Being in a truck accident can create much stress in different areas of your life. The recovery process is extensive and usually involves physical, mental, emotional, and financial aspects. The suffering the victim and their loved ones must endure can make determining what to do next challenging. There are steps to take to protect your rights, and one of the most important things to know is what to do when dealing with insurance companies and settlement offers.
The general population doesn’t know insurance company rules, regulations, and conduct. It can be easy to fall victim to their techniques to preserve as much money as possible for the company. Most people believe that an insurance company is there to help them, when in reality, the insurer’s priority is limiting payouts to increase profits.
When you accept a low settlement, the insurance company “wins.” Sadly, many people accept the first offer without knowing what they deserve or seeking legal guidance. This can put them in a challenging financial position for years to come.
When you receive an initial offer from an insurance company for truck accident losses, never accept it without consulting with a truck accident attorney first.
One of the most important things to remember when dealing with insurance companies is that they are for-profit businesses. A for-profit business means that making and retaining as much money as possible is the company’s goal.
Conclusively, insurance companies are not in the interest of giving payouts to customers for claims and settlements. Insurance companies desire to settle cases for as little money as possible, hoping the individual is so desperate that they will agree to a low settlement on the first offer. Thus, their initial offer will usually be far less than what the victim deserves.
One with accepting the initial settlement offer is that you likely had insufficient time to gauge the full extent of the injuries and damages. Remember to take adequate time to seek medical treatment and get a full idea of your future treatment needs.
Before accepting an insurance company’s settlement offer, any victim of an accident must:
If you get some medical treatment and accept a settlement, you might pay your existing medical bills and think you can move on. But what happens if you require another surgery? What if your symptoms return and you need more treatment? If you did not factor future costs into your settlement, you will need to cover these on your own.
Once you accept an amount, you cannot adjust it in the future when you discover is was insufficient. Always allow an attorney to review an offer before you decide.
Insurance policies typically have a dollar-value limit that sets the maximum amount of money the companies can pay as a settlement. You must know the defendant’s insurance policy limits because an insurance company may not disclose that they hold more than one insurance policy that can cover the victim’s injuries. Additionally, the liable party may have a wealth of assets they can use to pay the victim’s damages out-of-pocket.
In truck accidents, the driver is usually not the only liable party. If the accident happened when the driver was working, the driver’s employer might also share responsibility. Trucking companies typically have deeper pockets, meaning more money, to pay settlements than individual drivers.
The plaintiff may be unaware of other parties who share liability, so accepting the first offer from an insurance company can risk receiving total compensation for the damages. Your accident attorney can help you identify and hold each responsible party accountable for your injuries.
Settlement payments come with various contingencies. The most significant contingency is that the plaintiff loses the right to sue the defendant or defendants once they accept a settlement. A settlement agreement may even require giving up the rights to seek compensation from other liable parties.
These agreements are permanent and irreversible in most situations. There is no second bite at the apple. Once an accident plaintiff accepts an offer, there is no going back to renegotiate, even if new damages or injuries present themselves. You must ensure your injuries are fully treated before accepting a settlement offer.
You can expect the insurance company’s initial offer to be low. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that want to see if the victim will take the bait for a lowball settlement offer. Below is a list of tactics insurance companies might use to convince claimants to accept lowball offers.
If the insurance company becomes aware that the victim sustained an injury before the accident, they will argue that the accident did not cause the present injury. The insurance company will try hard to prove that something else caused your injury.
This tactic is usually for older victims. The more we age, the more the body is susceptible to injury. The insurance agency may try to suggest the victim’s injuries were already present before the accident or due to the natural aging process.
If the insurance company discovers that the victim was not truthful about any parts of the accident, they may use this to discourage a potential jury from trusting the victim. Presenting evidence is best for the defense to shatter the victim’s credibility.
The summation of the damages available in a truck accident is divided into three categories, economic, non-economic, and punitive.
These damages stem from financial expenses. They include the tangible losses present after a car accident.
Examples of economic damages can include:
These damages are usually more abstract and more difficult to account for. The help of a truck accident attorney can help victims prove these losses.
Examples of non-economic damages can include:
Once the insurance company offers a settlement, reviewing the details with an attorney carefully is vital. Your lawyer’s experience makes them mindful of what they should and should not cover.
Once you review the offer, compare what the insurance company covered to what you and your attorney requested in the demand letter. Carefully comparing the details ensures no entitled damages are excluded from the final settlement.
If the insurance company’s offer is insufficient, your lawyer can make a counteroffer. With a counteroffer, the attorney may provide additional evidence to support a higher amount.
If a victim finds the insurance company’s settlement insufficient, they can reject it. Often, rejecting an offer is the first step to ensuring you receive a fair outcome. The insurance company will see you mean business.
Above all, the duration and complexity of the truck accident settlement negotiations will depend on the severity of the sustained injuries, the liability for the accident, and the insurance coverage limitations. Rejecting a less-than-satisfactory settlement will usually spur a longer negotiation process.
In most cases, the victim and the liable party’s insurer can reach an agreement without the case going to trial. In some cases, the parties cannot reach an agreement, and the case must go to court. In a trial, a judge or jury will decide on your claim.
If the case reaches this point, you must know what to expect. Specifically for truck accidents, a case may go to trial when damages exceed an insurance policy’s limitations. An experienced attorney may suggest that you pursue the remaining damages in court.
In a truck accident trial, you can expect testimony from eyewitnesses, expert witnesses, and yourself if your team decides to put you on the stand. You may see motions in court if applicable. Your attorney will make an opening statement and closing argument on your behalf. The jury will deliberate at the end of the trial and render a verdict. The entire process follows strict procedural rules, so you need an experienced litigator handling your case.
A truck accident can devastate the victim and their loved ones, and the recovery process can be grueling and expensive. The bills start piling up quickly after an accident. Many accident victims want to know how to get a settlement offer from an insurance company, and once they receive an offer, they want to know if it is the best they can get.
Every accident victim must know what to do when dealing with an insurance company, specifically regarding initial settlement offers. While getting a quick settlement check might seem convenient and fortunate, accepting the first offer is usually the worst thing you can do for your future.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a commercial truck accident, contact a personal injury attorney to start on your road to physical, mental, emotional, and financial recovery.
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