Auto accidents can be scary, especially accidents involving large commercial trucks. Large trucks can generate frightening amounts of force in an accident, so you may be left feeling dazed and confused after a truck accident. Knowing what to do if you get in a truck accident, however, can help you think clearly and take the right steps to make sure that you’re able to be compensated for your truck accident injuries.
Failure to take the right steps after a truck accident could prevent you from obtaining a recovery for your injuries or even get you in trouble with the law, so knowing what to do after a truck accident is critical.
Truck accidents often lead to extremely severe injuries because of the incredible amounts of force involved in them due to the mass of large trucks. You could be left with permanent injuries which will create huge medical bills for the rest of your life. When the financial stakes are this high, it’s crucial that you know exactly what to do and what not to do in order to make sure that you’re able to obtain all of the financial compensation for your injuries that you are entitled to under the law.
Truck accident claims can also be more complicated than your average auto accident claim because there can be more parties involved. A truck driver may be liable for your injuries, the trucking company may be liable for your injuries, a contractor a trucking company hired to repair their truck may be liable for your injuries, etc.
You should do the following after a truck accident in California:
Stop And Do Not Leave The Scene Of The Accident
The first thing to do after getting in a truck accident in California is to stop. Do not leave the scene of the accident until you have at least exchanged information with other involved parties. Failure to do this is against the law and will lead to you being charged with either misdemeanor hit and run or felony hit and run.
Misdemeanor hit and run is when you are involved in an accident involving property damage and you leave the scene of the accident without identifying yourself to the other involved parties. You can be sentenced to up to six months in county jail and fined up to $1,000 for misdemeanor hit and run.
Felony hit and run is when you are involved in an accident that injured someone else and you leave the scene of the accident without identifying yourself to the other involved parties. You can be sentenced to up to four years in state prison and fined up to $10,000 for felony hit and run.
Move To Safety
When you stop after the accident, if you are able to and it is safe to do so, move your vehicle to a safe place, like the shoulder. Leaving your vehicle in the middle of traffic could result in additional accidents and injuries. Leave vehicles where they are if moving them is dangerous.
If someone is seriously injured or killed, leave the cars where they are and wait for law enforcement to arrive unless the vehicles are significantly hazardous where they are.
Call 911 after being involved in a truck accident, especially if someone is injured. Check on everyone else involved in the accident for injuries if you are able to. Leave your information with the other driver(s) before leaving for an emergency room if you are able to.
First responders and police will arrive at the scene of the accident after you call 911. Tell the police what you remember about the moments right before the collision, and make sure that you obtain a copy of the police report.
Police reports are inadmissible as evidence in court. However, they can contain important information which can be used to investigate your accident, and are often crucial in obtaining out of court settlements with insurance companies.
Police reports will typically include statements from every party involved, witness statements, the contact information of every driver involved, a sketch of the scene of the accident and a police officer’s option regarding who was at fault for the accident.
Experienced truck accident lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen can review a police report and work with investigators and experts to determine who is at fault for an accident. The trucking company’s insurance company will likely aggressively defend their driver and try to establish that you were at fault for the accident instead of the truck driver.
When this occurs, experienced truck accident attorneys can use a police report to build evidence and conclusively show that the truck driver or another party was at fault for the accident and is thus liable for your injuries.
Report The Accident To The DMV
You must report the accident to the DMV if anyone is hurt or if there is over $750 in vehicle damage involved, and you must report it within 10 days. Failure to do this may result in your driver’s license being suspended.
Receive Medical Attention
If you require immediate medical attention after an accident, let the first responders examine you and, if necessary, take you to the emergency room. If you don’t require immediate medical attention after an accident, you should still receive medical attention as soon as possible after the accident, even if you don’t think you’re injured.
The reason why is because many injuries are not immediately apparent after an accident. Adrenaline and endorphins after an accident can mask many injuries, and some injuries aren’t noticed until hours, days or even weeks after an accident.
In most cases, when you recover financial compensation for your injuries in a truck accident claim, you’ll be recovering that compensation from an insurance company. The problem with waiting too long to receive medical attention is that insurance companies don’t want to pay you for your injuries, so if you wait too long to be seen by a doctor, insurance companies can claim your injuries might have been caused by something other than your accident and refuse to pay you for your injuries.
