What Should You Do After a Head-On Truck Collision?
Head-On Truck Collisions
A head-on collision with a truck can cause severe damage to the other vehicle, and even more substantial injury to everyone inside the vehicle at the time of the accident. In fact, head-on truck collisions represent one of the most dangerous and devastating types of accidents.
In a head-on truck collision, the truck crosses into oncoming traffic and hits the other vehicle in the front. The combined speeds of both vehicles can create a substantial amount of force that can lead to severe injuries. Head-on truck collisions can leave victims with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, organ damage, severely broken bones, and amputations. Many victims face lifelong complications for their injuries.
Did you suffer injuries in a head-on collision with a big truck? Make sure you know what to do next. Following a head-on truck collision, the steps you take can make a big difference in your ability to seek and acquire full compensation for your injuries and financial losses. If you have been injured after being involved in a trucking accident in Texas, contact The Patel Firm PLLC to speak with a trucking accident lawyer in Corpus Christi now.
Seven Causes of Head-On Truck Collisions
Head-on collisions usually occur because a vehicle has drifted out of its lane and into the lane used by the other vehicle. Often, when a truck comes straight at you, you can do little to get out of the way and prevent an accident.
Head-on collisions with trucks may occur due to:
- Driver distraction. Truck drivers spend a lot of hours behind the wheel each day. As a result, they may grow cocky or feel it necessary to engage in activities other than driving behind the wheel of the vehicle. Distracted driving can include eating or drinking behind the wheel, checking email, or consulting a GPS device as well as typical cell phone use. When truck drivers grow distracted, they can quickly slip out of their assigned lane and into oncoming traffic. Trucks take up a great deal more space on the road than other vehicles, which means they may more easily move out of their assigned lanes.
- Driver inebriation. Inebriated drivers may struggle to control their vehicles under the best of circumstances. Big trucks, which require more care and attention to operate, can prove even more difficult to control under the effects of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, alcohol use by truck drivers remains a substantial contributing factor in many accidents. Truck drivers may choose to drink to relieve feelings of loneliness and isolation on the road, especially on long haul trips. In some cases, truck drivers may mistakenly drink too much before they need to get behind the wheel. In other cases, they may choose to drink deliberately while driving. While under the influence of alcohol, truck drivers may struggle to keep their vehicles in the correct lane, substantially increasing the risk of a head-on collision.
- Mechanical errors. Blown-out tires or engine or transmission trouble can cause a big truck to quickly head out of control on the road. The truck driver alone may not bear liability when a blown-out tire or mechanical error causes the accident. Liability for injuries in these accidents may rest with a mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle or with the company that owns the vehicle, when they failed to take care of appropriate maintenance.
- Poor weather conditions. When truckers don’t accommodate for icy or slick, wet roads, truck tires can fail to hold on to the pavement. In the blink of an eye, this can cause the truck to cross the center line and move into oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, when truck drivers lose control of their vehicles, they may have more trouble bringing them back under control again. In poor weather conditions, drivers should pay careful attention to big trucks and other vehicles around them to help reduce their odds of facing a serious accident.
- Drivers attempting to pass on a double yellow line. Truck drivers often need to meet tight deadlines. As a result, they can quickly grow frustrated when a vehicle in front of them travels below the speed limit or keeps slowing down or slamming on its brakes. If the driver thinks the other lane remains clear, he may attempt to pass the slow vehicle. Unfortunately, visibility may not carry far enough to let truck drivers see if they have enough room to get all the way around the car in their lane. Attempting to move back over too soon could result in a sideswipe collision that causes serious damage to the other vehicle. Truck drivers may not, however, bring their trucks back under control appropriately when a vehicle appears in the other lane.
- Drivers trying to maneuver unfamiliar roads. Drivers on unfamiliar roads may struggle to clearly see lane markers, especially on one-lane roads. They may mistakenly end up in the wrong lane or not have enough room to get back in the proper lane following a minor mistake. Truck drivers often face unfamiliar roads when they take on new routes or must detour for some reason. Many GPS devices do not consider the needs of a big truck and may take drivers down tight, winding roads that make it more difficult for them to maneuver.
- Drivers maneuvering through tight turns. Big trucks need more room to maneuver than smaller passenger vehicles. In sharp turns, drivers may struggle to keep their rigs in the proper lane. If the truck swings into oncoming traffic, it can quickly lead to a head-on collision.
What Seven Steps Should You Follow After a Head-On Truck Collision?
A head-on truck collision may cause devastating injury to everyone in the other vehicle, especially those in the front seat. The actions you take at the scene of the accident and beyond can help you protect yourself and your passengers both physically and financially.
