When you receive the first settlement offer from an insurance company after a truck accident, your response will influence the amount of compensation you receive. The law generally allows you one opportunity to pursue a settlement after a truck accident.The amount you accept must cover your current and future losses.
In this position, you need to know how insurance policies work, how the negotiation process can play out, and how a Philadelphia truck accident lawyer can secure a higher settlement. Whether you're an accident victim or a family member advocating for a loved one, proper knowledge can benefit you following a truck accident.
Insurance Companies Seek to Maximize Profits, Not Payouts
Insurance companies are businesses: Their primary goal is profit-making. Their structure minimizes payouts and maximizes premium payments, explaining their complex policies and procedures.
At the heart of these procedures are insurance adjusters. These professionals assess damages relating to truck accidents, such as medical expenses and lost income, and estimate a settlement offer from their findings. It's important to realize that adjusters work for the insurance company, not the accident victim.
First Offers Are Often Inadequate, Especially for Catastrophic Injuries
Insurance companies’ initial offers can be lower than the cost of your damages and medical expenses. The reasons for this vary but usually include the desire to keep costs down. These companies understand that most people don’t understand the intricacies of personal injury law and might not know they can demand higher compensation.
Truck accidents often result in catastrophic injuries that influence the lives of victims and their loved ones. These include spinal cord injuries (SCIs), traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), amputations, and burns.
SCIs can cause paraplegia or quadriplegia, devastating your life. You may require modifications to your home and vehicle, help with daily activities, and continuous medical care, including physical therapy and rehabilitation.
According to one estimate, the average lifetime cost of living with an SCI from age 25 ranged from $1.5 million to $4.7 million. The figures reflect medical care and living expenses.
TBIs can have long-lasting or permanent effects. You may suffer memory problems, personality changes, and impairment of motor skills, and you may require intensive rehabilitative therapy, psychiatric treatment, and, in serious cases, round-the-clock care.
Amputations can have a profound impact on your life. They can cause lifestyle changes and limit your capacity to work and carry out everyday tasks. Prosthetic limbs and their maintenance can cost thousands of dollars, and they require frequent replacement.
Burns can cause excruciating pain disfigurement, impairment of mobility, and loss of sensation. These conditions may require multiple surgeries, long-term physical therapy, and psychological counseling to cope with the mental trauma of changes in appearance and functionality.
Besides immediate medical expenses, these injuries often require ongoing medical care and rehabilitation. They may cause lifelong loss of income if you can't return to work. You need a lawyer to investigate these ongoing and future expenses when evaluating a settlement offer. Accepting an amount that only covers immediate costs can't account for the lasting financial and emotional burdens these injuries impose.
Your Attorney Can Fight for Maximum Compensation for Your Injuries
Unlike an insurance adjuster, who protects the insurance company's bottom line, your attorney represents your interests. An attorney with knowledge of personal injury law can uphold your rights and assess your losses.
They can work to counter low offers with persuasive arguments that showcase the full extent of your losses, including medical expenses, property damage, and emotional trauma. Your attorney can confront insurance companies, advocate for fair compensation, and prevent them from undervaluing or exploiting you in your vulnerable state.
Evaluating the Insurance Company's First Offer
Evaluating the first offer is a critical step in the settlement process. Your attorney can assess whether the offer covers all your damages, including medical expenses, future treatment costs, lost income, property damages, and intangible costs, such as pain and suffering.
When evaluating the offer, your attorney can consider these questions, along with the long-term effects of your injuries:
- Are your injuries permanent?
- Will your injuries require ongoing therapy or rehabilitation?
- For how long will you be unable to work?
- Can you return to the same occupation?
- How has the truck accident influenced your relationship with your family?
- Have your truck accident injuries led to a lower quality of life?
Because your costs can add up, your lawyer can strive to account for all these things.
Steps Your Lawyer May Take After the Insurance Company's First Offer
Your attorney may discuss the insurance company's first offer with you. As each case is different, your attorney can review your options. The seriousness of your injuries, your total damages, and the insurance company's past actions for similar cases tell your attorney how your claim may play out. They will probably conclude that accepting the first offer is not advisable.
