After sustaining injuries in a truck crash, you may wonder what your legal options are for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Filing a truck accident claim in California involves several crucial steps to ensure that you have a strong case. Truck accident victims often deal with serious injuries, costly medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover fair compensation for your injuries and damages. Read on to learn more about the process of filing a personal injury claim after a truck accident.
8 Steps to Take After a Truck Crash
In 2021, there were 5,700 large trucks involved in fatal traffic accidents across the US which is an 18% increase from 2020. After a truck crash, victims may be overwhelmed and wonder what steps to take next. Here are important actions you can take to help strengthen your claim:
1. Get to Safety
If you are able to move your vehicle, pull over to a well-lit area that’s not in the way of oncoming traffic.
2. Call 911
Report the accident to the police, and ensure you get a copy of the police report.
3. Gather Information
Collect essential information, including the truck driver’s contact information, driver’s license, license plate number, insurance information, and any witness contact information.
4. Document the Scene
Take pictures of the accident scene, skid marks, broken glass, debris, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries. Photographic evidence is invaluable in supporting your California truck accident claim.
5. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t feel injured, ensure you consult with a medical professional promptly. Your doctor can assess your condition and will create a record of your injuries.
6. Preserve Evidence
Keep any evidence related to the accident, such as medical bills, medical records, car repair estimates, and other bills related to the truck crash.
7. Notify Your Insurance Company
Inform your insurance company about the trucking accident as soon as possible. Your insurer may require you to provide a written or recorded statement or sign a medical release. Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer before giving a statement to an insurance company. Insurance companies are motivated to minimize truck accident claims.
An insurance adjuster may try to use your words against you to reduce your settlement or deny your claim. An experienced attorney will communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf and fight for the compensation you deserve.
8. Consult with a Truck Accident Attorney
An experienced semi-truck accident attorney can guide you on the specific steps to take when filing a personal injury claim. California operates under a comparative negligence system, meaning that the compensation you receive may be reduced if you are found partially at fault for the accident. Consulting with a lawyer can help you navigate these complexities.
Who is Liable in a Truck Accident Case?
Determining liability in a truck accident case involves assessing the actions of various parties involved. Depending on the circumstances, liability may fall on the following parties:
If the truck driver acted negligently, such as by speeding, driving under the influence, or violating traffic laws, they may be held liable. Fatigue is a common issue among truck drivers. If the accident resulted from driver fatigue due to long hours on the road, both the driver and the trucking company may share liability. If the driver lacked proper training or certification, the trucking company could be held accountable.
Owners are responsible for ensuring that their trucks are properly maintained. If an accident occurs due to mechanical failure or lack of maintenance, the owner may be held liable. If the owner failed to conduct proper background checks or hired a driver with a history of violations, they could be deemed negligent.
Trucking companies have a duty to supervise their drivers. If they encourage or tolerate unsafe practices, the company may be held liable. If the company imposed unrealistic schedules or encouraged drivers to violate safety regulations to meet deadlines, they could be held accountable.
If the accident resulted from a defect in the truck or its components, the manufacturer may be liable. This includes issues with brakes, tires, or other critical systems. Manufacturers must provide adequate warnings about potential risks associated with their products. If they fail to do so, they may be held responsible.
Cargo Shippers and Loaders
If the cargo is improperly loaded and contributes to the accident, the entity responsible for loading the truck may share liability. Cargo that is not adequately secured can lead to accidents. The party responsible for securing the cargo may be held liable.
Determining liability often involves a thorough investigation, and in some cases, multiple parties may share responsibility. A truck accident attorney can help assess the specific circumstances of your case and identify the liable parties.
How Do Truck Accident Claims Work?
Here are the key steps involved in filing a truck accident claim:
Free Initial Consultation: If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, the first step is to consult with a truck accident attorney. Most personal injury lawyers in California offer a free initial consultation. During your free case review, the attorney will assess the details of your case, determine liability, and provide guidance on the potential strength of your truck crash claim.
Investigation: Your personal injury attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident. This may involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports, and assessing the extent of your injuries.
Determining Liability: Establishing liability is crucial. Your attorney will identify the responsible parties, whether it’s the truck driver, truck owner, truck company, manufacturer, or another entity.
Insurance Claims: Your attorney will communicate with the insurance companies involved. This includes both your own insurance provider and the insurance companies representing the liable parties. They will negotiate on your behalf to pursue a fair settlement.
Negotiations: Your attorney will work tirelessly to reach a settlement that compensates you for medical expenses, ongoing medical treatment, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Filing a Lawsuit: If the insurance company is unwilling to offer a fair settlement, a skilled personal injury lawyer can represent you in court. Experienced trial attorneys can help you build a compelling personal injury claim and recover the compensation you deserve.
Important Evidence To Support a Truck Accident Claim
Building a strong truck accident claim requires gathering compelling evidence to establish liability and quantify damages. An experienced attorney can help you gather the following evidence to support your case:
Police Reports: A police report often includes details about the parties involved, statements from witnesses, and the officer’s assessment of the situation.
Witness Statements: Statements from available eyewitnesses. Their observations and accounts can provide valuable perspectives on how the incident occurred.
Photographs and Videos: Photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, road conditions, and any relevant signage. A personal injury lawyer can also help you collect surveillance footage videos.
Truck Driver’s Logs: A truck accident attorney can pursue the truck driver’s logs, which document their hours of service and rest breaks. This information is crucial, especially if fatigue is suspected as a contributing factor.
Maintenance Records: If mechanical failure is suspected, a truck accident lawyer can help you obtain the truck’s maintenance records. This can help establish whether negligence in maintenance contributed to the accident.
Black Box Data: Commercial trucks are often equipped with event data recorders (EDRs) or “black boxes.” This data can provide information about the truck’s speed, braking, and other critical factors leading up to the accident.
Medical Records: This includes records of emergency room visits, doctor consultations, diagnostic tests, and treatment plans.
Expert Testimony: Experienced personal injury lawyers have connections with accident reconstruction experts and medical professionals who can provide expert testimony supporting your case.
Communications with Insurance Companies: A personal injury attorney will keep records of all communication with insurance companies, including letters, emails, and phone conversations. This can be useful if disputes arise during the claims process.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in California
Truck accidents in California can result from various factors, often involving a combination of human error, mechanical failures, and environmental conditions. Here are common causes of truck accidents in California:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Improper lane changes
- Mechanical failures
- Weather conditions
- Inexperienced drivers
- Overloaded trucks
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Aggressive driving
- Poor road conditions
- Failure to adhere to traffic laws
Compensation Available for Truck Accident Injuries
Victims of truck accidents may be eligible for various types of compensation to cover their losses. The following are common types of compensation available for truck accident injuries:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost income
- Physical therapy costs
- Childcare costs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death damages
Statute of Limitations for California Truck Accident Cases
Following the statute of limitations is essential when filing a truck crash claim in California. The statute of limitations is the legal time limit victims have to file a claim.
Personal Injury Claims – Generally, you have two years from the date of the truck accident to file a personal injury claim. If you fail to do so within this time frame, you may lose your right to pursue compensation.
Wrongful Death Claims – For wrongful death claims resulting from a truck accident, the statute of limitations is typically two years from the date of the victim’s death.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today
In the aftermath of a truck accident in California, seeking the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney is crucial. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the claims process. At Armstrong Accident Lawyers, we maintain a 99% success rate and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.