Being one of the most populous states in the union, Florida is well-known for its tropical climate, long sandy beaches, and tourist attractions. However, it is also known for truck accidents. With all of these trucks on the road, the people in Florida are not always surprised to read news stories of overturned semis.
One of the most important things to note about Florida truck accidents is that, on top of stopping to exchange basic information, state law needs drivers to provide reasonable assistance to those injured in an accident. When a person’s injuries prevent him or her from being able to exchange information, the other parties are required to report the crash to the nearest law enforcement office. Drivers who fail to do so and leave the scene too early, on top of that, could face a third-degree felony. When the injuries are serious, they could even face second-degree felony charges.
Florida law enforcement is needed to prepare reports for any crash involving a commercial motor vehicle or any which result in death, injuries or inoperable vehicles. For the other crashes that involve property damage, the law requires drivers to submit a written crash report to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Thus, every Florida truck accident will require a written report by law enforcement. Even in the unlikely event that a truck accident doesn’t result in injuries or property damage, you are still required to stick around and call law enforcement to report the incident.
An accident with an 18-wheeler is likely to cause severe injuries or death. Semi-trucks usually weigh up to 30 times more than passenger vehicles. So, even a slow-speed crash can be catastrophic.
Once you have addressed any injuries and gathered evidence at the crash scene, the next step is to call an injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you fight for the maximum compensation. Also, he can help you avoid grave mistakes during the claims process that might add up to your expenses later.
Here are some steps you should take after an accident with a commercial truck:
Check for Injuries
Make sure to evaluate yourself and other people for injuries. In case anyone was seriously injured, make sure to call the police and request emergency medical assistance. If nobody appears to be severely injured, you should still contact the police so an officer can create an accident report. This report should contain important details about your collision such as its cause, location, date, and time, and it will describe any property damage and injuries.
Take Photos if possible
Pictures always tell the story of how the crash occurred, and they will be valuable evidence if the at-fault driver or the insurance company disputes your claim. So, make sure to take pictures that show the positions of vehicles, traffic signs, skid marks, injuries, and property damage.
Make a note of the Truck’s U.S. Department of Transportation Number
Your injury lawyer might need the truck’s DOT number to access its event data recorder (EDR), also known as a back box. The EDR might tracks data about a truck driver’s behavior such as the vehicle’s high speed, average speed, hours on the road, and seatbelt use. In case this data shows that the trucker was speeding or violating the Hours of Service Regulations, it may help your attorney prove negligence and liability.
Make sure to exchange Insurance and Contact Information
You might consider exchanging insurance and contact information with all drivers involved in your accident. You might need that information to file your claim. Also, you can record the contact information of any eyewitnesses. If your case goes to trial, your attorney might use their testimonies to prove negligence and liability.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
Usually, an experienced accident lawyer can help you meet important deadlines, gather evidence, and avoid costly mistakes. A simple mistake like overlooking future damages, making a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster, or missing your doctor’s appointments, could completely damage your claim.
Seek medical treatment if needed
As the nature of commercial truck accidents can be pretty dangerous, many victims sustain serious and even life-threatening injuries. In those situations, your first priority should always be taking care of yourself and stabilizing your injuries. In case emergency personnel recommend that you receive immediate trauma care and transportation to the hospital, you should never argue. After your injuries are stabilized, you may address any other concerns regarding the accident. In case you do not require emergency treatment, you should still undergo a full medical evaluation in the days following the accident to identify and document your injuries.
Collect as much information as possible
In case you do not require emergency medical attention, there are many steps you may take at the scene of the accident to improve your case. Though it might be nearly impossible, you should try your best to stay calm so that you can gather as much information as you can. You should gather some pieces of vital information like names and contact information of any other motorists involved in the accident, including the truck driver, names and contact information of any potential witnesses, write down or take pictures of all identifying information on the commercial truck like the identification number and Truck Company. Make sure to take photos of the scene of the accident, including any tire marks, damage to your car and to the truck, weather and road conditions, and more. All of this information can be very helpful should you decide to file a legal claim with the help of a truck accident attorney.
Do not confide in too much to the truck driver’s insurance company
After the accident, you are likely to receive a phone call from the insurance company of the truck driver or trucking company. Make sure not to offer any details regarding your version of events that led to the accident. While the insurance agents might act like they are trying to help you, in reality, they can use anything you say to try to limit the amount of your settlement.