Commercial vehicles, be they a bus or semi-truck, are often bigger, heavier, and harder to operate than ordinary passenger cars. Oftentimes, the sheer size of a commercial vehicle means that any crash involving one has the potential to cause severe injury. While most commercial drivers are well-trained professionals, accidents can—and do—happen.
However, commercial vehicle accidents should not be compared to crashes involving private vehicles. If you were involved in a commercial vehicle accident, you must take certain steps to safeguard your recovery.
What to Do After a Commercial Vehicle Crash
Getting hit by a delivery van or semi-truck can be a tragically life-altering experience. You may have a difficult time thinking, let alone preparing for a crash’s long-term consequences.
However, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Seek immediate medical attention. Even if you do not think you were injured, you should always seek immediate medical attention in the aftermath of any accident. The shock of an unexpected collision can mask a severe injury. Seeking a physician’s opinion will also show insurance agents that you have medical concerns and are not simply seeking a large settlement.
- Call the police. You may be inclined to cut the driver some slack, especially if you do not believe you were injured. However, you may later find yourself struggling to get compensation for medical expenses or property damages. A police officer’s report is critical evidence in any claim and can help you take action against a reckless driver or negligent trucking company.
- Collect evidence. If you are not seriously injured and do not need to provide medical care to anyone else, you should document the accident as thoroughly as you are able. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, as well as the commercial vehicle, and photograph any injuries. Look around the scene, and see if there are any tire skid marks, stop signs, or traffic lights. Note the location, the nearest crossroads, or any highway mile markers. You may also want to take a video of the same damages and record an audio clip recounting the sequence of events leading up to the accident. If there were any eyewitnesses to the accident, take their names and phone numbers, too.
- Gather information. Exchange information with the driver of the commercial vehicle. You should ask for their name, phone number, and other contact information. You will also want to know who they are working for. You can usually find this information on the side of the vehicle. Semi-trucks, for instance, are legally required to print their trade name or “MC”—their federal motor carrier number—on both sides of the cab.
What to Do Once You Are Home
After you have left the scene or have been discharged from the hospital, you should:
- Schedule a follow-up with your medical provider. If you begin experiencing any unexpected pain after an accident, do not hesitate to see the doctor again. Some injuries only become apparent with time.
- Protect your evidence. If you were able to gather evidence after the accident, keep it in a safe place. Back up and photographs, video, or audio clips to your computer or a separate hard drive—preferably both—and draft a written account of the accident.
- Choose your words wisely. After an accident, you will almost certainly be contacted by a representative from the commercial vehicle company’s insurance agency. You should not speak to an insurance adjuster without first consulting an attorney. If an adjuster asks you to provide a recorded statement, refuse. Insurance adjusters want to help their employers make and save money, which means finding any excuse to reduce your compensation.
When to Contact an Attorney
You should contact a commercial vehicle accident attorney as soon as you are able. Your lawyer will help you collect evidence from the wreck and will thoroughly investigate the at-fault driver as well as their employer. After you have contacted an attorney, they will begin aggressively building a case to ensure that you receive the maximum settlement to which you are entitled.