What to Do After a Semi Truck Accident in Arkansas
A semi-truck can easily weigh 80,000 lbs. In comparison, the average passenger vehicle weighs just 3,000 lbs. When these two vehicles collide, even at minimal speeds, the results can be catastrophic. Passenger vehicle occupants are often injured and their lives irreparably damaged. From the moment you are injured, you may be fighting for your life. Lengthy hospitalizations, rehabilitation, surgeries, and complications can prevent you from working, providing for your family, and enjoying your life. During this time, bills and expenses can quickly become unbearable and place unnecessary financial burdens on already struggling families.
If you’ve been injured in a semi-truck accident, the steps you take immediately after your accident can significantly impact your ability to file a claim and collect the money you need to recover and rebuild your life. An experienced and skilled Arkansas truck accident attorney can help you during this difficult time and protect your rights to compensation along the way.
What to Do Immediately After a Truck Accident
Trucking accidents are often severe and can even be life-threatening. Because minutes can mean the difference between life and death, you should seek medical attention immediately after a car accident. Your first step should always be to call 911 to alert emergency medical response teams and police officers to the crash site.
Even if you believe that you are not injured or if your injuries are minor, call 911. Once you’ve called for help and if you are able, follow these steps:
- Attend to any injured passengers
- Stay calm
- Turn on your hazard lights
- Get to safety (sidewalk or median) if you are able
- Exchange insurance information with the semi-truck driver
- Take photos of the truck, the damage to the vehicles, and any other important information
- Get a copy of the trucker’s Commercial Driver’s License
- Get contact info of any eyewitnesses
- File a police report with the police
- Call your insurance company to report the accident
- Call a truck accident lawyer in Arkansas
Collect evidence at the accident scene if you’re able. Take photos of the crash site, the intersection, the other vehicles, the damage to your car, and the truck number and license plate. Gather eyewitness information and speak to police officers to ensure that a detailed police report is filled out. Don’t risk further injury, however, just to collect evidence.
After an accident, it’s important that you do not admit fault for the collision—even if you think you were partially at fault! Admitting fault to anyone (including the truck driver, police officers, and insurance companies that were involved) can reduce your settlement later down the line.
Interacting With Police Officers
Once the police arrive at the scene of the crash, allow them to investigate the accident and speak to eyewitnesses. When it is your turn to talk to the police, be sure to give your account of the accident clearly and precisely. Include any pertinent information or details that could assist your case. The police report will be invaluable when establishing liability without it, it will just be your word against the truck driver’s word.
Be completely truthful with the police officer but never admit to causing the accident. Even if you believe that you are to blame, you may not have all of the facts. Choose your words carefully, and don’t speculate as to what caused the crash. If you disagree with the police and the report, contact a truck accident attorney immediately to begin building your case.
Truck Accident Injuries
Sadly, 75% of all truck accident injuries are sustained by the passenger vehicle occupants. Truck accident injuries are often severe and may result in permanent disfigurement, disability, and chronic pain and suffering.
Some of the most common truck accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Muscle Damage
- Internal organ damage
These injuries can significantly affect your life and compromise your future. Your attorney needs to fully understand the scope of your injuries and the long-term issues you will face before arriving at any settlements. To do this, your attorney will speak to medical professionals and review your case to help you obtain the money you need to pay for medical expenses now – and in the future.
Who Will Pay For Your Injuries?
The liable party’s insurance company should pay for all medical expenses and for any damages done to your vehicle. Yet, establishing liability after a trucking accident can be complex. In many cases, there are multiple parties to blame for your crash, including the truck driver, trucking company, shipping company, and even the trucking manufacturer. Your attorney will need to investigate the accident closely and collect evidence to build your case. Valuable evidence, such as the black box data, truck driver logs, truck driver training, truck maintenance records, and trucking company violations can all help establish who is to blame for your accident. Unfortunately, valuable evidence can be lost or destroyed swiftly. In some cases, black box data can be overwritten after just 30 days – so it is important to act quickly.
Taking Legal Action After a Truck Accident
Once all the liable parties are established, your attorney will begin to negotiate a settlement with the insurance companies. The negotiation process can be complex because it may include multiple parties and multiple insurance companies. Your attorney will need to ensure that you have enough money – both now and in the future – to cover a variety of expenses. Usually this means considering both economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Long-term care costs
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of enjoyment in life
- Pain and suffering
If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party (the trucking company, truck driver, or third party) and your case will proceed to court. Every attempt is made to settle your lawsuit out of court, to save you both time and money; however, there are times when proceeding to trial is in your best interest. When this occurs, know that you have a lawyer on your side with considerable truck accident litigation experience.
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In 2014, semi-truck accidents represented 11.2% of all fatal vehicle accidents in the state of Arkansas. In that year alone more than 668 vehicles were involved in fatal crashes with semi-trucks. In addition, thousands more were injured in crashes across the state. While semi-trucks compose only 4% of registered vehicles on the road, they account for 9% of all crashes.
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