According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), accidents with large trucks that resulted in injury increased by over 20 percent from 2013 to 2014. A fully loaded semi-trailer can weigh over 80,000 pounds in the United States. The average weight of a passenger vehicle is around 4,000 pounds, and the trend in the auto industry shows vehicles are increasingly becoming more lightweight in an effort to reduce fuel consumption. Obviously, a car is no match for a collision with a semi-truck and trailer.
In a recent article from Newsweek, over 40,000 people died in traffic accidents in 2015, and an upwards of 4 million people were injured severely enough to require medical attention. This represented the largest increase in fifty years, and considering vehicles didn't have airbags and other safety features like anti-lock brakes back then, this trend is disturbing.
An accident that involves a semi-trailer or another company owned truck can be tricky. Companies and corporations frequently own a huge fleet of trucks and have the financial means to defend against litigation. It is imperative you consult an attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are adequately represented. You also need to make sure you don't make any rash decisions without legal consultation. Here are three do's and don'ts if you should find yourself in this situation.
Contact Your Insurance Carrier
Call your insurance company and let them know you have been in an accident. Do not volunteer any information other than that which is listed in the police report. Don't tell them any specific medical information. Simply report the accident as required by most insurance carriers. They will undoubtedly ask a bunch of questions, but just say you are unable to provide more information at this time. Do not sign anything.
You will also likely be contacted by the truck driver's employer and insurance company. While this may be under the guise of checking on your well-being, do not under any circumstances give them any information or sign any documents, no matter what they say. Even the most innocuous comments can be used against you in a court of law. Refer them to your attorney or say you are obtaining one, and hang up.
Before your car is repaired or destroyed, take pictures. Your attorney will likely do the same, but take whatever pictures you are able to, including photos at the scene if your injuries don't prevent it. This is valuable evidence.
See A Doctor Immediately
Even if your injuries aren't severe, do not refuse medical treatment. Countless people have declined care because "it's just a small bump or bruise." Being involved in a collision takes a tremendous toll on the body, and medical issues can arise the next day or a week later. Shock can also release endorphins that protect your body from pain, making you unaware of a back, internal, or head injury. Regardless of the impact or outward signs of injury, seek medical attention.