If you are in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you may be considering pursuing a claim on your own. There are certain factors you need to bear in mind when forgoing an attorney in your 18-wheeler case.
Taking on an Insurance Company
In the aftermath of an accident with an 18-wheeler, you must file and pursue a claim with an insurance company. You need to know that an insurance company is in business to make money for its shareholders. An insurer increases profits by reducing the amount of money paid out in insurance settlement claims, including in 18-wheeler accident cases. The insurance company wants to pay as little or nothing if they can get away with that!
If you elect to handle your 18-wheeler case independently, you must be prepared to take on an insurance company during the claims settlement process. You must understand how to counter tactics an insurance company utilizes to reach a fair settlement in your 18-wheeler accident case. Countering the adjuster’s tactics to get a fair settlement is not easy because, on your own, you have no leverage to force a fair payment.
Tactics of the Insurers
The adage is “delay, deny and defend,” and you can expect that and more from your adjuster. Trusting an adjuster, to be fair, is not a good plan until you hear what they want to pay.
One common method used by adjusters is to make you feel like they will be fair to you. Often they acknowledge their driver’s fault (which is not binding on the insurer). The hope is that you will believe they will pay a reasonable amount for the damages since liability is not disputed. That is never the case!
Many semi accidents are caused by driver error and safety violations of the driver, company, or both. Examples are endless, but most common are working beyond the permitted hours, failing to maintain the big rig, and speeding.
If the company can avoid you learning about the violations, they will save money- sometimes big money! Many times, it is only through lawsuit discovery by a skilled 18-wheeler accident lawyer that the violations are discovered.
Personal Injury Laws and Court Procedures
Another reality you address if you contemplate forgoing legal representation in an 18-wheeler accident case is personal injury law and litigation complexities.
Even if you represent yourself, you will still be required to prepare legal documents and follow court procedures in the same manner as a seasoned attorney.
The court initially may cut you some slack if you make a mistake. In the long run, you can face sanctions if you fail to comply with the court process, rules, and statutory provisions. You could even have your case dismissed by the court.
Hiring a Lawyer, Attorney Fees, and a Final Settlement
The main reason why you may be considering handling an 18-wheeler accident on your own is to maximize compensation in your case. You may have initially concluded that hiring a lawyer will significantly lower compensation in your case because of attorney fees.
In reality, a person who hires a lawyer in an 18-wheeler accident case often ends up with more compensation than an individual who doesn’t retain legal counsel. Even when attorney fees are considered, obtaining more money with a lawyer is the case.
This is true with car and motorcycle accidents as well. It costs the same to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer as a truck crash attorney- nothing up front!
Also, most attorneys utilize a contingency fee arrangement in this case. You pay no fee in the case unless the lawyer obtains a favorable settlement or judgment for you.
Additionally, medical expenses must be repaid to the hospital in case of a hospital lien or repaid to a health insurance company under contractual subrogation. You will be required to handle this medical reimbursement of your case if you elect to represent yourself. On the other hand, attorneys will do this work for you and, in many instances, can get discounts from the health care interests or insurers because of the need for the attorney.
Worry and Stress
Hiring an attorney with experience in personal injury from trucking accidents takes the stress of the situation away. It allows you to focus on recovery or to deal with the grieving process. Unless you have been through something similar before, it is hard to who what actions to take after an 18-wheeler accident. Studies show you get more money with an attorney than without, and the law firm also handles the hard work required to advance your case.