How Do Truck Accident Claims Work in Alabama?
Truck accidents cause massive devastation, often destroying property, causing catastrophic personal injuries, and even claiming innocent lives. After a truck crash, there can be a lot of things to deal with, and if you and your family are suffering from serious injuries, the last thing you want to do is deal with an insurance company.
While every case is unique, here are 7 basic steps to resolving a trucking accident case. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact our experienced Dothan truck accident lawyers, today!
- 1. Get Emergency Medical Care
- 2. Follow Your Treatment Plan
- 3. Hire an Attorney Right Away
- 4. Don’t Say or Sign Anything without Discussing It with Your Lawyer
- 5. Gather Evidence and Build a Case
- 6. Your Lawyer Will Work to Negotiate a Settlement
- 7. Settlement and Lien Resolution
- When Should You Take a Truck Accident to Trial?
1. Get Emergency Medical Care
Accept emergency medical treatment at the scene, including transport by ambulance if needed. Even if you think you aren’t injured at first, you should still get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible. Tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks can easily cause more damage than a traditional passenger car. Even low-speed collisions can lead to significant injuries. There are a couple reasons why you should get emergency medical care. First, many symptoms of serious injuries like whiplash or back injuries can take hours or days to manifest. Getting early medical treatment can reduce your recovery time and help you avoid unnecessary pain and suffering. Second, the longer you wait to get help, the more likely an insurance company will argue that you weren’t really injured.
2. Follow Your Treatment Plan
Many people receive instructions from their doctor but then fail to follow up. This is a mistake. Failing to make doctors’ appointments or ignoring restrictions (like lifting or exercising before ready) can aggravate injuries.
3. Hire an Attorney Right Away
While you are lying in a hospital bed recovering from your injuries, the insurance company will be working overtime to find excuses not to pay you. While this can be infuriating and unfair, it happens all the time. If you have an attorney, you can focus on your medical recovery. This also helps you avoid making critical mistakes when dealing with insurance representatives.
4. Don’t Say or Sign Anything without Discussing It with Your Lawyer
As soon as you’ve hired an attorney, the insurance company will be required to discuss matters with your lawyer – and only with your lawyer. If you continue receiving phone calls from insurance adjusters, politely:
- Ask for the adjuster’s name and company.
- Ask for a good call back number.
- Get the claim number.
- Tell them to call your attorney.
- Respectfully terminate the call.
Never talk about the accident, your injuries, or your prior medical care. Also, insurance companies may try to get you to sign paperwork early in the case. Often insurance adjusters will try to get access to your past medical records or even sneakily try to get you to sign a settlement document, eliminating your rights. Make sure to discuss anything they send you with your attorney.
5. Gather Evidence and Build a Case
As you are getting medical care, your attorney will be working hard to investigate and gather evidence. This includes evidence that relates to the crash, as well as evidence of your injuries. For instance, here are just a few examples of common evidence:
- Police crash reports
- Crash data from vehicle data recorders (black box)
- Witness statements
- Traffic cameras or videos
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Expert reports
- X-rays and other imaging results
6. Your Lawyer Will Work to Negotiate a Settlement
Once you complete your medical care and the extent of your injuries is clearly understood, your attorney will begin negotiating with the insurance company in an attempt to settle your claim. In some cases, the injuries will mostly resolve through treatment. If so, your attorney will gather all of your medical records and bills and submit a demand for settlement. Some call this a settlement proposal, others call it a demand. Either way, it is a complete written request that summarizes your injuries, the facts of the crash, and why the attorney believes a jury would award you compensation. This forces the insurance company to decide whether to defend the case in litigation or pay an early settlement.
7. Settlement and Lien Resolution
Assuming your case can be resolved through settlement negotiations, your attorney will work to get the insurance company to offer as much as possible. During this process, your attorney’s job is to help you understand your settlement and what it means. In most cases, the offer is a lump sum. Therefore, your settlement offer must be enough to cover any liens, outstanding medical bills, and expenses. Your attorney will lay out the settlement in a way that you can understand how much you will actually receive.
Liens may also include things like Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies that have paid for your medical care. These liens can be challenging to resolve. An experienced truck accident attorney will work to not only settle your case, but will also work to minimize the impact of these liens. Sometimes an attorney can get lienholders to reduce or even waive their liens. The more your attorney is able to get doctors, insurance companies, and government entities to reduce their liens, the more money you actually end up keeping in your settlement.
When Should You Take a Truck Accident to Trial?
These are the 7 basic steps to settling a truck accident case. Of course, not all cases will settle. There are times when an insurance company simply is not willing to make a reasonable offer or where they dispute your injuries or even how the crash happened.
If necessary, Gartlan Injury Law can pursue justice by filing a lawsuit against all who are responsible for your injuries. These may include:
- Truck drivers
- Trucking companies
- Warehouse companies
- Subcontractors or truck leasing companies
- Other responsible parties
Once it is determined who is ultimately liable for causing your injuries, our team can aggressively fight to obtain compensation for your injuries, in and out of court.
If you need help after a truck accident in Dothan, call Gartlan Injury Law. We are committed to serving those who are injured throughout Alabama. This is why we never take a fee unless we succeed, and you’ll never pay a fee for a consultation. So you truly have no risk and no obligation. Call to schedule your own free consultation today.