Commercial truck accidents are often devastating and catastrophic in nature. When a heavy truck or 18-wheeler crashes into a passenger vehicle, victims can suffer life-altering injuries. It is important to know what to do if you get involved in a big rig accident in New Mexico so that you can protect your rights and move forward with a claim correctly. The attorneys at The Fine Law Firm are available to help any time you need assistance in the aftermath of a semi-truck accident.
Pull Over and Put Your Hazards On
Pull over immediately after a truck accident. State law requires everyone who is involved in a motor vehicle collision to stop at the scene of the crash. Fleeing the scene is a crime known as a hit-and-run that can come with severe consequences, including jail time. Pull over as close to the scene of the truck accident as you can while still being in a safe place. If possible, move your disabled vehicle out of the road. Put your hazard lights on to prevent further collisions.
Report the Crash to Law Enforcement
Use your cell phone to call 911 while you are still at the scene of the truck accident. New Mexico law requires accident reporting any time a collision results in injury, death or property damage that exceeds $500. These parameters mean that the vast majority of big rig accidents legally must be reported. Crash reporting can also benefit you by creating an official record of the accident.
A police accident report will contain key information about the crash that an insurance company can use to process your claim, such as the date, time, location, parties involved and any citations that may have been issued by the police. If the truck driver was speeding, driving recklessly or driving drunk, for example, this will be included in the police report.
Limit What You Say to Other Parties
While you wait for the police to arrive, exchange information with the truck driver. Write down the driver’s name, the name of the trucking company, the truck number, the license plate numbers, insurance information and other pertinent details. Limit what you say to the truck driver other than exchanging information. Don’t admit fault for the crash and don’t talk about your injuries. The same is true when speaking to police officers and insurance claims providers. If you say the wrong thing, it could be used against you during a truck accident injury case.
Start Collecting Evidence
Do your best to collect evidence while you’re still at the scene of the commercial truck accident, or have a trusted friend or family member collect evidence for you while you receive medical care. Evidence may include:
- Pictures at the scene of the crash
- Video footage
- Road surface evidence
- Eyewitness names and statements
- Your police report number
You may need an attorney to help you preserve and gather other types of evidence, such as the truck’s black box, event data recorders, phone records, truck company compliance records and truck driver employment documents.
Go Directly to a Hospital
Never delay in seeking medical care after a big rig accident. The trucking company’s insurance carrier will check to see how long you waited before seeing a doctor after the crash. It may then use this to argue that your injuries were not very serious or that you exacerbated them by waiting too long. Request copies of your medical records and follow your doctor’s treatment instructions.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
Before you file an insurance claim, consult with an attorney about your legal rights. A truck accident is especially damaging and traumatic for those involved. If you can only fulfill a few of these steps – or none at all – in the aftermath of a big rig accident, don’t worry. The semi-truck accident lawyers at The Fine Law Firm can take care of the legal process for you from start to finish. We will protect your rights as our client and make sure you have everything you need to move on after a traumatic truck accident. Contact us today for assistance.