What To Do After a Truck Accident in California

A grey big rig truck pulling a trailer on a California highway.

Truck accidents can be devastating, both medically and financially. In addition to the risks posed by the sheer size of trucks, there’s also the fact that injury victims must now contend with a trucking company and an insurer who are not so eager to pay.

Insurers often assign their most thorough and experienced teams to represent trucking accident claims. They know that, because of the high value of these claims, accepting full liability will be quite expensive.

As a result, they use strategies to limit their risk exposure — not the least of which is presenting injury victims with an abysmally low settlement offer in the hopes that they are inexperienced enough to sign on the dotted line.

Hiring a California truck accident lawyer is one of the only ways to get the knowledge and experience you need to stick up for the full value of your case. There are also a number of other key steps you can take in the wake of an accident to protect your claim and help you recover as much as possible.

After an accident, start following all the steps you see below, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a proven California truck accident attorney team for a free consultation. Schedule a free case review to learn more about your legal options when you call Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law at 559-878-4958 or use our convenient form to contact us online.

Steps to Take After a California Truck Accident

If you have just been in an accident — or been in an accident recently — it’s important to remain calm and prioritize each of the steps outlined below.

  1. Ensure Safety — At the scene of the wreck, check on the condition of yourself, your fellow passengers, and others involved. Call 911 and request an ambulance for anyone hurt. If you did not receive medical assistance at the scene, go to an ER or Urgent Care facility ASAP.
  2. Report the accident — You should always report any wreck where there may have been a possible injury. Since you have already dialed 911, remain present at the scene or tell dispatchers where you will be at a safe location close by. Provide as many details as you can to the responding officer, but don’t admit fault.
  3. Document the accident, if you can — If you are able to do so at the scene of the accident, take as many photos and videos as possible. Take pictures of the wreckage from far away and close up, as well as of landmarks that can identify your exact location (signage, storefronts, etc). Ask witnesses if they can provide you with their contact information.
  4. Reach out to an experienced California truck accident attorneyBefore you talk to any insurers, it’s always a good idea to get a legal professional’s opinion. You can talk to a truck accident lawyer in California at no charge and with no long-term obligation when you call Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law at 559-878-4958 or contact us online.
  5. Report the accident to your insurer and the at-fault driver’s insurance — You will want to provide notice of the accident to your own insurer and notice of a claim to the covering liability insurance provider. Strongly consider talking to an attorney before you do either, though, as you will want to be careful about the information you provide and how it is framed.

If you neglected to do any of the above since the accident, there’s no better time to start than now! Also, don’t forget to do the following once the immediate wake of the accident has passed.

  • Get a medical exam as soon as possible. Avoid working or attending other activities until you are cleared by a doctor.

File a California traffic accident report online immediately.

Remain Calm and Focused at the Accident Scene

Emotions are always high after a crash, and adrenaline may be pumping, but it’s critical to push these feelings aside to focus on your next goals.

  • First and foremost, take a second to check in with your own body and quickly check on your fellow passengers for any possible signs of injury.
  • If you feel any pain, numbness, dizziness, severe limitation of motion, extreme nausea, chest pains, or any other possible indicator of severe injury, err on the side of caution. Get to a safe place, and call 911 to request an ambulance and a police respondent.
  • You should also check on the status of others involved in the wreck before calling 911 to see if it can be done in a reasonably safe and expedient manner without delaying your own care.
  • When interacting with others in the accident, remember that the only thing you really need to do is to exchange contact and insurance information. Avoid discussing fault or going over the details of the accident. Do not admit fault, and don’t bother openly accusing others of fault.
  • Remain calm and avoid confrontation. If you feel unsafe, then move to the nearest safe location as you report the accident and your location to emergency dispatch.
  • If you or someone with you is able to move and take photos, document the accident scene as described in the “Gather All Evidence You Can at the Scene” section below.

