Sorting out the consequences of an auto or truck accident can be frustrating, time-consuming, and painful. Depending on the severity of the collision, you may have sustained severe or even permanent injuries. Unfortunately, insurance companies may not be aligned with your interests when seeking to settle an accident claim. You will likely need legal assistance to recover what you deserve.
As a auto and truck accident lawyer with 36 years of legal experience, I am familiar with how to navigate potential settlement offers and secure the maximum available compensation for my clients. Law Office of Rob Schelling, A Professional Corporation has successfully handled countless personal injury cases involving vehicular collisions and can help you review your legal options for recovering damages.
What To Do After an Auto or Truck Accident in California?
The moments following an auto or truck accident be frightening and chaotic. However, you should take proactive steps to gather evidence and protect your ability to recover damages.
In the immediate aftermath of an auto or truck accident, you should:
Make sure everyone involved is safe. Confirm that every driver, passenger, pedestrian involved in the incident are safe. If necessary, call 9-1-1 and summon emergency medical personnel.
Contact law enforcement. If a collision results in any injury, California law requires you to either submit a written report to the appropriate law enforcement agency within 24 hours or promptly call the police or highway patrol. It is typically advantageous to summon law enforcement to the scene, as the responding officer will produce an official report that can be extremely useful when bringing a personal injury claim.
Collect information from accident participants and witnesses. Once everyone is safe, obtain contact information from all drivers, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information. If the accident involved a truck, you should find out what company owns the vehicle. You should also attempt to procure contact information from any witnesses to the incident, as their testimony may be helpful in establishing what happened.
Document the accident. Take pictures and videos of your injuries, any property damage, and all other elements of the incident site.
Notify your insurance company and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Under California law, you must also report any injury-causing accident to the DMV within 10 days of the accident. Your insurance policy contract also likely requires you to file a claim with your servicer as quickly as possible, often within 24 hours of the incident. Failing to complete these crucial steps can result in the suspension of your license and jeopardize your ability to recover compensation.
Seek medical attention. Even if you do not detect any obvious injuries, you should still be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible following a vehicular accident. Some injuries are not immediately obvious, and a medical report documenting your condition will be a pivotal piece of evidence in a personal injury suit.
Many personal injury cases are settled out of court. The defendant and their insurance company will likely make a settlement offer before your trial. When you accept a settlement, you give up your right to seek additional damages. As a Temecula auto and truck accident attorney, I can help you understand the implications of accepting an offer and advise whether doing so makes sense in your situation.
In California, you must file an auto or truck accident claim within two years of the incident. You have three years to bring a claim for property damage resulting from a vehicular accident. If your accident involved a government entity-owned vehicle, such as a police car or garbage truck, you will have only six months to file a claim.
If your personal injury claim goes to trial, a judge and jury will evaluate each party’s fault in causing the accident. The claimant and defendant will each be assigned a percentage of fault. The court may find that you partially contributed to the accident, for example, if you failed to properly use your turn signal.
When you are determined to be partially at fault in an auto or truck accident claim, your final award will be commensurately reduced by your percentage of the blame. If you are found to be 25% at fault for causing an accident and are awarded a judgment of $100,000, that judgment will be reduced by $25,000, or 25%.
California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that you can recover compensation no matter your percentage of fault. This means you can still theoretically recover some damages if you are found to be 90% at fault for causing an accident.
As a Temecula auto and truck accident lawyer, I can help you recover damages for:
Medical expenses, including any necessary rehabilitative treatment, reconstructive surgery, and anticipated care needs
Property damage, including and repair and replacement costs of your vehicle
Lost or missed income, including compensation for reduced earning capacity
Loss of consortium or quality of life
Physical and emotional pain and suffering
Punitive damages (in situations where the accident was caused due to especially reckless or egregious behavior)