If you are involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, safety is always the most important consideration. Ensure that you and your passengers get to a safe place and call the police immediately. Do not, under any circumstances, speak to anyone but the police about the accident and never admit fault.
As quickly and safely as possible, take photos of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, the surroundings, and any tire or skid marks on the roadway. Write down or photograph vehicle license plate numbers. Next, gather contact information from all involved parties and any witnesses that are present.
Once help arrives, obtain the contact information of the investigating officer(s) and request a copy of the officer’s report. Provide your statement to the officer sticking only to the facts of the accident. Do not make assumptions. If you or your passengers did not require emergency medical treatment, seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident.
Finally, it is imperative to contact a tractor-trailer accident lawyer as quickly as possible. Commercial trucking accidents are highly complex and, unless you take steps to protect your interests, you may lose out on the compensation you are entitled to. Call 954-541-3194.
How are truck accidents different than other vehicle accidents?
The Risk of Serious Injury or Death
Tractor-trailers are large and heavy, with limited ability to maneuver and stop. Semi-trucks often carry dangerous cargo and pose an excessive risk of rollovers. These potentially dangerous vehicles have the ability to cause more catastrophic damage than any other vehicle on the road.
Even if you do not feel injured, set up an appointment with your doctor shortly after the accident. This not only ensures you get a medical evaluation and necessary treatment, it also connects any injuries you might have to the accident. Otherwise, if you wait too long to seek treatment, insurance companies may argue your injuries are not related to the accident or not as severe as you claim.
Multiple Parties Are Involved
Most Florida vehicle accidents involve two private parties, i.e., you and another driver. But tractor-trailer crashes involve you, the truck driver, and a commercial trucking company — and their insurance carrier. Both the trucking company and the insurance carrier have a lot to lose if they are liable for your accident. Consequently, they put all their resources to work immediately to minimize their liability.
You should do the same. Immediately get to work collecting evidence, securing a copy of the police report, and contacting witnesses. But if you are facing serious injuries, this can be difficult. Work with a lawyer familiar with truck accidents who can act on your behalf to secure evidence.
Truck Carriers Are Governed by Complex Regulations
Commercial tractor-trailer accidents are also more complex than most car collisions. The trucking industry is governed by federal regulations that influence how crashes are investigated and how liability is determined. And, in addition to the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipper, and equipment manufacturers may all have liability.
Work with a lawyer who knows the trucking industry and who has dealt with these cases before. Coffey Trial Law represents people injured in accidents involving large trucks in Fort Lauderdale, so call us now at 954-541-3194.
What evidence should I collect to establish liability for a semi-truck collision?
To build a case and prove liability in a commercial truck collision, it is important to collect all relevant and available evidence. The quicker you can obtain this information, the better your chances of building a strong case. The following items are just some of the information required to document your accident:
- Accident scene photos: detailed images depicting the vehicles and people involved, all damage, environmental details, obstructions, skid marks, witnesses, weather conditions, etc.
- Witness statements: because witnesses’ memories fade quickly, recorded statements are critical for reconstructing the events of the accident.
- “Black box” data: much like an airplane, commercial trucks carry an onboard data recording device that can provide crucial information necessary for establishing your claim.
- Trucking company history: this information can help establish patterns of negligence and violations of federal or state regulations.
- Truck maintenance and inspection records: this information will indicate whether the company has properly maintained and inspected the vehicle for safety.
- Truck driver’s logs: commercial drivers have to maintain a detailed log of their activities. This data can provide insight into potential violations and driver fatigue.
What if the insurance company offers me a settlement for my trucking accident?
Immediately after a commercial vehicle accident, the trucking company’s insurance carrier may dispatch a professional response team to collect evidence and contain any potential liability. The more serious your injuries and greater the damage, the harder the team may push to settle your claim quickly.
By accepting the first settlement offer, particularly if you do so without consulting a trucking accident lawyer, you may relinquish your rights to seek full compensation.
You may not know the extent of your injuries and monetary damages for weeks or months. The trucking company’s insurance carrier may make a lowball offer in the hope that you would rather accept a quick settlement than wait for the compensation you deserve.
What are the most common causes of tractor-trailers accidents?
Many semi-truck accidents are preventable. Overloaded and improperly loaded tractor-trailers may be involved in accidents, as may trucks that have not been properly maintained or inspected for safety. Mechanical and equipment failure, including faulty tires and brakes, may also cause commercial truck collisions.
Driver errors are also common, involving factors such as fatigue, drug or alcohol impairment, and the failure to obey traffic laws. Drivers may be improperly trained or not licensed to operate large commercial vehicles. Aggressive and distracted driving are also common causes of big rig accidents.
When should I contact a lawyer for a tractor-trailer accident?
After a tractor-trailer accident, your next moves will greatly influence the outcome of your case. Time is of the essence for collecting the evidence necessary to determine negligence and establish liability for the accident. Because of the complex nature of commercial truck collisions, you should contact a lawyer as quickly as possible.
In Fort Lauderdale, the truck accident attorneys of Coffey Trial Law can help protect your rights and seek appropriate compensation for your injuries. You can contact us for a free consultation any time at 954-541-3194.