No matter where you travel in northwest Georgia, you will be sharing the road with 18-wheeler semi trucks. Workers and work vehicles commute from areas all over Floyd County, reporting to industries in Rome that include food production; paper production; tire manufacturing; and carpet manufacturing just to name a few. If you are like most drivers, you may give little thought to what would happen if you were in a collision with one of the large commercial trucks.
The large majority of truckers and delivery drivers are professional, highly-trained and conscientious; placing safety at the top of their list of priorities. Even the most meticulous professional driver on the road can have an accident, though, so here are some questions and answers for you to think about.
If I am in an accident with a commercial vehicle and the truck driver is at fault, should I report the accident to my insurance company?
Notify your insurance company. Do not offer any information other than a copy of the police report. If your insurance company inquires about your injuries or requires other information you are not comfortable answering, contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling cases involving commercial vehicles. Although you may consider your insurance company a safe entity, you should not sign or consent to anything without legal advice.
What should I do to help gather evidence from the scene of the accident?
If circumstances allow take photos or a video of the accident scene; they will be an important means of "locking down" the evidence for your attorney. Large over-the-road trucking companies often hire local independent investigators to rush to the crash site, where they may change or remove critical evidence.
Be sure to record every angle, and get shots from a distance and close up. Get a significant number of photos. Even things that many not seem relevant to the wreck may prove to be important for an experienced Georgia truck accident attorney. If there are passengers in your car, get pictures of each one, including their injuries. Make sure someone takes a photo of you and your injuries, as well. If your injuries or the circumstances at the scene don't allow for photos or videos, make a phone call to a friend or relative living nearby. Have them come to the scene of the accident to take pictures for you.
Should I try to obtain any contact information from the truck driver?
Anytime you are in an accident of any type, it is important to gather insurance information from the other driver. In the case of a truck accident, use your best judgment. Many truckers will be trained not to discuss the accident with anyone but a representative of their company.
NEVER try to explain to the driver your perspective of what happened. NEVER apologize for the accident occurring, even if you just mean to say that you are sorry it happened. Anything you say at the scene can - and probably will - be used as evidence of your liability.
If the other driver appears agitated, is engaged in a rant or just appears to be unusually nervous or unfriendly, remain in your vehicle until the police arrive. Allow them to ask the necessary questions to obtain the information. If you are in a position to see the license plate and the name of the company on the truck, jot it down and tuck it away in your pocket or purse so that you will have it available for your insurance company and lawyer.
The trucking company's claims adjuster called and offered me a sizeable settlement, should I take it?
Cases that involve commercial vehicles are complicated and multi-faceted. Generally these types of cases involve more than one insurance company. Your case will likely involve attorneys, investigators and representatives who work for each company involved.
Do not accept any offer of settlement without seeking the advice of legal counsel. Remember the other party's insurance company's main objective is to avoid paying you anything at all or as little as possible. Whatever you are being offered is probably far less than what you would be awarded as the result of an attorney-negotiated settlement.