1. If you’re still at the scene and able to do so, get the name of the driver and the owner of the truck that hit you. Get the license plate and have someone take a photograph of the side door of the tractor, with the identifying numbers all visible. Also collect the names, emails and phone numbers of all witnesses. Find out from the truck driver the identity and telephone number of his insurance company. Get as many photos of your vehicle, the truck, and the scene as is needed to show the whole story.
2. If you’re at the hospital, have someone find out who the emergency responder or ambulance company was. Be sure to tell the doctors and nurses about the injuries you’re experiencing and make certain that you know what they advise as to proper future treatment. Follow-up with healthcare providers on a prompt and regular basis and keep track of your care and your bills. Having a diary with the calendar of where you’ve been, why, and what you’ve received for treatment will be very important. If new symptoms arise, make sure you make note of this (e.g., date, what you experienced, how long, etc.) and also tell your healthcare provider immediately. It is not unusual to have a number of symptoms come to the surface within the first week to 10 days after a crash.
3. Make sure that someone gets the name and identifying information for the police officer or state trooper who responded. Follow-up and get a copy of the police officer or state trooper's report. If you think it is missing information or is inaccurate, follow-up with the police officer or state trooper. See our tips on this elsewhere on this website.
4. If at all possible, get a good attorney with significant experience in handling truck cases immediately. The reason is that key evidence at the site might be destroyed or disappear if you wait to get an attorney involved. Do not make the mistake of assuming that if you get an attorney with experience in general trial work, car accidents, or injury cases, that the attorney has the requisite knowledge and skills for handling a truck case appropriately. This can make a huge difference in your outcome. Ask the attorney you call what specialty truck litigation groups they are in. If they are members in the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Trucking Litigation Group or the Academy for Truck Accident Attorneys (ATAA), you should be in good hands. If they are not, you really need to ask very specific questions about how many truck cases they have handled, how many truck cases they have tried in court, and what it is they do to keep up with this very specialized area of law.
5. Recognize that truck cases are not car cases. There’s a reason that ordinary citizens can’t climb behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler and drive across town to lunch. Big trucks are completely different from cars in how they handle and and how they must be driven. The average commercial tractor-trailer weighs between 70,000 and 80,000 pounds. The average car weighs 3,500 to 4,000 pounds. The force of a truck crash can be 20 times that of a crash with the car at the same speed. As a result, numerous federal and state regulations apply that much more carefully regulate tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles. Many attorneys don’t know this either and, as a result, do a tremendous disservice to their clients.
6. Do NOT give statements to insurance adjusters, investigators or other people working on the case. It is very easy to say something that can be misinterpreted, particularly when you may be on prescription meds or suffering the aftereffects of a severe collision.
7. Stay off social media as well. Social media has a tendency to really stoke up emotions without really benefiting people in these situations. It’s far better to keep things private.