If you were injured in an accident caused by a negligent truck driver in South Carolina, you could be entitled to file a claim with the at-fault trucker’s insurance company for your damages. With doctor’s bills piling up and no money coming in, you certainly hope to your settle your claim as soon as possible. It’s common, however, for the insurer of the truck driver or trucking company to delay resolving your claim while looking for ways to devalue or deny it.
You’re most likely to overcome the delay tactics of an insurance company with the help of an experienced truck accident attorney who knows how to counter stalling practices. Even with a lawyer, however, the resolution of your case could take some time, and you don’t want to accept a quick, lowball offer before you even know the value of your claim. Once you settle and sign a release, you can never ask for more money, even if your injuries have long-term consequences that affect your health, your ability to work, and your daily activities in the future.
Injuries Commonly Sustained in Truck Accidents
Insurance companies are in business to earn profits, which they do by collecting monthly premiums from their customers. They do not earn money by paying out costly accident claims, and truck accidents are some of the most expensive because of the catastrophic injuries they cause, including:
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Fractured bones
- Cuts and scarring
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord damage
Such truck crash injuries can require surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy, home care, assistive equipment, and even permanent disability care. They can also lead to a long recovery during which you can’t work. When you add the value of your pain and suffering, you can end up with an astronomical insurance claim. The more expensive your claim is, the longer an insurer may delay, dispute, devalue, or deny it, thus extending the time it takes to settle for fair compensation.
How an Attorney Can Help Expedite the Process
Your attorney can work to speed up the claims process by persistently countering common delay tactics and consulting with your doctors to determine your long-term care needs. You can’t determine those needs precisely, however, until you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Only then will you know whether you’ll make a full recovery or need ongoing medical care and, if so, for how long. The time it takes to reach MMI varies from case to case.
Resolving a Truck Crash Insurance Claim
If you were injured in a truck accident caused by someone else, your first step after getting medical treatment is to file a claim against the at-fault driver for your medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. Once you’ve reached MMI, you must gather and organize documentation of all your injuries and related medical treatments, including prescriptions, at-home care, and assistive equipment for your home or car. You’ll also need a prognosis and estimation of your future medical care needs.
Your Lawyer Will Present a Demand Letter
Your lawyer can then send the defendant(s) a demand letter. It will itemize your damages, lay out your prognosis, and request a reasonable amount of compensation. The insurer is likely to make a lower counteroffer, and negotiations will then begin. The more complicated or expensive your claim is, the longer negotiations are likely to continue and the more resistant the insurer will be.
When Your Lawyer Might File a Lawsuit
If the insurer refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, your attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant(s). Following the filing of a lawsuit you could end up reaching a settlement shortly after the filing or not until closer to a trial date. The insurer might also offer a settlement during the mediation process, a process in which an objective mediator tries to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable settlement without going to trial.
Taking Time to Get a Fair Result
It’s important to remember that your lawyer needs time to work on your case, gather evidence to prove the at-fault driver’s liability, and get you the best settlement possible. This requires a certain amount of work, which might include the following:
- Examining the police report of the accident
- Interviewing witnesses to the crash
- Finding video footage from nearby security or red-light cameras
- Conducting depositions
- Mounting a detailed investigation to prove liability
- Calling in an accident reconstructionist or other experts
- Consulting with your doctors
- Organizing your medical evidence
If you leave money on the table by accepting a quick, lowball offer from the insurer(s), you could end up with future medical bills for which you can get no further compensation.
When There Are Multiple Defendants
In a truck crash, there could be more than one party liable for your damages: the trucker, trucking company, repair service, manufacturer, cargo loading personnel, or any third-party driver who was partially responsible. Your attorney needs time to find out which defendants bear responsibility and to determine their respective percentages of fault. Negotiations with more than one insurance company might then be required to get you a fair amount of compensation from all those who are liable.
When Evidence Is in the Possession of the Trucking Company
Evidence that only the trucking company possesses can shed light on your case and help to prove liability. This evidence might include:
- Data from the truck’s “black box” recorder
- Dash-cam footage of the wreck
- Truck maintenance records
- The trucker’s safety record and logbooks
Your lawyer needs time to send the company a spoliation letter to prevent it from destroying or discarding any of this evidence, which must then be carefully examined to determine who is at fault in order to prove those parties liable.
You Might Be Eligible for Compensation From Other Sources
If the process rolls along smoothly, you might be able to reach a settlement in a matter of months and hope to receive a check a month or so after that agreement, but some cases do drag on much longer. To keep up with your treatment and resulting medical bills while awaiting your settlement, you might be able to file a claim with your own auto or health insurance company, which would cover your expenses, and then file a subrogation claim against the settlement to recoup its money. In such a case, though, your insurer could become your adversary and try to dispute or devalue your claim just as the defendant’s insurer will, so the services of a lawyer are generally necessary in this case, as well.
Have You Been Injured in a South Carolina Area Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one was injured in a commercial truck accident in South Carolina, you should speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.