As a truck accident victim, you want to get the money you need to pay for your bills, living expenses, and other damages following a crash. Insurance and truck companies know that a quick turnaround on a claim can give them a better chance of losing less money.
First offers of settlement may happen relatively quickly following a truck accident, but a prompt offer does not mean it is done fairly. Initial settlement offers are likely low and insufficient to cover the losses you experience as part of a truck accident. You may need to go with a truck accident lawyer.
You can wait to respond if you receive your first offer from the insurance company. Taking the time to review the offer and taking action to protect yourself can help you get a better outcome for your claim.
Call a Lawyer, if You Have Not Already
You may already have an attorney representing you after a truck accident in your insurance claim. If you have a lawyer, they will advise you and move through the process of evaluating your settlement offer with you.
However, if you still need to get a truck accident attorney and you have received an offer, now is your time to contact one. Even after receiving your first settlement offer, it is still possible to seek an attorney’s advice. A lawyer can interject on your behalf at any point before your claim or case resolution. While it may be best to seek the advice of a truck accident lawyer soon after the truck accident occurs, they can still help you even if the claim is underway.
It is not uncommon for truck accident victims to believe that an insurer would have their best interests in mind. At first, a victim may think they will be able to handle a claim independently. However, if a claim does not end in denial in the early stages, the first settlement offer may catch the victim by surprise.
Insurance companies are notorious for lowballing first settlement offers in an attempt to take advantage of unsuspecting victims and save their company money by avoiding paying out the fair value of damages and resolving the claim as quickly as possible.
Go Over the Details of the Settlement Offer
Once an insurance company transmits a settlement offer to you, you must carefully go over the details of the settlement offer presented by the insurance company. If your attorney receives the settlement offer, they will promptly notify you and likely schedule a time to go over the details of the offer and what your options might be going forward.
When reviewing the offer of settlement from the insurer, you will want to pay close attention to the damages included, what is not included, and the percentage of liability the insurance company accepts as their responsibility. It is standard practice in truck accident cases for insurance companies to admit that they are only partially liable for the damages that result from the crash. They may try to deflect liability onto another driver, the truck company, or even to you, the victim.
Additionally, insurers must follow the limitations of a policy in a truck accident case. Whatever the policy limits, the insurer will not likely offer that amount off the bat, even if your damages exceed the coverage available.
Compare Your Damages to the Offer With Your Lawyer
One of the most critical roles of your lawyer will not only be to represent your interests against the opposing parties to the claim and case but also to help you understand what your claim is worth. Before engaging in negotiations with an insurer, your lawyer must know your actual losses. Your attorney will work with you early on in your representation to tabulate each loss categorically and in detail.
Your maximum damages are the extent of the losses you are likely to incur in the aftermath of a truck accident. Remember that certain damages, such as future income losses, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, maybe estimate as there is no way to predict with certainty what your future impacts may be. Lawyers, however, have a plethora of available resources, including data and experts that can help them help you maximize your losses in a claim.
Once your attorney calculates your damages, you will have a guide for the truck accident case. This guide will allow you to compare any offer you receive with your damage calculations, and decide whether you should accept it.
Damages in a truck accident insurance claim may include:
- Medical costs and expenses
- Income loss
- Future income losses and medical costs
- Pain and suffering
- Property damages
Ask Your Lawyer to Prepare a Counteroffer if Possible
An initial offer is only a starting point. Although the insurance company might make it seem like that offer is your only opportunity to settle the case, that is not likely. Your attorney will always communicate an offer with you, even if it is exceedingly low. You will then decide with their counsel on what to do next.
A typical step in settling a truck accident case is for your attorney to prepare and file a counteroffer with the insurer. In the counteroffer, your attorney may ask for the value of your case that you are willing to accept for settlement of the claim.
A counteroffer is a next step in continuing your claim and case negotiations. A truck accident case can take time to reach a positive resolution. The back and forth between an insurer and attorney on your behalf is not uncommon, particularly when new evidence comes to light or you face an unexpected increase in your damages or expenses during your recovery.
Your lawyer will negotiate by representing your best interests to get you the maximum compensation for your possible losses. While negotiations are only sometimes successful, most truck accident cases resolve during this stage and settle outside of court.
Prepare for the Possibility of a Trial If Necessary
A settlement that avoids court involvement may be what you prefer after a truck accident, but it may not always be possible. Truck accident cases are complex, and many factors play a part in the negotiation process.
For example, when damages are tremendous and exceed a policy’s limitations, your attorney may suggest fighting for the remaining damages from other parties involved, such as the truck company. Additionally, in these cases, an insurance company may be more willing to go to court when they risk paying the maximum on a claim.
Other instances in which a trial in court may be necessary is when the insurance company disputes who is at fault, disputes how much damages you are claiming, or believes there are others responsible for your losses. While filing a lawsuit and going to trial may not be ideal, if and when an attorney advises you to take that action, it is likely because it is in your best interests. They believe it can help you in the fight for compensation.
What Should You Not Do After the First Offer in a Truck Accident Case?
It would help if you did several things immediately following a truck accident, such as hiring a truck accident lawyer. However, it would be best if you also avoided some actions to protect your truck accident insurance claim and case. While there are many things you can do to help your claim in the aftermath of a truck accident case, there are also things that can hurt you if you are not careful.
Insurance companies are trying their best to get your claim closed and paid for with as little loss to the company as possible. The interests of the insurance company are not going to align with your own interests. Instead, you must approach the insurance company and other interested parties to your truck accident case with caution. Anything you say or do could be evidence against you as the claim progresses.
Do Not Accept an Offer Without a Lawyer’s Advice
Suppose you already have an attorney when you receive your first settlement offer from the insurance company. In that case, they will discuss the offer with you, and you will decide whether to accept, reject, or make a counteroffer with their assistance. However, only respond to the settlement offer if you have a lawyer. The insurance representative may try to pressure you for an answer, but you do not need to respond immediately.
Take time to find and speak with a lawyer first. While hiring a lawyer for your truck accident case may seem to you like an extra hassle, the truth is that a lawyer representing you can have a significant impact on if your case settles and for how much. Contact a truck accident attorney for your free consultation.
How Can the Acceptance of an Offer Affect Future Damages?
If you accept an offer from the insurance company, your claim is resolved. If you discover days or weeks later that your injuries are more severe than you first thought or your property damages are more serious than initially estimated, you have no more recourse. Understanding the gravity and extent of injuries and losses following a truck accident takes time.
While settling a case quickly may sound appealing and seem like a good idea, it can have repercussions. Once you accept an offer from the insurance company, an attorney is unlikely to be able to help you undo it. Acceptance is final and closes out your claim with the insurance company.
Do Not Argue With the Insurer About Your Losses
You may feel confused, frustrated, or angry when you receive an unreasonably low settlement offer. A truck accident can wreak havoc on your life and cause enormous stress and personal and financial losses.
As much as you may want to fight back and argue with the insurance company and their representative, do not. Do not speak with the insurance company in any capacity after the first or any settlement offer.
Instead, contact and hire an attorney to represent you. Then, all communications and actions will occur through them. Please leave it to your lawyer to handle all matters relating to your truck accident insurance claim and case. They work for you and will fight for you to reach the best possible resolution.