If you can’t afford to seek medical treatment, experienced truck accident lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen typically have a large network of doctors who agree to treat their clients on a lien, meaning you’re not charged for your medical care until your case is over.
Document Your Injuries And Medical Treatment
Photograph, or have someone else photograph, any visible injuries. Ask a nurse or healthcare provider to photograph your injuries as well if you seek medical attention.
Record or write down your own impressions regarding what is damaged or what hurts as soon as you can.
You have a better chance of your truck accident attorney getting you all of the financial compensation you’re entitled to under the law if you thoroughly document all of your injuries.
Trucking accidents can lead to many kinds of injuries, including:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken/fractured bones
- Bruises, lacerations and cuts
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Emotional distress
Document the names, specialties and dates of any healthcare providers you seek for treatment. Thoroughly document any medications or treatments you receive. Keep copies of all medical bills and reports as these copies will help prove all of your medical expenses to an insurance company.
You can obtain financial compensation for pain and suffering as well as medical bills. Keep a diary regarding how your day-to-day life has been impacted by your injuries. Note any physical activities you can’t perform because of your truck accident injuries, and note any days you miss from work.
Collect Evidence At The Scene Of The Accident
This is a step you should only take if you are physically able to and it is safe to do so. For example, it’s not a good idea to try to collect evidence from the middle of a busy highway before police arrive to direct traffic.
Evidence that you collect can include photographs, the contact information of involved parties and witnesses, and notes about weather conditions, road conditions, or any other factor that might have impacted the truck accident.
Photograph any damage to your vehicle or other vehicles. Photograph the physical location of every vehicle immediately following the accident. Photograph any weather conditions, road conditions, street signs or street signals which may have played a role in the accident. Photograph any skid marks and the other driver’s license plate.
Photographs are especially important when weather or road conditions may have played a role in the accident. While forensic experts can testify about weather conditions at a specific hour of a specific day in a specific location, this testimony isn’t as convincing or compelling as a simple photograph.
When gathering documentation from involved parties, make sure to obtain:
- The email address, phone number, home address and name of the other driver
- The license number of the other driver
- The policy number and insurance company of the other driver
- The license plate number of the truck and any other identifying information
- The contact information and name of the trucking company and truck driver’s employer
Gathering the contact information of witnesses can be especially important when it comes time to prove that someone else was at fault for your accident.
You don’t need to take witness statements. The police officers at the scene of the accident will do this. However, chaotic accident scenes could involve numerous emergencies that require the attention of the police before they’re able to interview witnesses, and witnesses may leave the scene before the police can get to them in these circumstances.
Get the name, phone number and email address of any witnesses at the scene. You can then provide this information to your lawyer or provide it to the police if they’re investigating the accident.
Be Careful What You Say
What you say at the accident scene can negatively impact your ability to obtain financial compensation for your injuries. Do not apologize for the accident or do not act as if any aspect of the accident was your fault, even if you worry that you might be partially at fault. The only person you should discuss fault or liability with is an experienced truck accident attorney like the lawyers at Nadrich & Cohen. Politely tell the other driver to call your insurance company if they pressure you to accept fault for the accident.
Do not tell anyone, including people at the scene of the accident and insurance companies, that you aren’t hurt. Injuries aren’t always immediately apparent, and saying you’re not hurt allows insurance companies to deny your claim or refuse to fully compensate you for your injuries.
This doesn’t mean you should lie, as lies can undermine the credibility of your case. If you don’t have any immediately apparent injuries and someone asks if you’re hurt, say you don’t know and you’ll be seeking medical attention to find out.
What you say after the day of the accident can also negatively impact your ability to obtain a recovery for your injuries. Insurance companies representing the truck driver, the truck driver’s insurance company, or another involved party may try to contact you and ask for a recorded statement after the accident. Do not talk to them and do not give a statement.
The only person who should be talking to other parties’ insurance companies is your lawyer. This is because insurance companies are trained to manipulate you into admitting fault for an accident so they don’t have to pay you. They are very good at this and can even get you to say things implying that you’re at fault for an accident that you’re not actually at fault for.
Don’t talk about your accident in public until your case is over and especially avoid posting on social media about it. Even saying something as innocuous online as “I’m going to be OK” could reduce the amount of money you end up recovering for your injuries.
