As accidents between passenger vehicles and semi-trucks increase, drivers should know what to do if they are involved in an accident with a semi-truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation that indicate a total of 4,014 people died in heavy large crashes in 2020, with 68%^ of those deaths being the occupants of passenger vehicles (cars, trucks, SUVs), and the number of people who died in a crash with large trucks is 28% higher in n 2020 than in 2009.
Auto accidents can be stressful, but a serious accident with a tractor-trailer or semi-truck can have long-lasting effects on the quality of life of those involved, so your actions following the accident may impact the rest of your life.
Semi-Truck Accidents in Ohio
In 2021 the Ohio State Highway Patrol reported there were 192 fatalities because of commercial vehicle-involved crashes, which was up from 132 in 2020. Although a smaller percentage of accidents involve semi-trucks and passenger vehicles, these accidents are more likely to lead to significant injury and death. Even though semi-truck drivers must undergo additional training to be licensed to drive a tractor-trailer, this does not mean that a driver will not act negligently or cause an accident. If you were involved in a semi-truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation due to the driver’s negligence.
At the Scene of the Accident
Your safety is the most important thing right after an auto accident, but an accident with a semi-truck can be scary and traumatizing, so it is essential to stay calm, assess the situation, and follow the tips below to protect yourself.
Make Sure You and Your Passengers are Safe
Immediately after an accident with a semi-truck, you will first want to check yourself and all passengers in your vehicle. Call 911 so they document the accident and file an accident report which you can request a copy of for your records. Do not discuss fault with anyone, including the other driver, witnesses, or insurance carriers, because they can use it against you later.
Document the Scene and Gather Information
As time passes, it can be hard to remember specific details, so take pictures of the scene or have someone who is able. Get photos of the damage, injuries, accident scene, and any other information that may be relevant later. Take names and numbers of witnesses because they are unbiased third parties who can give an accurate account of what happened if the other party does not provide an accurate account of what happened.
Seek Medical Attention
In the hours following auto accidents, many people do not feel the pain immediately and will forgo immediate medical attention only to wake up unable to move or extremely sore. After seeing a medical professional, follow any advice or referrals the doctor gives you. Document all treatment you receive and how you feel each day (pain, aches, loss of sleep, etc.)
Do Not Speak with the Trucking Company’s Insurance Provider
When the trucking company’s insurance company contacts you, they may say they want to ask you for some general information but remember that they do not want to pay you any money regardless of how injured you are. You are not legally obligated to give a statement; they can turn something you say around and attempt to shift blame onto you if possible. Only speak to the insurance if you are doing so under the advice or guidance of an experienced attorney.
Contact an Experienced Accident Attorney
Accidents involving semi-trucks can be complex with variables that an expert will need to establish, such as who is liable, the driver, or the tractor-trailer owner. Are there manufacturer errors known to contribute to accidents like yours? These are all questions experienced attorneys can answer. You will want to contact an attorney immediately after the accident before speaking to anyone because this can impact any compensation you may receive.
Semi-truck accidents are complex, and the trucking companies’ insurance providers will send representatives out to speak with witnesses and investigate the accident, looking for a way to protect the trucking company’s interests. Hiring an attorney early on is important so they can investigate your case and ensure your claim is filed within the statute of limitations in Ohio. The attorneys at Charles Boyk work to protect their client’s rights and fight for the compensation they deserve. Contact our attorneys for a free consultation.