You’ve been injured in an Alabama truck accident. What do you do?

If you have been injured in an accident with an over-the-road commercial truck, you likely have many questions. Why did this happen? How long will it take for your injuries to heal? Who will pay for your medical expenses? Will you need to be out of work? How will you pay your bills without a paycheck coming in? Can your vehicle be repaired?

Unfortunately, there are no “cookie cutter” answers to these and other questions you may have following a truck accident on an Alabama roadway. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the damage to the vehicle, it can take days, weeks or months to get “back to normal,” or your life might be changed forever. There are steps you can take, though, that can put you on the path to emotional, physical and financial recovery.

Starting off on the right foot

Regardless of the cause of the truck accident, your first priority must be to seek medical attention if you, any occupants of your vehicle or any occupants of the commercial vehicle have been injured. While it is important to document the scene of an accident so that a proper determination of fault can be made, it is more important that medical care be provided, particularly if the injuries are serious or life-threatening.

Once emergency services like police and paramedics are on their way, if you are able, you should try to collect the names and addresses of any witnesses and document the scene. This can involve anything from scribbling the relative position of the vehicles on a piece of paper prior to them being moved, to snapping pictures with a cell phone camera. If your injuries prevent this, a passenger could do it if he or she is able. If there are injuries in both vehicles, the police will need to handle this step. They will need to thoroughly document the scene with photos and officer reports anyway, and you will need to obtain their reports for insurance purposes.

Even after on-the-scene emergency assistance has been rendered, further medical care is often needed in truck accident cases. This is due to the sheer size and weight of these large trucks impacting smaller passenger vehicles; a fully loaded 18-wheeler can easily weigh 20 times more than a car, and the disparity in size can be catastrophic for the smaller vehicle’s occupants, particularly if speeding is a factor. Being thoroughly examined by an experienced physician and undergoing myriad tests like physical exams, blood work, X-rays, CAT scans or MRIs is the only way to fully evaluate the extent of your injuries and to gauge an approximate recovery time.

Taking the important next step

Once the scene is cleared and treatment has begun, it is time to call in reinforcements. Regardless of who may be at fault, consider consulting an experienced truck accident attorney. If you aren’t sure if you need help, it is good practice to have an attorney evaluate your case. He or she can determine the facts of the accident, handle claims both with your insurance company and that of the truck driver, ascertain a cause and honestly tell you if a civil suit or settlement will best allow you to recover your financial losses related to the crash. Keep this in mind, though: It is important to bring in a lawyer as soon as possible so that important scene evidence isn’t lost and before the memories of witnesses begin to fade.