A San Diego or Southern California truck accident can be a traumatic experience that can leave you with life-altering injuries and change your life forever. You may have a claim for compensation if a negligent truck driver or trucking company caused the crash.
However, your actions after the truck accident can significantly impact your ability to secure a fair settlement with the insurance company. This is one reason it is essential to have an experienced San Diego truck accident lawyer at The Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, APC, on your side, fighting for your rights and helping you navigate the complex legal process.
Seven Important Steps to Take After a San Diego Truck Accident
You must start taking action right after your truck accident to build a strong claim. Even if you have a solid case against the at-fault truck driver and trucking company, their insurance company could attempt to deny your claim or try to pay you less than you deserve in your settlement. Here are essential steps you can take to fight back and win your San Diego trucking accident case.
#1: Call the Police
Immediately after the truck accident, it is crucial to call 911 and report the incident. A police officer will arrive at the scene to assess the situation, document important details, and create an official police report. This report can serve as valuable evidence later during the claims process or if you file a truck accident lawsuit. Helpful information it can contain includes the following:
● Date, time, and location of the truck collision
● Details of how the crash occurred
● Statements of the truck driver, witnesses, and you
● Officer's conclusions as to who caused the wreck
● Diagram of the accident scene
● Whether any traffic citations were issued
#2: Exchange Contact Information
Be sure to exchange contact information with the truck driver involved in the accident. Obtain their name, phone number, address, insurance details, and trucking company information. Likewise, provide them with your contact information. This exchange of information is essential for filing an insurance claim and communicating with the trucking company.
#3: Obtain Prompt Medical Care
Even if you believe your injuries are minor or you were not hurt, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a commercial truck accident. Some serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, spine and back injuries, or internal organ damage, may not manifest immediately. Getting prompt medical care will help you recover from your injuries more quickly. In addition, you avoid a possible life-threatening emergency if you suffered a hidden injury and are not experiencing symptoms yet.
You also help your truck accident claim by promptly being examined by a physician. Doing this establishes a medical record of your truck accident injuries and will help you avoid disputes with the insurance adjuster about the cause or severity of your injuries.
Additionally, it is essential that you follow your doctor's advice about treating your injuries and go to all of your appointments. This protects your health and will strengthen your truck accident claim.
#3: Collect Evidence
Gather as much evidence from the truck accident scene as you can. Take photographs of the vehicles involved, including any visible damage. Capture the surrounding area, road conditions, traffic signs, and any skid marks. You should also take photos of your injuries and any personal property damaged in the accident. This evidence can be essential in determining liability and supporting your claim.
#4: Get Witness Contact Information
If there were any witnesses to the accident, collect their names and contact details. Witness statements can corroborate your version of how the crash occurred. Eyewitnesses who do not know you and have no personal stake in your claim can be compelling witnesses to help you prove the trucker's negligence caused the collision.
#5: Notify Your Insurance Company
Report the truck accident to your own insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with accurate and truthful information about the incident. Contacting them protects your right to file a claim under your auto insurance coverage if the trucker and trucking company have insufficient insurance coverage to compensate you fully.
#6: Limit Communications With Opposing Parties
Avoid discussing the truck crash or your injuries with the truck driver, trucking company, or their insurance company. The insurance adjuster may contact you within days of the wreck and try to obtain a recorded statement or evidence they can use against you. Even if you are careful and have nothing to hide, you could say something that hurts your claim. You should let a skilled truck collision lawyer handle all communication on your behalf.
#7: Retain a San Diego Truck Accident Lawyer
One critical step you need to take immediately is to hire a knowledgeable San Diego truck accident lawyer. Truck accidents are different from auto collisions, and you need an experienced truck accident lawyer who represents truck accident victims and knows how to navigate the legal complexities following commercial truck accidents.
How a San Diego Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You
As you navigate life after a truck accident injury, an experienced San Diego truck accident attorney can help you in the following ways.
Investigate the Cause of the Truck Crash
A proficient San Diego truck accident lawyer will thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident. They will review police reports, collect evidence, interview witnesses, and even work with accident reconstruction experts to determine what caused the crash. By uncovering the cause, they can establish liability and build a strong case on your behalf.
The evidence needed in a truck crash claim can be unique because violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations may have contributed to the collision. FMCSA includes things such as hours of service regulations that must be followed by truck drivers and trucking companies to prevent trucking accidents. Your lawyer will obtain and preserve evidence, such as accident scene photographs, surveillance footage, black box data, driver logs, and maintenance records. They will use this evidence to prove the trucker's and other parties' negligence and demonstrate the extent of your damages.
Identify Liable Parties
Truck accidents can involve multiple at-fault parties, including trucking companies, shippers, manufacturers, and maintenance providers. An experienced attorney will carefully identify all potentially liable parties. Holding the appropriate parties accountable can significantly impact your claim's success and the compensation you may receive.
Write a Spoliation Letter
A spoliation letter is a demand letter sent to the trucking company and other liable parties to preserve evidence that might otherwise be destroyed or lost. A skilled truck accident lawyer will draft and send this letter, ensuring that all relevant parties know their legal obligation not to destroy or tamper with evidence that can be helpful to your case.
Value Your Claim
Determining how much compensation you should recover for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering can be complicated. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer will consider all relevant factors and work with medical experts and economists to accurately value your claims so that you receive what you deserve in your settlement.
Negotiate Your Settlement
A lawyer will file your insurance claim with the insurance company and take over all settlement negotiations with the insurance adjuster on your behalf. They will use their knowledge and experience to fight for your rights and a fair settlement that considers your present and future needs. They will also have strategies to defeat the insurance company's arguments about liability and the damages you are entitled to.
File a Lawsuit
If the insurance company is not reasonable or the statute of limitations expires soon, your lawyer will start litigation on your behalf and litigate your claim. They would most likely be able to settle your case at some point before it goes to trial, but if a fair settlement can't be reached, your truck accident lawyer will be ready to take your case to court.
You Still Have a Claim If You Haven't Taken All These Steps
If you have not followed all the steps outlined above, it does not mean you have ruined your case. Your truck accident attorney will have helped other truck crash victims who may not have taken all these actions and may have made even more serious mistakes when filing their claims. Your lawyer can help you take these crucial steps or minimize any potential damage you may have caused to your case.