Being involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler can be a scary situation, and often fatal. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), Texas leads the nation in fatal commercial vehicle accidents. Crashes involving commercial vehicles result in some of the most horrifying crash scenes, which is why it is so important to hire experienced 18-wheeler accident attorneys. Because of their large size, 18-wheeler accidents lead to severe injuries, death, and incredible destruction. In Texas alone, TXDOT attributes the following to commercial vehicle crashes in 2021:
- 513 fatal commercial vehicle crashes
- 581 deaths
- 1,245 serious injuries
- 7,342 non-incapacitating injuries
Sharing the road with large trucks is something that drivers do every time they travel. It’s important that drivers understand how trucks handle on the road, as well as the limitations that truck drivers may have with visibility, turning, and braking.
Tips for Safely Sharing the Road with 18-Wheelers
The Road Safety Foundation offers some tips that can help you safely share the road with semi-trucks and avoid dangerous accidents that can cause vehicle damage or worse, personal injury or death.
Pass on the Left
If drivers must pass a large truck on the interstate, they should always pass on the left side and do so quickly and cautiously. Keep in mind that truck drivers have blind spots. Drivers should never ride beside them because if they need to move over, chances are they might not see their car.
Keep Your Distance
When sharing the road with a semi-truck, keep an appropriate distance. Even if a driver thinks the truck driver can see them, there are other things that can occur with large trucks that may not be within the truck drivers reach to handle. While a large truck may be able to continue driving just fine when a tire blows out, those pieces of tire can become deadly if they blow out and hit a windshield. If there is poor weather and the roads are slick, don’t get too close to the rear of the truck or even next to one because there is a chance the car will slide underneath the truck.
Avoid Using Your High Beams
Drivers should avoid using high beams at night when behind a large truck or when passing one. Bright lights can temporarily blind a driver, and this can cause an accident. In just a few seconds of blindness from someone’s headlights, a large truck can be involved in a dangerous accident.
If a driver must stop for any reason on the interstate, they should try to pull off to the side first. If this is not possible, drivers should be aware of the truck behind them and make sure to signal or start braking ahead of time. This will give the driver of the 18-wheeler time to slow down and stop. Remember that large trucks need more time to stop than a small passenger car may need.
Don’t Drive Distracted
No matter what, when traveling down any roadway, stay off the phone. Texting and driving has caused fatal accidents, and sending a text to someone is not worth the risk involved. Stay alert and fully focused on the road ahead and the trucks that may be traveling along the same stretch of road.
What to Do After an Accident with an 18-Wheeler
In the immediate aftermath of a serious truck accident, it can be difficult to know what to do. These are the steps that drivers should take after being injured in a collision with a commercial truck. They are critical for protecting a driver’s ability to recover fair compensation.
The first step to take after a collision caused by an 18-wheeler is to call 911. After the police arrive, drivers should explain the moments leading up to the collision. Make sure to get a copy of the police report. While police reports are generally inadmissible in evidence, they contain crucial information that can be used during the investigation of the collision. A police report will normally include the following types of important information:
- Witness statements
- Statements from each involved party
- Sketch of the accident scene
- Contact information for each involved driver
- Police officer’s opinion about who was at fault
Exchange Information with the Other Parties Involved
Under the law, drivers are required to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver in an accident. Ask the truck driver for their name, insurance information, address, the name of the trucking carrier, and the number of the truck. Getting this information can help to speed up the claims process.
Ask Witnesses for Their Contact Information
If anyone else saw what happened in your truck collision, ask the witness or witnesses to stay and give a statement to the police. It’s also a good idea to ask each witness for his or her name and contact information so that an attorney can contact them later. Witness testimony can be important evidence in a truck accident claim since they are unbiased and can provide eyewitness reports of what occurred.
Collect Evidence at the Accident Scene
Evidence collected from the accident scene is critical for proving what happened. If the driver is physically able, it’s smart to take photos of the damage to both vehicles, tire skid marks, the driver’s license plate, and other relevant details at the accident scene. Drivers should also write down everything that they remember in the moments leading up to the crash.
Get Medical Help
Getting immediate medical attention is vital. Because of the size and weight disparities between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, truck collisions frequently result in serious injuries. These injuries aren’t always immediately obvious. By getting immediate medical attention, drivers can obtain accurate diagnoses and begin treatment to prevent injuries from growing worse. Having a medical record showing that injuries are directly linked to the accident is important for demonstrating that they happened in the collision rather than in a different incident.
Speak with an 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney
Truck drivers who do not report their accidents or undergo substance abuse testing can have their licenses revoked or suspended and be ordered to pay fines. Once the driver notifies his or her employer of the accident, the company’s insurance company will likely send investigators to the accident scene to start to build a defense case. Drivers shouldn’t agree to provide a statement or sign any documents from the trucking company’s insurance carrier without talking to 18-wheeler accident attorneys. A lawyer can prevent drivers from making critical errors that might harm their case.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to the negligence of a truck driver, you may benefit from the assistance of a Board Certified Personal Injury attorney. Give our office a call at 817-440-3888 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how we can help you.