No one ever expects to be in a serious accident, especially involving a massive and powerful truck. One second you are driving along, and the next, you are seriously injured, and your car is in pieces.
In the first moments following a crash, you probably haven’t even had time to process what just took place – and even how it happened. You are justifiably only concerned with whether you, your passengers, and others involved in the crash are okay.
But what you do immediately following an accident with a big rig, 18-wheeler, or other commercial truck will directly affect your health and, ultimately, whether you will successfully recover compensation for your injuries and other losses.
In this article, we discuss the steps you should take – as well as those you should avoid after an Ohio truck accident. We know that the last thing you want is to be in this situation, but there are things you can do to improve the outcome.
We also encourage you to reach out to Slater & Zurz. Our truck accident lawyers have over 100 years of collective experience securing justice for trucking accident victims across Ohio. We know precisely how to investigate these devastating accidents, accurately assess your damages, and take effective courses of action in securing maximum compensation on your behalf.
What to Do at the Scene of the Accident
The scene of a truck accident can be chaotic and overwhelming for the victims. After a crash, it is not uncommon for you to be riddled with adrenaline and pain. You are likely in shock and are struggling just to think straight.
Try to Remain Calm
The first thing we recommend is to try to relax. Take a few deep breaths, don’t panic, and take a moment to assess the situation.
Get to Safety
If you can move your car, drive to the side of the road. Although we are aware that when cars are involved in crashes with a much larger, heavier truck, the damage is generally pretty extensive. In that case, try to get yourself and your passengers to a safe place, out of the way of oncoming vehicles or any other hazards – that is, if it is safe to do so. If you are unable to move or feel that moving might cause additional injury, stay where you are and wait for others to help.
Never Leave the Accident Scene
Fear or panic sometimes gets the best of accident victims. A driver, motorcyclist, pedestrian, or even a truck driver may feel the need to leave the scene of the accident. Often, they think they will wrongfully be blamed for the crash, or when they are uninjured, they mistakenly believe they can leave as long as they weren’t the cause.
However, leaving the scene of an accident is against the law in the state of Ohio, regardless of whether you were at fault for the crash. You must remain on the scene, provide first aid to the injured if possible, and speak with the police. Failure to do so may result in charges that carry a punishment of up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,000.
Leaving the accident also denies you the ability to defend yourself against others involved in the accident who are trying to assign you to blame. Staying will allow you to give your side of the story to investigators.
If your cell phone is nearby, call the police immediately. Let the dispatcher know whether you or anyone involved in the accident needs emergency medical care. If and when emergency medical technicians arrive, they will thoroughly assess and treat your injuries. If your injuries are severe, you will be transported to a facility with the staff and resources to adequately treat you.
After providing the police officer with your contact information, give an accurate and detailed account of what happened. Describe the circumstances leading up to the crash, what happened during the accident, and what took place during the aftermath of the collision.
Exchanging Information After a Trucking Accident
When exchanging information with others involved in your truck vs. car accident, it is critical not to provide any more information than is necessary. Information you should give to and receive from the other drivers involved includes:
- Name, phone number, address, and email.
- Insurance company, phone number, and policy number
If any eyewitnesses are at the scene, make sure you speak with them to get their contact information and a brief account of what they saw. This can be valuable evidence should you choose to file an Ohio trucking accident lawsuit.
Do NOT Admit Fault
It is common for people to apologize after an accident – even if they did not play a role in causing it. Under no circumstances – whether you believe you may have contributed to the accident or not – should you admit any wrongdoing. Don’t give any more than your contact information to the other drivers, and do not attempt to speak to the other party’s insurance company.
It is also best to refrain from discussing the details of your accident with family members, friends, and co-workers – anyone aside from your Akron truck accident lawyer. It is also recommended to stay off social media until your claim or lawsuit is resolved.
Document as Much as Possible
If you can, take photos and video of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, where each is located, and any hazardous conditions present. Be sure to document the traffic and weather conditions as well. This evidence will help determine the fault in a truck accident claim.
Write down any statements made by those involved in the crash as well as any bystanders, and detail what you remember about the crash, what led up to it, and what took place after the collision.
Also, obtain a copy of the police report for your records. It will contain everyone’s contact information, a diagram of the accident scene, the officer’s findings, and a list of any citations that were handed out.
Keep Track of Your Medical Treatment and Expenses
As you seek medical treatment for your truck accident injuries, track each visit. Record the date, the doctor’s name, his or her specialty, and a summary of treatment. Also, keep track of all medical records, treatment plans, and medical bills. It is also imperative that you follow your doctor’s orders and follow through will all recommended treatment and therapy.
Don’t forget to document any psychological treatment you receive to help you cope with the emotional trauma of your accident and your injuries. This will not only help you prove the nature and extent of your injuries but will help you recover your desired compensation.
Get Your Own Property Damage Valuation
The other party’s insurance company will send a representative out to inspect your vehicle and assess the extent of the damage. Very often, their valuation falls short of what the vehicle’s repairs or replacement truly are.
We always recommend taking the time and effort to get an independent assessment of how much it will cost to either repair or replace your vehicle. This alone can help you save thousands of dollars in the end.
Do NOT Accept an Insurance Company’s Low Ball Settlement Offer
Insurance companies are known for offering injured victims less than what is owed for saving them money. Your first settlement offer will likely be significantly lower than what you are entitled to.
We suggest having a commercial truck accident lawyer go over the terms of your settlement to see if it is something you should consider. If he or she finds the offer is less than what you need and deserve, they will go over all of your options in securing maximum recovery.
Speak to an Accident Attorney Who Has Experience Handling Truck Accident Cases
Truck accident cases can be tricky, especially when they involve big rigs, semis, tractor-trailers, or other commercial trucks. Trucking and insurance companies often work hard to avoid taking the blame for these accidents or fight tirelessly to pay the smallest amount possible to the injured victim.
Proving negligence in these cases takes the expertise and resources of a qualified truck accident injury lawyer. At Slater & Zurz, our legal team not only has the knowledge and skills to expertly handle your case, but we also have the reputation for never backing down. In our over 30 years of handling truck accident cases across Ohio, we have earned a distinction for standing up to insurance companies and giving in to their money-saving tactics.
As skilled negotiators, we will proactively attempt to resolve your case outside of the courtroom – but only if it results in full compensation. If we believe it is not in your best interests to accept their settlement, we will proceed to court, where our experienced and aggressive trial lawyers will advocate for full and fair compensation.
Schedule Your FREE Consultation
After a truck accident, we understand that you likely have a long road to recovery ahead of you. But you can find comfort and reassurance knowing your trucking accident case is in capable and trustworthy hands.
To learn more about how we can help following a serious truck accident, reach out to Slater & Zurz. We offer a FREE, no-obligation consultation, so you can know your options and what to expect should you take legal action.
If you decide to work with us, we will handle your case on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not be required to pay anything up-front. We will only be paid if and when we secure compensation on your behalf, which means you can seek compensation at no risk. Get started today by calling (888) 534-4850 or contacting us online.
Offices Across Ohio
The truck accident injury law firm of Slater & Zurz has conveniently- located across Ohio, including Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo. Should you need one of our qualified truck injury lawyers to come to you, we will gladly make arrangements.