If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you know it can be a traumatizing experience that shakes you to the core. In such a state, you may not be sure what to do next. If you’re seeking a settlement with an insurance company, there are many questions you may have that you need answers for. This guide can help get you started.
How Long Will It Take To Settle a Claim?
The time it takes to settle a claim varies with the type and dollar amount of the claim. But as a general rule, semi-truck accident claims take longer than the typical personal injury claim. This is because of the increased amount of money involved in the case. As a consequence, you should prepare to wait at least two years before the claim settles.
The type of claim also matters. For instance, wrongful death claims typically take longer than personal injury claims. Understanding the type of claim involved is important when determining how long the case will go on.
The time it takes to settle also depends on when both parties reach an agreement. If you file a claim and the insurance company immediately offers a satisfactory amount, then the case can be settled even before a court date is set. The more expensive the claim, the more effort the insurance company is likely willing to put into the case.
What Other Factors Should You Be Aware Of?
Other factors that may come into play are what your insurance company’s maximum coverage is, how extensive your injuries are, and how long you wait to contact an attorney.
If your coverage is a high amount, the insurance company is more likely to fight to protect its bottom line. If your injuries are severe, you are typically entitled to more money than if they are minor. If you wait too long to hire an attorney, you may lose valuable time for investigating your case.
What Can You Expect From the Insurance Company?
If you’re pursuing damages from an insurance company, know that the company’s primary interest is to settle with you for as little as possible, as quickly as possible. If you decide to hire a lawyer, the process is likely to take longer because the insurance company will take greater efforts to avoid a large payout. The company’s investigation may take more time as it looks for ways to prove that you, as the driver, are primarily responsible for the crash.
In many or most cases, you should not take the first offer that an insurance company proposes. This is typically the lowest possible amount for which the company thinks you might be willing to settle.
Will Your Employer Be Involved?
If you were the driver of the truck and were working at the time of the crash, the insurance company is likely to get your employer involved in the case as well. Your employer will have its own insurance policy and attorney.
In some semi-truck accident claims, the employer has partial or full responsibility for the incident. To prove your employer is responsible for the crash, you need to demonstrate that he or she was negligent. For example, if the company did not properly maintain the truck and this resulted in a crash, legal responsibility may lie with your employer.
Some truck accident claims may fall under the concept of vicarious liability. This means an employer is responsible for its employee’s actions to some extent. For example, if your employer knew you had an impairment that should prevent you from operating a truck but still allowed you to drive, the legal responsibility may lie with the employer.
What Does Your Attorney Do After You File a Claim?
Your attorney’s job is to collect evidence and form a strong case to use in court to earn you the highest payout possible. Certain types of evidence are especially valuable, such as medical bills, maintenance records of the truck, witness testimony, photographs of the crash scene, and accident reports.
Upon getting the case, your attorney can immediately begin to negotiate with the insurance company to earn proper compensation either through a settlement or trial. If your attorney can settle with the insurance company outside of court, you will not need to go to trial. However, if the amount offered is not acceptable, your case may ultimately reach a courtroom.
What Should You Do Immediately After an Accident?
If you’ve just been involved in a truck accident, call 911 and answer any questions. The authorities generally want to know where you are, what the injuries look like, if there is debris on the road, and if the truck may be carrying a dangerous load.
Do not refuse medical care, even if you don’t think you’ve been seriously injured. The insurance company can use a refusal to harm your case by suggesting your injuries were not that serious. In addition, some injuries may not be immediately noticeable, such as closed head trauma or internal bleeding. It’s also possible that shock or excitement may be masking pain or injury.
Share information with the other driver. Get names, phone numbers, addresses of both home and work, and anything else you may feel is relevant. If possible, take a photo of the other driver’s license, and be aware that driver’s licenses differ for truckers.
What Evidence Should You Gather From the Scene?
If emergency medics suggest you leave the scene in an ambulance, don’t deny them. However, if they do not believe you need an ambulance, you can gather evidence from the scene. If you’re familiar with what to look for at the scene of an auto accident, the steps are essentially the same for truck accidents.
Take lots of photographs of the crash. Get pictures of the license plates of any vehicles involved. Pay attention to the locations of any nearby traffic signals, vehicle debris, skid marks, or anything related to the crash.
While medical documentation that demonstrates the severity of your injuries is critical, it can also help to have receipts of any physical damages your vehicle receives.
What Is an Injury Demand Letter?
An injury demand letter is a document you send to the insurance company that specifies and explains in full what damages you’ve endured as a result of the accident. It acts as the first formal demand for settlement that you’re making from the insurance company and is where negotiation between you and the insurance company begins. If you’ve collected all the necessary evidence, including your medical records and any second opinions from healthcare professionals, you should have enough information to craft this letter.
This letter should include an exact, all-inclusive dollar amount that you want from the insurance company, as well as an itemized and detailed list of all damages you’re pursuing.
When Should You Get Help From a Lawyer?
Consulting a lawyer as soon as possible is vital to your truck accident claim so your attorney can begin investigating your case right away. While you can go it alone, you are more likely to get a better settlement with the help of a legal professional. If you’ve been in a truck accident, contact Hensley Legal Group today to explore your options for getting the settlement to which you are entitled.