What Should I Do After a Hit and Run Truck Accident?November 11, 2020
If a passenger vehicle is hit by a massive commercial truck that weighs up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, the occupant of the passenger vehicle will likely suffer serious injuries, particularly if the accident occurred on a busy highway where the vehicles were travelling at a high speed. If the truck driver responsible for causing the accident flees the scene, this can make the situation much more complicated for the victim if police are unable to locate the truck driver. More importantly, if the occupant of the passenger vehicle was seriously injured, he or she may be unable to call 911 and request an ambulance. If the victim suffered fatal injuries, the truck driver could face criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident. An experienced truck accident lawyer will work tirelessly to secure the financial compensation the victim deserves and seek justice for the truck driver’s negligence.
Why Would a Truck Driver Flee the Scene of an Accident?
Unfortunately, there are several reasons why a truck driver would flee the scene of an accident, particularly if they were responsible for causing the accident. For example, if the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, did not have the required insurance, or was reading or sending a text, they may flee the scene in order to avoid criminal charges. In some cases, the truck driver will not stop because they did not realize that they caused an accident. This may be hard to believe, but if a massive 18-wheeler hits a small vehicle who was in the truck’s blind spot, it is possible that a truck driver may not realize that an accident occurred.
Drowsy driving is also a serious problem in the trucking industry. If the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, they may be more likely to flee the scene, particularly if the driver had violated the Hours of Service regulations. Maintaining a clean driving record is imperative for commercial truck drivers and having a hit and run accident on their driving record could cost a truck driver their job.
What are the Penalties for Fleeing the Scene of an Accident?
In the state of Maryland, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident if the occupants of the vehicle that was hit have been injured, or there is visible property damage. If a truck driver fails to stop after causing an accident, he or she may be found guilty of a hit and run accident. The severity of the penalties depends on the extent of the property damage and injuries that the accident caused. Truck drivers can face the following penalties for leaving the scene of a truck accident:
- Up to 12 points on the driver’s license
- Up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500 for an accident resulting in property damage
- Felony charges if the accident causes bodily harm
- Fine of up to $5,000
- Up to five years in prison
- Manslaughter charges, $10,000 fine, and up to 10 years in prison if the accident caused fatalities
What Steps Should I Take After a Truck Accident?
There are over eight million commercial trucks travelling on roads and highways across the United States. Unfortunately, that means that truck accidents are likely. It is important that the injured driver take the following steps after any type of traffic accident, including a hit and run truck accident:
- Call 911. If the motorist is physically able to do so, he or she should call 911 and report the accident. The sooner the driver can notify police, the sooner they will be able to start their investigation, identify the driver, and stake the necessary step to track them down. By calling 911, the driver can also let dispatch know that there are injuries involved, and that an ambulance should be sent to the accident scene.
- Collect evidence. The victim should record as many details about the accident as possible, as soon as possible. If the victim saw the truck before the truck driver fled the scene, the victim should write down as much information as possible, including a description of the truck driver; a description of the company logo on the truck; license plate number, even if it is only a partial number; any other details that can help identify the truck; the damage to the passenger vehicle that was hit; skid marks in the road; and any other information that can be used as evidence.
- Talk to witnesses. In a hit and run truck accident, the more information the victim can collect, the more likely it is that police will be able to locate the vehicle and the truck driver. If there were witnesses who saw the accident happen, it is important to obtain contact information and ask if they would be willing to talk to police and share what they saw.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Even if the truck accident victim was examined by emergency medical technicians, the victim should go to the nearest emergency room so that a medical professional can examine him or her and rule out any underlying injuries that may not be obvious right away, including certain types of head injuries and internal injuries.
- Do not speak with the truck driver’s insurance company. Even if the truck driver was at fault, the driver’s insurance company will try to avoid paying a large financial settlement. The victim should not sign a statement, a medical authorization form, or any other document until his or her dedicated truck accident lawyer has reviewed it first. Victims should avoid accepting a quick settlement offer, as it will likely be a modest amount. The victim should refer all questions about the accident to his or her truck accident lawyer.
- Obtain evidence from surveillance cameras. Oftentimes, homes or businesses in the area have surveillance cameras set up for security purposes. If the accident was captured on camera, the surveillance footage can provide key evidence when pursuing an injury claim.
How is the Truck Driver Involved Located?
Although it is certainly more difficult to hold a truck driver liable for an accident if he or she fled the scene, there are strategies that law enforcement and truck companies can use to locate a driver or determine that a truck driver was responsible for causing an accident. Police may get the public involved through the news and social media to assist them in their search for the missing driver. In one example, a truck driver left the scene of an accident that killed a man and seriously injured his wife. Witnesses called the local police department to say that they recognized the logo on the truck. The trucking company used their own technology to confirm that one of their drivers was in the area at the time of the accident. After the truck company turned the driver in, he was interviewed and arrested for leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in a fatality and a serious injury.
If the truck driver is located, the victim may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who fled the scene. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the victim may be able to seek compensation from other sources as well. For example, if a defective part caused the accident, the company responsible for manufacturing that part may be held liable. The following are other potential sources of liability:
- The company or the individual responsible for maintaining the truck
- The company responsible for manufacturing parts of the truck that were defective or that malfunctioned
- Other drivers on the road who were distracted, drowsy, impaired, or may have contributed to the accident in some other way
What are My Options If the Truck Driver is Not Located?
Unfortunately, the process of obtaining compensation is more complicated if law enforcement is unable to locate the truck driver who fled the scene. The victim may have to use his or her own personal injury protection insurance to cover the costs associated with the accident, including medical expenses and lost wages. If the victim has uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, he or she may need to use this to pay for expenses. A skilled truck accident lawyer will review the case and recommend the best legal course of action.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Victims of Hit and Run Truck Accidents
If you were seriously injured in a truck accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our experienced legal team will determine who is responsible for causing the accident and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and address all your questions and concerns. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.