It can be incredibly challenging to drive in winter conditions. Although accidents may not necessarily be more frequent, they are far likelier to result in serious injury. That’s bad news for anyone who’s driving – and worse news for anyone who frequents roads used by trucking companies.
For example, in Revelstoke in November 2014, a commercial tractor trailer jackknifed into oncoming traffic after hitting a patch of ice. It struck another semi-truck, resulting in a devastating accident that led to the death of one of the drivers. It’s a sobering incident, and one that should have you driving defensively the moment you hit the winter streets.
Unfortunately, if you end up on the receiving end of an out-of-control transport truck, there’s very little you can do. And the worst part of it is that trucking firms will use the inclement weather to excuse their driver’s negligence. Certainly, a trucker slammed into a parked car, but it was because the road was icy.
Or because the snow made it hard to see.
Or because the wind made their truck difficult to control.
Undoubtedly, any trucker involved in such an accident will claim that they were exercising extreme control while on the road. After all, why would they incriminate themselves? Better to let the insurance companies sort matters out, and potentially avoid criminal charges and a lost job, right?
Here’s the thing: Whether or not a driver claims that they were exercising caution in an accident, they might still be held accountable. With that in mind, here are a few things you’ll need to do if you’re involved in an accident.
1. Get Ready to Record Everything
The first thing you should do in the event of an accident is to make sure you’ve got some form of recording apparatus on hand – a means of ensuring that you can keep track of your conversation with the other people involved in your accident. A pen and paper, a voice recording tool, etc.
2. Take Stock of the Situation
Your next step is to take a look at your surroundings, and think over what led up to the accident. To that end, there are a few things you should consider:
- How did the accident play out? Was there anything you could have done to avoid it?
- Did the other driver(s) really exercise as much caution as they claim?
- Were there issues with visibility? Was there ice or snow on the road?
- What other extenuating circumstances were there (i.e., intoxication, exhaustion, mechanical failure, etc.)?
- How many vehicles were involved in the collision aside from your own?
- How severe is the damage? Are there any critical injuries that require medical attention?
- Was the road in a good state of repair, or was it damaged/uneven?
3. Contact the Authorities
Once you’ve had a moment to breathe, your next step is to contact the proper authorities. That includes the police, paramedics and (possibly) the fire department. While speaking to them, do not say anything that could be construed as admitting fault.
In the event that you need to pursue litigation against the trucking firm, they could use any admissions against you (to say nothing of how it might impact your insurance premiums). Simply state the facts to the best of your recollection, and avoid using first-person statements at any point. For example, instead of saying, “I collided with the skidding truck,” say something like “there was a collision after the truck skidded on the ice.”
4. Set Up a Perimeter
Your next step is to ensure that no one else crashes into the scene of your accident. Using hazard tape, road flares or hazard markers, cordon off the accident area. Make sure that you and everyone else is out of the way of oncoming traffic, lest the accident – and your injuries – be made significantly worse.
As part of your perimeter setup, make sure that anyone who is severely injured is kept warm. Put a blanket over them, and do whatever else you can to shield them from the wind and snow. Do not, however, move anyone who has lost consciousness.
5. Get the Information of Everyone Involved
With the accident site secured, you’ll next want to get everyone’s information. This includes their name, license plate, insurance company and, in the case of truckers, the name of the company that employs them.
It is also critical that you write down the Department of Transportation (DOT) number of the truck’s cab and trailer (they are different from one another).
Finally, you’ll also want to record everyone else’s recollection of the accident.
6. Contact a Medical Professional
Finally, pay a visit to your doctor – even if you feel fine. After all, the effects of an injury from a traffic accident aren’t always immediately evident. It’s in your best interests to at least get a checkup to ensure you’ve got a clean bill of health.
There is one more important thing to note: If you or any of your passengers lost consciousness at any point due to the accident, call the paramedics. There is a very high probability of a concussion, and the earlier you can catch such an injury, the better the chance of recovery.
Stay Safe on the Winter Roads
When in doubt, it’s advisable that you contact an attorney to walk you through the post-accident complexities. There are plenty of law firms out there with a great deal of experience in taking corrupt trucking companies to task.
In the meantime, drive safe. The winter roads can be an accident waiting to happen if you aren’t careful.