One moment you’re driving along the interstate, and in the next moment you find yourself in the middle of a serious truck accident. Do you know what to do first, or how to begin building a lawsuit? These accidents can cause enormous damage and leave victims with serious, even fatal injuries. Once the initial shock of the experience wears off, you may find it difficult to know how to proceed while keeping your legal rights secure.
After any accident, you should check yourself and others in the vehicle for injuries. Even if you don’t think you suffered any serious injury, it is still important to receive medical care immediately, because not all serious injuries cause pain right away.
Once you are not in physical danger, your legal team will gather evidence
Whenever possible, it is important to get pictures and video of the aftermath of the accident before cleanup crews arrive and disturb important evidence. It also helps to find surveillance cameras on nearby businesses and homes, and request the relevant footage if there is any. The more documentation you can gather about what happened to cause the accident, the stronger your claim may be.
You may also consider taking statements from witnesses and even the other parties involved in the accident, but be very careful what you say. For instance, apologizing to the other driver may sound as though you accept responsibility for the accident, even if you did not cause it. This can complicate your claim later on. When in doubt, say as little as possible to others about the incident.
Other types of evidence to gather
Unlike accidents between consumer vehicles, commercial truck accidents involve two additional forms of evidence that your attorney should gather, if possible. Drivers’ logs indicate how long it has been since the driver stopped to rest, and how long they remained resting. If a driver was in the middle of a long haul when the accident occurred, sleep deprivation may have played a role.
Many trucks also include electronic control modules, which are similar to flight data recorders used in airplanes. The information recorded by the module may illuminate what caused the accident with data about the internal functions of the truck and the driving and safety habits of the driver. The owner of the vehicle owns the data within the module, and until you formally request that they hand the data over, they may be able to delete it for good.
Armed with these forms of evidence, it is much easier to piece together a timeline about how the accident occurred and who bears legal liability. Your legal team should gather as much evidence as possible before filing your claim, to ensure that you have a strategy that keeps your rights secure while seeking fair compensation.