Florida Truck Accident Injury Attorneys
Following any type of an accident, your focus should be on recovering from your physical injuries. With a truck accident, this is even more important. Because of the sheer size of a truck versus a car, you are likely to be facing a longer recovery time than if you were involved in a similar accident involving two passenger automobiles.
In a no-fault insurance state, victims of a truck accident are often uncertain whether they need to hire a lawyer. The fact is, hiring a truck accident attorney to serve as your advocate is always a good idea, regardless of the type of accident you are involved in. After a truck accident, there are some simple questions you can ask yourself to determine when you need a truck accident attorney.
How Long Has It Been Since the Accident Took Place?
Every state has a statute of limitations. This means there is a time limit that could prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit if you wait too long. The sooner after the accident you seek legal advice, the better off you will be. The statute of limitations in Florida, for example, is four years, which may seem like plenty of time, but waiting to pursue a claim is not a good idea As time passes, evidence can be lost, and witnesses’ memories can fade. Beyond this, waiting to pursue a claim means waiting that much longer for potential damages to be awarded.
There are several reasons why contacting an attorney soon after an accident makes sense. Some of the steps an attorney can take which you may have difficulty with include:
- Collecting evidence. There are numerous pieces of evidence you may be unaware of following a truck accident. For example, the logs a truck driver is required to keep, footage from traffic cameras, and blood tests the driver may have undergone to screen for drugs and alcohol can be requested by an attorney on your behalf.
- Witness information. A lawyer knows what questions to ask witnesses to ensure they get the information necessary. The sooner after an accident this occurs, the less likely a witness is to forget minor details.
- Evaluation of case. An attorney can help evaluate your case and decide how much compensation would be reasonable in your specific case.
- Keeps you focused on recovery. The most important thing you can do is focus on your physical recovery. Hiring a lawyer helps you find peace of mind knowing legal issues are left up to the people who understand them while you focus on taking care of yourself.
What Can an Attorney Do That You Cannot Do Yourself?
Accident victims often think they can handle negotiations with an insurance company on their own. However, when the accident involves a truck, this may not be as simple as it sounds. In no-fault states, if your injuries are considered serious you still have the right to file a lawsuit (and your injuries are likely to exceed a no-fault policy amount). Truck accident victims might learn they have to work with multiple insurance adjusters, including their own insurer, the truck driver’s insurer, the trucker’s employer’s insurance at a minimum.
You might think your own insurance company will help you navigate the claims process to make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to—and you would be seriously mistaken. Insurance company adjusters are there to not only get information about the accident, but also to minimize the settlement the insurance company will have to pay.
In Florida, for instance, a registered driver is only required to maintain $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage (PIP). This coverage will not pay 100 percent of your expenses. The rule is, PIP will pay 80 percent of actual medical expenses that are directly tied to the injury you suffered in a truck accident. This leaves you out in the cold when it comes to recovering lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, and any additional expenses you may be incurring as a result of your injuries, such as household help while you recover.
A truck accident attorney can serve as your advocate, work with multiple insurance companies on your behalf, and make sure the insurance company does not have the luxury of allowing the statutes of limitations to expire before you file a lawsuit. Waiting too long after an accident to seek legal advice is a bad idea.
What if the Insurance Company Offers a Quick Settlement?
Insurance companies will often make a settlement offer shortly after the accident with an expectation that you are in dire need of cash and want to move forward. Inevitably, these settlements are a “bottom line” offer—insurance companies will often tell you this is the most they are willing to offer to settle your claim. In many cases, they will utilize tactics like telling you this is the highest settlement you are likely to get. Do not believe this.
Insurance companies know the longer a victim takes to recover from truck accident injuries, the more money the victim may be entitled to receive in a final settlement. They know you could be out of work for several weeks and they do not want to be on the hook for your lost wages. Additionally, the sooner an insurance company can convince you to accept a settlement, the less they will have to pay for your medical care. This is because these settlements usually come with strings.
You will be presented an agreement which states (usually in masked language) that once you have deposited a check and accepted the settlement, the insurance company is no longer liable for any expenses you incur as a result of the injury you suffered in a truck accident. Therefore, if you have not hired an attorney before getting an offer of settlement from an insurance company, once you do receive a settlement, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer immediately before agreeing to anything.
What Can a Lawyer Do When Dealing With an Insurance Company?
