A collision involving a commercial vehicle and a passenger car often ends catastrophically. At an average weight of just 5,000 lbs., a passenger car could face up to 80,000 lbs. when hit by a semi-truck.
Though collisions involving a commercial vehicle and passenger car account for just 3% of the total number of vehicle collisions in the country, nearly 70% of fatalities are attributed to on-road collisions involving large vehicles. Additionally, in almost 80% of such collisions, the driver of the smaller vehicle will suffer life-threatening or debilitating injuries and significant property damage.
Here are a few steps to follow, if you become the unfortunate victim in a commercial vehicle collision.
Step 1: Seek medical help for yourself and others.
First, tend to your injuries. Call for medical help immediately if you or anyone involved in the collision is injured. Your health and well-being must be your first focus.
Step 2: Call the police.
If you have not already called 911 for medical assistance, contact the local police. File an official report of the collision and get a copy of the document. An official police report is treated as an unbiased account by a third party and it can support your case during negotiations and if you choose to go to court.
Step 3: Gather information and evidence.
You will need as much information as you can get on the other parties/motorists involved in the collision. Ask for contact details, phone numbers, and names of the trucking company and individuals.
Take photos of the scene at the incident before the vehicles are moved. Photograph the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicles involved, skid marks on the road, damaged medians, walls, guardrails, obstacles, buildings, road surfaces and any weather-related issues that may have been contributing factors.
Talk to the witnesses and bystanders and anybody else who was around or saw the impact. Get their contact details and information on what they saw. You should also note the name and the badge number of the police officer who first arrived on the scene.
Step 4: Consider medical treatment.
Many injuries are not immediately apparent. However, these injuries can be very serious, particularly if they involve internal organs. Moreover, soft tissue injuries and nerve damage may not be evident externally and may only cause minimal discomfort initially. These same injuries could cause pain for years to come if left untreated. Not seeking medical help early on is one of the biggest mistakes made by collision victims. Not only does it prevent or slow down your recovery, but the insurance company is able to use this gap in your timeline against you.
Step 5: File your insurance claim.
Talk to your own insurance provider and file your claim. Request to have your claim numbers assigned for your PIP claim and property damage claim. When talking to a representative of your own insurance provider, only offer the true and basic facts about the vehicle collision, your injuries and vehicle damage, without discussing the element of fault. Do not sign any release forms at this point.
Step 6: Be cautious when communicating with insurance companies.
Within the first few days of the collision, you are likely to receive a call from the insurance investigator or adjuster of the other motorist(s) involved in the collision. Consider calling an attorney before giving any written or recorded statements. The claims adjusters often phrase their questions in a manner designed to record you saying something that could damage your case.
Also, do not give the insurance adjusters the permission to access your medical records. If you are offered an on-the-spot settlement, don’t accept it immediately. Instead, ask for some time to think it over and consider seeking advice from an attorney.
Step 7: Call our team of experienced attorneys.
Whether you are dealing with your own insurance provider or that of the trucking company, the claims process is long and complicated, especially if you don’t have legal help. Regardless of how serious and obvious your injuries are, insurance companies are looking for ways to reduce your compensation.
Hire the experienced lawyers at DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers to handle every aspect of you case. We’ve successfully handled numerous commercial vehicle incidents. Insurance adjusters and their lawyers know how to dig for information they can use to reduce the value of your claim. However, when you retain our experienced attorneys, we pursue maximum compensation, and provide you with the convenience and customer service that you deserve.