As of 2021, there were almost 14 million trucks in the United States and approximately 3.5 million registered truck drivers. Truck drivers and their vehicles must follow many rules and laws to prevent accidents while driving on the road. When there is a crash, these regulations can become relevant to your case.

Being involved in a trucking accident can be a traumatic experience and it’s often difficult to know what to do.

This article covers the steps to take following trucking accidents. It will help you understand how to get the information you need to build a case.

Write Down Details About the Crash

When you leave the scene of the accident, you may remember additional details that you left out of the police report or failed to mention at the scene. As best you can, keep a record of these details to share with your insurance company and potentially a lawyer.

For instance, if there is any sign that the driver was swerving or speeding, be sure to jot down this information. This can help you recall the circumstances surrounding the crash even months later. Also, an attorney may be able to use this information to find witnesses to corroborate your testimony going into legal proceedings.

There are regulations limiting how long truck drivers can be behind the wheel, but these are not always followed. If an attorney can prove they were in violation, it could help build a case for negligence against the 18-wheeler driver.

Get a Copy of the Police Report

Obtaining a copy of the police report is the next step. The information it contains is important because it can give you and your attorney details about the crash and who is at fault.

Some states have “no-fault laws” governing vehicle accidents, including those involving a semi-truck collision. That means that, in some scenarios, crashes happen without either driver having done anything wrong. A common example is an accident caused by weather or road hazards.

Louisiana is not one of these states. This means that, in any given vehicle crash, someone is at least partially responsible. You need to be clear about this before proceeding with a suit.

You can attain a copy of the report by contacting the police precinct where the crash happened. Have the date, time, and location of the incident handy, to expedite policy staff finding the report.

Call Your Insurance Company

The next thing you should do is call your insurance company. If you are not at fault in the crash, the trucking company’s insurance carrier should pay for your vehicle repairs and any medical bills. Regardless, it is a good idea to alert your own insurance company of the incident.

There is one entity you should not talk to: the trucking company’s insurance company. It may seem safe to answer their questions about the incident, but they could use what you say to bolster their defense. If they contact you, politely decline to speak to them without representation.

Seek Medical Attention and Retain Receipts 

If you were severely injured in the crash, you should have received medical care onsite or at a hospital. If your injuries were minor, you may not have been treated or transported to a hospital.

However, following a vehicle accident you likely had higher levels of adrenaline. This can mask pain, which can pop up days or weeks later. The important thing is to seek medical attention as soon as symptoms arise.

If you undergo any medical treatment following the crash, be sure to keep copies of every bill. This includes rehabilitation, psychological care, or any expenses associated with injuries stemming from the incident. This documentation can be used to calculate truck accident compensation, should the insurance company fail to cover these costs.

Hire a Qualified Trucking Accident Attorney

If the trucking company’s insurance refuses to pay for damages to your vehicle or medical bills, you should immediately contact a truck accident lawyer. They can help you determine what harm and related compensation should be included in the claim.

They also can file a lawsuit and handle all the proceedings. It keeps you from having to handle these complex issues on your own and avoid any missteps. An experienced attorney will know how to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Determine Damages

“Damages” refers to the harm done to the plaintiff due to the defendant’s misconduct or neglect, for which the plaintiff is compensated. These can be broken down into compensatory and exemplary damages. Compensatory damages include:

  • Repair or replacement costs associated with damage to your vehicle
  • Replacement cost of personal items inside the car that became damaged
  • Cost of medical care and rehabilitation
  • Loss of wages or salary from being out of work due to injuries
  • Future earning potential (if you suffer a more permanent disability)

Compensatory damages can also extend to non-financial harm. These fall under the umbrella of “pain and suffering” and include:

  • Diminishment in the quality of life due to injuries or trauma from the truck crash
  • Permanent scarring or disfigurement that causes mental or emotional strife

Depending on the circumstances, some civil suits involve seeking “exemplary damages,” also known as punitive damages. These are meant to punish the defendant for egregious negligence or intentional misconduct.

Find Legal Advice After Truck Accidents

Now that you understand the steps to take after a trucking accident, you can have the peace of mind that you’ve done everything possible to build a case. An attorney who knows how to handle trucking accidents can further advise you on how to move forward.

For more than 50 years, Talbot, Carmouche, & Marcello has fought for the people of Louisiana. Our relentless pursuit of justice has resulted in more than a billion dollars in cumulative verdicts and settlements. Reach out to us to discuss your case with an attorney today.