Knowing what to do after a California truck accident can make or break your insurance claim. A claim with preserved evidence will likely yield a higher recovery because the claim is appropriately substantiated. A claim without evidence will likely get pushback from the insurance company before it pays out your claim. Also, when you can’t substantiate a claim, there is the risk of not receiving a full recovery. Following the tips below will assist you in getting the compensation you deserve.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Truck Accident
Preserving evidence is only the second most important thing to focus on after a truck accident. The most important thing is ensuring everyone involved in the accident is safe and receiving medical attention where necessary. Immediately after the accident, call 911 or get a bystander to call 911. If there is any indication you might be injured, get checked out by first responders, and don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room. Some injuries don’t appear until hours after an accident, so it’s not always safe to assume you don’t need medical attention. Plus, having medical records to support your injuries is key to substantiating your claim.
Further, having emergency responders present, like a police officer, means there will be an accident report. An accident report is the primary evidence used to prove your accident happened. Read on for other important tips on what to do after a truck accident in CA.
Collect Insurance and Contact Information
Once the first responders arrive and everyone receives medical attention, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Avoid talking about who or what caused the accident. The basic information drivers should exchange after a truck accident are as follows:
- Full name and contact information;
- Insurance company name and policy number;
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers;
- The name of the trucking company or the company that owns the truck;
- Type, color, and model of vehicle; and
- Location of the accident.
Most cell phones have a note-taking app, so use that if you do not have a pen and paper. If you don’t have a cell phone, ask to use someone else’s phone and contact a trusted person who can record that information for you. Leaving a voicemail with the accident details is another great way to document information because you can play it back later.
Take Photographs of the Accident Scene
Chances are, you’re not a professional photographer. So a little extra guidance on what types of photos to take at the accident scene might be helpful to ensure the photos you take are useful for insurance or legal purposes. Here are five helpful tips:
- Photograph the accident scene – Photograph each vehicle from various angles and include background details as well. For example, if your accident happened at an intersection, be sure a photo shows the truck, its position in the intersection, and the location of the traffic light.
- Photograph the weather conditions – If there is bad weather, you can take a picture or make a note of it. It’s even helpful to take a screenshot of the weather app on your phone immediately after the accident.
- Photograph vehicle damage – In addition to taking photos of your vehicle’s dents, scratches, and broken windows, take pictures of the other vehicle as well.
- Photograph injuries – Once a medical professional clears you to do so, have a friend or family member take photos of your visible injuries. Selfies won’t accurately portray your injuries unless your injuries are solely on your face.
- Photograph any documentation – Although we already suggested that you write down contact and insurance information, it’s helpful to snap a picture of things like a police officer’s business card or the other driver’s insurance cards. Taking a picture ensures you copied the information accurately.
Overall, take as many pictures as necessary. You and your attorney can review them later and find the most relevant pictures for your case. The important thing is to make sure the pictures illustrate the entirety of the accident scene, not just your vehicle.
Contact the Insurance Company
While the next step is to contact an insurance company, it’s not always clear who you should contact. Truck accident claims can be legally complicated because they could involve several at-fault parties, including:
- The truck driver,
- The trucking company,
- A shipper or receiver, or
- A mechanical parts manufacturer.
In most cases, contacting your insurance company first makes sense. They can give you some indication of who else might be involved, and they might do an investigation to find out. Alternatively, the trucking company’s insurance company might reach out to you.
In either case, you should be careful when speaking with them. If you give too much information to the adjuster, it might hurt your claim later. Provide only the bare facts without any commentary. Most trucking companies will hire an investigator to review the accident scene. Note the investigator’s name and the claims adjuster’s name from the insurance carrier.
If an adjuster asks you to provide a recorded statement, tell them you’d like to speak with an attorney before agreeing to a recorded statement.
Hire an Attorney
Contacting an attorney should be near the top of your list of what to do after a truck accident in California. An attorney can help collect evidence from the accident and thoroughly investigate all potentially liable parties.
When a truck accident is someone else’s fault, California law requires them to compensate you for your loss. An attorney can calculate your losses and negotiate a settlement to help make you whole again.
Still Unsure What to Do After a Truck Accident?
The Frederick Law Firm has over 40 years of experience helping truck accident victims recover compensation for their injuries. Let us fight to get you financial compensation after a traumatic truck accident. Contact us online or give us a call at 805-929-1120 for a free consultation.