What Should You do After a Truck Accident?
If you are involved in a Los Angeles, California truck collision, the experience can be frightening and overwhelming. In the immediate aftermath, it may be difficult for you to know exactly what you should do. There are several important steps that you should take after you have been struck by a large truck. To help you to remember what to do if a collision occurs, you might want to print this out and keep it in your glove box for your reference in case a big rig collision happens. Here are the steps that you should take immediately following a collision.1. Remain at the Scene
Under Cal. Veh. Code § 20001, all motorists who are involved in collisions that cause bodily injury or death must stop and remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. If you fail to stay at the scene, you may be charged with a felony offense if someone was killed or injured. You may be able to move your vehicle for safety if you need to do so. However, it is best if you can leave your car exactly where it ended up following the collision because doing so can help to determine what happened leading up to the trucking collision.2. Call 911
Big rig accidents are often very serious, resulting in serious bodily injury or deaths. You should immediately call 911 to summon help following a trucking accident. The dispatcher will likely dispatch law enforcement along with emergency responders to the scene. The police can investigate what occurred by gathering statements from witnesses and creating accident reports while the emergency responders can tend to the injured.3. Check for Injuries
After you have called 911, you should check yourself and others for injuries. If there are multiple vehicles that were involved, check the occupants of all of them and provide first aid to people who are injured. Avoid moving the victims in case they have suffered spinal cord injuries unless you must because of leaking fuel or other hazardous conditions.4. Document the Scene With Photographs and Video
If you can, try to document the scene as thoroughly as possible by taking pictures and recording video. You can either keep a camera in your vehicle for this purpose or use your smartphone's camera. Photographic and video evidence can be important for proving your claim. You should try to take photographs of all of the vehicles that were involved in the collision, their positions to each other, the damage to each one, and their license plates. You should also take photographs of the scene in general, including landmarks, street signs, traffic control devices, speed limit signs, skid marks, and the road conditions. Taking a video of the scene and the vehicles involved may also be helpful. If the collision occurs at night, it might be harder to see what happened. You can take an audio recording of your account of what happened while the details are fresh in your mind.5. Exchange Your Information
California Veh. Code § 20003 requires that all people who are involved in collisions to exchange information with each other. You should exchange the following information with all of the other drivers, including the semi-truck driver:
- Contact information
- Driver's license information
- Registration information
- Insurance information
If you do not have a pen and paper to write the information down, take photographs of the insurance cards, driver's licenses and registration paperwork for each motorist with your smartphone. If there were witnesses to the collision, try to collect their names and contact information as well.6. Minimize the Statements That You Make
You should avoid going into detail about what happened in the collision, and you should never state that you were at fault. There may be factors that led to the accident of which you are unaware. For example, it is possible that the big rig driver was texting on the phone or had engaged in another type of negligence that contributed to the collision. If an insurance adjuster from the trucking company's insurance carrier comes to the scene, do not give any statements. You are not required to talk to the other party's insurance company. Insurance adjusters try to collect statements from the victims of collisions that their employers can use against them after the victims have filed claims. When you talk to the police, you should keep to the facts and avoid elaborating beyond them.7. Get Medical Help
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after a collision with a semi-truck. If you wait to get medical care, your injuries may worsen. Waiting to get medical help may also harm your potential claim because it will be harder to demonstrate a link between the collision and your injuries. Insurance companies may try to claim that your injuries were caused by some other intervening event if you wait to get help.
Some types of injuries may not show immediately noticeable symptoms. Even if you think that you emerged unscathed from the collision, you should go to the doctor to get a medical examination to make certain.8. Consult With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Los Angeles
It is important for you to consult with an experienced truck collision lawyer as soon as possible. After you get medical help for your injuries, your next step should be to talk to an attorney before you sign any documents or give any statements. Your lawyer can deal with the insurance companies that are involved on your behalf so that you can concentrate on getting better. Getting legal help early can help to prevent you from saying or doing something that could harm your claim.9. Keep all of Your Doctors' Appointments
It is important for you to keep all of your scheduled doctors' appointments when you have been injured in a collision with a big rig. You should also follow all of the recommended treatments from your doctors. This can help you to recover more quickly while also helping to document the severity of your injuries.10. Be Mindful of the Deadline for Filing Claims
Every state has a statute of limitations for filing tort claims. In California, negligence claims must be filed no later than two years from the date of your collision. If you wait to file your claim beyond this deadline, you will not be able to recover damages for any losses that you suffered. In practice, it is best for you to seek help much earlier rather than waiting until the limitations period is almost over. Getting help early can help you to preserve important evidence that might otherwise be lost as time passes.11. Call the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat
If you are seriously injured in a semi-truck crash in Los Angeles, it is important for you to speak to a local attorney who is experienced with handling complex cases. Attorneys who regularly practice in the city may be more familiar with the defense bar, the different civil judges, and the local procedures and rules. A lawyer at the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat can analyze what happened in your case and provide you with a free and confidential case analysis. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment.