After a truck accident, victims are often awarded settlements to help pay for treatment for their injuries and other costs related to the accident. However, settlements vary drastically – in some cases, they can be as small as $110,00, but in other cases, they can be worth $900,000 or much more. If you have been in an accident with a truck, you may need financial support, but convincing an insurance company to pay your claim isn't always easy.
To help, here are five tips to help you maximize your settlement amount after a trucking accident.
1. Gather hard evidence
Settlements are not numbers pulled out of thin air. Rather, they are based on the financial needs of the victim. To prove how the accident affected you financially, you need hard evidence to paint a picture to the insurance company. That can include medical bills, time sheets showing lost time at work, or receipts for ancillary medical expenses or travel costs for medical reasons.
In addition to costs and fees you have actually incurred, you can also claim compensation for pain and suffering or for future anticipated costs. To establish these dollar amounts, you need to prove how the accident affected your life – that proof could involve witness statements, photographs of the scene, written statements from friends and photographs of your injuries, as well as any other info you think is relevant.
2. Start the negotiations high
Once you have all of your evidence in front of the insurance adjuster, keep in mind that there is going to be a negotiation, and regardless of what number you throw out first, the insurance reps are likely to go lower. To counteract that effect, start high.
Calculate the amount you think your situation deserves, and then, bump it a bit higher. That gives you a leading edge in the negotiation process.
3. Pay attention to nuanced statements
Negotiations can be hard, but the people who tend to be the most successful at them aren't just proverbial "fast talkers". They are also great listeners. When talking with the insurance adjuster, be a great listener and keep an ear out for nuanced statements.
For example, if an adjuster says something like "This is our final offer, and it will not change" that statement clearly denotes a final offer. In contrast, if the adjuster says something like "I'm not authorized to go any higher at this point" that statement implies that the adjuster may be able to go higher in the future, a cue that you should not back down yet.
4. Ask for justifications for low offers
Regardless of where the insurance company stops in the negotiation process, ask for a written explanation of why it has made that offer. If you can see what the company is thinking, it makes it easier to respond and argue.
After receiving a list of the insurance company's justifications, create a response letter. Your letter should address any and all points made by the adjuster, and it should explain why you want, need and deserve more money as a result of the injuries sustained during your trucking accident.
5. Consider hiring an attorney
As you work through the steps listed above, you may find the task overwhelming or confusing. Luckily, there is a way to get professional assistance as you try to seek the largest settlement possible – truck accident attorneys deal with helping clients get the settlements they deserve every single day, and they can help you with everything from gathering evidence to responding to low ball offers and negotiating.
Some cases can be handled on your own, but if you are trying to make a claim worth tens of thousands of dollars or more, if there is a question of fault or if you need to claim future damages, an attorney from a firm like Gabrielson Law Offices, Ltd can be especially helpful to you.