A trucking accident varies from other types of accidents in several ways. First, there are numerous state and federal regulations trucks must adhere to that require investigation after an accident. Second, the immense size of semis, 18 wheelers, delivery trucks or other large vehicles nearly always results in catastrophic damage and injury. If you or a family member have been involved in a trucking accident, it’s crucial you take steps during the first 48 hours to ensure you will be justly compensated.
Seek Medical Attention
Immediately following the accident, call the police and seek medical attention. A complete examination is important, even if you don’t feel you have been injured. It is common to experience an adrenaline rush during traumatic events that may mask symptoms. Moreover, one of the most common injuries sustained during accidents involving large trucks is damage to the internal organs. Keep all receipts and records of medical treatment, tests and medication prescribed.
While waiting for assistance, avoid any sharp metal, broken glass or fluid leaks. Fuel tank ruptures during a trucking accident may leak gas or diesel fuel. If the truck was carrying hazardous materials or waste, you may be in danger of coming in contact with acids, caustics or other harmful materials.
Speak Only with Law Enforcement
When law enforcement officers arrive, answer their questions truthfully, but do not speak with anyone else about the accident. Just like any car accident, you should not admit fault or give information about the accident before speaking with a lawyer. Especially if there is injury involved, you want to trust an attorney to communicate for you to ensure you receive every bit of compensation you deserve.
Document the Accident Fully
Get a copy of the accident report and make sure it includes the other driver’s insurance information. If there are other witnesses, obtain their names and contact information. Gather any evidence that will support your claim and take photos of the following:
Notify Your Insurance Company
Notify your insurance company immediately and request an application to file a claim. Oklahoma Code Title 12, Ch. 3, Sec. 95 states that the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the time of the accident. The exception is if the liability involves the Oklahoma state government; in which case you have one year to file a claim. The longer you wait to file a claim, the greater the chances it will be denied. It provides a basis for the insurance company to claim your injuries were not sustained in the accident or that you weren’t injured at all.
Once you make the claim, don’t discuss the accident with any insurance claims adjusters, not even your own. Depending on your policy, you may be eligible for benefits with your own insurance. Anything you tell them may be used to reduce or eliminate your claim. The best way to support your case is to remember the following:
Call an Experienced Trucking Accident Lawyer
Consult an experienced attorney right away. It’s important to ensure evidence relative to your claim is preserved. Regulations Title 49, Parts 350-399, set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, state trucking companies must retain a vehicle maintenance log. These documents may be discarded after 6 months. Your lawyer can secure these documents to support your case should there be a question concerning faulty equipment such as defective brakes or improperly inflated tires.
Other cases involving negligence may be more difficult to prove. For example, Commercial Motor Vehicle Traffic Enforcement cited driver fatigue as the number one cause of trucking accidents. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Section 395.3 imposes an 11 hour limit on driving time. Drivers are required to log their time as well. However, in cases where they are running behind schedule due to poor weather or other traffic conditions, the information provided in the logs may be less than factual. An experienced accident attorney will provide a thorough investigation of the trucking accident to ensure all evidence is presented.
If you’ve been in a trucking accident, call Laird Hammons Laird and our experienced attorneys will fight for your rights. Being in a trucking accident can be extremely devastating, so we believe you should be compensated justly for your pain and suffering. Don’t wait – call us at (405) 703-4567 within 48 hours!