Let’s face it: no matter how careful you (or other drivers) are, vehicle accidents happen. While accidents are an annoying fact of life, reaching out to an experienced Baltimore truck lawyer will help ensure it’s as painless and frustration-free as possible. Nothing is going to make a vehicular accident a happy, carefree experience, but there are some steps that you can take immediately following an incident to minimize future frustration and confusion.
Taking the proper actions and knowing what information to collect in any vehicle accident can help to address financial liability, responsibility, and compensation following an accident, especially with incidents involving 18-wheelers or other commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and the laws involving them. In this blog post, we will provide you with the additional essential information you should collect immediately after a commercial vehicle accident, as well as what should be collected as it becomes available.
What to Collect Immediately After an Accident
The first thing to do if you’re involved in any auto accident is to prioritize safety. Always ensure that you and others involved are safe from immediate harm. If anyone is injured, call 911 for medical assistance; only then should you start gathering information.
From contact details to evidence preservation, understanding some key steps can help you protect your rights, navigate insurance claims, and ensure a smoother legal process if or when it comes to that. In the event of a commercial vehicle accident, it is crucial to collect the following information:
- Driver Information: Obtain the driver’s and any passenger’s names, contact details, and commercial driver’s license information (name, license number, and expiration date) if applicable. It’s also important to get details about the business or trucking company involved in the accident, such as the company name, address, and contact information.
- Vehicle Information: Document the make, model, color, license plate number, and registration details of the commercial vehicle involved. Any distinguishing features, logos, etc., can be helpful, as well.
- Insurance Information: Gather information about the commercial vehicle’s insurance, including the insurance company’s name and policy number.
- Details: Make specific notes of the exact location, date, and time of the accident. Additionally, record weather conditions, road conditions, and the approximate speed of vehicles involved.
- Witnesses: Collect the full names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident, including their observations (in their own words). This provides valuable testimony to support your future claim or legal case if needed.
- Photographs: If possible, take clear photographs of the accident scene, including damage to vehicles, road conditions, and any relevant road signs or signals. Take photos of any physical injuries that are visible as well. Visual evidence is invaluable in documenting the incident.
Information to Collect Following a Commercial Accident
When a commercial vehicle accident occurs, it’s crucial to gather the right information promptly. However, there are also vital pieces of information that may not be available immediately but are just as important for your long-term security. Whether you are the victim or a responsible party, knowing what to document can significantly impact the aftermath of the incident.
Obtain the Police Report
Ensure you receive a copy of the police report, which will contain vital details about the incident and other truck, commercial vehicle, or 18-wheeler accident information.
To request a police report for a vehicle accident you were involved in, follow these steps:
- Identify the Jurisdiction. Determine which agency(s) responded to the accident. This could be local police, fire department, county sheriff, or state troopers.
- Contact the Relevant Agency. Reach out to the law enforcement agency that handled the accident. You can usually find their contact information on their official website or by calling their non-emergency line. Provide them with details about the accident, such as the date, location, and the names of the drivers involved.
- Submit a Request. Some agencies may allow you to request the report online, while others might require you to fill out a request form in person or via mail. Be prepared to pay a small fee for the report if required.
- Wait for Processing. After submitting your request, it may take some time for the report to be processed. Check with the agency for the expected timeline.
When the report is ready, you can either pick it up in person or have it mailed to you, depending on the agency’s procedures. Once you have a copy of your report, examine the report for accuracy. If you find any errors, contact the agency to request corrections.
Remember that any vehicular accident can be traumatic and leave you (and everyone else involved) feeling overwhelmed. Still, it’s important to remain calm and cooperative with law enforcement and others involved in the accident.
In the long run, a patient, polite, and level-headed response can only work in your favor.
The U.S. government’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is the federal body responsible for establishing the rules for roads and vehicles.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a branch of the DOT that’s specifically responsible for large trucks and other commercial vehicles, including those designated for HazMat (Hazardous Materials) Transportation.
The FMCSA says an accident is recordable if certain things happen:
- There are fatalities.
- Someone suffers a bodily injury and needs to see a doctor.
- The vehicle can’t be driven away from the scene of the accident because of damage.
If your crash meets these criteria, you should contact your truck accident attorney for more information on a commercial driver’s or company’s FMCSA accident records, in addition to the police report.
Collect Any Injury/Medical Documentation
After a car accident, your health should be a top priority. Seek immediate medical attention if you have injuries. Keep all medical records, bills, and receipts related to your treatment and medications. Take photographs of your injuries. This visual evidence can be valuable in documenting the extent and progression of your injuries.
You may also consider keeping a detailed diary or journal of your daily experiences and pain levels. This can help provide a record of your suffering and recovery, as well as an important timeline that you can refer back to.
You’ll also want to obtain copies of all medical visits, reports, imaging results, and documentation from your healthcare providers to substantiate your injuries and treatment, as well as receipts for all medical expenses, including co-pays, insurance payments, and any out-of-pocket costs related to your injuries.
Keep a line of communication open with your doctors, specialists, and therapists. They can provide crucial documentation of your injuries and progress. Inform medical personnel in advance that you will need copies of these reports as soon as they are available and follow up until you have them in hand.
It’s essential to be thorough and organized in documenting your injuries and related expenses for a successful claim. By following these steps, you can collect and maintain the necessary injury documentation that will best support a potential personal injury claim after a truck accident.
If you’re involved in a vehicle accident, the preservation of evidence plays a crucial role in determining fault and liability. Preserving evidence is not just a good practice; it’s a necessity should that evidence become relevant to future litigation, as it can greatly impact the outcome of insurance claims and legal proceedings.
Evidence like video footage from nearby buildings or onboard vehicle E-Data (OVD)can provide valuable information, help reconstruct an accident, and provide additional context to support a claim. Medical records, black box data (which provides information about the truck’s speed, braking, and other parameters), and witness statements should also be preserved.
These pieces of evidence can serve as critical proof in establishing fault and liability. Failure to preserve evidence, intentional or not, can have severe consequences. Spoliation refers to the destruction, alteration, or failure to preserve evidence, which may result in claim dismissal, evidence preclusion, and even monetary fines.
Therefore, preserving evidence is essential to ensure a fair and successful resolution of a truck accident claim.
Belsky & Horowitz, LLC is Here to Help!
Experienced attorneys who specialize in car accident cases have the expertise to help you understand your rights and legal options, gather relevant evidence, send letters to prevent tampering, etc. They can assess the strength of your case, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary. By hiring an attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing that your interests are being protected and that the evidence is being properly preserved.
When involved in a truck accident, gathering evidence is essential for proving responsibility and obtaining supporting insurance claims or legal cases. Collecting the right information is even more crucial when seeking fair compensation for injuries and damages.
We hope that you never find yourself in a situation where you need this information, but if you do – following these steps and proactively reaching out to our team at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC, can help protect your interests and increase the likelihood of a successful insurance claim or legal action after a commercial vehicle accident.