Guest Post: 7 Steps to Take After Trucking Accidents

tips for preventing trucking accidentsAccidents happen.  Truck drivers know this better than anyone because they see them every day.  While the media is quick to share the news often times unfairly pointing the finger at the trucker, they rarely mention what should be done when involved in trucking accidents.  

Accidents or wrecks involving trucks aren’t much fun to think about or talk about, but part of being a healthy trucker is being prepared.  Today we’ve got a guest post that covers some of the reasons these accidents involving trucks happen and the steps to take if involved or at the scene.

From 2002 through 2011, more than 45,000 people were killed and more than 1 million people injured in crashes involving large trucks.

Truck accidents generally account for one in nine of motor vehicle fatalities.  That represents almost 11 percent of the deaths caused by motor vehicles, even though big trucks represent only about 4 percent of vehicles on the road.  That is largely because trucks actually log about 10% of the total miles traveled on U.S. highways. In major cities and congested highways like those in Los Angeles, one in every four vehicles is likely to be a truck.

What causes truck accidents?

Many factors can contribute to or cause big truck accidents. These causes fall into three critical areas: 

1.  The other vehicle. More than half of truck accidents are caused by a smaller vehicle like a car or motorcycle. 

2.  The truck driver’s inattention or carelessness.

 In spite of federal regulations, truck drivers sometimes drive more hours than regulations allow or suffer from exhaustion.   Remarkably, one in four truck drivers surveyed admitted that they have fallen asleep at the wheel at least once.

Truck drivers — like many drivers on highways today — sometimes become distracted on the road.  Because of trucks are heavy and large, they respond slower than cars when attempting to avoid a hazard or another vehicle.  Even the slightest delay in reaction time is often critical in causing an accident.  Beyond distracted drivers, there still is a small percent of truckers that drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

3.  Outside Factors that affect the safety of the truck or the driving conditions.

There are many factors outside the control of the driver that can also cause truck accidents. For example, trucks sometimes have manufacturing defects or are poorly maintained.

In some cases, the government may have some responsibility for a truck accident because the road is defectively designed or not properly maintained.   During highway or road construction, for example, a government entity may be responsible for not properly warning drivers of potentially hazardous conditions.

What to do if you’re involved in a truck accident

Here are tips about what to do at the scene of a truck accident.

1.  Make sure that anyone who seems to be injured gets immediate medical care.  Remember, the symptoms associated with a serious injury can be hidden for days following a vehicle accident. Even if everyone in your car seem to be alright, it is often a good idea to see a doctor or visit an urgent care facility.

2.   Take pictures. Cell phones, tablets and computers have cameras. Take pictures of the vehicles involved in the accident, the road conditions, signage, weather conditions and other elements that might have contributed to the accident.

3.  Get the following information for all drivers involved in the accident: Name, contact information, driver’s license number, vehicle license number, vehicle registration and insurance information.

4.  Write down the truck’s registration information. Get the truck owner’s name and contact information and the name of the business the truck is working for (if different from the owner).

5.  Look around for witnesses. Find out what each person saw and get contact information for each person.

6.  Get the names and badge numbers of police officers who arrive at the scene. Be sure to get a copy of the accident report when it is available.

7.  Contact a personal injury law firm to discuss the accident, your injuries, injuries to others in your car and the physical damage caused by the accident.

Law firms that specialize in trucking accidents know all the “other factors” that are not immediately apparent at the scene but that can contribute to the accident. They also have investigators and technical experts who can determine the real cause of your accident and take appropriate action to identify those who might be at fault.

Len Jacoby, a Los Angeles car accident lawyer, founded Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices in 1972 in partnership with Stephen Meyers and made the legal system more accessible to the average person. Len attended UC Berkley and UCLA and received his Juris Doctor degree from UCLA Law School in 1967.