Being involved in a truck accident is rough. And the last thing you need is to deal with an uncooperative insurance agency that won’t take your calls or pay you a fair settlement.
As truck accident lawyers, this story is all too familiar. That's why we've put together this quick introduction to what you can do to give your truck accident claim some extra firepower and avoid a low-ball settlement.
Tip #1: Do What the Doctor Tells You to
Accept medical aid. Always. Not only should you take care of your health and work toward making a full recovery, but the medical bills that you get can help you justify the amount of medical damage that you need to be compensated for.
Furthermore, if you don’t do what the doctor prescribes or tells you to do, then the insurance adjuster would claim that your injuries persisted or got worse because you didn’t follow medical advice or receive the aid given to you. In other words, your injuries are now your fault, and the amount of your final recoverable settlement could drop.
Takeaway: Accept all the medical help that you can get and preserve all the bills and reports.
Tip #2: Explain All Your Damages
If you tell your doctor that the level of your pain or discomfort was less than it actually was, the adjuster would cite this and claim that you don’t need your settlement to compensate you for your suffering. The adjuster would also use this evidence to claim that your injuries were not that bad.
Plus, if you have suffered a truly catastrophic injury like a brain or spinal cord injury, there could be a risk of complications that may not be apparent now. Not only should you consult with a doctor about this to protect yourself, but insurance companies are supposed to take future damages into consideration when calculating your settlement as well. This could be difficult to prove, so make sure that you have all the reports and receipts handy.
When you have to calculate your non-economic losses, consider every problem that you have encountered, which could have been avoided if the truck crash didn’t happen. It can be something general, like the pain and trauma you've had to go through, or something more personal, like not being able to reach your goals or dance with your spouse again.
Takeaway: Be honest during your medical (and psych) evaluations, and don’t be afraid to include all the non-calculable damages in your asking settlement as well.
Tip #3: Keep Copies of Everything
A truck accident is a major and often top-dollar claim. Adjusters know this and will work extra hard to diminish your case’s value. To fight that, keep a record of every single expense, trouble and detail associated with your accident.
At the outset, it might look like this would take a lot of effort when all you want to do is focus on your treatment. That’s understandable. However, keeping a record should be no trouble once you know what to do. Here’s a start:
- Write down everything that you remember about the accident. Everything.
- Write down what happened after the accident, or what is yet to happen: the medical aid you received, the consultations, the pains and troubles, the lost income, therapy programs, etc.
- File all your bills, receipts, reports and other written documents together.
- Collect and keep the contact details of any witnesses, the truck driver, other people involved in the accident, all your doctors and as many other people as possible.
- Remember to ask for the police report and the officer’s details.
- Request data from the truck’s black box and keep the trucking company’s contact details.
- If there was a road accident assessment report written up, try to get a copy of it.
If you can’t write down everything, have someone close to you do it for you. You can also collect visual evidence like photographs of your injuries, or collect statements on audio recorders.
For all communications to and from the police, insurance company, trucking company and other parties, it’s smart to use email as much as possible because it can be used as airtight, written evidence.
Truck accidents are extremely damaging. So we will always advise you to make the extra effort to collect all this evidence because you should recover as much as possible and not get shortchanged. It could affect your future financial ability to receive proper treatment. If you still don’t want to do all of this by yourself, then consider having a truck accident lawyer take care of it for you.
Takeaway: Retain everything that you possibly can as evidence.
Tip #4: Be Ready to Go to Court
If the adjuster gets the feeling that you don’t ever want to go to court in case you get a low offer, then that's exactly what they're going to do: give you a low offer. As long as they know that you don’t have the energy, time or money to sue them for all they’ve got, they are not going to worry about making you an offer that you might refuse. They know that you’re going to accept a low one anyway in order to get it over with and avoid court proceedings.
You must be strong during negotiations. If you know that what you’re asking for is truly the amount you deserve, then stand your ground and accept no less. Be prepared to take legal action. Adjusters dislike offering a higher settlement, but they dislike having to deal with lawsuits even more.
Make sure they know that you are fully prepared to take action against them. You are well within your rights to do so. However, the adjuster might convince you that going to court can only harm your ability to recover your settlement, and convince you even more that what they’re offering is right. Be wary; they might say that:
- Hiring a lawyer is expensive and that even contingency lawyers aren’t worth it.
- The amount they’re offering is the maximum possible, and they would reduce it if you sue them.
- Trials take years to resolve, but accepting their offer now is immediate.
We’re going to set the record straight really quick with these top three arguments:
- Contingency lawyers go for the max and nothing less because they get paid only when you do. This is the kind of lawyer who is willing to put their own time, energy and reputation on the line for their clients and risk suffering major losses with every case that they sign up for. You can tell that this is the kind of lawyer who is committed only to helping their clients get the best results.
- Insurance companies will give you a "take it or leave it" scenario to make you feel like you have no choice. If you know you deserve more, then the law will be on your side, and by suing them, you might be able to recover more than what was initially offered.
- Truck accidents claims could take years. But they could take a few months too. It will all depend on the particulars of your case. If the truck driver’s negligence is super obvious, then the trial might resolve faster. Furthermore, you may not need to go through the entire length of the trial anyway. Most often, once sued, the insurance companies offer an out-of-court settlement that is more agreeable so that they don’t have to invest in a lawyer and worry about court proceedings as well.
Takeaway: Be ready to sue them if they offer you less than what you deserve, and don’t take anything they say at face value
Tip #5: Hire a Lawyer
Because we are a law firm, we may come off as being biased when we tell you to hire an attorney. But the truth is we believe that choosing a lawyer to represent you is the wisest decision you can make.
We’ve had enough experience to know exactly how insurance companies think and work. When they hear that you are going to collect a settlement without a lawyer by your side, they will make you a lower offer and take your limited understanding of the law for granted.
Let's put it this way: the truck driver’s or the trucking company’s insurance company is going to have experienced adjusters who need to preserve as much profit as possible. They might tell you that your case won’t qualify for future damages, you don’t need that extra $1,000 for therapy, you were on your phone and contributed to the accident, and so on. They will just keep slashing your claim’s true value until you give up and accept it.
The good news is that truck accident lawyers won’t cost you any out-of-pocket expenses, and will only make money when you get a just recovery.