Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is one of the most traumatic experiences an individual can go through. This is especially true if the accident involves a large commercial truck. Truck accidents are among the deadliest that occur on the roadways because of the sheer size and strength of the vehicle involved. These types of accidents can result in serious injuries and in the worst cases, wrongful death.
Though a trucking accident can be unsettling (to say the least), it is important to regain your composure and gather as much information as possible about the incident. Assuming you are physically able, write down in detail what just happened while it is still fresh in your mind. In addition, take multiple photographs of the accident scene from as many angles as possible, and obtain the contact information of anyone nearby that may have witnessed the event.
In addition to extensively documenting what just occurred, there are some questions you should ask after an accident with a truck. Here are three of the most important:
- Have the police been called?
After a truck accident, the first priorities are to obtain immediate medical attention for anyone who was hurt, and to gather as much information as possible. Once you have made sure everyone who was injured receives treatment, it is important to notify the police. If a truck driver caused the accident, there is a chance they will not want to involve the police. There are several reasons this could be the case.
Truckers are required to comply with federal regulations regarding vehicle maintenance, how many hours they are allowed to be on the road, and many other rules. If they were driving while drowsy or fatigued or did not properly maintain the vehicle for example, they might not want a police report filed. This is exactly the reason law enforcement should be involved. If a truck driver caused an accident while in violation of federal regulations, this should be officially documented in a police report.
- Does the driver have the right commercial license to operate the vehicle?
Truckers are required to have a commercial license to operate a big rig truck. In addition, the driver may need special endorsements (that indicate they underwent the proper training and obtained the required certifications) when they are transporting various types of goods. Some trucking companies fail to perform their due diligence and allow drivers on the road who are not properly licensed.
- Is the driver the owner of the vehicle, or is he/she an employee or independent contractor of a trucking company?
In a trucking accident, there are several parties who could potentially be at-fault. These may include the truck driver, the trucking company, the owner of the truck, the transport company that loaded the truck, the vehicle or vehicle part designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor, or a combination of factors. One of the first steps in determining who is responsible is to figure out the relationship between the truck driver and other parties involved.
In some cases, the truck driver may be the owner/operator of the vehicle who accepts jobs from multiple trucking companies. In this case, the driver would most likely be an independent contractor. In many cases, however, the driver transports exclusively for one trucking company and displays their placard in their truck. In this instance, even if the trucking company maintains that the driver is an independent contractor, they may actually be an employee (based on their relationship).
Speak with a Knowledgeable Alabama Truck Accidents Attorney
There are several other questions that need to be asked after an accident with a truck to determine who is responsible for damages. This can become a complex web to untangle, because very often, multiple factors converge at just the wrong time and in just the wrong place to cause the accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, the best thing to do is contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, so you can ensure that the rights questions are asked, and your rights and interests are fully protected.
At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have several years of experience successfully representing clients injured in truck accidents in Alabama. We have extensive knowledge of this area of the law, and when we accept a case, we go to work immediately to thoroughly investigate the circumstances and explore all potential legal avenues toward recovering full compensation. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-737-3718, or send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.