After a truck hits you, the insurance company may call you to make an offer. The very first thing you should do is tell the insurance company that you will have to speak to your attorney before you can provide answers. Even if you feel you need the money right away, it is better to speak to your doctors and your attorney about your injuries and how those injuries might affect you for the rest of your life.
If You Accept the Insurance Company’s First Offer
Once you receive the insurance company’s first offer, you will receive a check. However, that check might not cover all of your medical expenses and other damages you deserve. You will not have the right to ask for additional compensation if the accepted offer does not cover all of your medical expenses and other damages. Once you accept the check, the insurance company has no further obligation to you.
If you suffer from injuries because of a truck accident, you may recover economic and non-economic damages, depending on the accident and the injuries you sustained. Courts order both types of damages to make the injured party whole again.
While the money cannot make you heal faster, take away long-term or permanent disabilities caused by your accident injuries, nor bring back a loved one you lost because of an accident, the money may go a long way in reducing financial stress because of lost income and extensive medical expenses.
- Economic damages could include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged property, and funeral and burial expenses.
- Non-economic damages could include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, loss of use of a body part, loss of use of a body function, amputation, disfigurement, and inconvenience.
- Punitive damages are sometimes available, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, the court does not award punitive damages to make the injured party whole again. Instead, if the court orders punitive damages, it is meant to be a punishment for the defendant’s grossly negligent actions.
Why You Should Not Accept an Insurance Company’s First Offer
We could give you several reasons why you should consider refusing to accept an insurance company’s first offer, but the top reasons are:
- Insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Every dime they give you decreases their profit margin. They could be hoping that you are so desperate for money that you will accept their low offers. In fact, when you first contact an insurance company, you should tell them only your name, the location of the accident, the date and time of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information. If you give them more information, the representative may twist your words in an attempt to lay fault on you and deny your claim. They may also decide to give you a very low offer.
- You may need more money to cover medical expenses than what you are getting. If you accept the initial settlement before you fully recognize how severe your injuries are, this first offer could be too low to cover your needs. You should always speak with your doctors and lawyer before accepting any offer from an insurance company.
- Someone other than the driver could be partially at fault for the accident, which means that you may collect from that person’s insurance company in addition to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. For example, if the brakes on a big truck went out and investigators find that the tech installed defective brake pads without knowing it, you might sue the trucking company, the technician who installed the brake pads, or even the manufacturer of the brake pads.
- Settlements often have strings attached, sometimes including preventing you from collecting from other parties that might share in the liability for the accident. Once you accept a settlement offer, you cannot collect additional funds, even if you find out that your injuries caused long-term or permanent disabilities.
Determining if an Offer Is Fair
If the insurance company’s offer does not cover your past medical expenses—those that you have already incurred—it is not likely to be a fair settlement. If you have injuries that lead to long-term or permanent disabilities, you would have to figure out how much you could potentially spend on medical care for the rest of your life.
And, if you lost a loved one, need an amputation, or will walk around with excessive scarring or another disfigurement because of the accident, you could collect other damages. If you have pre-existing conditions, accident injuries could exacerbate them. You could potentially recover damages for how the accident affected and affects those conditions in the future.
Furthermore, regardless of which party is at fault in the accident, the insurance company may try to say that you are completely at fault, or at least bear more responsibility. This could affect how much you may receive in a settlement. An accident lawyer would help investigate the case to help you pursue a fair and reasonable settlement based on your losses, the fault of the other driver, and the fault of others who may share in liability.
For example, if a truck crashes into you because it lost its brakes, the brake manufacturer, the brake installer, the owner of the truck and several others may share in the liability for your damages.
Once you or your attorney notifies the insurance company of a pending claim, the insurance company might look for any reason to make a lowball offer or deny your claim. Not only do you have to watch what you say to the insurance company, but you also have to watch your actions.
The insurance company could look at your social media to see if you posted about recent activities that “prove” you are not as badly injured as you claim, so they can justify offering you less or completely deny your claim.