Driving in the company of tractor trailers whether on the New Jersey Turnpike or a county road can be intimidating even for a skilled motorist. Following common-sense safe driving practices will greatly decrease your chances of avoiding a crash with an 18-wheeler or other big rig such as a dump truck or cement mixer. Giving trucks plenty of room, ensuring you are in the driver’s sightline, passing left only and never, ever tailgating will help ensure a non-eventful trip for you and your passengers.
However, when a truck jackknifes, overturns, skids, switches lanes unexpectedly or otherwise suddenly changes course, a crash may be inevitable. Be prepared. The steps below provide practical guidelines of what to do if you are involved in a truck crash.
We also produced a short video that tells you what to do at the scene and later.
It is very important to note that you may have to change your plan, or the order of these steps depending on specific circumstances of the crash such as traffic volume and flow, weather conditions and visibility.
- Get to a safe area. If you and your passengers are able to walk and it will not further compromise your safety, get to a shoulder or other secure area immediately.
- Call 911. Even if you believe no one is harmed, do as advised by emergency medical services personnel . Physical harm such as traumatic brain injury is not always immediately apparent. Let the professionals make that call.
- Get your vehicle out of the road if road conditions and traffic flow allow you to do so without further endangering yourself or other motorists. If you are unsure, just get yourself to safety.
- Turn on your hazards. If you have a road flare or safety cone, put it out to warn other motorists if conditions allow without further risk.
- When you get home and have recovered from the initial shock, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. This is to protect yourself in the event your insurance company does not cover the cost of any present and future medical treatment from your injuries and other financial hardship such as lost wages and property damage.
- Under no circumstances should you speak with the truck driver’s or trucking carrier’s insurance company or lawyer. Certainly do not sign any documents from these parties. A capable truck crash injury lawyer will review all the facts of the accident and deal with any insurance companies or other parties to protect your rights.
- Do not post any photos or comments regarding the truck crash on social media. This can be used against you should you decide to file a claim or lawsuit.
If you were hurt in a truck accident, contact me for a free consultation.
Partner, Keefe Law Firm
New Jersey Certified Civil Trial Attorney
Vice President, Trial Attorneys of New Jersey