Whether you can sue a truck driver’s company for your injuries will vary based on whether the driver is an independent contractor or a regular employee of the company. If the driver is an independent contractor, you’ll need to work with the driver’s commercial insurance company. If the driver is an employee of the trucking company, you’ll work with the company’s insurance policy.
If you’ve been involved in a trucking accident in Virginia, read up on the crucial aspects before embarking on the insurance process and contemplating a lawsuit.
Insurance Claim Process
The insurance claim process generally has five steps, but they aren’t always straightforward since you’re working with a company that is working hard to minimize the amount it pays out on the claim. Here are the steps:
- Open a claim. Ideally, you should have an attorney present for this discussion. Otherwise, just be sure you don’t agree to a recorded statement and try to only answer factual questions that the claim representative could find in the police report. Do not elaborate on the situation or disclose unrequired information.
- The insurance company will then begin an investigation. A claim adjuster will determine the amount of the loss that the company will claim liability for under the insurance policy. The adjuster might ask for your help by asking if you have any witness information to solidify the details.
- During the investigation, the adjuster will review the truck driver or truck company’s insurance policy. They will look for exclusions, review deductibles, and check liability limits to determine how the policy applies in your case.
- The insurance company will evaluate the damage in the case. During this process, the claim adjuster might hire an expert or appraiser to lend their expertise to the case. At this point, the adjuster might provide you with a list of preferred vendors to repair property damage. Just know that you don’t have to use this list of preferred vendors to get your vehicle fixed.
- The insurance company will arrange for payment. Some insurance companies will pay repair shops and doctors directly. In other cases, the insurance company sends you a check for all property damage and medical bills once you settle with them.
Every insurance company is different and will have different processes based on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Common Mistakes Victims Make When Dealing With Insurance Companies
One reason we always recommend at least talking to a lawyer before interacting with an insurance company is that these companies have tricks and ways of getting victims to slip up so that the insurance company can reduce the amount it pays out on a claim.
One way they do this in Virginia is by getting the victim to admit some fault for the accident, which the insurance company will use under Virginia’s contributory negligence rule which states that you cannot recover anything if you were even 1% liable for the accident. If the insurance company records you saying that you played some role in the accident, you could be disqualified from recovering compensation for the accident.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid when dealing with an insurance company.
- Agreeing to a recorded statement.
- Saying you are sorry or apologize for any aspect of the accident.
- Avoiding medical treatment for too long following an accident.
- Failing to retain evidence and collect witness contact information.
- Taking the first settlement offer the insurance company offers.
- Failing to include lost wages and reduced capacity to work in your total settlement amount.
- Not contacting an attorney and taking advantage of the free consultation personal injury attorneys offer to arm yourself with valuable information.
Too often, injury victims choose to go it alone instead of hiring an attorney, no matter how complex the insurance claim might be. Don’t make that mistake. Schedule a free consultation with Geoff McDonald & Associates as soon as possible to protect your ability to pursue damages.