Truck crashes and regular car crashes: what’s the difference?

Size matters. When you’ve been involved in an accident involving a heavy commercial truck, your injuries will likely be more serious. You shouldn’t approach a crash with a tractor trailer or other heavy bus or car the same way you would if it was just a car versus car crash. Trucking companies are very proactive after a crash and will often deploy experts to the scene to immediately start working on evidence and damage control. You would be wise to likewise take these kinds of crashes seriously to safeguard your legal rights and get fair compensation when you’ve been injured because of the actions of a professional CDL driver.

Seven Things to Do to Protect Yourself After a Bus or Truck Accident

1. Call the Police!

You will only hurt yourself if you don’t get the police involved after you’ve collided with a tractor trailer. The benefits of calling 911 after a crash are numerous.

First off, law enforcement will help you to document the scene and preserve crucial evidence. They will look at skid marks, the position and condition of the vehicles. They’ll talk to witnesses and if serious enough, pull data from the truck’s engine computer, all to help document what was going on at the time of the crash.

Second, they will evaluate whether the truck driver did anything wrong. If an officer writes the truck driver a ticket, this is evidence that there was clear evidence that shows the driver violated one of the rules of the road.

Third, the police will often take pictures of the vehicles involved and will frequently have their body cams or dash cams activated to additionally capture what conditions looked like at the time of the crash. All this evidence and data collection is essential as attorneys who get involved in the case can make a special request for this information through the government record request act to collect it and use it to help make the best possible case for you.

Fourth, the police will collect insurance information that you’ll need right at the very start of your case to put the insurance companies on notice of your property damage and future personal injury claims.

2. Take Pictures of the Scene if Possible

While the police will usually take pictures of a crash between a tractor trailer and a passenger car or truck, they don’t always do this. If you are medically able to do so, take pictures of the damaged vehicles in your crash, paying special attention to capturing a shot of the truck’s DOT number. DOT stands for “Department of Transportation” and the number on the truck will help you get special information on the truck and the company that it’s registered to. Taking photos will help to capture any unique road conditions as well as any unique aspect of the crash or equipment issues that might have contributed to the crash happening.

3. Exchange Information with the Other Driver

Utah law requires drivers to exchange information with each other after a car or truck crash. See Utah Code 41-6a-401(3). This information includes: (1) the person’s name, address and registration information, (2) the person’s insurance information, including the phone number of the agency. Ask to see the other person’s insurance card, and if you can, take a picture of it with your phone. Also take a picture of the other vehicle’s license plate and trailer, as you also want to identify the company who owns the trailer, as they could be different than the one that owns the tractor.

4. Capture Witness Contact Information

Independent witnesses can be crucial after a truck accident as there may be uncertainty as to how the crash happened. You don’t necessarily need to interview the witnesses, although they may offer their perspective as to how the crash went down. They might say something like: “That truck was going too fast” or “It failed to yield,” or something along those lines. As part of the investigation and work up by the truck accident lawyer of your choice, they will assumedly contact these important witnesses to lock down their testimony.

5. Get Medical Treatment

If you’re reading this after you’ve been involved in a truck versus car wreck, you likely have already left the scene of the crash. The point I want to impress upon you is that it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Defense attorneys for insurance companies like State Farm, Allstate and Farmers, just to name a few, love to make a big deal out of you not taking an ambulance, not going to the emergency room on the day of the crash and any “gaps” in medical treatment you might have. Trust me, your medical case will be closely scrutinized by the insurance company of the truck driver to see how they can turn the facts against you to lowball and/or throw shade at your claim. Don’t let them get away with it.

Make sure you get full and thorough medical treatment and leave nothing out. You only have one chance to resolve your case. Make sure you get EVERYTHING checked out that’s ailing you. Get a cheap notebook from Walmart or Amazon and write down everything that’s going on with you since the time of the crash. When you visit your doctor, or even physical therapist, bring your notebook with you and let them know what you wrote down. Even though they may not specifically treat you for that pain-generating area, they can still put a note in their file documenting your complaint.

Finally on this point, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions with exactness. In a recent trial I completed, the defense hammered on the fact that my client did not go to PT like he was recommended to do so by his doctor. They made him look like he chose to ignore the doctor’s instructions. This feeds right into the requirement that victims of truck accidents have to “mitigate” their damages. This involves both making sure your medical treatment is as thorough as possible and making sure you make all your appointments.

6. Get Your Car Fixed if You Can

Resist the temptation to collect a check from the insurance company for the cost of doing repairs and then deciding not to get your car fixed. You want to document that the crash was serious enough to have done significant damage to your car. Pro tip: You won’t be able to do this if you only have a scratch on your bumper. When you get your car repaired at a shop that the car dealer recommends, the shop will dig deeper to make sure that all the damage has been addressed, not just superficial damage that you can only see on the outside. At times, it may be necessary to preserve your wrecked car as it may be important evidence in the case. It could be that we need to extract data from the car’s computer to show its contribution to the crash happening. If this is the case, it may be necessary to put it into storage while the case is still active.

7. Call a Truck Accident Lawyer

Finally, your rights are best served if you involve a truck accident attorney in your case from the very beginning. There are some record retention laws that allow the defendant truck driver and company to destroy records as short as six months from the time of the crash. It may be necessary to track down witnesses and to document the scene of the crash with an accident reconstruction expert. Generally, the attorney will front the cost of this workup, so that you need only reimburse them at the end of your case.

Keep in mind that you have as little as two years to bring a claim in a wrongful death case involving a tractor trailer. Utah’s four-year statute of limitations is longer than most other states, but that doesn’t mean you want to wait around until the last possible minute. Indeed, your outcome will improve if you involve an experienced truck crash lawyer from the very beginning.

Call Today to Speak with a Utah Truck Accident Lawyer

Your case will be worth the most if you have an experienced lawyer in your corner. At the Kramer Law Group, we will not take a fee unless we win your case. Give us a call to see how we can help you in your time of need.

Ron Kramer is an attorney practicing injury law in West Jordan and throughout Utah.

Published On: March 2nd, 2024 / Categories: Insurance Tips / Tags: , , /

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