4 Steps to Take if You’re Involved in a Tractor-Trailer Accident
Tractor-trailers, also known as 18-wheelers, are the huge trucks seen on highways (and on regular roads) that carry goods to and from different locations. These trucks can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds and even when traveling at only 55 mph, this amount of weight can cause a deadly accident.
Almost 10% of all highway accidents involve a tractor-trailer, and these can be some of the deadliest accidents on the road. Fortunately, not all tractor-trailer accidents end in fatalities, but they can cause serious injuries and unsalvageable damage to your vehicle. Here’s what you should do if you were involved in a tractor-trailer accident.
#1: Call the Police
Calling the police is the first thing that you should do no matter what type of vehicle accident you’re involved in (according to many state laws), but you should call the police when a tractor-trailer is involved. The majority of states require you to notify the authorities if there’s an injury/death and/or if there’s more than $500 worth of property damage— in which tractor-trailer accidents almost always result in an injury and more than $500 worth of property damage. Dial 911 and ask for both the police and an ambulance, since injuries often occur with these types of collisions.
If possible, you should also try to move the vehicles out of the way of traffic, but this may not always be possible when a tractor-trailer is involved. Also, you should try and take pictures of the accident to have for your own records.
#2: Document and Treat all Injuries
While you’re documenting the details of your accident, you should also document the details of your injuries— even if they’re minor. If you request an ambulance on the scene when you call 911, you can get checked out by the EMTs (emergency medical technicians) right there, but more serious injuries may require a hospital visit. Whether you’re being checked out by the EMTs or the doctors and nurses at a hospital, you must detail your injuries as detailed as possible so that they can document them correctly. This information is vital and it may be necessary to have it later to receive Justice for the accident.
If you don’t have any obvious injuries, it’s still a good idea to get checked out. You don’t have to request an ambulance on the scene or go to the hospital, but you should make an appointment with your primary care provider to make sure that you don’t have any hidden injuries.
#3: Report the Accident and Keep all Documents Together
Once you’ve documented your injuries and the accident itself, make sure you keep all of these records together. All of this documentation is going to be necessary when you report the accident to your car insurance company. This is something you’ll have to do, even if the accident isn’t your fault.
The driver of the tractor-trailer has to report the accident to his/her insurance company as well— no matter who was at fault. Both insurance companies are going to try to determine who was at fault (usually to try and place blame on the other party), which is why it’s important to document as much as you can from the accident.
#4: Get Legal Advice from a Personal Injury Lawyer
Recording and keeping all of your documents together to report to your insurance company becomes very important when the other party tries to place blame on you for causing the accident. Not only are your documents helpful for your insurance company, but they’re also helpful for the personal injury lawyer you’ll hire. Hiring a personal injury lawyer who specializes in truck accidents may be necessary for an accident such as this. Tractor-trailer accidents are more lengthy and complex than other types of car accidents, so if you’ve experienced a great loss and require compensation, it’s best to get legal advice from a personal injury lawyer.
Tractor-trailer accidents rarely result in a fender-bender or any other type of minor accident, simply because of the size of these trucks. There’s also a lot more that needs reviewing when it comes to these big trucks, such as log books, maintenance records, and even the work schedules of the drivers because many factors could be the cause of the accident. And because the tractor-trailer company is more than likely going to have all of this detailed information on hand, it’s important that you’re prepared and do the same.