The primary role of an attorney in a truck accident case is to serve as your advocate. A truck accident attorney will review your case first by reviewing all evidence available. Then they will review all the specifics of your injury to determine how much of a settlement would be acceptable. They will be able to review your medical reports, evaluate the impact a truck accident has had on your overall health and your life, and determine how much time you could be out of work.
This type of thorough evaluation from an attorney who has experience successfully managing truck accidents means they can offer you advice about whether an insurer’s offer is fair. If it appears the insurer is offering you significantly less than you might otherwise be entitled to, they can negotiate with the insurance company. Therefore, hiring an attorney, either immediately following an accident or upon receiving a settlement offer, is very important.
If an insurer makes an offer that is in line with what you may recover by filing a lawsuit, a truck accident lawyer may advise you to accept the offer. However, if your injuries are going to require long-term care, or the true extent of your injuries has not been established, they may recommend you reject the settlement offer.
Did You Suffer a Serious Injury in a Truck Accident?
Among the various reasons you should contact an attorney as soon after an accident as possible is to make sure you have the best possible person advocating on your behalf. While you may believe you are your best advocate, certain injuries could interfere with your ability to serve effectively as your own advocate. After all, trying to remain mentally sharp when you are forced to take pain killers is challenging, even in the best of situations.
This is not the only stumbling block, however. Personal injury cases, particularly ones involving truck accidents with multiple potentially liable parties, are often extremely complex. Beyond this, unrepresented litigants are held to the same rules of procedure and evidence that represented parties are; trying to go up against a team of highly-paid insurance company attorneys with no legal training or assistance is a recipe for disaster.
An attorney can help you understand the upper and lower limits of what compensation you may be able to collect after a truck accident. After all, the insurance company is not going to tell you what they have paid out in the past for the type of injuries you have suffered—this does not benefit them in any way. To get the maximum compensation you deserve, you want an attorney who is experienced and knows what your injuries could potentially cost in the long run, including time lost from work.
The advantage of having an attorney on your case cannot be minimized. Insurance companies are huddling with their legal team to see what options they have available to either reject your claim or minimize the amount they are going to offer you to settle your claim. Your attorney will not only make sure you have the best chance of getting the maximum compensation you may be entitled to, but they will also be the person who deals with the insurance company. That means all communication, all paperwork, and time to deal with questions will be transferred from you to your truck accident attorney, allowing you to focus on regaining your physical health.
What Information Is the Insurance Company Requesting?
Insurance companies are going to request a great deal of information after you file a claim following a truck accident. Some of this information could be used to minimize the value of your claim. For example, if you suffered a back injury in a truck accident and had a history of back problems, the insurer could claim the accident only exacerbated a pre-existing condition and therefore they should only be responsible for a fraction of the costs of your treatment.
Keep something else in mind: When an adjuster contacts you for paperwork, chances are they will be contacting you by telephone. They are going to ask you questions on a regular basis to see if they can throw you off your guard. Simple questions like how are you doing might seem innocent enough, but if you say “I’m doing fine,” you could be placing your claim in jeopardy. Remember, an insurance adjuster is not your friend. They’re specially trained in making small talk to attempt to solicit answers which will help their client, the insurance company.
Ideally, you want to cooperate with the insurer by providing the information they need pertaining to the accident and your injuries. Your best option is to do this in conjunction with a truck accident attorney. Allow the attorney to handle communications between yourself and the insurer to make sure they get the right information and to make sure you do not fall into any traps being set for you to talk about how and what you might be doing during a conversation with an adjuster.
How Often to Truck Accident Cases Require Going to Court?
There is no simple answer to this question because every truck accident case is different. In general, personal injury attorneys can take advantage of the fact that companies would often prefer a quiet settlement to a protracted jury trial. On the other hand, some defendants or their insurers may refuse to offer a settlement offer that properly compensates the injured party. In these cases, going to trial may be necessary to get you the funds you need.
Truck accidents are complicated, and there is never an easy answer as to how much compensation you could be expecting for your injuries, nor is there an easy answer as to whether your case will ultimately wind up before a jury rather than settling out of court. Regardless of the circumstances, you need a truck accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible to make sure you understand your rights, have someone who will aggressively pursue compensation on your behalf, and ensure that should your case require court action, you will be prepared.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765