For any driver who has shared the road with a big rig or another large commercial truck, the sheer size and weight of these vehicles are staggering. When the unthinkable happens and an 18-wheeler collides with a passenger vehicle, serious injuries and severe property damage are likely to occur.
In fact, a recent predawn accident on westbound I-20 east of Longview involving five tractor-trailers killed two people and sent three others to Longview Regional Medical Center. According to media reports, law enforcement authorities believe that the driver of one of the trucks failed to notice other vehicles stopped in the westbound lanes, and collided with them, causing severe devastation, injuries, and the loss of multiple lives.
As much as we would like to hope that serious accidents involving large trucks will not happen, they will occur because of the negligence of trucking companies and the drivers that they employ. In the immediate aftermath of a truck accident, you likely will be unsure of what to do to protect yourself and your rights. If you plan to file an injury claim against the driver and the trucking company that employed them, you will need to take steps immediately after the accident to protect your legal claim.
Step #1: Call 911.
Following an accident, it’s essential that you call 911 immediately (or that you ask another person to help you do so). If medical personnel are not already on the scene, you can ensure that they will soon be there to tend to any wounded individuals. Police will also help secure the scene and conduct an investigation into the cause of the truck accident. The police report often contains crucial information for your personal injury claim.
Step #2: Seek medical attention for any injuries.
Collisions between passenger cars, trucks, and motorcycles and 18-wheelers often result in serious injuries. It is critical that any injured persons – from drivers to passengers to pedestrians – get immediate medical attention if they’ve been harmed in any way.
Severe injuries should be attended to right away, and emergency medical personnel will likely have to transport the injured by ambulance to a local hospital for immediate treatment. Even seemingly minor injuries should also be examined and documented by a doctor as soon as possible.
As a general rule, every individual who has been involved in a collision should visit a doctor after the accident for a thorough exam. Even if you do not believe that you were hurt, or if you just think that you have some “bumps and bruises,” serious injuries may be lurking beneath the surface. By visiting a doctor as soon as possible, you can get the necessary treatment that you need.
Step #3: Take as many pictures as possible.
Have a friend or family member take photos of the entire accident scene as soon after the crash as possible. Most smartphones include an excellent camera, which makes photographing accident scenes much easier.
Get pictures of your vehicle, the tractor-trailer, and other vehicles that were involved in the accident. Take photos of the road, as well as anything that might be important to note, such as a fallen tree or ice. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to showing the devastation that an 18-wheeler collision can cause, few things are as compelling to a case as on-the-scene photos.
Step #4: Collect contact information from witnesses.
Don’t let people who witnessed the wreck leave the scene without giving you their contact information: their full names, telephone numbers, and email addresses. Without statements from others who saw the accident happen, you could wind up in a he-said-she-said situation with the truck driver and their insurance company. Your lawyers will need the contact information for those individuals who witnessed the wreck; otherwise, your lawyers may never again be able to find these individuals – who may live in other states.
Step #5: Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Following an accident with an 18-wheeler, the most critical step is to contact a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and legal options. Keep in mind that not every attorney is equally qualified to handle your claim, and choosing the right firm to represent you is very important for your future.
You should seek help only from an experienced lawyer who has dealt with truck accident claims and has prevailed on behalf of their clients. You should also remember that time is not on your side following a crash. Relevant evidence may be cleaned up or may disappear from the scene (skid marks, for example, can disappear in only a few days). If you’ve been hit, make sure to call an attorney as soon as possible so that they can investigate the accident, gather essential evidence, and pursue justice on your behalf.
That’s why you should trust the Sloan Firm to help you seek the compensation you deserve if you’ve been hurt in an accident with a large commercial vehicle. Our lawyers have over 150 years of collective experience. We live by the maxim: “What matters to you, Matters to us.”
If a tractor-trailer caused an accident that injured you, you need experienced truck accident injury lawyers who know how to handle these complex cases. The people we help are not merely clients to us, they are our family members, friends, and neighbors here in East Texas. We fight on behalf of injured people to not only help them get justice and recover the financial compensation that they are due, but we also fight to make our community safer with each case we take.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in an accident with an 18-wheeler, do not hesitate to call us or fill out a quick contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our legal team is standing by to help you pursue the compensation that you are rightfully owed.