What Should I Do After an 18 Wheeler Accident?
It’s common for those who have been involved in an 18-wheeler accident to feel overwhelmed. Being hit by something that weighs up to 80,000 pounds is a disorienting and frightening experience. You may have injuries that need attention, and your vehicle may be heavily damaged. It’s hard to know what to do if you’ve never been in a situation like this before.
The Houston 18-wheeler accidents lawyers at The Callahan Law Firm can guide you through this stressful time and help you seek fair compensation for your injuries. Our personal injury attorneys have more than 25 years of experience helping truck accident victims pursue the financial relief they urgently need.
Get a free initial consultation today by calling our office in Houston, or you can fill out our online contact form.
What to Do Immediately After a Houston 18-Wheeler Wreck
It’s crucial to try to stay calm in the moments after an 18-wheeler accident. You’ve just been through a shocking experience, but it’s important to get treatment for your injuries right away and to take certain steps to protect your rights.
Here’s what you should do if you’ve just been in an 18-wheeler accident:
- Call 911. You and others involved in the accident may have injuries that require immediate medical attention. Calling 911 will bring emergency medical personnel to the accident scene as well as law enforcement. If the police question you, answer them honestly. If you aren’t taken immediately to a hospital, see a doctor for an evaluation as soon as possible after leaving the scene.
- Get the name of the truck driver as well as their other relevant information. This includes their driver’s license number, the state in which the driver’s license was issued, the U.S. DOT number which should be marked on the side of the truck tractor, insurance details, phone numbers, the license plate number for the tractor truck, and the trailer, the name of their employer, and contact information for their employer. This information is crucial because if the police crash report does not report the information correctly, it can be a challenge to identify the responsible individuals and companies later when making a claim for your injuries and damages.
- Preserve as much evidence from the scene of the accident as you can. If you’re able to, take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, the 18-wheeler that hit you (meaning the tractor truck as well as the trailer), the surrounding area, crash debris on the roadway, and any injuries you’ve suffered. If any witnesses saw what happened, get their names and contact information. This evidence can be crucial for successfully making your claim.
- Keep quiet about the accident. Don’t make any posts on social media, and don’t give any recorded statements until you’ve consulted with an experienced truck crash attorney. In particular, do not provide a statement to the truck driver’s or trucking company’s insurance company, as their adjuster and investigators are trained to ask questions in a way that can jeopardize your claim.
- Speak to a truck accident lawyer. Truck accident cases are significantly more complicated than car accidents for many reasons, including the laws and regulations that apply to the trucking industry, the complexity of tractor trucks and their trailers, and the potential for multiple responsible parties including the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipper, the broker, and others. There’s also more at stake because truck accidents are much more likely to cause catastrophic injuries than a typical car accident. To give yourself the best chance of recovering full damages for your injuries, you’ll need help from an experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney.
Should I Seek Medical Treatment?
There is a saying that “it is better to be safe than sorry”. If you or someone you love has been involved in a crash with an 18-wheeler or other big truck, it is best to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible afterward. Even if you think your injuries are minor, it is likely your body will be in a state of shock from the force of the impact.
An 18-wheeler accident can result in internal injuries that leave no apparent external sign of injury but could potentially be serious. Without prompt medical attention, some internal injuries can be fatal. For all these reasons and more, it’s essential to see a doctor as soon as possible after an 18-wheeler accident.
What If I Was Too Injured After My Accident to Get Information?
It’s not uncommon for people to sustain significant injuries in an 18-wheeler accident, including injuries that leave them unable to document the scene and gather necessary information after the crash. If this happens to you or a loved one, ideally someone else can get that information for you, such as an uninjured passenger.
