Like every other corner of the country, California’s roads are filled with 18-wheelers. These trucks play a vital role in the country’s economy, carrying over 70% of US freight.
Yet as majestic as these giants may be, their sheer size and power can result in catastrophic accidents. And when that happens, untold pain and suffering follow. In the wake of such a tragedy, a Sacramento 18-wheeler accident lawyer is exactly what you need to put your life back together.
The Devastating Reality: 18-Wheeler Fatality Accidents
The consequences of 18-wheeler accidents can be dire. Obviously, there’s a significant difference in size and weight between a semi-truck and a passenger vehicle. That has powerful consequences on the road, and occupants of the smaller vehicle often bear the brunt of the impact. According to the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were over 7,000 truck collisions causing injuries in 2019. In the worst cases, the devastation of an 18-wheeler accident can lead to life-altering consequences or the unthinkable loss of a loved one. Hundreds of California residents die every year in 18-wheeler accidents.
Regardless of whether there are injuries or fatalities stemming from a truck accident, the victims are almost always overwhelmed. Because of that, it’s worth learning about truck accidents in advance so that you know what to do if you come to be in one.
What to Do If You Are Hit by an 18-Wheeler
When you are hit by an 18-wheeler, you have a small window of time to take critical action. Your actions immediately following the accident will have huge consequences later on.
Step #1: Prioritize Safety While Remaining at the Accident Scene
Your first task is to ensure your safety and that of your passengers. That means you should get to a safe place immediately, such as the shoulder of the road or a nearby exit. If serious injuries are present, call 911 right away. However, don’t leave the scene of the accident. Doing so could be construed as a hit-and-run under California law.
Step #2: Offer Assistance and Aid
California law requires all parties in the accident to provide reasonable aid to anyone with injuries. This may be a pedestrian, the truck driver, or a driver of another car involved in the accident. Be ready to transport anyone with injuries to the hospital if necessary.
Step #3: Exchange Information with All Parties
For all vehicle accidents, you need to exchange information with the other drivers and parties. Prepare to share the following information with anyone else caught up in the accident:
- The name of the car’s owner,
- The vehicle’s registration number, and
- Your driver’s license information.
Similarly, obtain the name, address, and insurance details of all parties. Also gather the basic information of each vehicle that was in the accident. Even if no one initiates a lawsuit because of the accident, this information will be vital for filing insurance claims.
Step #4: Notify Law Enforcement
In some situations, you may have an obligation to inform law enforcement of the accident. California Vehicle Code sections 20004 and 20008 require you to report the accident to either local police or the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours if the accident led to injuries or fatalities. It is also a good idea to file a report with the California Department of Motor Vehicles if the accident led to property damage or losses.
Step #5: Thoroughly Document the Accident
Once everyone’s immediate medical needs and obligations are met, take action to protect your future. Swift action to preserve evidence after an 18-wheeler accident is essential to strengthen any future legal claims. A few examples include:
- Saving any dashcam footage from the vehicles in the accident;
- Photographing the accident scene, all vehicles, and any property damage;
- Recording the weather;
- Documenting any unusual conditions, like a pothole in the road or the presence of a construction zone; and
- Retaining all accident-related documents and physical evidence.
Additionally, document any losses incurred as a result of the accident. Hold onto medical bills and relevant receipts. Also keep track of your lost wages and any workplace problems that follow from your injuries.
Step #6: Seek Medical Treatment Promptly
After you’ve done all this, you will certainly feel worn out. You will likely feel the temptation to go home, especially if you seem to have no injuries or only minor injuries.
Don’t make this mistake. Instead, obtain medical treatment immediately. This applies even if your injuries appear minor or you don’t feel injured at all. The reason for this is that prompt medical attention ensures accurate diagnosis and documentation of your injuries. It’s also crucial for detecting hidden injuries like whiplash. These conditions may not appear until days, weeks, or months after the accident.
Step #7: Understand Your Rights Following an 18-Wheeler Accident
California law mandates that any party responsible for an 18-wheeler accident must compensate the other parties for their losses. This means you may be eligible to receive compensation for your property damage, medical bills, and pain and suffering. But don’t expect the other party will simply provide you the money you need. Instead, you will have to prove they were negligent. To demonstrate negligence, you’ll need to show that the other party:
- Owed you a duty of care,
- Breached their duty through an action or inaction, and
- Caused you harm by failing to fulfill their duty.
California follows a pure comparative negligence rule. This legal doctrine limits parties’ recoveries if they also acted in a negligent way. During a lawsuit, the court will determine each party’s responsibility for the accident. It will then assign a percentage of fault to every party. If you are found partially responsible, your final compensation will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
Hiring an 18-Wheeler Accidents Attorney
An 18-wheeler accidents lawyer will be absolutely vital if you plan to file a lawsuit. They provide a number of services, including
- Thorough investigation of the facts of your case,
- In-depth identification and legal analysis regarding the liable parties,
- Dogged advocacy on your behalf against insurance companies and defendants, and
- Representation in court or alternative dispute resolution forums.
All these services are vital. However, you’ll want to find the right attorney if you wish to maximize your chances of receiving compensation. Look for an attorney with adequate legal experience, good communication skills, and a solid reputation.
What State Has The Most 18-Wheeler Accidents?
Texas. The National Safety Council found that Texas had 643 fatal accidents just in 2020.
How Many People Died in 18-Wheeler Crashes Annually in the US?
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, over 4,000 people die in 18-wheeler crashes every year.
Let the Law Offices of Ali Yousefi, P.C. Be Your Legal Guide
There’s a lot of complexity to 18-wheeler accidents. Consequently, it’s imperative to consult an attorney promptly to safeguard your legal rights. Delaying the filing of a claim can result in the loss of crucial evidence and cost you valuable time and money. If you wait too long, you might even have your claim dismissed by a court.
So take action today. Call the Law Offices of Ali Yousefi, P.C., a firm that is dedicated to your well-being. We promise to apply our substantial legal experience on your behalf. We’ll do whatever we can to help you put your life back together. And while we represent you, you can expect sterling customer service. Contact us today.