California has more commercial truck registrations than any other state, surpassing even Texas by over a million heavy vehicles. But with more trucks on the road, the chances of a semi-truck accident are even higher, especially in places like California’s fertile Sonoma coast and Central Valley, where agricultural production is high, and visibility on narrow roads can be low.
In the event of an accident, your safety comes first. Once you have determined you are safe and can receive medical care, contacting law enforcement to document the scene will help you get your claim started and on the road to recovery faster.
In this post, the Henderson Law Firm team will tell you more about the different types of truck accidents and what to do after a semi-truck accident. We will walk you through steps to take after an accident and provide you with what you need to know to seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to speak with a truck accident lawyer!
Types of Truck Accidents
When considering what to do after a semi-truck accident, it is important to know what kind of truck accident you have just experienced. The type of accident will help dictate what actions you should take next. A few common types of semi-truck accidents include:
- Jackknife accidents – These occur when the cab and the trailer of a semi-truck fold where the two join. If something causes the back of the trailer to move in a different direction or at a faster pace than the cab, it makes a “jackknife” shape, and the two parts of the truck face different directions, creating a hazard on the road.
- Tire blow-out accidents – A truck can have a tire blow-out for virtually any reason, but often they occur because of routine wear-and-tear, defective manufacturing, or maintenance deficiencies. A blow-out can cause the truck to swerve into another lane, roll over, or jackknife. Blow-outs are dangerous to cars because vehicles can be hit with flying tire debris or collide with a truck that swerves out of its lane due to the force of a blown-out tire.
- Truck rollover accidents – These accidents are when a truck physically rolls over on the highway or rolls off the road due to problems like speeding, unbalanced cargo or improper cargo loading, slippery roads, maintenance failures, or driver error.
- Underride accidents – An underride accident happens when a passenger car slides underneath the truck. While many trucks are now equipped with an underride bar that prevents cars or smaller vehicles from sliding under the truck in the case of an accident, not all semi-trucks come with this feature.
- Unsecured load accidents – An unsecured load accident is exactly what it sounds like. If the load a semi-truck is carrying is not properly secured or tied down, it can lead to tips, spills, jackknife accidents, or even rollover accidents.
- Hazardous materials accidents – A hazardous materials, or “hazmat” truck, carries anything from energy and petroleum products to explosives to pesticides to infectious substances to radioactive material to dry ice. Any kind of accident involving a hazmat will require specialized clean-up.
This is not an exhaustive list of the types of semi-truck accidents that can occur. When considering what to do after a semi-truck accident, you will want to consider the type of accident. For instance, the steps for after a semi-truck accident will be slightly different if you were injured by a blown-out tire versus a hazmat spill.
Tips for After a California Semi-Truck Accident
After a semi-truck accident in California, it is important to consult with a legal professional to fully understand your rights and obligations based on your specific situation. Consider the following steps.
Seek Medical Attention
Your health and safety should be your top priority. If you or anyone involved in the accident requires medical assistance, call for emergency services or visit the nearest hospital immediately. Seeing an E.R. or urgent care doctor immediately following the crash can also help substantiate your claims.
Report the Accident
Contact the local law enforcement agency to report the accident. Often, this will be the California Highway Patrol (CHP). They will likely send an officer to the scene to assess the situation and create an accident report. This report can be crucial when filing an insurance claim or pursuing legal action.
It is the law in California that all crashes that cause injuries or death must be reported to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 24 hours of the incident if no police report is filed. If the CHP arrives on the scene, they will file this report for you. If you do not notify the authorities, you will be responsible for notifying the DMV yourself.
Additionally, you may need to notify local health and safety departments if a crash involves hazardous materials. Certain types of crashes, like tire blow-outs and underride accidents, may also need to be reported to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
If you feel up to it, collect as much information as possible at the accident scene. This includes the contact details of the truck driver, their employer’s information, insurance information, license plate number, and the information of any witnesses present. If you are able, and your phone is still in your possession, take photos of the accident scene, damage to vehicles, and any visible injuries to yourself or others. If you are not able or are too injured to do so, see if someone else can take pictures and obtain information for you while they are still at the scene.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with accurate and detailed information about the incident. They will guide you through the claims process and can advise you on your coverage. If you do not have a police report or DMV notification form (SR-1), then it may impact your ability to recover any funds to pay for your damaged car or medical expenses. Additionally, be sure not to admit fault or speak with anyone about the case.
Consult with an Attorney
Consider seeking legal advice from an attorney experienced in personal injury or truck accident cases. They can help protect your rights, evaluate your case, and guide you through the legal process.
Contact the Henderson Law Firm Today
Attorney Michael Henderson has been handling cases on behalf of California accident victims for over 25 years and understands the importance of making sure you receive the compensation you deserve. Coverage for your medical expenses and lost wages are crucial, but so is your ability to recover from emotional distress after a truck accident. Contact us to request a free case consultation.