The truck accident claims process involves filing a claim, evaluating your losses, an initial settlement offer, settlement negotiations, and possible litigation. This process may unfold differently depending on whether an insurance company negotiates in good faith.
The claims process involves multiple steps, and you must remain on top of your claim-related responsibilities. Crash victims should always hire a Chicago truck accident attorney to lead their claim, as their injuries and inexperience prevent them from putting forth a strong claim on their own.
What to Expect from the Claims Process
The auto insurance claims process is unique to each claimant, but the general framework is the same for most truck accident victims.
This framework typically entails:
- Filing the claim(s): You may initiate the claims process by having your lawyer notify all necessary insurance companies of the accident. The insurer will begin communicating directly with your attorney, evaluating your accident-related losses and processing your claim using its company-specific methods.
- Providing recorded statements: At some point, you might have to make one or more recorded statements about how your accident happened. You should have an attorney to prepare you for this process or handle the conversation for you. Your lawyer may arrange for you to make a written statement, which may be a lower-risk way to provide your account.
- Providing documentation of your losses: The insurance company may require medical records, invoices for vehicle repairs, receipts for temporary transportation, proof of lost income, and other documentation of your losses. An attorney can help you obtain and submit this documentation.
- Negotiating with insurers: Once the insurance company feels it has sufficient information to calculate your losses, it may offer a settlement. If you (and your attorney) determine that the first settlement offer is too low, you can reject the offer and engage in negotiations.
Settlement negotiations may result in a financial recovery. If your attorney does not convince insurance representatives to offer a fair settlement, they may advise you to move forward with a lawsuit.
Bad-Faith Tactics by Insurers May Affect the Claims Process
Ideally, auto insurers will conduct a speedy investigation, document the claimant’s losses, honor their policy, and offer a financial settlement covering the claimant’s losses.
Too often, insurers instead:
- Deny a truck accident claim without a valid reason
- Intentionally undervalue the claimant’s losses, hoping that the claimant will accept the low valuation and the corresponding settlement offer
- Challenge one or more losses, hoping that the claimant will not document those losses and prove they’re worthy of compensation
- Offer a quick, lowball settlement to entice the claimant with quick cash
- Slow-play the claims process, which may make the claimant more financially desperate—and therefore inclined to accept a lowball settlement
Some insurers simply refuse to negotiate in good faith, often because they want to save as much money as possible. Truck accidents inflict enormous harm and may require large payouts from insurers. If an insurer fights against paying the compensation you deserve, your lawyer will explain your options for seeking a fair settlement.
How to Determine Who Fault for a Truck Accident (This Will Determine How You File Insurance Claims)
Fault may have massive implications for your case. For one, your state may use the determination of fault to decide who should pay for a truck accident. Secondly, the likelihood that a lawsuit will succeed may increase if your lawyer can clearly show who caused your accident.
Your attorney may determine and prove who is at fault for your accident by:
Gathering Their Own Evidence
Truck accident lawyers conduct their own investigations of accidents rather than relying solely on existing evidence (such as a police report).
During the investigation, your lawyer may:
- Photograph the accident scene
- Photograph damage to yourself and your vehicle
- Obtain video footage of the collision, which may come from dashboard cameras, security cameras, traffic cameras, or cell phone cameras
- Get a copy of the police report
- Obtain any other evidence that hints at liability for the accident
This evidence alone may clearly indicate who is at fault for your truck accident, but your lawyer won’t stop there.
Reviewing the Trucking Company’s Evidence
Trucking companies sometimes possess the most compelling evidence in a truck accident case. Your attorney should submit a letter of spoliation, which demands that the truck company preserve and provide any relevant evidence.
Evidence in the trucking company’s possession may include:
- Black-box data from the truck’s internal computers
- Employment logs documenting the truck driver’s hours at the time of the collision
- Disciplinary records that may suggest a record of dangerous driving, drug use, or alcohol use by an at-fault truck driver
- Maintenance records for the truck, which may indicate that it was unsafe for operation
- Cargo-related records, which may indicate who loaded any dangerous cargo
An experienced truck accident lawyer will know how to obtain evidence from a trucking company and use that evidence to establish liability for your accident.
Witnesses can testify to a wide range of accident-related events and circumstances.
