you can, try to avoid talking about the accident, especially with friends and family, the police, insurance companies, and especially on social media. Again, everything that you say could potentially come back to negatively represent the true actions that happened at the scene of the crime.

Stay off social media, especially if you want to post details about the accident.

7. Call a Truck Accident Lawyer

When all is said and done and you have been in an accident, you need a support team beside you every step of the way. An accident lawyer who specializes in accidents involving vehicles, and especially big rig vehicles, will be able to guide you with some of the big decisions that you will need to make. They can also offer advice throughout every step of the process.

Consider working with Ellis and Thomas, experienced trucking accident lawyers to protect you and your rights. Ellis and Thomas will sue for you, whether you have been forced to pay compensation from vehicle insurance companies or you are experiencing mounting medical bills from an accident.

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