Semi-truck accidents are markedly different from collisions involving two passenger vehicles.
You are likely feeling overwhelmed and confused in the moments following the crash.
Knowing what to do after an accident with a semi-truck is essential.
With a large truck collision, it’s not uncommon to have multiple liable parties, such as the truck driver and the trucking company.
Injuries in a semi-truck accident are typically more severe.
Immediately following an accident, the steps you take can impact the claims process, and ultimately, your settlement.
Contact the Police
Following a car accident with a semi-truck, the first thing you should do is contact the police.
When they respond to the scene, they will prepare an official report and log everyone’s contact information.
Even if it’s a seemingly minor accident, it’s crucial to contact the police.
Sometimes, soft tissue injuries aren’t immediately apparent.
You may not feel the effects of the collision for 24 or 48 hours.
If you have injuries and need to seek treatment, having that police report can be a crucial piece of evidence.
Take Scene Photos
If you are not severely injured—and can do so safely—take photos of the damage and surrounding accident scene. You should try to get pictures of your vehicle and the truck, skid marks, and the position of your car and the semi-truck after the accident.
If there are any important details such as weather, road hazards, construction zones, etc., document those.
It’s best to get as many photos as possible from the scene, as these can be important during the liability investigation.
Do you have visible injuries? If so, try to photograph your injuries as well.
You may need someone else to do it if you are in the hospital or back home.
Retain a California Truck Accident Lawyer
We highly recommend hiring an experienced California truck accident lawyer after the accident. Some accident victims are worried that hiring an attorney right away looks terrible, but it’s better for you.
When you retain Farzam Law Firm right away, we can protect your rights from the very start of the claims process.
Rather than contacting the truck driver’s insurance or employer and inadvertently saying something that harms your case, your attorney will be the one in contact with them.
The truck driver’s insurance or employer cannot speak to you without your attorney present.
It’s not uncommon for the other driver’s insurance adjuster to ask you for a recorded statement. Their hope is you will say something that they can use against you to reduce your overall payout.
California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means even if you are 99% at fault, you can collect 1% of your damages.
Because of pure comparative negligence, the truck driver’s insurance will be trying to assign you the highest percentage of liability possible.
This reduces their exposure and potential payout, which is their top priority. Despite what they want you to believe, the insurance adjuster is not on your side at all.
Report the Claim to Insurance Companies
Start by contacting your own insurance company to report the claim.
The reporting process will vary, depending on your company. If you have an insurance agent that you deal with for everything, start by contacting them.
If there is a dedicated claims number, contact the claims division to report the loss.
If you have already retained an attorney, you won’t need to contact the truck driver’s insurance.
Your attorney will handle reporting the liability claim and may need to directly contact both the insurance company and the trucking company.
You may need to open multiple claims if there are multiple liable parties.
You need to gather all the evidence to present a demand to the at-fault party’s insurance. In addition to the police report and scene photos, you need copies of all your medical records and bills.
Did you miss any time from work due to your injuries or having to travel to all your medical appointments?
Lost wages can be included in your demand as well.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may require future medical treatment.
If you need future medical treatment, surgery, or have a permanent disability from the accident, you will also need to show evidence of that. Keep copies of receipts and documents that relate to the accident.
You should also consider keeping a pain journal to document your injuries and how they affect your daily life.
Are there things you can’t do now that you could before the accident?
Have you given up hobbies, sports, or other recreational activities because you now have physical limitations?
Your injuries aren’t just limited to physical ailments either. If you are terrified to get in a vehicle now and have to find another way to get around or commute to work, include this in your demand.
Do Not Sign Any Documents Without Speaking to an Attorney
You can expect the tracking or insurance company to ask you to sign a statement or release all claims if they make you a settlement offer.
Do not sign anything without contacting an attorney if you haven’t retained one already.
If you sign a release, it means you cannot pursue any additional compensation.
For example, the insurance company offers you $50,000 early on in the claims process while still receiving treatment for your injuries.
If you settle and your doctor tells you that you need surgery two weeks later, you cannot go back for a second bite at the apple.
Once you sign the settlement agreement, you cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for additional money to pay for subsequent surgeries or medical procedures.
You also have to be cautious if you settle your property damage and bodily injury claims separately.
Some insurance companies include sneaky language in the memo section of the check that says cashing this check will extinguish all further claims.
Contact a California Semi Truck Accident Lawyer
California truck accidents are complicated legal matters.
It would be best if you did not try to resolve a claim independently. There may be multiple at-fault parties that should be compensating you for your injuries.
You need an experienced California semi-truck accident attorney who can help protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
At Farzam Law Firm, we have years of experience representing injured victims like you, including taking cases to trial.
If you were in a car accident with a semi-truck and have questions on what to do after a truck accident, contact Farzam Law Firm today.