Also, keep in mind that the police will gather crucial information as a part of their investigation and to an accident report. You or your lawyer will later be able to obtain a copy of that crash report and any associated investigative materials that exist such as witness statements, photographs, and potentially more. Police reports typically include the name and contact information of those involved in the accident, the identity of the trucking company, insurance information for those involved in the crash, the contact information for witnesses, statements from witnesses, a diagram of the accident, whether anyone received a citation, and indications of fault for the crash. Keep in mind, however, that the police do not have the final say on civil liability for a truck accident.
Who Should I Call After an 18-Wheeler Accident in Houston?
The first call you should make after an 18-wheeler accident is to 911. You need to alert emergency responders so medical personnel can come to the scene and treat anyone who’s injured and the police can begin their accident investigation.
Once you’ve called 911, you’ll want to talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. An 18-wheeler accident attorney can discuss the details of the crash with you, start collecting critical evidence, begin an investigation, and outline your potential options for seeking compensation for your injuries.
You’ll want to talk to a lawyer before talking to any trucking companies, insurance companies, adjusters, or investigators about the accident, as they will ask questions and lead you into answers that help them, not you. A personal injury attorney experienced in truck accident cases will also begin gathering evidence to support your claim as you recuperate.
How Can The Callahan Law Firm Help Me?
The truck accident attorneys at The Callahan Law Firm have decades of experience helping injured people put their lives back together. Here are a few of the ways we can help with your case:
- Investigate your claim and identify all liable parties. The truck driver is not the only person who may be liable for the crash and thus responsible for your injuries and damages. The trucking company, shippers, brokers, truck maintenance personnel, cargo loaders, and others could all potentially be liable, depending on the circumstances of the crash. It’s our job to thoroughly investigate the accident to figure out who should be held liable to help you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries.
- Gather and preserve evidence. Most 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks now have electronic data recorders that capture and log information such as the truck’s speed and direction while it’s moving, as well as events such as hard braking. This information, along with other evidence such as a truck driver’s logs and employment records, could help show how the truck driver or their employer is liable for your injuries. Our truck accident lawyers can help you obtain these records and other evidence to help support your claim.
- Take care of all your paperwork. There’s a mountain of forms and documents that come with any truck accident claim, and every form needs to be filled out correctly if you want your claim to succeed. We’ll make sure the various parties in your claim get the information they need while protecting you from making any mistakes that could hurt your case.
- Negotiate for a fair settlement. When handled properly, most truck accident claims are resolved out of court in a settlement with the insurance company of the liable party or parties. Keep in mind the insurance companies want to pay as little as possible and will try various tricks to get you to accept a lowball offer. Our lawyers will fight back to help you get the maximum amount you deserve.
- Bring your case to court. If a reasonable settlement agreement can’t be reached even after a lawsuit has been filed and the case has been fully developed, a truck accident case will need to be competently presented to a jury. We have a history of successfully representing truck accident victims pre-lawsuit, during lawsuits, and at trial in front of a jury. At The Callahan Law Firm, we will present our client’s case to a jury and fight for your rights and interests should the insurance company refuse to be reasonable.
What to Say to the Truck Company Insurance Adjuster
Ideally, you shouldn’t say anything to any insurance adjuster before speaking to a lawyer, especially if the adjuster works for the trucking company, the truck driver, or some adverse party. Anything you say to an insurance adjuster or one of its investigators can potentially be used against you to deny or lower the value of your claim. In sum, it is best to allow all communications with the other side to be handled by your lawyer.
At What Point Should I Hire an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer?
The sooner you hire an attorney after an 18-wheeler accident or a crash involving a big truck, the more likely you’ll be to get the full amount that you deserve for your injuries. Key evidence can disappear fast after an accident, but your attorney can work to preserve the evidence while you focus on recovering from your injuries. Your lawyer will also communicate with the insurance companies and other parties involved in your case so that you don’t have to.
With so much at stake after an 18-wheeler accident, proper legal representation is essential if you want to protect your rights. Get a free case review from the experienced truck accident attorneys at The Callahan Law Firm today by calling our Houston office or visiting our contact page.