After discussing your claim with you, your attorney can continue negotiating for a higher settlement. They may start by writing a counter-demand letter detailing your injuries, medical treatment, and emotional suffering.
Your Lawyer's Role in Negotiating Insurance Offers
After an initial low offer, your lawyer can continue to advocate for your rights and a fair and just settlement. With their understanding of personal injury law, they can counter the tactics insurance companies use to minimize payouts.
How Much Is My Truck Accident Injury Claim Worth?
Two major categories of damages influence settlement claims: economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages have a clear, determinable monetary value. They include medical expenses, lost income, and property damage.
When calculating economic damages, your lawyer can analyze current and possible future costs. This process might involve communicating with medical professionals to estimate future medical expenses or vocational experts to assess your capacity to work.
Noneconomic damages are less tangible. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and reduction of enjoyment of life.
Calculating noneconomic damages involves putting a dollar value on things lacking clear monetary worth. Insurance companies may deny or devalue noneconomic damages. They might argue that your pain and suffering are less serious than you claim or that your emotional distress has no relation to the accident.
A skilled lawyer working on your behalf is invaluable. They can pursue a fair settlement while demonstrating your damages.
Dealing With Insurance Companies After a Truck Accident
Your attorney's role expands beyond negotiating a fair settlement. They are your legal protector in every interaction with the insurance company. Insurance companies are notorious for their shrewd tactics; without legal representation, you might compromise your claim.
Your attorney can fight against the manipulation of your statements that aims to depreciate your compensation. They can inform you of your legal rights and the implications of your every move. They can avoid common mistakes, such as accepting a low first offer without a thorough evaluation or signing documents without understanding their content.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accident Settlements
Do I Need an Attorney to Pursue a Truck Accident Settlement?
Yes. A professional advocate can improve your chances of a fair settlement in the complex and overwhelming legal landscape, especially when dealing with the trauma of a truck accident.
Your attorney can act as a buffer between you and the insurance company, which can minimize stress and ensure a fair and accurate evaluation of your case. They have the legal prowess to challenge insurance adjusters and can reduce delays.
Your attorney can strengthen your claim by gathering and presenting compelling evidence. This evidence can include medical records, accident reports, and documentation that may substantiate the extent of your injuries and costs.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
Many truck accident attorneys offer free consultations to potential clients. This discussion can inform both parties of the case's specifics and allow the attorney to decide if it has legal merit. This free consultation can benefit you, as you can gain insights into your legal options without financial obligation.
Regarding legal fees, many attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis for personal injury cases. This means they only collect a fee if they secure a settlement or win the case in court. You negotiate fees usually a percentage of the final settlement with your attorney. Contingency fees align your lawyer's interests with yours.
Regardless of the outcome, you may need to pay other costs relating to your case, such as court fees. Before hiring an attorney, ensure you understand their payment structure and schedule.
When Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
Hire an attorney as soon as possible. After a truck accident, you must preserve your rights and comprehensively document the incident.
A skilled truck accident attorney can handle these steps for you. They can gather crucial evidence, collect photos and witness testimonies, and tackle insurance companies.
The earlier the attorney's involvement, the better they can protect your interests. They can avoid mistakes and start building a strong case. Immediately hiring an attorney means you can focus on your health and recovery while they concentrate on pursuing the compensation you deserve.
How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
The timeframe for filing a truck accident lawsuit the statute of limitations varies by state. If you miss this deadline, the court will dismiss your case regardless of its merit.
Your attorney needs plenty of time to build a strong case before the statute of limitations on your claim expires. Hiring an attorney right after an accident and before the insurance company makes its first offer can protect your rights and pursuit for maximum compensation.
What Does a Truck Accident Settlement Include?
A truck accident settlement typically includes compensation for all damages resulting from the accident. The amount could cover medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, and property damage. The settlement might cover the cost of future medical care and compensation for distress and loss of quality of life.
Protect Your Legal Rights by Hiring a Truck Accident Attorney
Insurance companies are notorious for low initial offers and money-saving strategies. A personal injury attorney in Philadelphia can counter these tactics while pursuing a settlement that reflects your damages.