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One minute, you’re on your way somewhere. Maybe it was work or your child’s sporting event, or just the grocery store. The next minute, you’re trying to make sense of your surroundings, checking yourself and your passengers for injury. When a commercial truck like a semi-truck or eighteen-wheeler causes an accident, it can be life altering. You may miss work, require long-term medical care and physical therapy, and need to replace your vehicle. Realizing all of that at the same time can be overwhelming.

While most people understand that they need to exit their vehicle, contact emergency responders and wait for law enforcement to arrive after an accident, there are other things you can do to protect yourself following an accident with a commercial vehicle. One of them is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible, when you’ve determined everyone is safe.

Once everyone is safe, document the accident

If you have a dashcam that captured the accident, be sure to advise law enforcement as soon as they arrive at the scene. Law enforcement may be on their way, but things can change quickly at an accident scene. If you are physically able to do so, take pictures or video of the accident scene, and make a record, written or recorded, of what happened immediately before, during, and right after your accident. This helps to ensure you can establish fault in the accident and prevent any misunderstandings that could result from intentional or accidental disturbance of the accident scene.

Contact a personal injury attorney right away

While you may not want to call an attorney while you’re waiting for law enforcement to arrive or en route to the hospital, as soon as everyone has had appropriate medical attention, you should call. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you negotiate the word of battling insurance providers, none of whom want to pay if they can avoid it. The first consultation is free, and their advice can be very valuable. Once an experienced personal injury attorney knows the details of your situation, he or she can advice on whether a settlement amount is appropriate and what to do if it isn’t.

Depending on the circumstances, the driver of the commercial truck may have been negligent in his or her job. Exhaustion-related trucking accidents are not uncommon. Working with an attorney who understands the legal requirements of commercial truck drivers can help protect your rights and your future. You may need to file a civil suit against the driver, his or her employer, or the insurance carrier to ensure your expenses are covered. Don’t try to do it alone. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney helps ensure your life isn’t destroyed by someone else’s mistake.