After an accident with a commercial truck, filing a claim may be the only way to obtain compensation for your losses. California is a tort-based insurance state, meaning you will file your claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Identifying the at-fault party, however, can be difficult in a truck accident case. You may have to contend with the vicarious liability of the trucking company in addition to the personal liability of the truck driver or another party.
Identify the Cause of the Accident
Wait to file a claim until someone identifies the cause of the accident. Do not admit fault during conversations with police officers at the scene of the accident, nor insurance claims adjusters later. Admitting negligence such as not paying attention to the road or speeding could place full fault with you, even if the truck driver or company also contributed to the accident. Wait for an official investigation of the accident to identify its cause.
- Poor truck driver training
- Distracted truck driver
- Intoxicated truck driver
- Drowsy driver or hours of service violations
- Poorly secured cargo or an imbalanced truck
- Lack of proper fleet maintenance
- Vehicle defects
- Dangerous roadway defects such as potholes
- A negligent third-party, such as another driver or manufacturing company
The California courts allow you to seek damages even if you contributed to the truck accident. If you were partially at fault for the accident, therefore, this does not mean you lose your right to compensation. Do not give up hope for an insurance claim, even if you think you caused the crash. Instead, contact a truck accident attorney to investigate the collision. One or more parties – including you – could share fault for the accident, but you may still be eligible for compensation.
Call the Insurance Company
Once you know the cause of the accident, file your insurance claim with the at-fault party’s provider. Notify your own insurance company of the truck wreck sooner (as soon as possible after the accident), but do not discuss a settlement until you file with the at-fault party’s provider. The at-fault party will be the one responsible for repaying your damages.
If a truck driver caused your accident while on duty, you will file your insurance claim with the trucking company’s insurer – not the individual trucker’s insurance plan. Truck companies are vicariously responsible for the negligence and misconduct of their drivers. If another vehicle driver caused the accident, file your claim with this driver’s insurance company.
Be careful when discussing your case with an insurance company or one of its representatives. Do not offer any information the agent does not specifically request. Refrain from incriminating yourself by admitting fault. Politely decline to answer questions to which you do not know the answers. Give facts only – do not guess or speculate. Before offering a recorded statement, accepting a settlement offer or signing anything, speak to an injury attorney to protect your rights.
Consider a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Negotiating a fair settlement from the at-fault party’s insurer might not be possible. The insurance company may try to deny liability for your damages or say you were fully at fault. It may try to delay the resolution or payout of your claim. If the insurance company refuses to settle your claim or does not offer as much as you think it is worth, filing a personal injury lawsuit may be the right course of action. You have two years from the date of your truck accident to file a lawsuit in California.
How a Sacramento Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
Hiring an accident attorney from the beginning of your claim could maximize your odds of getting full compensation. Your attorney could revisit the scene of the truck accident, collect any available evidence, take over conversations with insurance companies, negotiate for higher compensation and help you through every phase of the legal process. A Sacramento truck accident law firm could also take your case to trial if insurance settlement negotiations fail. A truck accident trial could be the best way to obtain the recovery your serious injuries demand.