Dealing With the Insurance Company After a Truck Accident
Insurance companies may choose to reach out to victims of a truck accident soon after the incident. These companies generally want to connect with any victims as quickly as possible. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you’re likely hoping that a settlement offer will provide you with the funds that you need to pay for your medical expenses and help handle your regular bills. With substantial medical bills adding up fast, any amount of money would come as a welcome relief.
Unfortunately, the first insurance settlement offer likely will not reflect the true cost of your injuries. In many cases, insurance companies will issue low settlement offers immediately after an accident. The insurance adjuster, rather than wanting to provide you with the money you need to pay your bills, is likely more concerned with decreasing the company’s overall financial liability.
How do you know if your initial offer is reasonable? Should you accept the first offer from an insurance company after a truck accident? Read on, or call a truck accident lawyer for more information.
Your First Step: Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Do you know how much compensation to seek for injuries that you suffered in a truck accident? Do you understand the factors that can influence your total settlement amount? What about the limitations imposed by truck drivers’ insurance policies? You may not have the answers to those questions on your own. As a result, you might accept a settlement offer that simply does not reflect the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact an experienced attorney before you do anything else regarding that settlement offer.
A lawyer can:
Evaluate the Extent of Your Injuries and Your Bills
You may sustain simple injuries that you can calculate the cost of relatively easily. You might have broken bones or lacerations following your truck accident. Other medical expenses, however, can prove much more difficult to calculate.
Burns, for example, carry an extremely high risk of complications. Many burn victims must undergo multiple procedures to aid in their recovery. The risk of infection, which can substantially increase the amount of medical treatment needed—and therefore the cost of recovery—runs high. Additionally, victims of spinal cord damage might not fully know their prognoses until six months or more after their accidents. If you’ve been injured, you may need to wait until you progress further through your recovery to develop a comprehensive response to an insurance company’s initial offer. You want to ensure that your request includes all of the medical expenses that you’ve faced during the accident as well as your anticipated future expenses.
You should keep track of all medical bills following a severe accident. Keep in mind that you may receive multiple bills for what seems like the same service: For example, after an emergency room visit, you may receive a separate bill for x-rays and scans. By keeping all your medical bills in one place, you can easily add up all of your medical expenses when seeking compensation. Medical expenses may include the following:
- Emergency medical expenses, from ambulance transport away from the scene of the accident to care in the emergency room. Depending on your injuries, you may also require emergency surgery to help treat your injuries and possibly to save your life.
- Hospitalization. Some injuries will require you to spend a period of time, sometimes a long period of time, in the hospital. You may require assistance in the ICU or ongoing care while recovering from your injuries. You may also need to spend time in a rehabilitation facility, especially if you have to cope with severe injuries, like amputations or spinal cord damage.
- Durable medical equipment. Many injuries may leave you reliant on support from durable medical equipment, from prosthetic devices to wheelchairs and braces. If you require durable medical equipment to assist in your recovery, you can include that cost with your medical expenses. Make sure to also track receipts for devices that you may have purchased for your home, like a shower chair or bedside toilet, to aid in mobility and to accommodate your injury.
- Ongoing appointments and follow-ups. Every time you have to visit your doctor during your recovery, you will likely face additional fees. While some doctors may include follow-up fees in their initial procedure fees, including surgeons who want to monitor the progression of your recovery, others may send out separate bills. Keep track of the receipts from all of your doctor visits, even if you pay only a minor copay for the visit.
- Therapy. Following your accident, you may need several types of therapy to aid in your recovery. If you face serious injuries that will leave you with lifelong limitations, you may need occupational therapy to help you learn how to navigate tasks you performed commonly and easily before your accident, or to help you learn how to care for yourself in spite of your injuries. Physical therapy can help restore strength and mobility in your body or help you regain functionality after your injuries. Many victims with serious injuries, especially individuals who face lifelong complications and limitations, may also need psychological therapy to help them learn how to cope within their new limits.
- Home or vehicle modifications to aid with mobility and independence. You may have to modify your home or your vehicle if you suffer injuries with long-term or lifelong implications. Many victims with mobility challenges, for example, need to widen doorways or install wheelchair ramps in their homes to allow easier access due to those injuries. If this situation applies to you, you should include those expenses, which you face solely as a result of your injuries, as part of your medical expenses on your report.
An experienced attorney will look over your other financial losses related to the accident, in addition to all of the aforementioned medical expenses. If, for example, you cannot return to work due to your injuries, you can and should include your lost wages as part of your calculation. Your attorney will also help evaluate your pain and suffering and how your injuries have impacted other areas of your life, including your social life and your ability to participate in activities that you previously enjoyed. All of these elements can help contribute to the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries.
