You are inside your car, which is trapped against the guard rail running down the middle of the interstate. Maybe your airbags have deployed and you feel a little disoriented from the impact to your face. As the airbag deflates, you look through the cracked windshield and see a semi-truck on its side in front of you. That must have happened after the truck unexpectedly swerved into your lane, hitting your car and driving you off the road.
As your head clears, you need to do a few things right away if your injuries allow.
First Things First: Check on Everyone and Call for Help
If you are able, the first thing you should do after a truck accident is to check on everyone who was in any of the vehicles that were involved. Is everyone in your car okay? How about the truck driver? Were any other vehicles involved? If so, what is the condition of those drivers and passengers?
Once you have a sense of the seriousness of everyone’s injuries, you should dial 911 and request emergency assistance. Depending on the nature of the accident and the injuries, police, firefighters, and EMTs are all likely to arrive quickly to help.
Next Steps: Clear the Road, Document the Scene, and Exchange Info
If the situation allows, you and others involved in the accident will want to make sure your vehicles are clear of the road. This lessens the chance that additional accidents may occur when drivers come upon your accident site.
After that, it is time to take photos as well as some notes describing the accident. Talk to everyone at the scene to get their sense of what happened. Also, you will need to exchange information with the driver of the truck (and any other drivers involved). That information should include driver’s license details and insurance information. You will also want to be sure to note who the truck driver works for.
Step Three: Talk to an Attorney
You probably aren’t going to call a lawyer from the side of the road. And of course, it is essential that you get medical treatment right away if you were hurt in the accident.
But once you’re back home, the next step in your process might be to talk with an attorney with expertise in motor vehicle accidents. A lawyer can help you understand and navigate important issues like:
- Arizona is an “at-fault” state, which means that in order to collect damages, you will have to prove that the driver of the truck (or possibly their employer, the truck manufacturer or maintenance company, or the individual owner of the truck) was reckless or negligent.
- Arizona is also a “comparative negligence” state, which means that a court may decide that each party is partially at fault for the accident—and that may change the damages you can claim.
- An insurance company may try to pressure you into signing a settlement in the days immediately following an accident. In general, that won’t be to your benefit. An attorney can help make sure you don’t make a mistake by accepting an unfair settlement—or by signing a settlement before the full extent of your injuries is known.
- An attorney can make sure you have access to key information, including trucking company procedures, driving logs, cell phone records, medical records, and more that may have a bearing on your case. A lawyer will also be able to determine the kind of negligence that may have been the cause of the accident. Examples of negligence include driving without the proper rest, impaired driving, speeding or other traffic violations, and/or poor truck design or maintenance.
Final Step: If You Win the Case, Collect Damages
If a court rules that the driver of the truck (or associated people or organizations) was negligent, you will be awarded damages. You may be awarded funds to cover:
- Medical expenses (including home care related to recovery from the accident)
- Lost wages and/or reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- The wrongful death of someone who died as a result of the accident
If You Have Been Hurt in a Truck Accident, Let Us Help
The attorneys of Griffen & Stevens have the expertise and passion to ensure that you are treated fairly after a truck accident. And because we work on a contingency basis—meaning you don’t pay if we don’t win—you can afford to get the protection you deserve. If you’ve been hurt, contact us for a free consultation.