A list of what to write down at the scene of a truck accident – to protect your legal rights when the police report is wrong or the at-fault driver changes his story
I realize as I write these words, it’s going to be nearly impossible to do any of this for most people who are seriously hurt in a truck wreck. Trucks involve greater size and weight, and thus greater injuries to those who have the misfortune to be injured by one. Much of what I write below will be difficult for people who are so badly injured that they have to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital for immediate medical care, or people who are knocked unconscious, or for the vast majority of people who suffer serious injuries in these collisions.
But as an attorney who has been litigating trucking wreck cases for more than 20 years, and as a Past President of the American Association for Justice Truck Accident Lawyer Group, I also know that far too often, very serious mistakes are made early on at the scene of these wrecks. Sometimes, when I get these cases months after the fact, it’s too late to investigate certain specific aspects of a crash or the accident scene.
As a lawyer, it’s my job to investigate ALL the causes of a truck accident to prove there was negligence and liability by both the at-fault truck driver and the company. And this investigation starts at the scene.
It’s common for errors to appear on police reports (especially when the truck driver is the only one to talk to the investigating police officer). And it’s sadly very common for truck drivers to change their story and later dispute they were the cause of a wreck (often after the insurance company lawyers get involved). Early documentation by an accident victim can be critically important.
If you are not too seriously injured, you should try to make note of the following – or hire an attorney to begin an accident investigation and pursue the information – as soon as possible:
- All injuries that you or your passenger(s) experienced from the truck accident AT the scene.
- The exact location where the wreck occurred.
- The time, weather conditions and direction other vehicles were traveling.
- A description of how the truck accident occurred.
- License plate numbers of all vehicles involved.
- Nature of any damage to vehicles.
- Statements by other drivers admitting responsibility for the truck accident (your attorney can hire investigators to contact other drivers who may have overheard an admission by the truck driver).
- Statements by any eyewitnesses (again, your attorney should be trying to contact and take statements before eyewitnesses disappear as the police reports are almost always inadmissible in injury cases).
- Name and badge number of all police officers who arrive at the scene so your attorney can review the police report, check for accuracy, and begin an investigation.
- Name, phone number, driver’s license plate and insurance information of all other drivers involved in the accident.
- Names and phone numbers of all witnesses who observed the truck accident and/or arrived at the accident scene.
- Your observations as to whether any drugs or alcohol contributed to the accident.
For more information on what to do at the scene of a truck accident, take a look at my webpage with seven time-sensitive tips. As always, feel free to call our truck accident attorneys at (248) 353-7575 for free advice and information. We are always here to help.