Getting into an accident with a large commercial truck is a terrifying experience. If you are fortunate enough to survive without catastrophic injuries, it’s likely that you still have to cope with doctor’s visits, steep medical bills, damage to your vehicle, emotional trauma, securing a rental car, and taking time off work to recover. In the midst of what is always a very challenging period, you may also be contacted—often quite persistently—by an insurance adjuster from the trucking company’s insurance provider.
The job of the insurance adjuster is to get you to settle and accept a payout for your losses. But the amount the company is willing to offer is usually much lower than what you actually deserve and are entitled to by law. An insurance company is after all a business, and the actions of insurance adjusters typically aim toward minimizing payouts and saving the company money. Insurance adjusters have been known to become somewhat aggressive when attempting to persuade victims of truck accidents to accept a settlement.
If you’ve been in a big rig collision, you need to know how to handle an insurance company after a truck accident. Let’s look at some helpful guidelines for communicating with a trucking insurance company after an accident involving a tractor-trailer or other large commercial truck.
How to Handle an Insurance Adjuster After a Truck Accident
What should you say to an insurance adjuster? More importantly, what should you not say to an insurance adjuster? The following tips for dealing with an insurance adjuster after a truck accident can help you protect yourself from being taken advantage of:
Know Who You’re Talking To
When you receive a phone call after a big rig accident, make sure you know who is on the other end of the line. Before even agreeing to answer questions or have a conversation, ask the person on the phone for their name, company name, location, direct contact number, and trucking company or truck driver being represented. Record this information, and keep it on hand to share with your truck accident attorney. If there is anything about the person or company that seems suspicious, it is perfectly acceptable to say you aren’t comfortable with the phone call, and that you would like to speak with your lawyer or do some research before discussing anything.
Don’t Admit Fault
You may have heard it before—never admit fault after a motor vehicle accident. No matter what you think might have happened, you rarely have enough information at the time an insurance adjuster contacts you to give an accurate account of all the factors that contributed to the accident’s cause. And when dealing with a large semi-truck, there are many elements at play that you are likely unaware of—like whether the cargo was loaded properly, whether the tires were within the legally-mandated tire pressure range, or whether the driver was impaired and compromised because of too many hours behind the wheel. All of these elements can contribute to a collision. Don’t make assumptions about fault, and don’t discuss fault with the truck company’s insurance adjuster.
Don’t Give a Recorded Statement
Regardless of how an insurance adjuster tries to persuade you otherwise, it’s never smart to give a recorded statement without speaking to your lawyer first. A recorded statement can easily be exploited by insurance companies to reduce your compensation amount. These words go on record. So even if you misunderstood a question or made a mistake, the company has proof of what you said. Often, you lack information at the time of the recording, and only later will you become aware of emerging facts and medical diagnoses. But once the insurance company has obtained your initial recorded statement, those later details can be ignored since they’re not on record.
Don’t Share Too Much
One tactic an insurance adjuster may employ is getting you talking in conversation so you share a detail that can be used against you. Provide only the basic, necessary information. Don’t discuss anything personal, and don’t talk about the details of the accident. This also includes details about your job and income, your daily schedule and habits, and any traffic accidents in which you’ve been involved in the past. Refrain from talking about your injuries and what medical care you are receiving, what damage was done to your vehicle, and your thoughts about how and why the accident happened. It’s okay to say that your lawyer will be in touch with more information at a later date.
Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer
The first settlement offer almost always undervalues your claim. It’s common for insurance adjusters to present a low settlement offer to you within the first one or two conversations you have. Many times this tactic works, for several reasons. One reason is that accident victims in the early stages after a wreck may be confused or not know it’s acceptable to refuse an offer, making them more likely to accept. Secondly, people may not have had time to speak with their lawyer, and haven’t been advised on what an adequate settlement offer should be. Thirdly, victims may not be aware of how severe their injuries or property damage really are, and may initially believe the settlement offer to be sufficient. And finally, the simple truth is that many people are eager to get the insurance adjuster off their back and move on with their life. Don’t be taken in by this tactic that trivializes your suffering and losses.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Protect You
Truck accidents are complicated, and governed by complicated laws. Insurance adjusters often take advantage of this fact to save money, pushing accident victims into unfair and unlawful settlements. But if you have an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side, you have the knowledge to defend yourself against unsavory insurance adjuster tactics.
If you are being hounded by an insurance company’s adjuster after a truck accident, the Law Office of Todd Burris has the competence needed to protect you. Contact a Kentucky personal injury lawyer with experience dealing with commercial trucking businesses and their insurance companies. We’ll start with a conversation about how we may be able to advocate for you if insurance adjusters have become too aggressive. Reach out today to set up a free initial consultation.