September 13, 2023
What to Do After a Truck Accident: A Step-by-Step Guide
Table of Contents
- What Makes a Truck a CMV?
- What to Do After Surviving a Truck Accident?
- What Should You Avoid After a Truck Accident?
- What Happens When You Get Run Over by a Truck?
- The Correct Order of Steps After a Truck Accident in a CMV
Truck accidents are among the most catastrophic events on the road, often resulting in severe injuries, significant property damage, and sometimes even fatalities. Given the sheer size and weight of trucks, especially Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs), the aftermath of such accidents can be overwhelming for the victims involved. It’s not just the physical trauma; the emotional and legal complexities that follow can be equally daunting. That’s why it’s crucial to be well-informed and prepared. Knowing what to do—and what not to do—after a truck accident can make a significant difference in the outcome of any potential claims, your recovery process, and your overall well-being. This guide aims to provide a step-by-step approach to navigating the aftermath of a truck accident, ensuring that you’re equipped with the knowledge to handle such unfortunate events.
What Makes a Truck a CMV?
Commercial Motor Vehicles, commonly referred to as CMVs, are not just any regular trucks you see on the road. They are defined by specific characteristics and purposes that set them apart. So, what exactly makes a truck a CMV?
- Size and Weight: One of the primary factors that classify a truck as a CMV is its weight. Trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating or a gross combination weight rating of over 10,001 pounds are considered CMVs.
- Purpose: Trucks designed to transport more than eight passengers, including the driver, for compensation, or more than 15 passengers without compensation, are categorized as CMVs. This includes buses and large passenger vans.
- Cargo: If a truck is used to transport hazardous materials in quantities that require placarding, it falls under the CMV category. This is due to the potential risks associated with transporting such materials.
- Interstate Commerce: Trucks involved in interstate commerce, meaning they operate across state lines or transport goods that will eventually cross state lines, are also considered CMVs.
Understanding the distinction between regular trucks and CMVs is crucial, especially when it comes to legal matters post-accident. CMVs are subject to specific federal and state regulations, which can play a significant role in determining liability and the course of action after an accident.
What to Do After Surviving a Truck Accident?
Experiencing a truck accident, especially with a CMV, can be a traumatic and disorienting event. However, the actions you take immediately after can significantly impact your safety, health, and any subsequent legal claims. Here’s a structured approach to follow:
- Prioritize Safety: Before anything else, ensure your safety and that of others around you. If possible and safe to do so, move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic to prevent further collisions.
- Call 911: Report the accident to the authorities. This ensures that medical help and law enforcement are dispatched to the scene promptly. A police report can also be invaluable when filing insurance claims or pursuing legal action.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, it’s essential to get a medical evaluation. Some injuries, like internal bleeding or concussions, might not manifest symptoms immediately.
- Document the Scene: Take photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damages, any visible injuries, and other relevant details. This can serve as crucial evidence if you decide to file a claim.
- Exchange Information: Collect details from the truck driver, including their name, contact information, driver’s license number, insurance details, and the truck’s license plate number.
- Avoid Admitting Fault: Be cautious with your words. Avoid making statements that could be interpreted as admitting fault, as this can complicate any future legal proceedings.
- Contact Your Insurance: Inform your insurance company about the accident. They can guide you on the next steps and what information they might need.
- Consult with an Attorney: Given the complexities associated with truck accidents, especially with CMVs, it’s beneficial to consult with a skilled attorney Firms like Callender Bowlin specialize in such cases and can offer guidance on your rights and potential compensation.
Remember, the aftermath of a truck accident can be overwhelming, but taking these structured steps can help ensure your well-being and protect your rights.
What Should You Avoid After a Truck Accident?
While it’s essential to know the right steps to take after a truck accident, it’s equally crucial to be aware of common pitfalls that can jeopardize your well-being and potential claims. Here are some actions you should steer clear of:
- Leaving the Scene: Regardless of the accident’s severity, never leave the scene until it’s appropriate to do so. Leaving prematurely can result in legal consequences and be perceived as a hit-and-run.
- Neglecting Medical Care: Even if you feel okay, skipping a medical check-up can be a grave mistake. Some injuries might not show immediate symptoms, and a medical record can be vital evidence in legal proceedings.
- Discussing the Accident on Social Media: Anything you post can be used against you in a court of law or by insurance adjusters. It’s best to keep details of the accident and your injuries private.
- Accepting the First Settlement Offer: Insurance companies often aim to settle claims quickly and for as little as possible. Before accepting any offer, consult with an attorney to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.
- Signing Documents Without Legal Counsel: Be wary of signing any documents, especially from the trucking company or their insurance provider, without having them reviewed by a lawyer.
- Making Recorded Statements: Insurance adjusters might ask for a recorded statement. It’s advisable to decline until you’ve spoken with an attorney, as your words can be used against you.
- Waiting Too Long to Act: There’s a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims. Delaying can mean losing your right to pursue compensation.
By being aware of these potential missteps and avoiding them, you can better protect your interests and ensure a more favorable outcome in the aftermath of a truck accident.
What Happens When You Get Run Over by a Truck?
Being run over by a truck, particularly a CMV, is a harrowing experience that can have severe consequences. The aftermath of such an incident can be categorized into physical, emotional, and legal implications:
- Severe Injuries: Due to the sheer size and weight of trucks, the injuries sustained can be catastrophic. This can range from broken bones and internal injuries to traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage.
- Long-term Rehabilitation: Many victims require prolonged medical treatment, surgeries, and rehabilitation to recover fully. Some might even face permanent disabilities.
- Fatalities: Unfortunately, in some cases, being run over by a truck can result in death, leaving families to cope with the loss of a loved one.
