Semi-truck accidents typically include severe personal injuries resulting in long-term or permanent medical conditions and treatment. Consequently, trucking companies pay higher levels of required insurance coverage for the operator of the semi-truck resulting in finalized settlements higher than typical car accident settlements.
Both Federal and State law mandate that commercial trucks must be covered by insurance. Therefore, it is all but guaranteed you will come into contact with an insurance adjuster following your accident with a commercial truck. One thing to remember when dealing with insurance adjusters in this situation is: unless you are positive their opening offer is accurate, do NOT accept their initial offer.
Generally, insurance companies make opening offers worth much less than what the injuries dictate. They also usually make these offers within a very short time frame after the truck accident. This method saves them thousands of dollars in time and legal fees, while taking advantage of a situation where you are still recovering from your injuries and unsure of what your long-term injuries and costs will be.
Accepting an insurance companies’ offer to settle usually releases them from liability for all future medical expenses, at the very least. This means if your case goes to trial, you may be barred from recovering what you are owed, even if the accident-related medical condition was discovered after you received the settlement.
Negotiating the Settlement
Should you choose to negotiate the settlement with the insurance adjuster, the first thing you must do is determine how much you believe your case is worth, i.e., what you are willing to accept as settlement.
In order to do this, look at all the information in your case:
o Medical reports and any documentation for future medical expenses;
o Witness statements;
o Documentation to compile a lost wages claim; and
o Witnesses to your condition prior to the truck accident.
Once you arrive at a preliminary figure, look at what similar cases have produced and jury verdicts. Unless you are a medical professional, economist, and lawyer, you’ll need to get professional advice to help you determine the total financial sum your injuries are worth. Not until after you have reached your final number can you make an educated counter-offer.
Your counter-offer should be higher than your settlement number as the adjuster’s offer was most certainly lower than his or her settlement number. Should the adjuster reject your counter-offer and make another offer, you can use a bracketing technique. This means you decrease your demand at the same rate the adjuster is increasing his or hers. If the adjusters “final offer’ is not reasonable, you have two choices:
o Settle the case for less than you wanted to collect; or
o Take the company to court.
Why You Need A Truck Accident Lawyer
Should it be necessary to go to court, you are going to want an experienced truck accident attorney on your side; someone that understands the specific laws of your state, the type of injuries you have sustained, and how to represent your best interests. A qualified personal injury lawyer will keep your needs in mind and will make sure you are not taken advantage of by an unforgiving insurance company who is only looking out for their bottom line.
Your truck accident lawyer will be able to incorporate evidence and injury claims into your complaint so that you are given a fair settlement. An experienced attorney will also be able to line up expert testimony as well as collect the necessary information to adequately support a claim of recoverable medical expenses for:
o Full extent of your injuries (not just what is immediately apparent);
o Short and long term medical care;
o Overall impact on your quality of life;
o Psychological toll; and
o The impact of the injury on the specific plaintiff.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck accident, contact an experienced truck accident attorney to maximize your recovery and get you what you deserve.