Few drivers don’t get nervous when surrounded by semi-trucks on the freeway, even though only about one in ten freeway fatalities occur with a large truck or semi-truck involved. However, semi-trucks can weigh up to 20,000 pounds and can take 2-3 times longer to stop than a passenger vehicle, making them very dangerous vehicles to be involved in an accident with.
If you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in such an accident, it is important to know what legal steps you should take afterwards. If you are fortunate enough to have never dealt with a semi-truck accident, you can prepare yourself with the knowledge provided in this article. Accidents involving semi-trucks are not exactly the same as accidents involving the average passenger vehicle.
Always Call the Authorities
Even if you’re lucky enough to just get tapped by a semi-truck and neither party is in need of an ambulance, get yourself to safety and call the police. Proving your lack of involvement in a semi-truck accident is going to require a lot of evidence, so get the police involved immediately. If the driver is chronically negligent it is your responsibility to get their actions on record to prevent them from potentially injuring someone else.
If the driver of the semi-truck decides to flee the scene or perhaps was completely unaware that they damaged your vehicle, do not pursue the semi-truck. Don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation in an attempt to get their license plate number, either. Semi-truck transport routes can be traced and the driver can be named later on.
Your duty at this point in the situation is to pull over, get to safe place, and call the police. This goes without saying, but if you or the semi-truck driver are injured in any way, call an ambulance. Your lives are much more important than figuring out whose fault the accident was.
Understand Duty of Care and Driver Negligence
The driver doing the rear-ending in an accident is not always at fault. In many cases, though, a semi-truck accident is caused by driver negligence. Drivers of any vehicle have a responsibility to road safety known as ‘duty of care’. This duty includes being aware of surrounding vehicles, obeying traffic laws, and doing everything in the driver’s power to avoid a collision or accident and maintain safe practices on the road.
Semi-truck drivers have a broader list of responsibilities under duty of care for obvious reasons– they’re driving enormous and dangerous vehicles. State and federal regulations and serious methods of proving negligence are a part of a truck driver’s duty of care. Before, during, or after the accident, did the semi-truck driver do any of the following things? If so, it is possible that they will be found negligent:
- Was speeding or not driving properly in certain weather conditions
- Did not yield to right-of-way
- Was not observing the road and/or was distracted
- Was recklessly driving, showing a lack of control, and/or swerving
- Did not slow down or stop to avoid the accident within a reasonable amount of time
- Showed a severe amount of fatigue and/or had been operating the vehicle in an excess of hours legally allowed
- Fled the scene of the accident
- Was inebriated or under the influence of drugs while operating the semi-truck
- Refused to exchange information or report the accident
If a regulation is violated and results in an accident, courts tend to lean in favor of the passenger driver due to the dangerous nature of semi-trucks. Tolerance is often low when it comes to such potentially dangerous circumstances. However, in some cases driver negligence for semi-truck drivers can be difficult to prove.
Take Photographs of the Damage
If nobody is injured or in immediate danger and you’re in a safe spot, immediately take photographs of the damages to your car, body, and semi-truck. Having physical proof of the damages to you or your vehicle will be important proof you will need once you file a claim with your insurance company.
Exchange Information and File a Claim With Your Insurance Company
If the driver of the semi-truck has stopped after the accident, is conscious and able, exchange information with them. Ask for the following:
- Their name
- Their employer
- Their insurance company and information
- Their state registration
- Their truck’s state registration
If there are any additional witnesses at the scene of the accident, ask for their name and contact information as well. Having an outside witness to the incident could be extremely helpful in building a case. Before any additional legal actions need to be taken, don’t just call your attorney. Bring the case to your insurance company first and foremost. After all, these situations are what you’re paying them for.
Your car insurance company can battle it out with the trucking company or truck driver’s insurance company and get you the medical and financial compensation you deserve. This is the most important step in determining driver negligence and receiving damages for your injuries or damaged property.
When you decide to contact your insurance company, be sure to have your information ready. If you were hospitalized after the accident, provide your insurance with proof of that as well.
Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If your insurance company lets you down or the company they’re fighting is really strong, it may be a good idea to consider a lawyer. Negotiating with the opposing insurance company on your own could be a detrimental choice. Semi-truck crash lawyers are a niche group that can help you get the compensation you need when your resources and options become depleted.
Do your research. Look into law firms who have had a successful track record with personal injury or car accident claims. You can usually receive a free consultation after contacting firms. Shop around and find lawyers that are right for you and your situation.
Get Help with Your Truck Accident in Arizona
When you’re involved in a rear-end or general accident with a semi-truck, it can be a harrowing and scary experience. However, legally it is can be a relatively successful (although bureaucratic and stressful) process to receive compensation and care after a semi-truck accident due to the loads of laws and regulations surrounding negligent truck drivers.
Your insurance company can help you out more often than not. If they can’t, the right truck accidents lawyer can help your situation.
At JacksonWhite, we pride ourselves on offering our personal injury clients the highest level of help and service possible. Our team, led by attorney Jared Everton, has helped hundreds of accident victims in Phoenix and Arizona receive the compensation they deserve after an accident injury. We may not be able to take away the pain and loss from an accident, but we can help you shoulder the burden of an accident. We make every effort to make your case as positive as possible, and that’s why our client satisfaction rate is so tremendously high.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.