Emotional and Psychological Impact
- Trauma: The psychological scars can sometimes be more challenging to heal than the physical ones. Victims might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other emotional challenges.
- Lifestyle Changes: The aftermath might require significant adjustments in one’s lifestyle, from mobility challenges to dependence on others for daily tasks.
- Determining Liability: Establishing fault can be complex, especially if multiple parties are involved. This can include the truck driver, the trucking company, or even the manufacturer of faulty truck parts.
- Compensation Claims: Victims have the right to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. This process can be intricate, requiring legal guidance.
- Wrongful Death Claims: In tragic cases where the victim succumbs to their injuries, the family can pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible parties.
Given the gravity of such incidents, it’s paramount to have a robust support system, both medically and legally. Firms like Callender Bowlin can offer invaluable assistance in navigating the legal complexities and ensuring victims and their families receive the justice they deserve.
The Correct Order of Steps After a Truck Accident in a CMV
Accidents involving Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) can be particularly complex due to the regulations and multiple parties involved. Following the right sequence of actions can be pivotal in ensuring your safety and preserving your rights. Here’s the recommended order of steps:
- Ensure Immediate Safety: Your first priority should always be safety. If possible, move to a safe location away from traffic and turn on your hazard lights.
- Call for Emergency Services: Dial 911 to report the accident. This will dispatch medical personnel and law enforcement to the scene.
- Administer First Aid: If you or anyone else is injured and you’re trained, administer basic first aid while waiting for medical professionals.
- Document the Scene: Capture photographs and videos of the accident scene, vehicle damages, road conditions, and any other relevant evidence.
- Gather Witness Information: If there are any witnesses, collect their names, contact details, and brief statements.
- Exchange Details with the Truck Driver: Obtain the driver’s name, license number, insurance information, and details about the trucking company.
- Avoid Discussing Fault: Be cautious in your interactions. Avoid making statements that could be construed as admitting responsibility.
- Seek Medical Evaluation: Even if you feel alright, visit a healthcare professional for a thorough check-up.
- Report the Accident to Your Insurance: Notify your insurance provider about the incident, but be wary of giving recorded statements without legal counsel.
- Consult an Insightful Lawyer: Given the intricacies of CMV accidents, it’s wise to seek legal advice. A specialized attorney, like those at Callender Bowlin, can guide you through the process, ensuring your rights are protected.
By adhering to this sequence, you can navigate the aftermath of a CMV accident more effectively, laying the groundwork for a smoother recovery and legal process.
The Most Common Crash for CMV
Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) play a vital role in our economy, transporting goods across vast distances. However, their sheer size and weight make them susceptible to specific types of accidents. Understanding the most common crashes involving CMVs can help in promoting safer driving practices and reducing these incidents.
- Rollovers: Given their high center of gravity, CMVs are more prone to rollover accidents, especially during sharp turns or when navigating uneven terrains.
- Jackknifing: This occurs when the trailer of the truck swings out to form an acute angle with the cab. It’s commonly caused by sudden braking, slippery roads, or equipment malfunction.
- Rear-end Collisions: Due to their considerable weight, CMVs require a longer distance to come to a complete stop. This can lead to rear-end collisions, especially if the truck driver fails to maintain a safe following distance.
- Blind Spot Accidents: CMVs have larger blind spots than regular vehicles. Accidents can occur when other drivers, unaware of these blind spots, remain in them for extended periods.
- Wide Turn Accidents: When making right turns, trucks often swing out to the left first. This can result in collisions with vehicles that try to squeeze by on the right.
- Under-ride Accidents: These are particularly tragic accidents where a smaller vehicle slides under the back or side of a truck, often resulting in severe injuries or fatalities.
Promoting awareness of these common crash types is the first step in reducing their occurrence. Both truck drivers and other road users must be educated on safe driving practices around CMVs to ensure safer roads for everyone.
What is the difference between a regular truck and a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV)?
Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) are specifically defined based on their weight, purpose, cargo, and involvement in interstate commerce. For instance, trucks with a gross weight rating over 10,001 pounds or those transporting hazardous materials in specific quantities are considered CMVs.
How soon after a truck accident should I seek legal counsel?
It’s advisable to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Early legal guidance can help ensure evidence is preserved, witnesses are interviewed promptly, and your rights are protected from the outset.
If I feel fine after the accident, do I still need a medical check-up?
Yes, it’s essential to undergo a medical evaluation even if you feel okay. Some injuries, like internal bleeding or concussions, might not show immediate symptoms. A medical record can also serve as vital evidence in any subsequent legal claims.
Can I negotiate with the trucking company’s insurance directly?
While you can negotiate directly, it’s often not recommended. Trucking companies and their insurers have experienced teams working to minimize their liability. Having a legal expert on your side can level the playing field and ensure you receive a fair settlement.
What compensation can I expect after a truck accident?
Compensation varies based on the specifics of the accident and the injuries sustained. Generally, victims can seek damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage, and other related costs. An attorney can provide a more accurate estimate based on your unique situation.
Navigating the aftermath of a truck accident, especially involving a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), can be a daunting task. The physical, emotional, and legal challenges can seem overwhelming. However, armed with the right knowledge and a step-by-step approach, you can ensure your safety, protect your rights, and navigate the complexities with confidence.
Remember, in such trying times, you don’t have to go it alone. Professional legal guidance can make all the difference in ensuring you receive the justice and compensation you deserve. At Callender Bowlin, we specialize in truck accident cases and are committed to standing by your side every step of the way. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our dedicated team is here to help.
Stay safe on the roads, and always prioritize your well-being and that of others around you.