Truck Accident Insurance ClaimsLast updated on: April 11, 2014
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Truck accidents can be terrifying and cause serious injuries and severe property damage to your vehicle. If you were hit by a truck, you may be wondering if a truck accident attorney is necessary.
A truck accident may be more severe than a regular car accident because trucks are heavier and larger than cars and can cause more damage. Truck accidents may also involve several parties and can be complex.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation and we will find a truck accident lawyer near you.
TRUCK ACCIDENTS CAN BE MORE DANGEROUS THAN CAR ACCIDENTS
Accidents with larger trucks such as semi-trucks, trailer trucks, big rigs, or other large trucks can be more damaging and more deadly than accidents between cars. This is because trucks are larger and heavier than regular cars and they cannot as easily stop, slow down, or turn. Trucks are often times carrying cargo, which can cause additional damage in an accident if the cargo becomes loose. Accidents with trucks sometimes involve multiple vehicles, which can contribute to the injuries, property damages, and even wrongful death.
Trucking companies are regulated by federal laws and can be regulated further by states. This makes handling a truck accident claim more difficult without a truck accident lawyer. Trucking companies usually carry their own insurance policies and may have a lot of insurance coverage available in an accident.
The trucking industry is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) which includes regulations for truck weight and hours on the road. Trucking companies usually have strict driving compliance requirements for drivers to adhere to in order to reduce accidents. Each truck driver is expected to know these regulations, but they may not always follow them.
CAUSES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS
The same factors that can cause car accidents can cause truck accidents. One of the biggest causes of any accident on the road is distracted driving. This may include texting while driving or driving while under the influence. While the FMCSA strictly prohibits these actions, it does not stop some drivers from disobeying.
Texting While Driving
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2018, distracted driving claimed almost 3,000 lives. Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaging in anything other than driving that takes the focus off the road. This could involve talking on the phone, eating, or texting while driving.
According to NHTSA, one of the most common causes of accidents is distracted driving, such as texting while driving. Texting while driving is one of the worst kinds of distractions because it takes your eyes off the road for long periods of time. Sending or even just reading a text can take your eyes off the road for as little as five seconds, but much can happen in such a short time span! If you are going 55 mph, five seconds is the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
Truck drivers are more at risk for experiencing driver fatigue because they may feel pressured to continue driving while tired to deliver their cargo on time. The FMCSA has regulations in place that require rest periods to reduce driver fatigue. Most crashes occur in the late hours of the night when drivers are tired.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS HLDI), drivers of large trucks are allowed to drive up to 11 hours at a time, as regulated by the FMCSA. However, surveys indicate that many drivers choose to violate this regulation and drive longer than is permitted.
Failure to Follow Other Truck Regulations
Other factors such as improper truck maintenance and driving with an overloaded trailer could cause trucks to crash. Large trucks also need to be serviced regularly to ensure they are compliant with all safety regulations and are suitable to drive. Another regulation that is ignored by some truck drivers is speeding; speeding while driving a large truck is extremely dangerous because trucks require a longer braking distance to stop completely. Driver inexperience—such as the failure to obtain the proper license to drive a truck—and inadequate training may also contribute to truck accidents.
STEPS TO TAKE AFTER A TRUCK ACCIDENT
The early stages after any type of accident are the most crucial. In order to preserve your claim for damages, it is important to follow these steps.
1. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and document any injuries.
2. Report the accident by calling 911 or through a law enforcement officer.
3. Gather evidence from the scene of the accident, such as photos, contact information of the other driver, and the truck company name and insurance information.
4. Contact your insurance company and do not admit fault or provide a recorded statement.
5. Seek legal assistance and locate a truck accident lawyer near you.
WHO WILL PAY FOR MY TRUCK ACCIDENT DAMAGES?
In a truck accident, there may be multiple parties who may have contributed to your injuries. Consider the following parties that may be liable to you:
- The truck driver
- The truck driver’s employer
- The trucking company or freight company
- Truck and part manufacturers
An experienced truck accident lawyer will be able to assist you when it comes to handling complex cases and the insurance claim filing process related to the aftermath of a truck accident.
HOW TO NEGOTIATE INSURANCE CLAIMS
Insurance companies may try to settle your claim quickly for less than it is worth. Truck insurance companies will operate the same way. It is in the insurance company’s best interest to pay you less in a settlement, and they may use certain tactics to get you to agree. With that in mind, consider these important pieces of advice.
Do Not Accept the First Offer
After a truck accident, dealing with your injuries and stress may make you more likely to want to settle quickly. You may even need the money and feel tempted to accept the first offer. However, before you accept the offer, you should know that you can always negotiate the amount.
Having an experienced truck accident attorney on your side will be beneficial during this step. An attorney will be able to help you negotiate and can help you consider all of your damages both present and in the long term. Depending on your injuries, you may be able to recover for any future costs in dealing with your injuries.
If you accept an offer, you will not be able to negotiate later. If you find out later that your injuries are more severe than you originally thought or that you have additional repair costs to your vehicle, it will be too late to negotiate.
Be Wary of Insurance Company Tactics
Insurance companies know that you may be under a lot of stress after the accident and may use this vulnerable time to their advantage. Sometimes, insurance claims adjusters will create an arbitrary deadline that you must accept the settlement by. They do this in an effort to get you to accept an offer before you have had time to fully assess your damages. You should not begin to consider an offer until after you have completed medical treatment and have understood the extent of your injuries.
Be careful posting to social media after an accident or speaking to others about your injuries. Even statements such as “I’m fine” may be used by insurance adjusters against you to claim that you are not as injured as you say you are. Do not agree to a medical release waiver if an insurance company asks you to sign one. Agreeing to let an insurance adjuster review your medical history could allow them to make an argument that you had a pre-existing condition or previous injury that diminishes your right to recover damages from the accident.
Be sure not to give any insurance company a recorded statement that describes what happened during the accident. The insurance claims adjuster may attempt to get you to admit to liability or to release them from liability. Do not admit fault. A recorded statement cannot be changed, so it is best to avoid making one or have your attorney present or speak on your behalf instead.
IS IT WORTH GETTING A LAWYER FOR A MINOR ACCIDENT?
Truck accidents are rarely minor, but even minor accidents can benefit from having an experienced lawyer advocate on your behalf. Truck accidents can be very complicated and it will be difficult to navigate on your own.
Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay anything out of pocket unless your case is won. Some people may be worried that hiring a lawyer will be unnecessary or expensive, but having a lawyer could help you realize and recover all of your potential damages.
A lawyer can also help you negotiate with the truck’s insurance company. Make sure to tell your attorney all the details of the accident, even if you do not believe minor details are important or necessary. Do not lie or cover up facts. This will put your lawyer in the best position to fight for your claim.
GET HELP FROM TRUCK ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS
At Zinda Law Group, our truck accident attorneys are experienced and have handled many cases involving truck crashes. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you determine what to do next and to help recover the best possible outcome for your case.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.