Examine the Insurance Policy
Many insurance policies have highly specific payment structures that help determine exactly how much compensation you can receive for a single truck accident. Luckily, commercial drivers usually carry comparatively high policies that offer a great deal of protection to victims who suffer severe injuries in their accidents. Unfortunately, that initial offer from the insurance company may not reflect the full compensation you should receive under the terms of that policy.
A personal injury lawyer can examine your insurance policy and determine what exactly it covers. Your attorney will look over the full terms of the policy and evaluate how much compensation you should expect to receive from the policy.
Determine All Parties Who May Potentially Share Liability for Your Injuries
Not only will an attorney work to evaluate the initial offer provided by the insurance company and assess whether it reflects the true value of your claim, but he or she will also help determine all parties that may potentially share liability for your injuries. This can significantly impact the compensation you ultimately receive for your injuries. In the case of a truck accident, potentially liable parties may include:
- The driver. The driver makes the final decisions on the road that can lead to an accident.
- The trucking company. The trucking company may push its drivers to drive in unsafe conditions or to exceed the federally mandated number of hours that each driver can spend behind the wheel, substantially raising the risk of an accident.
- A mechanic who worked on the truck, or the manufacturer of the truck. Mechanical failure can cause accidents outside the control of either the driver or trucking company. In this situation, a mechanic who recently worked on the truck, or the manufacturer of the truck, may face liability.
- The company that loaded the truck. Poorly loaded cargo can cause accidents before a truck driver notices any problem with his or her truck. In this case, the company that loaded the truck may face liability.
A full understanding of all parties that contributed to your accident can help determine what steps you need to take regarding your claim, including when to accept an offer from an insurance company.
After the Initial Offer: Your Response
An experienced injury attorney can help you put together an effective response to that first offer from an insurance company. Immediately after the response, your attorney may formally decline that offer. You may need time to progress in your recovery and get a better evaluation of your injuries and your prognosis before you have a solid picture of the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Once you have progressed far enough through your recovery to fully understand both what your medical expenses will look like and how much you will likely recover from your injuries, your attorney will submit a demand to the insurance company. This package will include all the details associated with the accident and your expenses, including:
- Your expenses and financial expectations. Your attorney will review all of your medical expenses, your lost wages, and the pain and suffering associated with your injuries. You deserve compensation for the expenses you face as a result of the injuries caused by the driver or other liable party. Your attorney will put together a list of all those expenses and how your accident has impacted your everyday life.
- Any evidence related to the accident. Your attorney will spend time evaluating the accident itself, potentially including consulting witness statements, looking over camera footage, and even consulting with expert witnesses as needed. He may go over the truck driver’s logs or looked into past accidents, including how the company responded. Your response to the initial settlement offer may include evidence that shows exactly how the driver caused the accident or how the company contributed to that accident.
Your demand will include the funds you expect in compensation for your injuries. The insurance company then has the option to accept your offer and provide the compensation you asked for or decline the offer and issue one of its own. You may have to go through several rounds of negotiation before you reach an agreement considered acceptable by all parties. Your attorney will guide you through that process and provide valuable advice about when you should accept that offer.
What Happens If You Accept the Insurance Company’s Initial Offer?
Many people need funds fast after a truck accident leaves them with severe injuries. If you find yourself in this situation, you may wonder what will happen if you accept the insurance company’s initial offer. Oftentimes, the insurance company will provide what looks like a substantial offer immediately after an accident. You may feel that it will cover many of your immediate expenses and give you some breathing room while you recover from the accident.
Should you take it, and what happens if you do?
- You will receive a check after you accept the settlement. Once you accept a settlement offer, the insurance company has a limited amount of time to provide you with the funds. Therefore, accepting the initial settlement offer will likely help get money in your hands faster.
- You will no longer have the right to ask for further compensation for your injuries. While accepting the initial offer can get you funds fast, it will also limit the amount of compensation that you may receive. If you accept the offer, it relieves the insurance company of future financial liability. You may discover that, ultimately, the initial offer does not provide nearly the compensation you need to cover the total cost of your injuries—and that it does not provide enough money to cover your medical bills, much less your lost wages and other expenses related to the accident.
Consulting an attorney before you accept an insurance company’s first offer will give you a better idea of what to expect, when you should accept an offer, and when you should negotiate for a higher settlement. Do not accept any initial offer before consulting an attorney. In many cases, the initial offer provided by an insurance company will not reflect the full value of your injuries and other damages. Many attorneys offer free consultations, which may help provide the insight you need to make further decisions about your claim. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. after your accident.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, Florida 33765