Getting into an accident with a tractor trailer is one of the greatest fears for many motorists.
The sheer size of 18 wheelers and other large trucks makes some drivers flinch when big trucks rumble past on the interstate. The wind alone created by some of these monsters can make drivers of small cars lose control.
When large trucks are involved in accidents in North Carolina, the injuries are often more severe than in accidents involving only cars. Usually,the occupants of other vehicles come out on the losing side in collisions with big trucks.
For example, the driver of a pickup truck was killed in late February when the pickup hit black ice on N.C. 87 and slid into the path of an oncoming 18 wheeler north of Fayetteville, according to the Fayetteville Observer. The impact crushed the pickup truck and started a fire. Neither driver was cited in the accident.
In North Carolina, out of 1,289 traffic fatalities in 2013, 138 involved large trucks, up from 127 the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Union County school bus driver Tim McManus was killed in December when a garbage truck crossed the center line on a curve and hit the school bus head-on, according to a wsoctv report. No students were on board or the death toll could have been higher.
North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers said garbage truck driver Joshua Teague was distracted while reaching for something on the floor when the crash took place. He was cited with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, the station reported.
Any time a tractor trailer crashes, the potential for serious damage is high.If you are involved in a crash involving a big truck, it is important to take the right steps, if you are capable,after the wreck.
- Take care of yourself and others: Seeking medical attention for everyone involved in the crash should be top priority immediately after a truck crash.
- Call law enforcement: Contact 911 as soon as possible and report the accident. Depending on the location of the wreck, the dispatcher will determine whether the North Carolina Highway Patrol or a local law enforcement agency should be called to the scene. Do not leave the scene of the accident or you could be cited.
- Obtain information: Approach the truck driver in a friendly manner and ask for the driver’s name, employer, insurance information, and the state where the driver and the truck are registered. Offer your name but don’t talk about the circumstances surrounding the crash because any information you volunteer could be used against you in court. If the driver won’t exchange information, wait until law enforcement officers arrive.
- Take photos: While waiting for the police to arrive, take photos from several different angles of the vehicles involved in the accident and any skid marks on the roadway. Write down details about the vehicles, including make, model, color, year, registration, and damage. Also record the time of day, weather conditions, and any other wreck factors. Gathering information about the crash could be crucial to any personal injury claim you file later.
- Seek medical evaluation:In many cases, an ambulance will be called to the scene and first responders will check you out. Because your adrenaline is likely tobe flowing, you might not think you need medical help, but it is better to have a medical evaluation to check for a concussion and other injuries that may not be immediately apparent. You could sustain a traumatic brain injury without realizing it.
- Obtain anaccident report:Speak with law enforcement officers so they can complete an accident report. Ask the investigating law officer how you can obtain a copy of the accident report and information about the truck driver. Make a note of the vehicle accident report number if possible.
- Contact your insurance company: Notify your insurance company as soon as possible of the accident.
- Understand legal options:Have a personal injuryattorney experienced at handlingtractor-trailer crashes review the circumstances of the accident and explain your legal options. The stakes are higher in accidents involving commercial trucks, so the trucking company will have a lawyer defending their interests. You should have a lawyer advocating on your behalf.
Contact aNorth Carolina truck accident attorney who will focus on your needs. The Raleigh law firm of Hardison& Cochran is dedicated to helping victims of accidents caused by the negligence of other drivers to obtain full and fair compensation for medical bills and lost work time. Call 1-800-600-7969 to tell us about your situation.