You are a well-trained and well-qualified truck driver. You have taken pains to learn the rules of the road and your responsibilities as the operator of a commercial vehicle. When on the road, you are safe and alert to the movements of the vehicles around you. When in congested traffic conditions, you move with the appropriate caution and circumspection. However, this is not always enough to prevent an accident. Other drivers must do their part. And you may encounter a driver who is reckless and negligent enough to cause a collision.
If you have been in such an accident, it is important to know and defend your rights. There will be a rush to place blame for the accident on you. Do not allow yourself to be bullied by the trucking company, the police, or the other driver. You should retain the services of a truck accident lawyer immediately.
What You Should Do After a Truck Accident
Getting into an accident will be the worst day of your life as a truck driver. The event will throw you into a state of extreme agitation and worry. If you collide with a smaller vehicle, you will probably suffer no injury. However, you might need to take a moment to process what happened. After you have gotten yourself together, you should do the following:
1. Call emergency services
You should dial 911 before you do anything else. The police will need to cordon off the area of the accident, and the other driver may need medical assistance. You can keep the operator on the line as you get out of your truck to check the other driver.
2. Check the physical state of the other driver
You should confirm as soon as you can the physical condition of the person you collided with. It is important to see for yourself if they sustained any injuries; and if they have, the extent of them. Your own witness may prove crucial if the person tries to exaggerate the seriousness of their injuries later.
3. Take photographs.
Use your cell phone to take pictures of the damage done to their vehicle and yours. Try to photograph the accident scene from as many angles as you can. You can ask the person if you can photograph them. If they refuse permission, comply with their request.
4. Exchange information
Get the name, contact details, and insurance information from the other driver and give them yours. Do not say anything that implies you accept blame for the accident.
5. Call the trucking company
You will then need to report the accident to your superiors at the trucking company. You will no doubt have an emergency number to call for such incidents. It is important to report the straight facts. Do not say anything that assigns blame for the accident. When the police arrive, you should maintain the same line of explication with them. The thing to remember is that because yours is the larger vehicle you will be viewed as the driver at fault.
6. Speak to witnesses
Other vehicles will be held up by the accident. No doubt a few of the drivers in them will have seen the accident. One or two of these individuals will be eager to tell you what they saw. Listen to them and write down what they have to say. And most importantly, take down their contact details before you part with them.
7. Go to the hospital
Even though you are unlikely to be hurt in a collision with a smaller vehicle, you should go to the hospital anyway. You may need help coping with the psychological effects of the accident. In any case, you must undergo a thorough examination by the ER doctor. The state of your health must be documented for both your own sake and that of your company and their insurers.
8. Call a lawyer
While the company may tell you that they will deal with the financial and legal liability issues caused by the accident, you must nevertheless protect yourself. You will need someone who is looking out solely for your interests. Hiring a truck accident attorney will provide you with such protection.
Why You Need a Lawyer
The primary goal of the trucking company you work for is to protect its interests. As an employee, you will need to follow post-accident procedures. You will need to give a statement to the company officials. You may also be asked to undergo another examination by physicians employed by the company. You may need to sit through a series of interviews with the trucking company’s insurers. This is all standard, and it is done to ensure that the company has an exact and detailed account of how the accident unfolded and the liability they will face because of it. Throughout all these meetings, interviews, examinations, and processes you should have your personal injury lawyer by your side.
If the person with whom you collided is seeking compensation for their injuries, they will most likely go after the trucking company, not you. Even if an official investigation finds that you were not responsible for the accident, such a conclusion can be contested by the legal team of the other driver. This may lead to prolonged litigation in which your every word and deed—both before and after the accident—will be scrutinized.
You should not rely on the trucking company’s legal team to protect you. Their loyalties and obligations are to the company. It is essential that you have you own personal injury lawyer who will protect you from any attempt to make you civilly or criminally liable for the accident.
What Your Lawyer Will Do
West coast trial lawyers possess the expertise and experience to defend ordinary people against big organizations like the trucking company you work with or their insurance company. Any attempt by the trucking company to fire you for cause or make you financially liable for the accident must be fought against. The Los Angeles truck accident attorney will do everything in their power to ensure you do not become the scapegoat for the accident.
If the trucking company does fire you as a means of appeasing the driver who caused the accident, you can sue them. Your Los Angeles truck accident attorney can build a case that proves you did not cause the accident and that by firing you the trucking company has acted unlawfully and may even damage your ability to get another job.
If you are treated unfairly by the company you worked for, your Los Angeles truck accident attorney will be able to subpoena all company documents related to your case. They will also be able to depose everyone involved in handling it, including those who made the decision to terminate your employment. Your lawyer will also have their own private investigators reassess and re-evaluate the evidence. They will re-interview witnesses and get statements from people the authorities may have never talked to. Your team will also bring in accident reconstruction experts who can build a simulation of the accident based on the forensic evidence produced by it.
If you are a truck driver who has been in an accident, you need a legal advocate right away. You should call west coast trial lawyers to discuss your options. If you do end up losing your trucking authority, there are steps you can take to get it back. Check the FMCSA process to reclaim your authority and look into using a service to get free trucker authority.