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Critical Steps To Follow After Truck Accidents

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Truck accidents happen every day of the year along the busy California roadways. And yet for the people who are involved in truck accidents, it may be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

When an auto accident includes a truck, it is highly likely someone will be injured or even fatally injured. Trucks in general are harder to maneuver and harder to stop and they can cause a tremendous amount of damage even if the incident itself was minor (i.e. there really is no such thing as a “fender bender” when your vehicle gets hit by a truck!).

However, California is one of the strictest and most regulated states in the nation when it comes to traffic law. This often throws up complications as you are trying to resolve your truck accident claim, requiring inclusion of an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles to ensure you are justly compensated for your losses.

In this post, find out the critical steps to follow after you are involved in a truck accident.

Step 1: Call On the Authorities for Backup

It is precisely because California has such strict and stringent traffic laws that you need to involve the police when you have been involved in a truck accident.

You need their help generating the type of official documentation that will hold up in court and support your version of what happened during the truck accident.

When the police arrive on the scene, they will immediately begin to generate a document called an accident report.

The accident report will include all the details of when, where, who and how the accident occurred. The police will interview those involved and any available witnesses and document all of the details in writing.

This document will be filed in the law enforcement traffic incident database and you will have access to it. A judge will accept it as a legal document should your case proceed to trial.

You will want to call the police first because it can take them awhile to arrive on the scene, especially in congested traffic conditions. If anyone has been injured, you will also want to call 911 right away to get them medical care.

Step 2: Begin documenting your own account of what happened.

As soon as it is safe to step out of your vehicle and move about, you need to start documenting what happened. Use your smart phone to take photos and videos. Narrate the videos if you don’t have pen and paper handy.

First, document the condition of your own vehicle and take photos of the damage. Then sketch out an overview of the roadway, where you each were when the accident occurred, street signs, closest cross streets, lights or signs, road conditions, weather, lighting and anything else you notice.

Then document the condition of the truck as best you can. You won’t know what damage was already there, of course, but just document with photos the overall condition of the truck. Be sure to snap a photo of the license plate number right away just in case the truck driver decides to flee the scene!

Also record how you are feeling and any noticeable aches or pains. These may not show up right away, however. It is quite common for accident victims to tell their truck accident attorney they didn’t notice a sore back or neck until later the same day or even the next day, since the body can have a delayed physical response to the trauma of the accident.

Step 3: Exchange insurance and call your insurer.

After you have documented everything you can recall while it is still fresh on your mind, you will want to exchange insurance information with the truck driver and then call your insurer to start the claims process rolling.

It is important to remember that California is an “at fault” state when it comes to processing insurance claims payouts for auto accidents. The fact that you can be declared “at fault” for an auto accident can impact your auto insurance premiums, driver license points and even your ability to drive.

So no matter what the other driver says, do not agree to talk with their claims agent. This can be perceived as an admission of guilt by the California traffic court later. You are not under any legal obligation to talk with the other driver’s insurer.

Be very polite and calm when you talk with the other driver. Keep the interaction as brief as possible – just exchange insurance and driver license information and then return to your vehicle and wait for the police to arrive on the scene.

Once you have the other driver’s insurance and driver license information, it is time to call your insurance agent and open the claims process.

This will ensure you are able to get alternate transportation right away and medical attention if you need it. The two insurers will sort out the details of who pays for what, but starting the claims process is necessary to tend to your immediate needs right away.

Be sure to ask for a copy of the claims form as soon as it is ready as this can also be admissible in court if there is any issue with processing your insurance claim for the truck accident.

Step 4: Talk with any witnesses and get their version of events.

Once you have completed these three essential first steps, it is time to look around and notice if there have been any witnesses who saw what happened during the truck accident.

Approach them politely and calmly and ask if they will tell you exactly what they witnessed. Also ask if you can write down or record their words for your personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles to review later. When asked nicely, most witnesses will agree to give you their contact information as well.

By capturing eyewitness accounts of what happened during the truck accident you were involved in, you can further support your version of events and be sure the accident is fairly portrayed during the claims process.

Even after the police have concluded their investigation and you are able to leave the scene, continue recording everything you remember as it comes back to you. Because being involved in a truck accident is often so traumatic, it may take hours or days for you to remember everything.

This is especially the case with medical symptoms. So keep a notebook or phone app handy to record how you are feeling in the hours and days to follow. Seek medical attention immediately if you notice any aches and pains or symptoms.

Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers

Truck accidents can be especially complex to resolve, since often the driver is working for a commercial enterprise and a different set of traffic laws governs these types of incidents. Consulting with an experienced truck accident attorney can speed up the resolution process.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a truck accident, it is important not to wait and hope the system will resolve the claims process in your favor. West Coast Trial Lawyers is your experienced truck accident attorney resource in California.

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