A truck accident can leave you dazed and traumatized. Truck accidents are terrifying experiences that often involve life-threatening situations and serious injuries.
As a victim of a truck accident, the gravity of your injuries and the impact your injuries will have on your life may still not be completely evident to you or your doctors. You may still be unsure of the extent of your damages when you receive communications from an insurance company offering you a settlement for your losses.
While an insurer may pressure you to decide quickly, you have rights and do not need to respond to them immediately. A truck accident attorney can help you decide whether the first offer from an insurance company is worth accepting or if further negotiations are necessary to help you get the maximum benefit from your claim. The steps you take after an initial offer can determine how the case proceeds, including the amount of money you may receive.
Call a Lawyer, if You Have Not Already Hired One
The first thing you should do after receiving a settlement offer from an insurance company for a truck accident is to call an attorney if you haven’t already. Truck accidents are devastating, and when you suffer serious injuries that require emergency treatment or a hospital stay, you may have your time occupied with worry and stress about your health and injuries.
You may not have yet had a chance to hire a lawyer, or you may initially have thought you could manage a truck accident claim independently. Whatever the reason might be, nothing stops you from calling a lawyer even after you receive a first settlement offer from an insurer.
Insurance companies may move fast when it is in their best interest. You may receive an offer far sooner than you anticipated, but that does not mean you must respond to them right away. Inform the insurance company that you need time to review the offer. Insurance companies can set deadlines for how long the offer will remain valid, but they cannot expect or force you to decide on the spot.
Do Not Accept or Respond to the Offer Immediately
The act of acceptance after a settlement offer, in effect, ends negotiations with an insurer and closes out the claim. Under no circumstances should you communicate to the insurer that you are accepting a first settlement offer without time to consult with a lawyer about your case. You should not respond to the insurer or discuss the settlement offer without speaking to your attorney first.
Any communications you enter into with an insurance representative regarding your case or the settlement offer they make to you is information they may use against you as your case proceeds. The best approach is to ask for time to review the offer and make no comment regarding the amount, your damages, injuries, or anything else relevant to your case.
Once you have a chance to speak with your attorney and inform them of the offer by the insurer, they can step in and act on your behalf to communicate with the insurance company about your decision regarding the first offer.
Does the First Settlement Offer Indicate What Your Truck Accident Claim Is Worth?
It is understandable for a truck accident victim to feel anxious and uncertain about what to expect as part of the insurance claims process. You may perceive a first settlement offer as a relief that you will receive some form of compensation for your damages. However, first settlement offers rarely reflect the true value of a truck accident claim.
In most instances, an insurer makes a first settlement offer to begin conversations about damages and test the waters against a plaintiff in a truck accident claim. A truck accident attorney understands the common tactics employed by insurers, including offering low-ball settlements to catch an unsuspecting truck accident victim off guard.
Do not feel disheartened by the first settlement offer made by the insurance company. The offer they make may not be an accurate representation of your actual damages and losses following a truck accident. It is not uncommon for an initial settlement offer and the final agreed-upon settlement or verdict in a truck accident case to be wide apart in compensation.
What Are Your Rights Following a First Settlement Offer?
Over 100,000 truck accidents occur yearly in the U.S., where one or multiple parties sustain injuries. When you are a victim in a truck accident, you have rights. Those rights do not end when the insurance company offers a first settlement. Consult your lawyer about your case and the settlement the insurer offers.
A truck accident victim has the right to hire an attorney at any point in a truck accident insurance claim before accepting any offer, even if they initially filed a claim without the help of a lawyer.
Once an insurance company offers a settlement, you can review the settlement and its terms. You are not obligated to accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company. In turn, the insurer is not obligated to make the same offer to you again. However, in most truck accident cases, the first settlement offer is just the first step in negotiations. Multiple rounds of back-and-forth offers and counteroffers can occur before reaching and agreeing to a successful settlement.
How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help You Following a Truck Accident?
A truck accident lawyer can make a big difference in how an insurance company handles your truck accident claim and the outcome of your claim. A lawyer with experience handling not just personal injury claims but truck accident claims can offer you greater insight into your rights and understand how to manage a claim to help you pursue the best resolution.
