Most personal injury cases settle out of court, and only a small percentage need to go to trial in order to force the insurance company to pay a fair amount for the harm caused by their negligent insured. Negotiating a settlement with the insurance company outside of court is a skill in and of itself and is one that experienced and successful personal injury lawyers excel in. Settling your injury case means you are giving up your right to sue in exchange for the settlement amount, so it is very important that your settlement be done right and for an appropriate value. In truck accident cases, the stakes are often higher because the amount of damages are much higher and for other reasons as well. Read below to learn about factors unique to truck accident settlements, and contact a experienced Houston truck accident attorney if you’ve been hurt in a Houston area truck crash.
How truck accident settlements are different
After a car accident, you’ll likely either call your own insurance company or the other driver’s, and the insurance company will send out a claims adjustor to review the damage to the vehicle and investigate the facts surrounding the accident and injury. You might expect the other driver’s insurance adjustor to be more biased than an adjustor from your own insurance company in assessing damage, since it is the negligent driver’s company which will eventually pay. In the case of truck accidents, many trucking companies employ their own adjustors rather than using outside adjustors. These company claims adjustors may have an even greater incentive to minimize the liability exposure of the trucking company, not just to save their boss money but to save their jobs as well.
Another feature unique to truck accident cases is that many trucking insurance policies include a self-insured retention feature. These provisions require the trucking company to pay the first portion of any settlement out of its own pocket before any insurance payment kicks in. When combined with having their own claims adjustors assess the damage, a self-insured retention policy means the trucking company will likely look very hard at the dollar amount they may have to pay and do what they can to minimize that amount.
Self-insured retention provisions can cut both ways though. These provisions apply not only to indemnity payments but to defense costs as well, meaning the trucking company would have to pay for the costs of defending the case in court until the retention limit is reached, as opposed to the insurance company paying the total cost of defense as with most car accident policies. With this in mind, the trucking company may be more inclined to settle for a fair amount rather than having to cough up cash for a legal defense and still have liability if they lose in court.
What goes into a truck accident settlement
Truck accidents have the potential to cause catastrophic and life-long injuries and disabilities, making them more expensive to settle than the average car accident. A serious truck accident could involve all of the following legal damages:
- Doctor and hospital bills
- Future medical costs, including medications and medical equipment
- Permanent disability, scarring or disfigurement
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish or emotional distress
- Loss in quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial expenses for wrongful death
- Vehicle property damage
Having a skilled and knowledgeable truck accident lawyer on your side is key to negotiating a successful settlement after a serious truck accident injury. If you’ve been injured in a Houston truck accident, contact the experienced and dedicated Houston accident lawyer Charles J. Argento at 713-225-5050 for a free consultation on your case.