Document Your Version Of The Accident As Soon As Possible
As soon as you can, document everything you can remember about the accident, even tiny details that may seem unimportant. It’s important to do this as soon as possible because details about the accident will fade from your memory over time.
You should record details such as:
- The location of the accident
- The direction each vehicle was traveling in
- The date and time of the accident
- The color of any visible traffic lights
- How fast you think each driver was going
- Any road conditions such as poor weather or potholes
Get A Vehicle Appraisal
Your vehicle may appear to only be slightly damaged after a truck accident. However, your vehicle may have internal damage which isn’t noticeable to an untrained eye.
You may be tempted to go to a body shop and get your vehicle repaired right away, but this would be a mistake.
Insurance claims require repair estimates. Different insurance companies have different requirements that they need you to fulfill before they pay for your damages. Some companies need you to bring your car to an approved body shop, while others have you photograph your vehicle with an app.
You can have your vehicle towed to a body shop if your insurance or travel association offers towing, but tell the shop not to do any work on the vehicle until it’s been cleared with the insurance company. Have your vehicle assessed even if you’re sure it’s safe to drive.
Contact Experienced California Truck Accident Lawyers
It is vital that you contact strong, reliable, experienced truck accident lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen if you want to recover the most financial compensation possible for your injuries.
If you’re going to recover financial compensation for your truck accident injuries, chances are you will be obtaining that compensation from the at fault party’s insurance company. The thing is, that insurance company doesn’t want to pay you for your injuries. Their priority is making a profit, not making sure your medical bills are paid for. They will do everything in their power to avoid paying you for your injuries, and if you don’t get a lawyer, you will make this very easy for them.
The insurance company has absolutely no good reason to pay you what you deserve and are entitled to under the law if you don’t have a lawyer. This is because all the insurance company has to do in this situation is offer you a measly sum for your injuries and dare you to sue them in court over the low ball offer. The insurance company can afford expensive corporate lawyers so they know you can’t beat them in court. In other words, you will never receive a fair offer from an insurance company that doesn’t respect you, and insurance companies won’t respect you if you don’t have a lawyer.
If you obtain the representation of truck accident lawyers with a long history of success in court, like Nadrich & Cohen, however, the game totally changes. Once insurance companies see that an injury victim is represented by lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen who are likely to win in court, the insurance companies will usually settle out of court with the injury victim for every penny the injury victim is legally entitled to under the law. They do this to avoid paying expensive legal fees.
Truck accident attorneys can also handle the long, complex injury claim process for you while you focus on recovering from your injuries, as well as get you to doctors who won’t charge you for treatment until your case is over. You shouldn’t have to work through the long, difficult, stressful injury claim process yourself while you’re also recovering from your possibly severe truck accident injuries. Let lawyers do all the work for you while you get better.
How Much Do Truck Accident Lawyers Cost?
Most truck accident lawyers, like Nadrich & Cohen, are contingency fee lawyers. Lawyers who work on a contingency fee do not charge a fee for their representation until and unless they obtain a recovery for their clients. No upfront fee is charged and no out of pocket money is ever owed to them.
This means that anyone can afford to have a lawyer represent them for their truck accident injuries.
How Long Do I Have To File A Truck Accident Lawsuit?
There is a strict time limit for filing personal injury claims in California. This time limit is known as a statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in California is two years from the date of the injury. This means that you have two years from the date you were injured in a truck accident to file a lawsuit. Failure to file a lawsuit within this time frame can forever bar you from obtaining financial compensation for your injuries.
The insurance companies are experts at intentionally drawing out the claims process past the statute of limitations to avoid paying claimants what they deserve. This is why it’s vital that you contact truck accident lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen right away after a truck accident.
Contacting attorneys promptly gives them the most time to hopefully work through the settlement process and obtain an out of court settlement before the deadline for filing a lawsuit passes.
What Can Truck Accident Lawyers Recover For Me?
Truck accident lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen can recover many types of damages for you in a truck accident claim or lawsuit, including financial compensation for your:
- Medical bills, both past and future
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Loss of vehicle
- Wrongful death, in the event you lost a loved one to a truck accident
You should contact an experienced truck accident law firm today if you’d like to learn more about what kinds of damages you may be entitled to under California law.