Leaving the scene of a traffic accident is a crime, especially when a crash causes injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage. Truck accidents commonly cause that level of harm; which means that a truck driver who leaves the scene of a crash faces serious consequences, and that victims of the crash often need skilled legal help to obtain the compensation they need for their injuries and losses.
Let’s take a closer look at what happens when a truck driver leaves the scene of an accident.
Why a Truck Driver Might Leave the Scene of an Accident
Truck drivers, in particular, know better than to leave the scene of an accident. To obtain their commercial driver’s licenses, truckers must pass written and on-the-road tests that emphasize safety and responsibility behind the wheel. To keep their licenses, truckers must also abide by strict state and federal regulations, and must pass periodic re-certifications and health screenings.
Still, sometimes truck drivers leave the scene of an accident in which their trucks were involved. Why would they do something so irresponsible?
Some potential explanations might include:
- The driver’s CDL license had expired or had been revoked or suspended, exposing the driver to serious discipline;
- The driver had consumed drugs or alcohol and had driven while impaired;
- The driver knew the truck was unsafe and/or had not passed inspection; or
- The driver simply did not realize that an accident had happened.
These are explanations, not excuses. Truck drivers must never leave the scene of a crash. Potential penalties for doing so can include loss of a commercial driver’s license, termination from employment, prosecution for a misdemeanor or felony, jail time, and fines.
What Happens After the Truck Driver Leaves
Victims of a truck accident in which a driver leaves the scene often fear that they will never get compensation for their injuries and losses. However, that is not the case. By following some simple steps, truck accident victims can protect their rights to payment for their injuries and losses.
A Search For the Driver Needs to Start Immediately, So Call 911
Always call first responders to the scene of any truck accident, especially one in which the truck driver leaves the scene.
Summoning the police and EMTs serves several important purposes:
- It alerts the authorities to the fact that the truck driver has likely committed a crime by leaving the scene, allowing them to start their search for the driver as soon as possible;
- It ensures that police will file an official report of the accident, which can help serve as valuable evidence of what happened and the fact that you reported the driver’s wrongful action; and
- It safeguards your health by ensuring that emergency medical responders come to the scene and render aid to you and other victims.
Your Observations and Pictures/Video Are Important
A truck driver may leave the scene immediately, or may stop momentarily and then take off. If possible, act quickly while the truck driver is still at the scene to capture photos or video with your cell phone of the truck and any of its identifying markings. Take images of the other vehicles involved in the accident, too. This visual evidence could prove useful to the police in locating the truck driver, and in proving your case for compensation.
When the police arrive, tell them everything you observed about the truck and truck driver who left the scene. Share the information as soon as you can so that your memory is still fresh.
An Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
By calling 911, reporting what happened, and giving the police your best recollections (and any photos/videos) of the truck and its driver, you will have done your part to help the police find the truck driver. With luck, the police will track the driver down, and you will have the opportunity to hold the trucker and/or trucking company financially accountable for your accident injuries.
However, you do not need to rely only on the police to find the truck driver, and finding the truck driver is not necessarily the only way to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. By working with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer, you can explore all of your options for obtaining the compensation you need and deserve.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can:
- Investigate further to track down evidence that may identify the truck driver and/or owner of the truck involved in your accident;
- Work with your auto insurance company to get you uninsured motorist benefits (if you carry that type of coverage);
- Evaluate your accident and injuries to determine if someone other than the trucker may have a legal liability to you for your truck accident injuries.
- Plan and execute a legal strategy for giving you the best possible chance of recovering compensation for your injuries and losses.
- Take legal action against the trucker, trucking company, and others seeking damages.
- Negotiate a settlement of your claim or take your case to trial to get you the money you deserve.
Truck Driver Left the Scene? Do Not Lose Hope.
Anyone would feel frightened and confused after a truck accident in which the truck driver left the scene. By leaving, the driver commits a crime and leaves accident victims wondering what they can do to obtain the compensation they need to regain their health and rebuild their lives.
However, we encourage you not to lose hope. By acting quickly to report the truck accident to the authorities, to communicate and preserve your observations, and to connect with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer, you can still hope to receive the compensation the law allows for your injuries and losses.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident involving a truck driver who left the scene, you may have the right to significant financial compensation. Contact an experienced truck accident injury lawyer today for a free case consultation.