Your attorney will interview any witnesses who:
- Saw the accident occur
- Are aware of prior instances of negligence by the truck driver or trucking company
- Saw specific events that led directly to the accident, such as a truck driver leaving the cargo yard without securing cargo properly
- Saw any other event that is relevant to your accident
Witnesses are often unbiased, which makes their testimony potentially valuable to a truck accident case.
Lawyers often rely on experts to strengthen their case. An expert can cover for any gaps in knowledge or experience that an attorney may have—after all, attorneys have specific training in the law, but they may defer to experts in trucking for added credibility.
An expert may reconstruct your truck accident. This service may be particularly helpful if there is no video evidence of your accident.
Losses You May Seek Compensation for After a Truck Accident
Trucks are overrepresented in fatal traffic accidents, which speaks to the extreme danger they pose to accident victims. Those in passenger vehicles tend to get the worst of truck accidents and may face life-changing injuries due to serious collisions.
Damages your lawyer may seek compensation for include:
- Non-economic damages: Pain and suffering is one type of non-economic damage many truck accident victims experience. A truck accident may leave you with depression, anxiety, sleep issues, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Professional damages: Accident victims often experience lost income, diminished earning power, lost opportunities for bonuses and promotions, and other professional damages. These damages can be financially costly and contribute to an accident victim’s pain and suffering.
- Property expenses: If your vehicle, cell phone, clothing, or other property requires repair or replacement, your lawyer will demand that liable parties cover such property expenses. They will also consider related costs, like temporary transportation.
- Medical bills: No accident victim should face the cost of medical bills that someone else is responsible for. Your attorney will include present and future medical expenses in your claim or lawsuit.
- A wrongful death: If you’ve lost a loved one because of a fatal truck accident, a financial recovery can be the only form of justice available. Your lawyer may seek compensation for funeral expenses, loss of a spouse, loss of a parent, loss of the decedent’s financial support, and any other harm resulting from the fatal collision.
Your lawyer will consider your accident-related damages as they fight for your financial recovery. This includes any unresolved damages that may continue to affect you in the future.
Insurance Coverage Limits May Pose a Problem When Seeking Compensation for Damages
While insurance claims are an appropriate course of action for many truck accident victims, they have limitations. More specifically, insurance policies have coverage limits.
An insurance claim may allow you to seek money for:
- A portion (or all) of your accident-related medical bills
- A portion of your lost income
- Compensation for some percentage of psychological and emotional harm
Your lawyer will review all of your insurance-specific options and assess the pros and cons of each. However, liable parties in some truck accident cases don’t have active insurance, which means you cannot file a claim with their insurer.
Your lawyer will evaluate your accident-related losses, determine coverage limits on applicable policies, engage with insurers, and determine if filing a lawsuit may be in your interests.
An Attorney Will Seek Fair Compensation for Your Damages—Here’s How They’ll Do It
Whether managing an insurance claim or leading a lawsuit, a lawyer must build their client’s case for financial recovery.
An attorney may build your case by:
- Organizing evidence in a compelling manner: Once your lawyer has obtained all relevant evidence, they will organize the evidence in a way that helps establish liability. For example, your lawyer may use a video of the accident and witness testimony to show who caused the collision.
- Documenting all of your damages: Your attorney will secure as much documentation of your damages as possible. Useful documentation may include medical images and records, testimony from mental health and medical experts, and documentation of vehicle repairs and other property expenses.
Evidence of liability and documentation of your damages will be the foundation of your lawyer’s case. By strengthening these features of your case to the greatest possible degree, your lawyer may take the first step toward your financial recovery.
Your Lawyer May File a Lawsuit on Your Behalf
Your attorney may advise you to pursue a lawsuit, especially if liable insurers do not negotiate in good faith.
You may choose to file a lawsuit because:
- There are no limits when seeking compensation through a lawsuit
- Insurers must make their case in front of a judge or jury with the power to award the compensation you deserve
- Filing a lawsuit may motivate an insurance company to settle, knowing they stand to forfeit significant compensation if they lose a trial
Your lawyer may secure a settlement before a lawsuit makes it to trial. However, your attorney may need to complete a trial, in which case they may persuade a jury to award you the compensation you deserve.
Don’t Wait to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
Your Chicago personal injury attorney may face a statute of limitations for filing your case, so don’t wait to identify the right law firm to lead your claim or lawsuit.