Prioritize Getting Medical Help

As suggested above, your medical care is the most important thing to worry about after your wreck. If you are in severe pain or have any other debilitating symptoms, remain in a seated or lying down position.

Apply basic first aid, such as keeping pressure on bleeding wounds with clean gauze or cloth. Elevate any injured limbs.

For possible head and spinal injuries, keep yourself or the victim stabilized by moving to a firm, safe place and placing clothing or other items on either side of the body.

If ambulances arrive, have EMTs evaluate you. Accept a transport to the nearest emergency department if they recommend it. If they do not recommend transport, have someone drive you to the closest emergency room or urgent care facility immediately after the wreck.

If you have delayed care after the truck accident, for whatever reason, then schedule a medical exam or go to an ER/Urgent Care immediately.

In all cases, you want to be evaluated as close as possible to the date of the accident. Receiving an exam during this period helps you start treatment faster, and it helps you establish a medical link between the crash and your injuries.

Even if you aren’t sure if you are hurt or how hurt you really are, you should have your condition confirmed by a medical professional. Delaying care can lead to further complications while hindering your chance to recover an injury settlement from the appropriate insurer.

Gather All Evidence You Can at the Scene

Remember that the accident scene will never be in the same condition that it is right after your wreck. If you or someone else is able to, you should try to capture as much evidence as you can from the scene.

Examples of types of evidence to photograph or document include:

  • Wide shots of the accident scene (ideally before any vehicles are moved) showing the position of the truck and other vehicles at the time of the accident
  • Photos of the truck cab, including its serial number, as well as photos of any trailer or equipment that has a plate, serial number, or corporate branding on it.
  • Close-up photos of your injuries
  • Close-up photos of vehicle damage and debris
  • Photos establishing location, showing nearby signage, road markings, buildings, or even something like a unique tree or road deformation — anything that can serve as a reference
  • Photos of the truck driver’s CDL and commercial policy information, if they are willing to provide it
  • Photos of the truck driver, if they will permit it, including their face and any uniform or employer indicators
  • Tire marks, destroyed road signs, etc that can indicate the nature and path of the accident
  • Recorded statements of witnesses and their written contact information

Get as much as you can while you or someone helping you is able to. Remember that you can always delete what you don’t need, but you can’t take photos of the wreck once it’s gone.

Be Cautious When Talking to Insurers — And Consider Hiring a California Truck Accident Lawyer First

Insurers will expect prompt notification of the wreck, including your own insurer and the insurance company representing the truck’s owner or contractor.

However, insurers are highly motivated to do anything they can to reduce or deny your payout. Anything you say and any information you provide to them can help them further this goal.

Do not make their job easier by disclosing information that’s irrelevant to the case, such as by releasing your full medical history. Also, do not provide a recorded statement.

In most cases, all you need to do is confirm the date, time, location, and rough nature of the accident to start a claim. The police report should contain most of the crucial details; everything else — including your medical condition — can only be known pending a full investigation.

If you hire an attorney, they can help you know what to say, and you can often defer communications to them entirely, helping you rest easy and avoid stressful conversations while also avoiding saying something that could hurt your claim.

Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law Can Help You Maximize Your Chances of Recovering All the Compensation You Need

Because it is so easy to hurt your chances of succeeding at an injury claim, it’s usually prudent to get representation from an experienced California truck accident attorney before dealing with insurers.

Your lawyer can help you handle the claim process while gathering evidence, working with your doctor to solidify your medical prognosis, and investigating faults in the claim. In sum, your attorney makes your life easier after an accident while also putting together the factors that make your claim more likely to succeed — and more likely to result in a settlement that fully repays all damages, past and future.

Don’t make a mistake that could leave you paying deeply out of pocket for your own medical care and other truck accident costs. Find an attorney who is ready to help you stand up to trucking companies and fight for the settlement you need to fully recover.

Find out more about what you can do to help your chances of recovering compensation after a California truck accident when you call Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law at 559-878-4958 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.