1. Do not leave the scene of the accident.
Unless you need to leave the scene of the accident immediately to seek medical care, you should not leave the scene until the police arrive and create a report of the accident. If you leave the scene of the accident, you may face hit and run charges, even though you did not cause the accident. You can leave to seek medical care, if the scene becomes dangerous, or if you have to leave the scene to summon the police.
2. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Follow all instructions given by first responders and medical personnel.
The first responders at the scene of the accident may instruct you to remain still and avoid moving around the accident scene. You may need to travel to the hospital strapped down to a gurney. While these instructions may feel inconvenient or uncomfortable, they can also help you prevent further injury. Make sure you notify emergency personnel if you lost consciousness at the scene of the accident. Make medical care your top priority after a head-on collision with a truck. Do not put off medical care, even if you feel you have other things you need to do or other responsibilities you need to handle.
Keep in mind that even if you do not feel seriously injured immediately after the accident, you may still have spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, or severe bruising that may show up hours or days later. A full evaluation from an experienced medical provider can help identify any injuries you suffered in the accident and ensure that you do not miss vital treatment that could help improve your chances of making a full recovery. The longer you wait to pursue medical care, the worse your injuries may grow. In some cases, failing to diagnose and treat injuries after a head-on truck collision can result in paralysis or death.
3. Collect what evidence you can.
The evidence you collect at the scene of the accident can prove incredibly valuable when the time comes to file a truck accident claim.
If you can safely move around the scene without worsening your injuries or posing a risk to yourself, you may want to:
- Take pictures of the accident scene, including the placement of the vehicles.
- Take pictures of any features you believe contributed to the accident.
- Collect contact information from any witnesses.
- Make note of the driver’s insurance and contact information. Snapping a picture of the driver’s license and insurance information can make it easier to access that information later.
4. Start a file for all your medical records and expenses.
You may face substantial medical bills as a result of injuries suffered in a head-on collision with a big truck. To help make it easier to collect that information when the time comes to file your truck accident claim, start a file that you can reference as you put together your claim.
- Any scans of your injuries
- Doctor statements about your injuries, including anticipated recovery time
- All medical bills that come in after your accident. Make sure you keep track of all those bills in one location. Include receipts for copays that you pay at the time of the service or receipts for durable medical equipment. You may need to refer back to those bills to help give you a better idea of the full extent of your expenses following your accident.
- Information about the services you still need.
You may also choose to keep other medical information, such as doctors’ discharge instructions, in this file so that you can refer back to it easily. Keeping all the paperwork in one place can make it easier to access that information later.
5. Let your auto insurance company know about the accident immediately.
Your auto insurance company may need to know that you totaled your vehicle and need to replace it, or that you need to have repairs made to your vehicle. In some cases, especially if you have full-coverage insurance or need to utilize your uninsured or underinsured coverage. Talk to your insurance agent about the repairs you may need to make to your vehicle, especially if you have items like car seats that need replacement soon after the accident.
6. Contact an attorney.
An experienced truck accident attorney can make a big difference as you file a claim after a head-on truck collision. Many truck drivers carry insurance policies much higher than those carried by the average citizen on the roadways. As a result, you may receive substantial compensation for any injuries suffered in your accident. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will attempt to limit their financial liability by issuing you a low-ball settlement offer. An attorney can help you fully understand your rights following a head-on truck collision, including how much compensation you deserve for your injuries.
An experienced truck accident attorney can also:
- Collect evidence concerning your accident
- Identify all parties that share liability for your accident and your injuries, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and any others, such as mechanics or product manufacturers, that may share liability for your injuries.
- Negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
- Prevent you from making errors, including accepting a low initial settlement offer, that could limit the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries.
Turn communications with the truck driver’s insurance company over to your attorney. An experienced truck accident attorney can take over the complexities of pursuing your claim, giving you more time and energy to focus on making a full recovery.
7. Follow all instructions given by your doctors or therapists.
Following your accident, your doctors may give strict instructions concerning your recovery. You should follow those instructions as completely as possible to decrease the odds that you will interfere with your own recovery. Failing to follow doctors’ orders could, in some cases, reduce the compensation you receive for your injuries, since the insurance company may attempt to argue that you made those injuries worse through noncompliance with your doctor’s orders. Listen to your doctor’s advice, even if you feel that you can take on more tasks or accomplish more things than your doctor initially allows. Your doctor has your best interests in mind throughout your recovery.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck accident, an experienced truck accident lawyer can listen to your story, answer your questions, preserve evidence, interview witnesses, review accident reports, and determine if you have a case for seeking compensation.