What Is the Truck Accident Claims Process?
All motor vehicle accidents can cause injury and property damage, however, the sheer size and weight of large commercial trucks can cause serious consequences in a collision. If you are injured in a truck accident, at no fault of your own, the driver or trucking company may be responsible for your losses. Identifying potentially liable parties is an important step in seeking compensation after a truck accident.
Texas has adopted a fault-based system for auto insurance and personal injury recovery. Texas law generally will not require your insurance provider to pay for damages resulting from an accident you did not contribute to. Injured parties may seek compensation for their injuries from the at-fault party’s insurance company or may file a personal injury claim in civil court. Below we take a look at the process for both of these types of claims.
A Third-Party Insurance Claim
In a third-party insurance claim, the injured person contacts the responsible party’s insurance company to request compensation for the injuries they suffered. When filing a claim with the insurance company directly, injured victims may recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages, if the injuries have caused you to miss time from work
- Pain and suffering
How do you obtain the responsible party’s insurance information? Texas law requires all drivers to remain at the scene of an accident. In addition, law enforcement must be contacted if the accident has resulted in injury or death. While at the scene of the accident, you should exchange contact and insurance information with all other drivers involved.
Negotiating With an Insurance Carrier
Filing a claim with the other party’s insurance company may seem straightforward and simple. However, in practice, filing a third-party insurance claim in a truck accident can be very complicated, for a variety of reasons.
First, multiple factors can contribute to large commercial truck accidents. Of course, you will need to gather the truck driver’s insurance information, but there are likely other parties that may be implicated in a truck accident. Oftentimes, discovering the responsible party requires investigation of the accident. The cause of the accident may seem to be driver error. In reality, inadequate maintenance, defective brakes, or an employer’s pressure to work long hours may have contributed to the collision.
A truck accident attorney will want to investigate everything that may have led to the accident before accurately deciding whom to pursue for compensation.
Factors that can cause truck accidents include:
- Driver error
- Inadequate training or screening of drivers
- Inadequate truck maintenance
- Inadequate truck inspection
- Improper truck loading
- Inadequately secured cargo
- Defects in trucks or parts production
Some or all of these tasks, such as loading and repair, may be completed by a third-party company, rather than the trucking company. As a result, multiple parties may share responsibility for accident-related damages.
Potentially liable parties may include:
- The driver
- The company that screened and hired drivers
- The truck’s owner
- A trucking company
- A company responsible for inspection, maintenance, or repair
- A company responsible for loading cargo
- A company responsible for securing cargo
- A manufacturer of vehicles or components
Parties who are responsible for causing the accident are the only parties who may be liable for compensating injured victims. It is important to correctly identify all parties who may have contributed to causing the accident. For instance, a truck’s brakes may fail to function properly because they were inadequately repaired. In this case, the repair company or mechanics could be responsible for damages resulting from an accident caused by brake failure.
All of the listed parties may have separate insurance carriers and different provisions in their insurance policies. When other parties may potentially be liable, you will need to gather their individual insurance information.
It can be helpful to consult an experienced truck accident attorney to assist in determining the cause of the accident. Determining the cause of the accident will help to identify all potentially liable parties. Experienced personal injury attorneys regularly work with investigative teams who are skilled in discovering the causes of truck accidents.
Second, when you do have the right insurance company, it can be difficult for an injured victim to engage in fair negotiations with insurance representatives.
Insurance companies’ primary goal involves paying out the least amount possible on all claims. Representatives are skilled negotiators who strive to maintain the innocence of the parties they insure. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to attempt to minimize their fault or implicate that your fault contributed to the accident.
Throughout negotiation discussions, insurance representatives may:
- Argue that someone or something else was at fault
- Claim the accident happened differently than it did
- Argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident
- Argue that the treatment for your injuries should be different and less extensive
- Assign a lower value to your pain and suffering than is warranted
- Try to quickly settle for an amount lower than the claim is worth
In some cases, bringing a third-party claim may be the best and most efficient route to receiving compensation. However, when engaging with insurance providers, it can be beneficial to retain an attorney to negotiate on your behalf. Insurance companies compartmentalize empathy for victims and focus on strategies that are smart for business. Experienced attorneys are skilled in countering offers made throughout the negotiation process. When injured victims have a lawyer by their side, they may have better chances of maximizing their recovery.
What Is a Personal Injury Claim
If an insurance company refuses to acknowledge the value of your claim or continues to dispute the causes of the accident, you may consider filing a personal injury claim. Personal injury lawsuits allow injured victims to seek damages in civil court. Victims are entitled to seek the same types of damages they would in a third-party insurance claim. Again, damages may include medical bills, wages lost from work, and pain and suffering.
When another’s reckless or negligent behavior causes an accident and you sustain injuries, you are entitled to seek compensation. You must identify the at-fault party, as they will be liable for any accident-related damages.
A personal injury claim is a legal case. Cases may proceed to trial where a judge or jury will determine the amount of compensation they believe to be fair under the circumstances.
Truck Accidents Happen a Lot
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in 450,000 crashes across the nation in one recent year. The Texas Department of Transportation reported 2,420 crashes involving large commercial trucks in one year in the San Antonio area alone. From those accidents, there were 14 fatalities and over 240 injuries.
What Do You Need to Bring a Claim?
For both types of cases, victims will need to have evidence of who or what caused the accident, to determine fault. Police reports and pictures of the scene can be critical evidence for proving fault.
For both claim types, you will also need supporting documentation of the nature and extent of injuries. Medical records can be obtained from doctor’s offices and hospitals and may include treatment records, diagnostic tests, and expected recovery time. Records of any time missed from work will also be useful.
If you have questions about bringing either type of claim, contact an experienced truck accident attorney today.