Owners of heavy trucks face increased scrutiny in their liability when an accident occurs. These factors are compounded when the accident happens in a jurisdiction that may not be friendly to large trucks or the companies that employ them. If you follow some of these simple steps, you may be able to reduce your risk and added costs when you’re involved in an accident.
- Do what is necessary to render aid is first and foremost. Immediately following an accident, determine if anyone is injured and call 911. Request the dispatcher to send an officer to your location to prepare an accident report. Describe the parties, their injuries, the damages, and if any vehicles are impeding traffic or in a hazardous condition.
- Ensure that your vehicle is not causing a hazard at the scene; it may be in the traffic lane, parked opposite the crest of a hill, or too close to burning wreckage. Also, remember that moving your vehicle out of the traffic lanes, if it’s capable to do so, is a law in many jurisdictions.
- Warn oncoming traffic by placing hazard triangles, road flares, or by having someone with a flashlight and hi-visibility safety vest.
- Don’t leave the scene. Even if you exchange information with the other party, often times the other party may change their mind (and their statement) when reporting the incident to the police.
- Don’t admit fault and don’t assess blame. There will be plenty of time to determine the liability of an accident. Coupled along with the evidence at the scene, the damage, and the conditions, your unbiased and detailed account about what led up to the accident will convince the reporting officer who was at fault.
- Always report the accident to the police. Many larger municipalities are now choosing not to respond and have an officer conduct an investigation at the scene and prepare the report. If this is the case, locate the nearest police station where you can report the accident there in person, and encourage the other party to do so also. If this is not available to you, follow the instructions from the 911 operator on how to file an accident report in that jurisdiction.