There are several things you should do when you have been involved in a truck accident. The first thing is to call the police and report the accident. The second thing is to seek medical attention, even if you don’t have any obvious injuries. In many cases, especially with soft tissue injuries, you may not realize you have been hurt until days or weeks later.
Typically speaking, accidents involving trucks are much more serious than car accidents. They usually result in catastrophic injuries and substantial property damage. That is simply because of the size of most commercial trucks. While the average passenger vehicle weighs around 3,000 pounds, a loaded 18-wheeler can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
There are many possible causes of truck accidents, but some are more common than others. Lack of training and the inexperience of the truck driver is one possible cause. Problems with the truck are also common, such as it being overloaded, oversized, having defective brakes or poor maintenance. Distracted driving, driver exhaustion, alcohol or drugs are also common causes.
Just like with a car accident, it is necessary to exchange certain information with the truck driver involved in the truck accident. This should include driver’s license numbers, vehicle registration and insurance information. Beyond that, do not volunteer any further information or discuss the facts surrounding the accident with anyone. It is important not to admit fault in any way, or to say anything that could be later used to place the blame on you.
One of the reasons the police are called is so they can create a police report of the accident. This will be necessary for insurance purposes as well as for any type of lawsuit you may decide to file. For this reason, when you are interviewed by the officer, be sure to be as specific as possible when describing what happened, without appearing to admit fault in any way. If the other driver made any statements to you, be sure to share those as well.
In addition to the police report and any medical records that you obtain for the treatment of your injuries, taking pictures is very important. If you can, take as many pictures at the scene of the accident as possible. Take pictures of the location, the vehicles involved, your injuries and anything else that may be important. Basically, anything that could help your case is probably worth documenting.
Besides the police and reporting your claim to your insurance company, you should only talk to your attorney. If there is any chance that you may file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries and damages, you should discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. You do NOT need to talk to the truck driver’s insurance company. Do not make any statements without first contacting your attorney. It is preferable to discuss your case with an attorney experienced in handling truck accident cases.
All civil lawsuits have what is known as a “statute of limitations.” That is the period of time in which you are required to file your lawsuit in court. After that period of time ends, your lawsuit cannot be filed or will be dismissed. Each state establishes its own statute of limitations periods for different causes of actions in that particular state. Therefore, it is important to discuss the limitations that apply to your claims, with a personal injury attorney in your state, so you can be sure to protect your rights. Missouri’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is five (5) years, whereas Arkansas’s statute of limitations is three (3) years.
Depending on the facts in your case, there could be more than one person or entity responsible for your damages. In nearly every case, the truck driver can be sued. In many cases, the trucking company that either owns the truck or employs the truck driver will also be sued. If there are issues regarding components of the truck, then certain manufacturers may be involved as well.