California has more registered semi-trucks than any other state. The number of semi-trucks on the road makes California one of the riskiest places to drive. According to the Institute for Safer Trucking, California had 418 truck accident-related deaths in 2019, with most accidents occurring when vehicles traveled between 55 and 70 mph. These statistics show that collisions with semi-trucks on the highway do not end well.
If you’re in a semi-truck collision, you may wonder what to do after a truck accident in California. Below, the attorneys at Frederick Law Firm describe some steps to take after a truck accident to help you stay safe and preserve a compensation claim. If you have any questions, contact us today.
What to Do After a California Truck Accident
Understanding what to do after a truck accident is critical to preserving evidence after your accident. Collecting and preserving evidence requires multiple steps, which can help prove the compensation you deserve for any injuries you sustained in a truck accident.
Call for Emergency Assistance
Immediately after the accident, call 911, especially if there are injuries. Even if you’re feeling ok, getting checked out is vital. Some injuries, particularly those to the neck and back, may not be felt for a few days. It’s also a good idea to follow up with your primary care physician a few days later to ensure that any pain or soreness you feel is normal for having been in an accident with a truck.
In some areas, police authorities may respond to every accident scene. If the police do not arrive at your accident scene, you should attempt to notify them.
Gather Evidence at the Scene
Additionally, you should try to gather evidence at the scene of the accident. Do so only if you are physically capable. Sometimes, your injuries may be severe, and medical professionals will take you away from the scene. In this case, you can ask your attorney or a friend to try to gather some of this evidence.
Some valuable evidence may include:
- The names, addresses, telephone numbers, and driver’s license numbers of all drivers;
- The license plate, vehicle registration information, and vehicle identification numbers of the vehicles involved; and
- The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other passengers and any witnesses.
If you have a camera or a cellphone, take photographs of the damage and the accident scene. Try taking photos from various angles and positions to get a feel for the accident scene. Take pictures of where the vehicles hit together, skid marks on the road, and any road signs. You should also take photographs of any injuries.
Contact Your Insurance Company
While the next step is to contact your insurance company, you should be careful when speaking with them. You could give too much information to the adjuster that hurts your claim later. Just provide the bare facts to the insurance company without any commentary.
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. An attorney can also advise you if you need to speak directly to the truck driver’s insurance company.
Next, get your vehicle appraised for damage. Getting an estimate is an essential step in your claim. While you don’t want to perform any of the work, you do want a reputable body shop to review your vehicle and give an appraisal of the damage caused and an estimate to fix it. Your lawyer may include this amount in your claim.
Hire an Attorney
Contacting an attorney should be near the top of your list of what to do after a truck accident in California. Truck crash 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.
Once you retain an attorney for your case, the attorney will help collect evidence from the wreck and thoroughly investigate all potentially liable parties. Your attorney will use the evidence you helped gather to file a claim, demonstrate liability, and prove the extent of your injuries.
If the truck accident is someone else’s fault, California law requires them to compensate you for your loss. However, compensation is not automatic. You must be able to prove that the other party was liable. You must also prove that your injuries directly result from the truck accident. Under California’s comparative fault system, you may receive compensation even if your actions contributed to the accident. Your attorney can explain liability issues and comparative fault.
Truck Accident Compensation
After sustaining injuries in a truck accident, you may wonder what compensation you can obtain from the truck company or another party. Below are some forms of compensation available to truck accident victims.
You might be compensated for any medical bills you’ve already racked up due to your truck accident injuries. You may also be eligible for compensation for any future medical bills you can reasonably expect to incur due to injuries requiring long-term care.
Additionally, many truck accident victims miss time from work. Sometimes they can’t work because of the severity of their injuries, and sometimes they miss work to attend medical appointments and treatment. Whatever the case, if you’ve missed time from work because of your truck accident injuries, you might be compensated for any wages you could not earn.
If your injuries are so severe you can no longer work and have lost your earning capacity, you might qualify for financial compensation for this loss.
Pain and Suffering
Because truck accident injuries are often more severe than those seen in an average car accident, they can cause tremendous physical pain and mental suffering. Your pain and suffering might be compensable. While pain and suffering are not objectively measurable, a good truck accident lawyer can nonetheless place an accurate, appropriate value on your pain and suffering and make sure you receive compensation.
In the unfortunate instance that you lost a loved one to a truck accident, financial compensation can also ensure that the loss of your loved one doesn’t cause you financial distress. You may qualify for compensation for funeral and burial expenses, the loss of their love and companionship, and other damages related to their death.
Truck Accident Lawyer in California
Hiring an attorney for a truck accident case will benefit you in the long run, especially if you need to negotiate a settlement or file a claim for damages. With over 40 years of trial experience, Frederick Law Firm helps clients throughout California’s central coast with personal injury claims. Our founder, Jacqueline Vitti Frederick, has been a strong community leader among Nipomo lawyers, successfully representing clients from many different backgrounds. If you need professional legal representation for your truck accident claim, contact us for a free consultation.