To get from place to place in Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities, most people have to drive or ride in a motor vehicle of some type. If you are the driver of or an occupant in a car or other passenger vehicle, you share the roads daily with a variety of commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, garbage trucks, and business-owned vehicles, can be found at almost any time of day or night along our roads, freeways, and highways. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, across the state, the total injury crashes involving heavy trucks were reduced in 2020, likely due to the pandemic decreasing roadway activity in general, to 6,344 with 110 being fatal. The vast majority of these occurred on state highways or interstates, seconded by turnpikes and local roads. The majority of these fatal truck crashes were caused by issues relating to tires, wheels, brakes, and unsecured loads or trucks being overloaded. Since the potential for damage is high, it is important to know what to do next after a a commercial vehicle hits your car to know what to do next.
Six Steps to Take After a Commercial Vehicle Accident
The size and force of commercial vehicles vary widely, and the bigger the vehicle the more destruction it can bring, leaving many commercial vehicle accident victims unable to do anything immediately following the crash. If you are able to take the following steps safely, if a passenger or witness at your accident scene can help you with them, or if you have a loved one who can take them for you, these are the best first steps to take after a commercial vehicle hits your car:
- Call the authorities and ensure a police report is filed: In most situations, this means you or someone else involved in the crash will call 911. The dispatcher will route your call to the appropriate local law enforcement agency. Even if you are not sure how serious the crash was or how severe your injuries are, you should always get a police report anyway. This will be the best way to have official documentation of your commercial vehicle accident maintained by the police and available to anyone who wants to request a copy.
- Seek emergency medical attention immediately: When you call 911, the dispatcher will also contact emergency services or other first responders so those at the scene can receive the medical treatment they need. Let the dispatcher know how many vehicles and individuals were involved in the collision so they can send the appropriate number of ambulances or other emergency vehicles to help. Even if you aren’t sure whether or not you are hurt, you should be medically evaluated. Not all car accident injuries appear immediately – and often the adrenaline rush created by being in a dangerous situation can mask your pain. You can also suffer from internal bleeding, which if not addressed timely, can lead to an untimely death. Even if you are evaluated at the scene and released, be sure to follow up with your own doctor afterward.
- Report the crash to your own insurance company: If you were the driver or owner of a vehicle involved in the collision, you should report the incident to your insurer.
- Take accident scene photos and videos: Documenting the accident scene is impossible to do if you are incapacitated or severely injured. If it is safe and you are able to after the police arrive, take photos of the scene, the vehicles involved showing property damage, any skid marks, etc. You will also want to obtain the contact information for the other drivers, along with their employer’s name and contact details, the vehicle information including license plate number, insurance company and policy number, and their driver’s license number. Be sure to look for and obtain information from any witnesses and anyone involved in the crash – whether driver or passenger. Take notes on your phone or via voice recording about the road and weather conditions and other factors about the accident you may not remember later.
- Save all accident-related documentation: Save everything, including medical records, bills, and receipts for expenses related to the crash. You will need to provide these items as part of your evidence establishing the losses you suffered as a result of the commercial vehicle collision.
- Contact a truck accident lawyer: You should not provide a statement or sign any documents given to you by a trucking company’s insurance carrier, representative, or lawyer without talking to your own attorney first. An experienced personal injury lawyer can handle the communications with insurance companies and the responsible, at-fault driver for you and save you from making critical errors that might decrease the value of your case or even eliminate your ability to recover financial compensation entirely.
Pittsburgh Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyers
Dealing with a truck accident can be overwhelming, but seeking out and finding an experienced yet compassionate lawyer will be the most pivotal step you take in the aftermath. At SMT Legal, our trial lawyers routinely successfully handle trucking accident litigation. We know how to work with our clients to get them the treatment they need and the financial compensation they require in order to fully recover as much as possible. Contact us speak with one of our experienced attorneys – we are ready to help you get your life back on track.