What to Do After a Tractor-Trailer Crash

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What to do After a Tractor Trailer Crash Article

Clients frequently tell us that everything seemed to move in slow motion during a catastrophic crash with a tractor-trailer. The moments leading up to the crash may be blurry, but the crash itself becomes etched in the victim’s brain and often requires the extensive passage of time to fade into the background.

Tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and are behemoths compared to the average family-owned vehicle. The damage they can cause to a vehicle made of heavy metals is almost incomprehensible. It is therefore no surprise that accidents involving a tractor-trailer frequently result in devastating polytraumatic injuries to victims in smaller vehicles. In fact, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) data shows approximately 6,000 deaths and 150,000 injuries each year in crashes involving large trucks.[1] Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of those injured are in passenger vehicles.[2]

In our cases, we have found that the first phone call a truck driver makes after a crash is to his dispatcher, who sets in motion a team of insurance agents, investigator risk managers, and truck accidents attorneys whose sole responsibility is to reduce or eliminate the truck driver’s responsibility for the crash. These individuals commonly reach the scene of the crash before the debris is removed, which provides them a huge advantage over the victims, their families, and their truck accidents attorneys. This article describes the steps you should take after a truck crash to level the playing field.

If you, your family or loved one(s) are involved in a crash involving a tractor-trailer, we urge you to make sure the following is done as quickly as possible, when feasible, and in the order listed below:

  1. Assess your injuries and any injuries to those in your vehicle and take immediate action to render first aid as necessary on the scene.
  2. As soon as it is safe to do so, call 911 or have someone else contact them and give the exact location of the crash and a preliminary report of the injuries. Don’t hesitate to ask for an ambulance, helicopter, etc.
  3. Contact your family/employer/loved one to report the crash and request any aid from them that may be necessary.
  4. Do not move your vehicle unless directed to do so by the police.
  5. Take or have someone take photos and videos of the scene of the crash, including the position of the vehicles and their relationship to physical objects, such as the side of the road, signage, etc. Take some photos at a fair distance from the crash site to give viewers a better overview of the scene.
  6. Take pictures of any obvious injuries at the scene.
  7. Once any injuries are stabilized and the accident scene is captured on video and/or in pictures, contact an experienced tractor-trailer/trucking attorney with the necessary resources to send a “go team” to the scene of the crash immediately. That team will be dispatched and preserve crucial evidence, which may determine the facts necessary to prove who was responsible for the crash and what damage was caused to property and people. The team will interview witnesses, inspect and photograph the scene, retain a qualified accident reconstruction expert, and capture aerial photographs if appropriate and necessary.
  8. If you are injured in any way, accept the offer of first responders to be transported to a trauma center to evaluate your condition. Truck crashes involve a tremendous amount of energy being transferred from the machinery to the human body. Victims often are injured in ways they don’t first appreciate, but could ultimately be life-threatening. Being checked out by qualified healthcare professionals is crucial.
  9. Once you have received appropriate emergency care and your situation is stabilized, begin writing a journal to give to your attorney. The journal should contain all the facts you can recall about and surrounding the accident. Make sure to include details of your experience since the moment of the crash, including any pain you have suffered, emotional trauma, and how the trauma and injuries have affected your life and those around you.
  10. As soon as possible, personally meet with your tractor-trailer/truck accidents attorneys and his or her team either at the hospital or some other mutually convenient location to allow them to assess the facts of the crash and your injuries. These meetings are crucial and should occur as soon as possible after the crash.
  11. Within a few days of the crash, report the accident to any and all insurance carriers who may insure you or your vehicle. Make the report by phone and follow up by email or letter.
  12. Tractor-trailer crashes are far more complicated than any other type of motor vehicle crash and should only be handled by an experienced tractor-trailer/truck accidents attorneys who is knowledgeable about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Also, make sure the attorney has handled similar crashes many times in the past.  When you or your family select your personal injury attorney, make sure to thoroughly vet their biography to ensure they have the qualifications necessary to litigate with a huge insurance company and a sophisticated trucking company.
  13. For more information about truck safety concerns, visit the Truck Safety Coalition website.[3]


At Gentry Locke, we have the “go team” you need to successfully navigate your case. The team includes some of the most experienced truck accidents attorneys in the trucking industry. In addition, we have an in-house investigator, nurses, and paralegals who regularly navigate the complex rules and regulations governing federal motor carrier safety. We are happy to help you when needed. Contact us today to speak with a member of our team. Attorney Matthew W. Broughton is a licensed tractor-trailer driver (CDL holder) and Partner in charge of plaintiff litigation with 39 years of experience handling truck cases.

[1] Traffic Safety Facts 2021 Data: Large Trucks, Nat’l Highway Safety Admin. (June 2023),
[2] Id.
[3] Truck Safety Coalition,

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These articles are provided for general informational purposes only and are marketing publications of Gentry Locke. They do not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. You are urged to consult your own lawyer concerning your situation and specific legal questions you may have.