Semi-trucks are common on most interstate highways and state highways throughout California. Unfortunately, so are crashes involving these large vehicles. California had the second-highest number of truck accident-related fatalities in the nation in 2021, reaching a total of 437. With over 15,800,000 registered commercial trucks in the state, California ranks at the top of the list for most potential semis on the road.
Getting hit by a semi-truck is undoubtedly traumatic. Knowing what to do if you get hit by a semi-truck can help alleviate some of the anxiety and stress in the aftermath of the accident. Though every accident is different, there are some parts of the process that can be made easier by following some general tips.
What Should You Do After a Semi-Truck Accident in California?
If the accident was caused by the negligent action of another person or party, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Knowing what to do if you get hit by a semi-truck can help you strengthen your claim and receive the compensation you deserve.
Some of these tips apply only directly following the accident, but others can be accomplished after the dust has settled a bit. Regardless of whether you were already in an accident or just looking to be prepared, these steps are helpful to know.
Receive Medical Attention
There is nothing more important than your health and safety. If you or anyone involved in the accident is injured, call emergency medical personnel immediately. This may mean that you have to leave the accident scene. Again, your health is the priority, and everything else can wait.
Move Out of The Road
It is important to get out of traffic to reduce the risk of additional collisions. If you are able to drive the vehicle to the side of the road, do so. If not, and you are physically well enough to move, get out of the vehicle and stand out off the road.
Call Law Enforcement
It is important to have a police report or some formal record of the accident. Calling 911 is recommended anytime there is an accident. Depending on where the collision occurs, the first law enforcement responders may be local police, highway patrol, or the sheriff’s department. Make sure you find out how to get access to the completed report.
You do not have to be a professional photographer to take photos of the accident. Smartphone images will be fine. Make sure you get close-ups, photos from a distance, and from different angles to show the entire scene. It is also a good idea to take pictures of any visible injuries.
Request Witness Contacts
The law enforcement officer on site will likely request contact information from the witnesses who have stopped to tell what they saw, but it is a good idea to also get this information for your own records. Your semi-truck accident attorney may want to reach out to them.
Gather Driver Information
It is important to get the information from the truck driver, including their contact information and driver’s license number. Write down the name of the trucking company they work for and any information you can get about the truck, such as the license plate number or any other identifiers.
Do Not Admit or Imply Fault
California is an “at-fault” state, which means the party responsible for the accident is also responsible for paying for the damage they caused. If you imply fault, the statement can be used against you, even if it is something as simple as “I’m so sorry.” Do not lie, but remember that you do not have to volunteer information.
Call Your Insurance Company
In California, an accident must be reported to the DMV within 10 days, but many insurance companies want to know within 24 hours.
Contact a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney
Semi-truck accident claims can be complicated. There is a strong potential for multiple parties to be involved, and you do not want to take on a big trucking company by yourself. An attorney can evaluate the strength of your claim and help you determine the best legal course of action to receive the compensation you deserve.
What Are Your Legal Options for Recovery?
Getting hit by a semi-truck is a big deal. Many semi-truck accident victims face severe or life-changing injuries. The amount of compensation you are entitled to depends on the severity of your injuries. The unique circumstances of your case and the parties involved will determine how you pursue damages. Most accidents start with an insurance claim. It is important to know that you do not have to accept an unfair settlement offer. It is your responsibility to understand how much your claim is worth, and an attorney can help you with that, taking into account the current and future expenses associated with your injuries.
If a fair settlement amount cannot be agreed upon, or the insurance policy is not enough to meet your needs, you may consider filing a lawsuit.
Do You Need a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney?
Semi-truck accidents are a special subset of personal injury law. Unlike most passenger vehicle crashes, trucking accidents often involve multiple liable parties, and who you pursue to receive damages can make a difference in your ability to recover adequate compensation. Knowing what to do if you get hit by a semi-truck is important, but it is also crucial to have an attorney who is experienced in navigating this type of law. An attorney can gather evidence, value your claim, negotiate on your behalf, and prepare litigation.
Contact D’Amore Law Group
Throughout California and the Pacific Northwest, D’Amore Law Group has extensive experience representing victims of truck accidents. Going above and beyond the general knowledge of truck accident cases, our firm’s founder, Tom D’Amore, is certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and the Academy of Truck Accident Lawyers. Contact us to schedule your free case evaluation.