As a truck accident victim, you have important things to focus on and worry about, such as your health, recovering from your injuries, and trying to get back to your life after a truck accident. With the help of a truck accident attorney, you can focus on what matters most to you and let them focus on your insurance claim and the process of fighting for the compensation you may recover after a crash.
Gather Evidence and Prove Who Is at Fault
Proving how the truck accident happened and who acted negligently is a key aspect of a truck accident case. Your truck accident lawyer will help build your case by investigating the accident and what went wrong.
A truck accident attorney may gain access hard-to-get evidence such as truck company records, truck black box data, service hour records, maintenance records, and traffic camera footage, which can play a big part in revealing the moments leading up to the truck crash.
Your lawyer can use their resources and know how to get the information they need to build a strong claim for damages on your behalf. The more evidence available to prove your damages and who is at fault for the truck accident, the stronger your case and claim are.
Determine Who Should Pay For Your Damages
Once a truck accident lawyer investigates the accident and reveals the events and actions that caused it, they can determine who may be liable for your injuries and losses. Liability for a truck accident is the party or parties who may be responsible for paying for your compensation following a crash. In many instances, the party that can pay out damages following a truck accident is the truck insurance company.
However, there are instances where there may be additional parties at fault and liable for the crash damages. For example, if another vehicle is involved in the crash and found negligent, they may have to pay for some of your losses. Additionally, depending on the facts of a case, the truck company, shipping company, maintenance company, truck manufacturer, or another party may also have played a part in the crash, making them liable for your damages.
Your truck accident lawyer will look at all of these parties and relationships to determine liability and make certain all liable parties in a truck accident are part of the case when possible.
Estimate Your Total Truck Accident Damages
To fight for your damages, you must know what your damages are. Severe and disabling injuries from a truck accident can make calculating damages a challenge. You must account not only for what your losses are up until this point but also for what additional damages you may suffer in the days, months, and years ahead.
A truck accident attorney can go over your damages carefully and meticulously to ensure that you calculate all of your truck accident losses, including losses you may not have thought of. The estimation of damages your lawyer completes may not be the amount you ultimately receive in a settlement.
However, the damage calculations are a source of information you and your lawyer can refer back to when reviewing settlement offers and presenting proof of your damages to the insurance company in your truck accident claim.
Damages to include in a truck accident case may include:
- Your medical expenses
- Your income losses
- Future loss of income and medical expenses
- Your pain and suffering
- Property damage to your vehicle
Negotiate With Liable Parties for a Better Offer
When you hire an attorney to represent you as part of a truck accident insurance claim, they will handle your case. Although they will inform you about important aspects of your case, such as settlement offers and other developments, they will handle the day-to-day duties involving your truck accident case, including negotiations.
Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company to try to reach the best settlement in your favor. Instead of worrying about the back-and-forth communications with an insurance company yourself, your lawyer can keep you updated on when offers come in for your consideration. You can discuss the offer at that time, and your lawyer can advise you on your options.
Represent You in Negotiations or a Court, if Necessary
Once a lawyer takes you as a client, they can represent your interests throughout the insurance claims process and negotiate the best possible outcome for your truck accident case. If insurance settlement negotiations are not fruitful, they can continue to represent you as you prepare for court and trial, should it become necessary.
Most truck accident cases settle through the truck accident claims process. However, there are some instances, such as when the damages are too great or the insurer disputes which is at fault, that a case may need to go through the court to reach a resolution. If your case should face the need for a truck accident lawsuit, your attorney can advise you on your options and the best approach in your interests for your truck accident case.
When Should You Call a Truck Accident Attorney?
As soon as you possibly can, the reality is that a lawyer may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you are a victim in a truck accident. If you have injuries, that will be where your concerns and focus lie following a crash. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
However, as soon as you begin to think about your losses and how you will pursue compensation, you must call an attorney for help with your case. Insurance companies may try to move quickly after the crash, especially when an accident is severe and they realize the potential damages at stake.
Before speaking to an insurance company, truck company, or other interested party to the truck accident claim, you should contact a truck accident attorney to discuss your rights. Contact a truck accident lawyer in your area for a free case evaluation.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.