Getting into a collision with a commercial vehicle like a semi or big rig can be a terrifying experience. Small personal cars scarcely stand a chance against the massive trucks that can weigh 80,000 lbs or more when loaded to capacity.
As you sit there trying to process the reality of situation, your first instinct is to check for the safety of the other passengers in the car and think of getting help. The most critical thing to do next is stay calm, breathe deeply, and think about how to get out of the car without aggravating your injuries.
Make a conscious effort to fight the rising panic and follow these steps.
Locate Your Phone and Call 911
If you can reach your phone, that’s great news. Call 911 right away and give them your approximate location. Talk to the operator and explain what you know about the collision. Answer their questions calmly because the sooner they can send help and an ambulance, the better will be your chances of getting medical attention.
Operators are typically trained in handling emergency situations and they will provide you step-by-step instructions on what to do next. Having someone to guide you will help clear away some of the fog and think straight.
Help Your Co-Passengers and Other People
Check the car and locate your co-passengers. See if you can help them get out of the car safely. Also look around the scene to find any other person who might be hurt. Moving injured people is never a good thing since they might have internal damage that could worsen.
If you can, flag down passing cars to warn them of the situation. Not only will you alert them to the accident, but you might also be able to get help before the police and ambulance arrive. Most cars have a first aid kit, so you might want to try and retrieve it. See if you can find any supplies that might be useful.
Assist the Police When They Arrive
Once the police arrive on the scene, they will quickly set up a secure parameter around the site to divert traffic away from the accident scene. They’ll also help get the passengers of both vehicles to safety. Next, an officer will quickly create a written report while the incident is still fresh in your mind.
Recount every last detail as you remember it, including seemingly insignificant fine points. If you can make an audio recording of your impressions, that could be a more compelling testimony to help your case in court. Remember never to apologize, admit, or even hint at playing a role in the accident.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine, let the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) examine you. After getting first aid, make sure to visit your medical practitioner for a complete checkup. Often times, hidden and internal injuries manifest symptoms weeks after the accident.
Some examples include whiplash, bruising, neck and back injuries, spine damage, concussions, sprains, and strains. You may need extended treatment to recover completely from the accident, and a medical report will ensure appropriate insurance reimbursement.
Contact Your Lawyer for Assistance
You may want to contact your Jacksonville criminal lawyer, so they can reach the scene and advise you on the legal ramifications of the crash. Rely on them to write another report and help you get the names and contact information of the witnesses.
You must make a careful note of the truck driver’s name, address, contact details, and driver’s license number. Along with the truck’s insurance info, get the US DOT serial number and information about the employer. Your attorney will get copies of the police officer’s report and audio file. Later, both statements can be tallied to eliminate the possibility of inaccuracies that can weaken your stance in court.
Inform Your Insurance Provider
Getting in touch with the insurance company is also necessary. The sooner the provider is informed, the better are your chances of getting adequate compensation to cover your medical expenses and other costs. The EMT report will also help build a case with the insurance company, and your attorney will make sure to procure a copy for you. Taking pictures and making videos of the post-accident site is another vital step to recording the minor details.
After a collision with a commercial vehicle, the next steps you take can be critical in ensuring your safety and getting the compensation you deserve to recover the damages. Stay calm and act in a responsible way.