Do not accept any settlement offer from a defendant’s insurer in a truck accident case before consulting an attorney. The insurance company’s adjuster is likely to make you a quick, low offer in hopes that you’ll accept it before working with a lawyer to determine the actual value of your claim. You cannot, however, know what your medical bills will ultimately add up to until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), and you probably have no idea of how to evaluate your non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, without the help of an attorney.
Truck Accident Claims Are Costly to Insurance Companies
If you’re hurt in an accident caused by someone else, the at-fault driver is responsible for your medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. If that driver was operating a large commercial truck, which can weigh up to 20 times as much as your car or SUV, your injuries are likely to be catastrophic, your pain and suffering extreme, your vehicle a total loss, and your lost income significant due to the time you’ll be off work for recovery.
This means that your claim will be a very costly one for the insurance company, which is in business to earn profits, not to lose money by paying out expensive damage claims. That’s why you’re even more likely to receive a quick lowball settlement offer from one or more insurers in a truck-car accident case than in a wreck between two cars. Convincing you to accept such an offer saves the company money, but you could be left without the funds you need to pay all your medical bills and other expenses while you’re off work for recovery. Accepting the insurer’s first low offer is never a good idea.
Refer the Insurer to Your Attorney
If you settle now and have future medical problems as a result of your truck crash, you may never ask for more money, so you could be left with huge bills to pay on your own. The adjuster who contacts you after your accident hopes you’ll accept a low first offer because your bills are piling up. The adjuster is also trained to take anything you say out of context and use it to dispute your claim. If you’re contacted by an adjuster from the defendant’s insurance company, the smartest thing you can do is decline to discuss the accident or your condition. Refer all communications to your attorney and let the lawyer do the talking.
Insurance Company Scare Tactics
The insurance adjuster might also try to scare you into accepting a low offer by telling you that your claim could drag on for years once lawyers get involved, and it will be that much longer before you receive any compensation to pay your growing medical bills. Don’t be intimidated by this scare tactic.
Paying Your Bills While You Wait
You can generally find other sources of compensation for your medical expenses while you’re awaiting a reasonable settlement from the at-fault party. Your own auto insurance or health insurance company will often pay your current medical bills and then seek reimbursement later through a subrogation claim once you receive fair compensation from the defendant(s) in your case.
How Your Attorney Can Help
An experienced truck crash lawyer can help you in a number of ways to seek fair compensation for your damages. Your attorney can:
- Investigate your wreck thoroughly to establish clear liability on the part of the trucker who hit you.
- Obtain important data from the truck’s black box recorder, dashboard camera, and electronic logging device to determine whether the trucker was in violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.
- Consult with your doctors to determine your long-term prognosis and future medical expenses.
- Put a dollar amount on your pain and suffering, as well as other non-economic damages, to evaluate your case.
- Determine percentages of fault and demand fair compensation from all liable parties, which might include the trucker, the trucking company, a truck repair service, a manufacturer, loading dock personnel, or a government agency.
- Negotiate fair settlements from all defendants.
- File multiple lawsuits and take your case to trial if necessary.
- Help you seek alternative sources of compensation while awaiting a fair settlement.
Almost all truck accident cases are settled out of court, but the leverage of a possible lawsuit gives the insurer an incentive to offer you a fair settlement. Your lawyer will make sure you observe the statute of limitations so that your case does not drag out beyond the three-year time limit for personal injury cases in South Carolina. You have nothing to lose and could have much to gain by seeking legal representation.