Commercial trucks often weigh over 80,000 pounds, so it should be no surprise that when they are involved in an accident, the results are often devastating. According to early estimates by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were an estimated 4,889 large trucks and buses involved in fatal accidents in 2017, a 9-percent increase from the year before. 98 fatalities occurred in Virginia alone in truck accidents in 2017. In 2016, there were more than 119,000 injuries stemming from truck accidents. If you are part of this alarming statistic, it is important to know what to do after a truck accident.
Report the Accident
Even if the truck driver pleads with you not to report the accident so that the driver does not get in trouble with the trucking company, it is critical to report the accident. Taking this step can help ensure that the accident becomes part of a public record and that you have the opportunity to be transported for medical treatment. A law enforcement officer will report to the scene and conduct a cursory investigation. He or she may state the suspected reason for the accident in the report. He or she will also gather information from the parties and any witnesses.
Gather the following information at the scene of the accident:
- The truck driver’s name, phone number and driver’s license number
- The name of the truck driver’s employer, phone number and address
- All insurance information for the truck driver and truck
- The US DOT number, which is usually on the truck’s door
- The license plate number
- Any information regarding cargo if cargo fell out of the truck or may have contributed to the accident
- Witness names, phone numbers and addresses
Document the Scene
Evidence of a truck accident can quickly disappear, so it is important to document the scene as quickly as possible. If you were injured and are unable to take the following steps, ask a passenger or other trusted person to do the following:
- Take pictures of the accident scene from different angles
- Take pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved and any other property damage
- Take pictures of any debris on the roadway
- Take pictures of any traffic signals or signs that may have been involved in the accident
- Write down your account of what happened as soon as you can
Photograph your injuries while you recover from your accident, beginning with the injuries on the day of the accident and each stage as they progress. Truck accident claims can take quite some time to settle, so it is important to have proof of how the injuries affected you if you recover from them before you settle your claim.
Avoid saying anything at the accident scene that may signify fault. Virginia has a pure contributory negligence system that prevents you from recovering any compensation for your accident if you are found to be at any degree of fault. Only provide the required information and refuse to give a recorded statement.
Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accidents often involve expensive claims, extensive damages and multiple parties. These factors make them very complicated, so it is usually in your best interest to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer who can protect you and the value of your claim. A lawyer can take steps to preserve important evidence in your case, including black box data. He or she can also consider whether the truck company or driver violated important regulations. If you suffered significant injuries in an accident that was another person’s fault, Virginia Beach personal injury attorney Jeffrey Brooke is here to help. At The Jeff Brooke Team, we dedicate our practice to helping injured victims and their families. Contact us by phone at (757) 552-6055 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.