Any time you’re involved in an automobile accident, insurance companies are going to do whatever they can to minimize their losses. This is especially true for corporate insurance companies who have to minimize not only their own loss but also the liability of their client. Use this guide for what to do if you’re involved in an accident with a semi-truck to make sure that you’re protecting your options to recover the damages you’re owed.

Report the Accident

Colorado Code § 42-4-1606 (2021) requires any person involved in any sort of motor vehicle accident to report it to the appropriate law enforcement agency. If you aren’t incapacitated by the accident, start by dialing 911 to get police and other emergency crews to the scene.

Limit your interactions with the truck driver aside from ensuring they are okay and do not need assistance. If they do, be sure to report this to the emergency dispatcher when you call. The risk of engaging them further is that you’ll say something that they can then use against you once the police arrive or while you’re working on a claim regarding the accident. The police will only file a report if there are injuries or damages greater than $1,000, so be sure that you gather the truck driver’s insurance information just to be sure you have it.

You also need to report the accident to your insurance company, though you don’t necessarily have to do it from the scene of the accident. This helps them prepare for the claims process with the driver or their employer. You generally want to make this call as soon as possible. If you’re in the hospital with injuries, call as soon as possible, from the hospital if your injuries don’t prevent it.

Document Everything

The more you document about the accident, the better your insurance company and an attorney can represent you. If you are physically capable of doing so, start taking pictures with your cell phone right away. Don’t wait for the police to arrive to start this task. Include pictures of the inside and outside of your vehicle. Step back and take pictures of the entire accident scene from as many angles and distances as possible. Also include pictures of skid marks from both vehicles, street signs, traffic control devices, and anything that indicates the road condition or traffic at the time. If it’s easier to do so, get a video of the accident scene, which can give more context than still images alone. Be sure to also get pictures that include any witnesses present at the scene.

As soon as it’s safe to do so, start documenting what you remember of the accident. Include what may seem like minor details like what led up to the accident, whether the truck had any lights out, or if you honked a horn. The smallest details will make a significant difference when you file a claim for damages, so documenting as much detail as you can as soon as you can help your memory of the accident stay sharp.

Get An Attorney Quickly

The next most critical item is to find an attorney experienced in litigating semi-truck accidents. There’s a lot that will happen very quickly following a semi-truck accident, and you need to protect yourself from saying or doing something that could cost you appropriate compensation. An experienced attorney will know how to guide you through the process of dealing with insurance companies, corporate attorneys, and even law enforcement.

Most truck accident injury attorneys will provide a short consultation to hear about your case and offer the next steps. They’ll also help you determine whether you should seek damages for the accident, and explain how the process works. According to Colorado Rev Stat § 13-80-101 (2021), you have 3 years to bring your claim for damages. If the defendant is a government entity, you’re only given 180 days, so you don’t have a lot of time to delay in seeking damages.

Get Evaluated For Injuries

You may have injuries even if you weren’t transported in an ambulance following the accident. Take some time to visit an urgent care, emergency department, or even your primary care provider. You can also see a chiropractor, who can diagnose and help treat injuries like whiplash.

The sooner you’re evaluated, the better you can expect your recovery to be. Further, the sooner you’re seen, the easier you can tie the injuries to that accident and seek damages for them.

Do Not Sign Anything

Following an accident involving a semi-truck, you’re likely to hear from the company’s attorney or insurance company. These interactions can seem very intimidating, and they may offer you a small settlement in exchange for signing a release of liability, which prevents you from seeking additional damages.

Even if they suggest that you won’t receive damages unless you accept the settlement and sign their release, do not sign it. Take the offer to your attorney for review, who will weigh whether the settlement is reasonable. In many cases, the settlement offered won’t cover economic losses, let alone non-economic losses, which is commonly known as pain and suffering. The two together are what will provide for long-term recovery when you sustain serious injuries.

If you’re involved in an accident with a semi-truck, get an experienced attorney on your side quickly. Call to schedule your free semi-truck accident consultation with the experts at Matlin Injury Law.