Hindsight is 20/20. While this idiom certainly rings true in many situations, it can serve as little comfort when you lack evidence to support your truck accident claim. If ever you find yourself involved in a crash with a tractor trailer, it is important that you take steps immediately after the accident to preserve your rights to compensation. While a reputable truck accident lawyer in Indiana can advise you of what to do after you file your claim to ensure the best possible outcome, you can begin protecting your rights at the scene of the crash. Below is a list of the top ten things to do after a truck accident to protect your rights and interests.
Per Indiana law, you must stop your vehicle at or close to the scene of the accident. Otherwise, you could face criminal penalties. Though state law only requires you to stop if the accident results in serious injuries or death, you nor the other driver could possibly know the extent of the damages unless you pull over and check on the occupants of the other vehicle. If you leave the scene of the accident in which serious injury or death occurred or if you intentionally fail to stop because you are intoxicated you could face felony charges and associated consequences. Criminal charges aside, stopping at the scene of a truck accident can serve in your best interests. By stopping, you gain the opportunity to gather the truck driver’s information and the information of any witnesses. You also get the chance to take pictures of the scene and any damages your vehicle and the truck sustained. All of this can serve as valuable evidence in your truck accident claim.
Preserve the Scene
Unfortunately, it happens quite frequently — the devastation from one vehicle accident causes another one. This is particularly true when semi-trucks are involved. Due to their size, a damaged or tipped semi-truck can block all or part of a roadway. When the devastation is not immediately obvious, other vehicles may struggle to stop in time. This could lead to a second accident within minutes, if not seconds, of your initial accident. A second accident could disrupt the scene and destroy your evidence. To prevent this from happening, do what you can to protect the scene such as placing signals, signs and road flares around the perimeter of the accident to indicate to oncoming cars that there is an obstacle ahead.
Call the Police
Whether your truck accident is a minor fender bender or a major collision, calling 911 is a crucial step in preserving your rights to compensation. In fact, if your accident results in severe injuries, the death of another person or damages in excess of $1,000, you have a legal obligation to notify law enforcement. Having the police show up can greatly benefit your case, as the responding officer must fill out an accident report and document the scene. Though not a final determination, an officer can speculate as to fault, which can help you if and when negligence comes into question.
Give Accurate Information, and Stick to the Facts
Once an officer does arrive at the scene of the crash, they will ask for an overview of the incident from both you and the truck driver. You must be as honest, accurate, and thorough in your retelling of events as possible. However, you do not want to speculate. If the officer asks a question and you are unsure of the answer, say so. Finally, never admit fault or wrongdoing. The officer will write down everything you say and the insurance company and truck driver can and likely will use your statements against you.
Gather Contact Information
In cases of reportable accidents, the responding officer or officers should gather the contact and insurance information of both the other driver and any witnesses. If for whatever reason an officer does not respond to the accident, gather the names, addresses, and phone numbers of every individual involved. Also, make sure to get the truck driver’s insurance information. If the trucker drives for a company, ask for both the name and contact information of the company as well as the company’s insurance information. All of this information will come in handy when it comes time to start building your case.
Document the Accident
According to Allstate, which cites the Insurance Information Institute (“III”), documenting the scene can go a long way toward protecting your rights in a truck accident claim. In addition to taking down names of the truck’s occupants and witnesses, III recommends identifying the responding officers and getting their badge numbers. You should also request a copy of the police report and take pictures of the scene of the accident. The “scene” includes everything from license plate numbers to vehicle damage from various angles to road signs and landmarks. Photographic evidence may come in handy later on and in the event that the courts or insurance companies request an accident reconstruction scenario.
Assent to Medical Attention
If your accident resulted in any injuries, an ambulance should arrive shortly after the police officer. Even if the ambulance does not arrive specifically for you, the EMT may ask to assess you for injuries. Do not turn them away. A thorough examination may reveal injuries you did not realize you acquired. Moreover, a record of the exam can protect you when, inevitably, the trucker’s insurer begins to call into question the legitimacy of your injuries and/or how you sustained them.
Notify Your Insurer
Many people wait until they get home and calm down to contact their insurers. While understandable, it is a best practice to contact your insurance company when you are still at the scene of the crash. An agent can tell you exactly what information you need from the other driver and to get the claims process started. They may also ask you to take pictures not just of your vehicle but also of the scene and the truck—something you may forget to do on your own and without prompting.
Understandably, an accident can leave you feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. It can be easy to let the stress of the situation prevent you from doing what you need to do to protect your rights during a future lawsuit. Worse yet, your stress may cause you to ramble on about the accident — ramblings that may hurt your case. The best thing you can do, if you are able, is to stay calm. In doing so, you can be sure to take the steps necessary to bolster your future truck accident claim.
Contact an Indiana Truck Accident Lawyer
Though not something you necessarily need to do while at the scene of the accident, you may want to contact a truck accident attorney in the days or months after the incident. The trucker’s insurance company is likely to try to diminish the value of your claim or come up with excuses as to why it should not have to compensate you. An experienced truck accident lawyer in Indiana is familiar with insurers’ tactics and can help you navigate any hurdles the opposition throws your way. With the right legal team on your side, you can confidently assert your rights and push for the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries. To see if Hensley Legal Group is a good fit for you, contact our team today to schedule your free initial consultation.