Who’s at Fault After a Commercial Car Accident?
If you get hit by a commercial vehicle, do you know what to do next?
We all hope to avoid car accidents as much as possible. But sometimes, accidents happen.
When it’s a commercial car accident, your next steps are a little bit different. When it’s time to take action after the accident, you need to be well-prepared. Take the right steps to prove who caused the accident. This way, you can protect yourself legally.
We’ve compiled this easy, step-by-step guide to collecting information to find out who’s at fault after an accident. Read on to find out everything you need to know after you have a car accident with a commercial vehicle.
With this knowledge, you’ll be empowered to handle the situation.
1. Know How to Protect Yourself
After an accident with a commercial vehicle, you need to know how to protect yourself. Even though the commercial vehicle’s driver may be at fault, there’s a good chance they will try to blame you.
When you are hit by a truck that’s owned by a company, they have a lot of money and power on their side. Chances are good that they will try to use that money and power to blame you for the accident.
However, you may not actually be at fault at all. Was the truck driver driving recklessly? Did they appear to be under the influence? Were they on a cellphone? These are obvious clues that it was the other driver’s fault.
Sometimes, commercial trucks might have mechanical issues, due to lax maintenance or shoddy repairs. For example, a brake failure might happen if the company doesn’t conduct regular maintenance on its trucks.
You’ll need to collect all the evidence in your favor so you can protect yourself. A commercial car accident lawyer can help you do this. So, you’ll want to contact one as soon as possible.
2. Tell Your Insurance Company
As soon as you can after the accident, report the incident to your insurance company.
However, be careful with how you make the report. Don’t add your personal feelings or opinions on what happened when you contact your insurance company. They should not need any information other than what’s in the accident report.
It’s important to have already contacted a lawyer before you call your insurance. This way, if the insurance company asks you something you’re not sure you should answer, you can check with your lawyer first.
Be sure not to sign anything from the insurance company without speaking to a lawyer.
3. Stay Away from Other Insurance Companies
It’s possible that insurance companies besides your own will get in touch with you after your commercial car accident.
However, the only insurance company you need to be in contact with is your own. There is no need to give any information to other insurance companies. Instead, just give them your lawyer’s number.
These companies may try to mask their inquiries as friendly conversation. However, it’s very important that you don’t answer any of their questions, even if they seem casual. Your answers could be used against you later.
As stated above, do not sign anything from an insurance company, whether it’s your own or not, until you have spoken with your legal representation.
4. Avoid the Company Claims Adjuster
The commercial company’s claims adjuster is not on your side. So, don’t speak to them, either.
Just as with other insurance companies, the claims adjuster may use anything you tell them against you later, even if it just seemed like friendly conversation at the time. They will be trying to protect the interests of the company and make you seem at fault.
Don’t answer any of their questions. As always, don’t sign anything they give you.
5. Collect Your Evidence
Of course, knowing who is at fault depends on the unique accident situation. But there are many times when the commercial vehicle driver is the one responsible. So, regardless of who you think was in the wrong, you should collect evidence.
Take pictures at the scene of the accident, if you can. Before getting anything fixed on your car (or before getting rid of it) take photos of the damage from all angles.
If you can also get pictures or film of the commercial vehicle at the accident, even better. If there is broken glass or other debris on the ground after the accident, photograph that, too. These photos will go a long way toward protecting you.
Don’t forget to also photograph any injuries you sustained from the accident. If someone else was with you and was injured, try to photograph them, too. The more evidence, the better.
6. Collect Information on the Commercial Car Accident
Make sure to get contact information from witnesses at the scene, if there are any and if they are willing to give you their information. Get the license plate number from the commercial vehicle, too.
You’ll want to send all this information to your lawyer so they can contact the right people when they need to.
7. Do Necessary Paperwork
If it’s appropriate, file a police report following the accident. You may also need to report the accident to your local DMV, depending on what state you live in.
8. Find a Doctor
Even if you feel okay after the accident, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. You may even want to get checked by medics before you leave the scene of the commercial car accident.
Make sure to get follow-up care as recommended by your doctor, as well. One visit usually isn’t enough. Document your healing process and keep careful records of how your injuries impact your life.
This includes things such as time spent away from work or activities you can no longer do.
If you were involved in a commercial car accident, there is a good chance it wasn’t your fault. No matter what, be sure you protect yourself legally.
Follow the above procedure carefully to rightfully determine who was at fault. This also prevents you from being blamed for an accident you didn’t cause.
Make sure to file the correct paperwork, and contact your lawyer, insurance, and other agencies as needed. Document everything from damage to your car to your own injuries.
And above all, make sure to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A good lawyer will guide you and support you throughout the process.
Not sure where to turn for help? Learn why we’re the right choice for legal representation after a commercial car accident. Read our testimonials here and contact us when you’re ready to get started.