Being in a car accident is scary for anyone. Now imagine being in an accident that also involves a fully-loaded, 8,000-lb tractor-trailer. Remaining in one piece after it’s all over is shocking enough. Yet, countless families are burdened by medical bills, lost wages, and other losses after major truck accidents in the San Luis Obispo area.
Every year the United States sees over 52,000 accidents with fatalities. Over 4,600 of these involve big rigs. California, a state with a large and intricate trucking system, ranks just behind Texas for most fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the Golden State saw 341 accidents resulting in fatalities in 2017 alone.
If you find yourself recovering from a truck accident and require an experienced San Luis Obispo truck accident attorney, the Ernst Law Group is here to help. Call us today at 805-541-0300 or contact us online for a free consultation. We have over 35 years of experience working to help clients get the compensation they need after accidents.
In the meantime, here are some tips for what actions everyone should remember to take after an accident with a truck.
Once you’ve checked to make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay, call 911. Above all, do not leave the crash scene. Not only could it invalidate any chance for an injury settlement, but it’s also against California law. You will need a police officer or highway patrol officer to examine the scene and file an accident report.
If your case goes to trial later, the police report will be extremely helpful.
If there are any obvious injuries, ask for an ambulance or EMT during your 911 call. If EMTs recommend you go to an emergency room or your primary care physician, do so. Furthermore, check in with your doctor or primary care physician as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel immediately hurt. Some injuries take a day or two to manifest and, again, having documentation will help if any legal action is taken.
Nearly all of us carry smartphones these days, and most of them come with quality video and audio recording capabilities.
Take pictures of everything. The vehicles, road conditions, layout of the accident scene, any distinguishing landmarks, weather effects – the more you gather, the better. Record your impressions of the accident, and if other people are willing, ask them if they can help.
It’s also not a bad idea to carry a pen or pencil and a notebook since they don’t have a charge that can run down like your phone. Along those lines, having a small disposable camera in your vehicle isn’t a bad idea, either. Think about carrying a checklist of things to do after a wreck in your glove compartment.
Exchange Information and Contact Insurance Companies
Most insurance policies demand you get in contact with your provider as soon as possible after an accident, no matter who was at fault. Call them after speaking to the police or use your provider’s app on your smartphone to submit a report. The wreck may have left you pretty shaken, which is understandable. Taking the time to write out the details via digital media can help you calm down, compose yourself, and get the events straight.
If you think you’ll be pursuing a third-party liability claim against another driver’s insurance, you should still notify your own company. They can help file a third-party claim, and they want disclosure of any relevant vehicle damage just to have it on their records. They will also likely assist you in expediting your third-party claim, decreasing the chances they’ll have to foot the bill for your damages.
When talking to other insurance agencies, be extremely cautious. Limit the information you share to what is 100% known at the time. That largely means confirming your contact information, sharing details contained on the police report, and informing them that you have a likely injury.
Matters like fault and the total costs of injury treatment need to be determined over time pending an investigation and a full diagnosis. Avoid answering specific questions about pain or debilitation, since these are evolving matters that require a medical professional to fully investigate.
Know that an insurance agent’s job is not to help you. It is to save their company as much money as possible. Anything you tell them that can limit compensation, they will use. Just offer the facts as clearly as you can state them, and tell them further details will be given at the appropriate time.
Be Calm and Quiet
Truck accidents are rarely minor. This is serious business, and you have to keep your cool after such an accident. Breathe deeply, sit down, whatever you have to do to remain calm and settled. Coming unglued does no one any good, and it certainly won’t help your case if you have to go to trial.
When talking to other individuals involved in the accident, the police, and even your insurance company, state only basic facts, and don’t give an opinion. DO NOT claim any responsibility, including making an apology. Any statements like these can and will be used against you if you seek compensation.
Do not give the police any supposition of what you think the other driver(s) might have been doing that led to the accident unless you are completely sure. Just state your observations, to the best of your knowledge.
Once you’re away from the scene, avoid discussing it on social media. In fact, limit social media posting entirely. Anything publicly viewable could be used as evidence. For instance, if you post a picture of a family trip when you told insurers you were injured, this will be used as evidence to deny compensation.
Call a Qualified Truck Accident Attorney in San Luis Obispo
This is perhaps the most important step. Your insurance company wants to pay out the least amount possible. So does the trucker’s insurance company, as well as the company they drive for.
Even if not immediately apparent, you might have been injured in the accident and the crash can result in such problems as:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages due to being unable to work or having a vehicle to get to work
- Car repair or, most likely, car replacement
- Broken bones, scraps, internal injuries, etc. requiring medical expenses
- Depression, loss of consortium, anxiety, etc. requiring mental health costs
Navigating the insurance and legal system is too much for the normal person to handle alone. You need a knowledgeable, experienced, and client-focused San Luis Obispo truck accident attorney to help you receive the compensation you need to get on with your life.
Since 1980, the lawyers at the Ernst Group have been winning cases and securing settlements for their clients. In one case, we won $10.5 million for a client that was struck by a truck, causing a severe brain injury that forever altered the client’s life.
If you’re in the San Luis Obispo area and need a truck accident lawyer, call us today at 805-541-0300 or contact us online.