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What Happens if a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

What Happens if a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

Truck accidents can cause incredibly dangerous injuries. Car drivers and their passengers can suffer catastrophic injuries due to the sheer weight and size difference between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles. 

In most cases, injured parties may seek compensation from the truck driver responsible for the crash. That’s one reason why a truck driver must remain at an accident scene and exchange contact and insurance information with injured parties. Accident victims can use that information to pursue a personal injury claim.

However, what happens if a truck driver leaves the scene of an accident? Truck drivers are held to a high standard of responsibility when it comes to accidents. It’s important to understand the legal obligations of truck drivers in accidents, the potential consequences of leaving the scene, and how you can obtain the compensation you need. 

If you sustained injuries in a truck accident and the truck driver fled the accident scene, it’s essential to seek legal guidance from an experienced truck accident attorney to protect your rights and navigate the complexities of the legal process.  

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Legal Obligations of Truck Drivers in Accidents

A crimson semi truck rests by the roadside as its Caucasian driver prepares for the next leg of the journey.

Just like all other motorists, truck drivers have certain legal obligations in the event of an accident. Not only can failure to comply with these obligations result in serious consequences, but it can also affect insurance claims and leave victims at a significant disadvantage.

After a truck accident, a truck driver’s first obligation is to stop at the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense and can have severe legal ramifications. 

Another legal obligation for truck drivers is to assist anyone who may be injured. This includes calling emergency services and providing aid as much as they’re capable. By promptly addressing any injuries, a truck driver demonstrates their commitment to the well-being of others involved in the accident.

Truck drivers must also exchange information with the other party or parties involved. This information typically includes driver’s license details, insurance information, and contact information. Doing so contributes to a fair investigation and helps the affected individuals seek appropriate compensation.

Furthermore, it’s imperative that someone reports the accident to the relevant authorities. While specific reporting requirements may vary by jurisdiction, it is generally expected that the truck driver notifies law enforcement of the incident as soon as possible. This allows authorities to create an official record and accident report, ensuring transparency and accountability. 

In California, accidents involving injuries, fatalities, or property damage over $1,000 must be reported to the DMV within 10 days of the incident.

Hit and Run Laws in California

Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in California. A truck driver, or any driver, can face criminal charges. California law defines the duties of a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death. Failure to comply can have harsh and far-reaching consequences.

Additionally, a hit and run truck driver, if they’re found, could face additional charges, depending on the circumstances. These charges may include reckless driving, driving under the influence (DUI), or other traffic violations. Each additional charge adds to the legal complications and can result in further consequences.

Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Truck Accident

The penalties that truck drivers may face for leaving the scene of an accident can include:

  • Fines: Truck drivers who leave the scene of an accident in California can face significant fines, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
  • License Suspension: In many cases, leaving the scene of an accident can lead to the suspension or revocation of a truck driver’s license. This can have a substantial impact on their ability to continue working as a professional driver.
  • Criminal Charges: In cases involving injuries or fatalities, truck drivers may face criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident. These charges can result in jail time ranging from 90 days to up to five years in state prison.
  • Insurance Penalties: Insurance companies consider leaving the scene of an accident as a breach of the driver’s duty to report and cooperate. As a result, an insurance carrier may increase a truck driver’s insurance premiums or deny coverage altogether if a trucker leaves the scene of an accident. The truck driver may be personally responsible for any financial liabilities arising from the crash, which can have significant and long-term financial implications.

If a truck driver left the scene of an accident, you must report the driver to authorities. Reporting the truck driver can provide valuable information that can aid in the investigation to locate and apprehend the driver. You must report the incident to your insurance company to file a claim and receive compensation in the interim. 

Meanwhile, gather any available evidence, such as witness statements, photographs, and police reports, and contact an attorney right away.

A lawyer can protect your rights, assist in the accident investigation and apprehension of the truck driver, and increase your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve.

Impact on Insurance Claims

A truck driver who leaves the scene of an accident can have a significant impact on insurance claims for all parties involved. Insurance companies rely on accurate and thorough information to assess liability and calculate appropriate compensation.

A hit and run truck accident makes it challenging to gather sufficient evidence and establish fault. This can lead to delays in the claims process and potentially lower settlement amounts.

Insurance companies may view the behavior of the truck driver as suspicious or indicative of negligence, which could affect their willingness to pay out claims. Leaving the scene of an accident raises questions about the driver’s responsibility and credibility.

Following an accident with a truck driver who leaves the scene, take immediate action. Document the incident as thoroughly as possible and note any identifiable details of the truck involved.

Gathering Evidence After a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene

A man operates a truck equipped with a rearview camera system, ensuring enhanced safety and awareness on the road.

An accident with a truck driver who leaves the scene can be a traumatic experience. However, it’s crucial that you take immediate action to protect your rights and gather evidence. Here are some important steps to follow:

  1.   Ensure your safety: First and foremost, make sure you and your passengers are safe. If necessary, move to a safe location away from traffic.
  2.   Call for help: Dial emergency services, such as 911, to report the accident and request medical assistance if needed.
  3.   Document the scene: Use your smartphone or camera to take photos and videos of the accident scene from different angles. Capture any visible damages to the vehicles involved and the surrounding environment.
  4.   Collect information: Get the contact details, driver’s license number, and insurance information from any witnesses and other parties involved in the accident. If possible, note the truck’s license plate number and company name.
  5.   Seek witnesses: If there are bystanders who witnessed the accident, politely ask for their names and contact information. Their testimonies can be valuable evidence later on.
  6.   Note the details: Write down your own account of the accident while it’s fresh in your memory. Include the time, date, location, weather conditions, and any other relevant details.
  7.   Report to the authorities: File a police report as soon as possible. Provide them with all the information you gathered, including witness statements and photographic evidence.
  8.   Consult an attorney: Contact a reputable personal injury attorney who handles truck accident claims. They can guide you through the legal process and help protect your rights.

Gathering evidence promptly is crucial in establishing fault and strengthening your case. An attorney can assist with collecting evidence and reporting the accident if your serious injuries prevent you from doing so.

Seek Legal Assistance in a Hit and Run Truck Accident

Dealing with the aftermath of such a hit and run truck accident can be overwhelming, but an experienced attorney can guide you through the legal process and advocate for your best interests.

An attorney experienced in hit and run truck accidents understands the intricacies of these cases and can help you gather the necessary evidence, such as surveillance footage, witness statements, and expert opinions. 

They will work diligently to establish liability and hold the responsible party accountable for their actions, ensuring you receive fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the accident.

Additionally, a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate your insurance claims and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. A lawyer will advocate for you and help ensure the insurance company treats you fairly. They can also help you determine your options for obtaining compensation if authorities can’t locate the at-fault truck driver who fled the scene.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney for Help

Greg Bentley & Keith More - Experienced Truck Accident cases lawyer in Orange County area

Greg Bentley & Keith More Truck Accident Attorneys

Although you may be stressed and uncertain of your options after sustaining injuries in a truck accident where the driver left the scene, you do have options. A personal injury attorney at Bentley & More LLP can review your case at no cost and advise you of the best course of action to take in reporting the truck driver and obtaining compensation.

Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you hold the truck driver accountable and improve your chances of getting the compensation you need.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!